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Series Review: Stolen Empire by Sherry D Ficklin

Series Review: Stolen Empire by Sherry D Ficklin

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 Queen of Someday (from Goodreads):

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?

breakdown

Series: Stolen Empire Trilogy
Author: Sherry Ficklin (or Sherry D Ficklin)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2014 – November 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I’ve opted not to pick up Books #2 and #3. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVE stories set in Imperial Russia. I just adore the setting; the politics; the forbidden romances; the folklore–everything about it sucks me in as a reader. So I was super excited to read this series and managed to snag the boxset when it was on sale (though I had already grabbed Queen of Someday as a freebie prior).

It has been awhile since I read a book set in Imperial Russia so I made sure to add this series as a pick for my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a selection for the year 2014. I also added it to my 2018 #MakeMeRead It Readathon where it tied for 1st place for the greatest number of votes.

What I Liked:

–It’s Inspired by Catherine the Great–

I will admit that I missed that part when I actually started reading but once that became apparent to me, I was definitely intrigued. I even had to do some research on Catherine to see what her story was about. I love books that make me dig a little deeper.

–Video Bonuses at the End of Chapters–

You can tell that Sherry Ficklin has put a lot of research into this series in terms of history, characters and setting. So it was a neat treat to get video bonuses at the end of some chapters where she explains her inspiration or what she was attempting to do in that chapter.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Couldn’t Get a Read on Sophie’s Character–

I was definitely a Sophie fan in the first few chapters. She isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and that shows in the opening scene when her carriage is attacked. She came across as strong and independent and I liked that a lot.

But then something happened where it seemed like her character almost had two different personalities. I get it, she’s 15 years old and has the pressure of the Empress and her mother on her back so I don’t expect her to make flawless decisions at all times. Yet, I craved some consistency in her character. One moment she’s this docile thing falling into love within moments of talking to a man and in the next she’s this bold and cunning heroine laying down threats like she owns the place. It was just a weird disconnect for me and I almost felt like I was reading about two different characters in one body.

–The Romances–

Yes, that’s a plural and no, I’m not talking about different characters. I’m talking about the numerous romances Sophie finds herself entangled in. Thanks to my research, I know that Catherine the Great was a lady who liked her male company so that isn’t overly surprising that in her youth she’d be the same. What irked me was how fast Sophie fell for these guys. They share one conversation and she’s willing to risk anything to be with them.

Again, she’s 15 and I get how fickle the heart can be. But add to that my issues with her character and I quickly lost interest in her romantic relationships–which do take up the vast majority of the book.

–Peter–

You can’t label some as “sadistic” in the synopsis and then not show that side of him until the last quarter of the novel. I had to reread the synopsis multiple times to make sure that it was Peter who was supposed to be the cruel one because for the most part, he was just an immature royal who toyed with Sophie’s feelings like any 16 year old boy would.

Will I Finish It?

Nope! I read the real Catherine the Great’s biography and I have a good sense of how her story ended and what was to come in the future books so I’m good with leaving this series here.

My Rating: DNF

Queen of Someday 2/5 | Queen of Tomorrow N/A | Queen of Always N/A

overall

If you like teenaged historical fiction and don’t mind love at first sight triangles and drama, you’ll likely enjoy this.

Read if You Like: Imperial Russia, teen soap operas
Avoid if You: want a more mature story

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Series Review: Firebird by Claudia Gray

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

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Firebird Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Thousand Pieces (from Goodreads):
Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read Author
Series: Firebird Trilogy
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Alternate Dimensions, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2014 – November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (Million)

thoughts

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

My Expectations / Why I Picked It Up:

I’ve read two other Claudia Gray series and have enjoyed both very much. I love her writing style, her plot twists and how she creates her worlds. She made me enjoy a witch-based Young Adult series (Spellcaster Trilogy) so that means I’m willing to give anything she writes a shot. So when I saw the premise for this series, I was SUPER excited. It sounded like it was going to be what I thought Alternity by Mari Mancusi was going to be mixed with the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier so I was sold.

The Concept / The World:

This book was a lot of fun to read and it quickly had me hooked (which was good because I had to return it to the library the next day!). I was worried that the alternate dimensions aspect would be confusing but it was explained perfectly at the start of the novel, making the rest of the novel easy to follow.

The Plot:

Like in most of Gray’s books, there are little twists and turns along the way that keep the plot moving and unpredictable. Part of the charm of a book like this is the mystery aspect that you put together as you read and while I definitely had a good inkling of how things were all connected, I really didn’t know if I was right or not given the little surprises here and there. I liked that it kept my full attention and the last half of the book is really non-stop which was great. I never felt like plot dragged and it easily could have if Marguerite and Theo spent too long in a certain dimension but it was executed perfectly.

The Romance:

Even the love triangle was well done–rare words from me indeed. I think it helps that the focus of this book isn’t really the romance aspect–rather Marguerite spends her time trying to figure out what exactly is at play and I liked that a lot. There was enough romantic moments to keep the romance reader in me satisfied but it really was the plot of this book that I loved so much.

updates

–December 19, 2015– Book 2: Ten Thousand Skies Above You

I was really curious to see what was going to happen next given the ending of the last novel. The plot for this one was interesting for sure and I really like the direction it is going. However, I did feel it lull a bit in the middle. I found Marguerite annoyed me a little in her outlook on things and that frustrated me. At the same time, I can appreciate the situation she is in and I liked how she grew from what happens. I was worried that that love triangle would escalate into a situation that I wouldn’t like but, again, I think it worked for the story and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I really like the way the story progressed though. I thought I have everything figured out but those twists again kept me on my toes. Can’t wait to see how this all wraps up!

–January 7, 2019– Book 3: A Million Worlds With You

This was a great finale! I really felt like things were brought back full circle in terms of the themes and topics this series has addressed. I got a little lost in the plot (it felt a little roundabout at times) but it was always moving and I really loved that.

Plus the audio was exactly what I imagined it to be considering I read the previous books instead of listening to them.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

A Thousand Pieces of You 5/5 | Ten Thousand Skies Above You 4/5 | A Million Worlds With You 4/5

overall

I feel like it has been a long time since I read a good YA novel and this novel helped fill in that void. Everything is just well executed and it was so refreshing to read about Alternate Dimensions. I loved how it built and that there were constantly little plot twists along the way. If you plan to read it, make sure you set aside a lot of time because you won’t likely be putting it down anytime soon!

Read if You Like: world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike parallel universes, don’t want as much romance

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