Tag «judged by the cover»

Series Review: Immortal Game by Ann Aguirre

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

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Synopsis for Mortal Danger (from Goodreads):
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly… bad things are happening. It’s a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what–she can trust. Not even her own mind…

breakdown

Series: The Immortal Game Trilogy
Author: Ann Aguirre
# of Books: 3 (Mortal Game, Public Enemies, Infinite Risk)

There is a prequel short story: The Girl in the Gray Sweatshirt. Read for FREE here!

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Infinite Risk, will be published August 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly stumbled upon this book at the library. My library had the original cover (shown below) and there is just something about simple covers that draws me in…

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)

So I read the synopsis and noted the author. I read Ann Aguirre’s New Adult series 2B Trilogy but didn’t enjoy it all that much. But everyone seems to rave about her Razorland Trilogy which is Science Fiction/Horror/Apocalyptic so I figured those genres, not contemporary romance, were more her forte and Mortal Danger is the same genre (kinda/sort-of).

Then, I met Jennilyn @ RurouniJenniReads who also mentioned she was up to buddy read some books–and Mortal Danger was on there (among other ones)! A sign? I think so!

And so we decided to Buddy Read this together–and thank goodness we did!

What I Liked:

–The Revenge Concept–

I love a good revenge story and this one sounded so promising! Edie has a score to settle with the beautiful people of her school. What they did to her exactly is a bit of a mystery and so I liked the idea of it being revealed in time. The revenge plot line isn’t too elaborate but it started off strong and as I expected, it does take a backseat to the other plot-points later in the book.

–The Faustian Compact–

Definition of Faustian
  1. :  of, relating to, resembling, or suggesting Faust; especially :  made or done for present gain without regard for future cost or consequences <a Faustian bargain>

Jennilyn and I both agreed that this story reminded us of the animes/mangas Death Note (which is one of my all time FAVOURITE animes) and Black Butler. Mortal Danger has a darker edge to it thanks to the deal Edie unknowingly makes. There is so much mystery and uncertainty regarding the bargain and its terms. I love stories that have great twists on word contracts and the like. It’s why I enjoy faerie stories so much: there are always great manipulations that come back to bite the characters back in the ass later and those make for shocking “WHOA” moments when reading.

And for the record, Mortal Danger pales in comparison to Death Note.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was Slow and Wordy–

I had this problem with Aguirre’s 2B Trilogy as well; her stories seem to move at such a slow pace. I would find myself 30% of the way through the book and going, “really? We’re only here right now?”. I just felt like we were in the exposition wayyyy too long with this one and that nothing was really happening. It takes Edie a long time to get involved in the “game” and by the time she gets there, I really didn’t care anymore.

–Edie’s More than a Little Boring–

While I sympathize with Edie because she was bullied, there really isn’t much too her as a character. Her plan for revenge is never really elaborated on and she doesn’t come across as the brightest. I guess Kian was supposed to handle most of it with her wishes but that was never really clear to me. I just wanted more from her.

–The Romance–

This didn’t work for me AT ALL. I get the physical attraction thing but I failed to see why these two even liked each other beyond that. It was wayyy too insta-love for me and also seemed hypocritical to the story to a certain extent.

–It was Simple, Yet Oddly Complicated–

Like I said before, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in this book (hence, the “simple”). I wanted more revenge, I wanted more games and I wanted more excitement.

In the last 40 or so pages, things just get overly complicated. While I like twists that come out of nowhere, these ones just didn’t seem to add up for me given everything that had happened in the 250 pages beforehand. I felt like too many things were thrown in at the last minute. And while I’m sure they are going to be built upon in the next book, I found it more preposterous than exciting and that pretty much ended any hopes of me picking up the next book right there.

Will I Finish It?

No, I have no plans to pick up Public Enemies at this time–and I’m A-Ok with that. Even with all the “interesting” plot twists that we get at the end, I really don’t care to know how Edie gets her way out of the mess she created.

As Light Yagami would write:

I have to thank Jennilyn for buddy reading this with me because if we didn’t, I would have stopped reading and would have always wondered if I was missing out on something amazing.

Series Rating: DNF

Mortal Danger 2/5 | Public Enemies N/A | Book 3

overall

Nothing really impressed me about this book. It took a long time to get anywhere and I just didn’t like the execution of it once it did reach a place of interest. I didn’t get invested in the characters nor their romance so there was nothing to keep me motivated to continue this series. At the start, I wanted a story about revenge and in the end, I got a sub par romance novel with some paranormal elements thrown in–not a winner for me.

Read if You Like: slower stories, revenge concepts, horror
Avoid if You: want a more intriguing heroine, dislike insta-romance

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Meme-ful Musings: Critiqued for Your Reading Choices

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Meme-ful Musings: At the end of the month I’ll post a book-related meme that I think brings up an interesting discussion about books. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


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(Meme from: https://www.pinterest.com/MSLibraryComm/302232-book-memes/)

I honestly just love this meme because I think it describes my reading habits perfectly! There are books that I will immediately put at the top of my To-Read Pile despite the many books that have been sitting there for years. But there are also books that I would never admit to reading and/or liking to my friends–but I’ll admit to them here (on my blog) because of the power of the anonymous internet.

Three examples that come to mind: Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and the Sweet Series by Maya Banks. I’ll start with Twilight.

I actually really liked Twilight: I actually liked it so much that I immediately reread it after finishing it the first time! Now when I tell people this, I list a few excuses about why I felt this way. Those reasons are:

  • I was 15 when I read it–the target demographic for the series
    • If I read it now, as a woman in her 20s, I probably wouldn’t feel that way
  • it was the first paranormal “teen” romance novel I read
    • by this point my reading habits weren’t what they were today so exposure was limited
  • the writing never bothered me
    • I liked that it was an easy to follow story plus I was no literary critic (still aren’t)

It’s just as easy to come up with these excuses for Fifty Shades of Grey (if you strip *no pun intended* all the BDSM away, at its bones, it is a love story and the later books do get a plot line) and the Sweet Series (this series was just kinky BDSM that I was probably way to young to read when I did; do this day I don’t have them rated on my Goodreads account).

But my question is why do I feel the need to justify why I enjoyed a book a vast majority of people label as “garbage”? Why do I worry about getting judged for reading and enjoying something that interests me that others seem to detest?

I want to be clear that I am not talking about disliking a book that others have given 5 stars to: I’m talking about feeling embarrassed for reading a book and liking it. Two different things, though I agree that they can often go hand in hand.

The simple answer is of course to blame it on society. We live in a society where we are self-conscious of what other people think of us. Especially if you live in a democratic society like I do, you are raised with the thought process that what the majority thinks is best for the population or common good is probably that choice that is made at the end of the day.

Critics are basically using a set of standards that have been created by a larger group of people to criticize works. I always find it fascinating to learn how literature canons are created because who gets to decide what pieces of work are the greatest and why it is the greatest? Even the definition of “literature” is heavily debated on.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that reviews and opinions are subjective. There is a quote from Family Guy (judge away) that I think really emphasizes this point:

“This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball, because the world don’t move, to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have my opening statement”

So why should I be influenced to feel a certain way about a book just because one person says I should?

I suppose it is a little hypocritical of me to “bash” reviewers when I myself have a book reviewing blog. But the underlying purpose of creating this blog entry is to point out that it is OK to like books others dislike! Just because one reviewer writes an extremely negative review about your favourite book doesn’t mean you should second guess why you like that book, or not admit that you like it! Everyone has different tastes and personal pet peeves that can influence why you rate a book like you do and it is A-OK to disagree!

That’s why when I write my book reviews, I try to present both sides of the story. If I don’t like a book, I explain why but I also mention who I think would like this book and vice versa. Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t; and the same can be said about your reviews and me. Reading is a subjective experience and at the end of the day it comes down to how that book makes you feel and why it makes you feel that way. Don’t ever be embarrassed by what you read and embrace your tastes! Don’t be afraid to share them with the world!

So, do you admit to reading/liking the books that you read?

Do you feel the need to justify why you liked a book that is panned by critics or your friends?

Do you take into consideration who might like/dislike a book when you review it?

Do you think blogging/the internet has influenced how people perceive certain books?

PS: Check out Nerdybirdy @ Daydreaming Books’ discussion on Book Bashing as well!

Leave a comment below!

Series Review: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

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

book3

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite 2015, New Must Read Author, Favourite Series, Sad to See Go 2016
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
# of Books: 3 (The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, The Winner’s Kiss)
Book Order: Chronological

There is a prequel novella: Bridge of Snow

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, High Fantasy, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I won’t lie: the covers are what drew me to pick up this series (it wasn’t until after I read it that this book seemed to be on a lot of blogs that I follow). Both The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime were new additions to my library’ eCatalogue and after I read the synopsis, I decided I really wanted to read these books. I honestly didn’t know what to expect plot-wise from these novels but I knew that I was expecting awesome things and I eagerly dug in.

I didn’t get right into The Winner’s Curse because I felt like it was assumed that I knew the history of the world. Not that the world is overly complicated (I got the gist of it pretty quick); I just felt like it was expected that I knew why these two cultures were clashing and why there was conflict in Kestrel’s world on a deeper level without being told why. Perhaps I just missed that one key line that explains everything earlier in the book. Regardless: the truth of the matter is that the conflicts present in this book are no different than the conflicts we see in our modern world despite its historical edge. And once I was a few chapters in, I was sold (no pun intended) on everything this book was bringing.

If you take the intelligent, strategic heroine of June from the Legend Trilogy, minus her physical ability to kick ass and add the historical vibes of For the Darkness Shows the Stars, you get The Winner’s Curse.

Which means it’s pretty awesome!

Despite my personal distaste for slower novels, I really loved The Winner’s Curse! I loved how everything built up slowly and was intricately linked together. There was a plot-line I wasn’t expecting and I thought it made the story 20x more interesting. This book was never afraid to take risks and that makes it vastly different from the other dystopian YA novels out there. (Though it isn’t really that much of a dystopian novel, rather a high fantasy with some dystopian elements present.)

It also differs from other YA with its AMAZING heroine! I adored Kestrel as a heroine. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a dystopian-esque heroine that didn’t drive me up the wall in some way or another. She was smart, always thought about her actions and was never irrational in her decisions. She’s a strategist and I find that so refreshing in a heroine. Don’t get me wrong, I love heroines who can physically kick ass but it was so AWESOME to read about a heroine who uses her intelligence to outwit her opponents instead of her fists or sword.

I also really liked Arin and her relationship with him. It’s slow building but has so many interesting layers to it that it was a lot of fun to read about. It reminded me a lot of June and Day’s relationship (from Legend) in the sense that they balanced each other out. They were a great pair when they were together but just as amazing when they were on their own and I loved that! Being “on their own” is an important thing to highlight because if you are expecting some grand romance–think again! I found that the romance played a very minimal part in the story as it focuses more on the politics of the countries wayyyy more than it does on the relationship between Arin and Kestrel. It is definitely there but it takes more of a backseat throughout the story.

The Winner’s Crime doesn’t slow down from where its predecessor left off; in fact, it builds on it. Though I thought it started on the slow side, it quickly amped up its pace as you read. The Winner’s Crime definitely has more political intrigue to it which I have been craving to read about for such a long time and that made me really happy. So many great twists and turns! I really didn’t know what was going to happen despite all the clues along the way–which is probably why I would say it is my favourite of the two so far (but it was a really close and hard choice to make!).

I simply cannot wait to read The Winner’s Kiss!!! I just want to see a cover or a synopsis or even a specific release date so I can satisfy some part of my excitement!

Just a quick note on the novella (well, it’s really just a very short story). It takes place when Arin was a child, therefore it is technically a prequel. However, I think you will get more out of it if you read it after The Winner’s Curse or even The Winner’s Crime. I read it after The Winner’s Crime and I feel like that was a good time to read it because I could make the connections it inspires. However, it really doesn’t contribute to the story in any way other than to provide a taste of Arin’s life before The Winner’s Curse and isn’t necessary to read if you can’t find it (or don’t want to pay the $1 to read 20 pages).

updates

–May 23, 2016– Book #3: The Winner’s Kiss


I admit, I was worried this book wouldn’t live up to the personal hype I’ve built up in my mind over the last year waiting its arrival.

But damn, this book was finale perfection!

It had everything I wanted: politics, action, romantic tension and great twists. I was absorbed from start to finish, hanging on every word. Even though I’m sad this series is over, I couldn’t have asked for a better finale!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Winner’s Curse 5/5 | The Winner’s Crime 5/5 | The Winner’s Kiss 5/5

overall

One of my favourite YA reads this year and a new favourite series for me! Loved every minute of these books! (I may even break my buying physical books pact to own these novels!) If you want to read a dystopian-esque novel with a FANTASTICALLY intelligent heroine, her complimentary male counterpart and lots of political intrigue–this is the read for you!

Read if You Like: intelligent heroines, politics, high fantasy
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more detailed world-building

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Synopsis for The Winner’s Curse (from Goodreads):
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Single Sundays: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

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 Rosebush (from Goodreads):
Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run. Everyone believes it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real. But the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane’s boyfriend, friends, and admirers come to visit, more memories surface-not just from the party, but from deeper in her past . . . including the night her best friend Bonnie died.

With nearly everyone in her life a suspect now, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again. Along the way, she’s forced to examine the consequences of her life choices in this compulsively readable thriller.

Review:

This is one of those few books that gets my “judged-by-the-cover” tags on my Goodreads account. I came across this book entirely by accident at my library one day. I was there to grab some other books when the cover of this book (not to mention the title) caught my attention. I read the synopsis and decided to give it a shot.

And am I glad that I did: I really enjoyed reading this book!

I love thriller movies and I felt like I was simply reading one instead of watching it because I got hooked into the story. I really wanted to know what was going on and how everything happened. I didn’t find it predictable but once you get further into the story you are able to piece together all the clues and reach the conclusion. It was suspenseful right up to the end and I liked that.

What I didn’t “love” was Jane. She was nothing special and I just didn’t like her character too much–she was just your typical popular, boy-chased teenaged heroine. I actually thought she was an idiot–especially with how she lets her boyfriend treat her. Ugh, I hate that about teenaged heroines–grow a spine for goodness’ sakes!

I also want to point out that I read this book about 4 years ago–which means I was 4 years younger and within the target demographic for this novel. Reading other people’s reviews and ratings on Goodreads prior to writing this I realize I am in a minority of people who liked this book. I think if I read it now, I probably wouldn’t enjoy reading it so much because all the little bits that I was able to look past before would probably irritate the crap out of me now. But I think at the very least my rating would still be a 3/5.

Conclusion:

This book was a hot mess but I didn’t mind that it was. I had a lot of fun reading it and liked the thriller aspect to it. I think older readers won’t enjoy it too much because of the lack of maturity in the characters but teens will like it.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen/Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Romance
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cool
Similar Reads: Unravel by Calia Read and The Lying Game by Sara Shepard (The Lying Game #1)