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Series Review: Ravenspire by C J Redwine

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

Ravenspire Series

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Shadow Queen (from Goodreads):

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

breakdown

Series: Ravenspire
Author: C J Redwine
# of Books: 4 (The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, The Traitor Prince, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Traitor Prince will be published February 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Redwine’s Defiance Trilogy for its strong characters and thrilling plotline, so I was eagerly awaiting her next series. Not only did The Shadow Queen have an awesome cover but I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling and I knew Redwine would do a great job.

This book was one of my top TBR picks of 2016, but some not so favourable reviews scared me away from grabbing it right away. But when I reread the synopsis in December 2016, I just knew I had to give it a shot.

What I Liked:

–The World–

The premise in this series is that each kingdom is going to get its own retelling and I could not be more excited for that! Each kingdom is so unique and has its own little quirks so I can’t wait to uncover them.

The world itself is easy to understand and easy to visualize. Redwine doesn’t drone on about the setting but she doesn’t bypass it either. She finds that right balance to get you acquainted with the kingdoms without boring you.

–The Characters–

I’m not sure how many people watch ABC’s Once Upon a Time but Lorelai reminded me a lot of Snow (and not just because they are Snow White). She’s a kickass lead with a heart of gold but she also has her own flaws. I like that she isn’t perfect and I like that she isn’t defenceless and requires a “prince” to save her from her troubles. And the same can be said about Kol–he isn’t some flawless character either.

The cast as a whole was a lot of fun. It was easy to root for the good guys and despise the bad guys (you always need a good villain). They were all so likeable to me and that made me want to read more about their story. And there were some heartwarming moments as well.

–The Loose Retelling–

I like that this story wasn’t so focused on the retelling. That it isn’t a cut and dry Snow White story. It follows its own path and borrows some key features of the Snow White fairy tale along the way. It’s very reminiscent of The Lunar Chronicles in that respect where the fairy tale serves as the base but the plot goes its own way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Was that little bit too long–

Somewhere around the latter half of the book, I started to get a little bored. Which was weird because things were happening–it wasn’t like the characters were just sitting around waiting; there was plenty of action. I think I just wanted to get to the climax that little bit sooner. One plot device in particular seemed like it was just regurgitated in a slightly different way after it had been resolved and that really slowed down the story for me.

Otherwise, the pacing was great and the story kept my attention.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I’m excited to explore more of these kingdoms. I’m super glad that this story isn’t going to be dragged out across multiple volumes.

updates

–April 13, 2017– Book #2: The Wish Granter

I was really curious to see how the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale would be brought to life in The Wish Granter and I wasn’t disappointed. While the fairy tale itself is pretty classic, Redwine had some great creative twists.

The first being that Teague is fae–such a simple thing but one that is perfect. Faerie characters are known for their deception and tricky deals with others; perfect for a Rumpelstiltskin character. It also helps that he is a pretty evil dude that you can’t help but hate (in that great way you can detest a villain).

As for the heroes–I really loved Ari. It’s nice to have a strong heroine who isn’t strong because she can physically kick ass. Ari is intelligent, compassionate and you can’t help but root for her. She also has great character growth throughout the story. Sebastian was much of the same. I really liked how he evolved as a character throughout.

And the romance was just adorable. One of my new favorite couples. They just had great chemistry in all aspects and I loved every scene they had together.

My Rating: 4/5

The Shadow Queen 4/5 | The Wish Granter 4/5

overall

With any fairy tale retelling, you’re going to get comparisons and similar plot lines. (The source material is the same of course) But Redwine does a good job of creating an entertaining read that has its own unique twists on a story that has been done again and again.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, subtle romance, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike magic use
similarreads

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Blog Tour: The Broken Crown (Narrow Gate #1) by Amyrn Cross

Synopsis for The Broken Crown (from Goodreads):
Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave 2016, Fave Heroine
Author: Amryn Cross
# of Books: 2+ (The Broken Crown, The Desolate Reign)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Desolate Reign , will be published in 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I will admit that I was first drawn to this title thanks to its cover. The colours, the title itself and the artwork seemed to promise me great things. And then I read the synopsis and was immediately sold. This story seemed to be what I wanted The Selection to be: a romantic yet politically intriguing novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Emilia seemed like she’d be a kick-ass heroine thanks to her military past and I couldn’t wait to see if she would be the next great heroine for me.

This book literally had everything I love about YA fantasy and I couldn’t wait to start it!

The World:

What I really loved about this world is the use of religion as the main political source for tension. Most High YA Fantasy novels use magic/powers or a caste system to entice conflict; but here, it all stems from religion. How realistic is that? Very if you ask me. I enjoyed reading about a world that wasn’t flowing with magic but instead looked at something we have in our own world and something everyone has had a brush with at one point or another.

Now, don’t let that scare you into thinking this book is all about religion. It doesn’t push some agenda other than the characters’ own motivations within the context of the story. I thought it was a great tool and really added depth to this story.

The Plot:


The balance between Emilia’s character development, romance and the political world was perfect. The plot moves at a fast, but constant pace throughout the story. I never got bored thanks to the various twists that happen and the way it shifted seamless from one plot aspect to the next. Amryn Cross has a great talent for writing and it shines in this novel.

The premise of Emilia competing amongst other princesses for the princes hand was very a la The Selection for me–but this was what I wanted the The Selection to be. Instead of a whinny girl who resists the opportunity to change the system, Emilia sees the opportunity for what it is and makes the best of it. Her trying to navigate this new world was such a thrill to watch. It made the story just as dangerous as it could be and that won major points with me.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Emilia as a character. I loved that she learned from her mistakes and that she wasn’t this flawless princess nor was she so flawed that she was jaded and hard to like. She’s strong and independent but knows that she can’t do this alone and she doesn’t resist change. She’s a fighter and a thinker and she easily makes my list of favourite heroines ever. Emilia seemed so real to me and I just really loved that.

As for the rest of the characters, they are fabulous. Well crafted and well developed even if Emilia takes centre focus. Everyone complimented the story so well that I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Romance:

While I feel like I predicted the romance situation pretty early on, I can’t say that I know how it is all going to end. I LOVED the romance here. I swooned, I sighed and I really got absorbed into it all. I liked that is shined when it needed to but took a step back to let the other parts of the story develop.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! I can’t wait! Honestly, I feel like everything is just getting started! There are so many promising story lines to work with in The Desolate Reign that I cannot wait to see what happens next!

My Rating: 5/5

overall
If you want a great fantasy novel that shies away from magic and instead focuses on the politics of a kingdom and how one princess tries to change it all, you NEED to read this book!

Read if You Like: stories dealing with politics, kingdoms, strong heroines
Avoid if You: want magic, more romance focused

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Amryn Cross
A tomboy with southern belle roots, Amryn Cross was born and raised in Tennessee where she learned the importance of God, family, Southern hospitality, and football. She’s loved the written word from the time she was a child, convinced the squiggly lines on top of the Hostess cupcake really spelled out a secret message.

Amryn is a proud momma to two adorable puppies–Argo and Luna–who provide lots of laughs and kisses. She is also an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and My Book Therapy (MBT) and answers writers’ forensic questions at Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Single Sundays: Rook by Sharon Cameron

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 Rook (from Goodreads):
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2015 YA Fav, New Author to Watch
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Adventure, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember where I first stumbled upon this book. It was either on NetGalley or through someones blog; but what got me to add this to my TBR and get really excited was the synopsis. I mean the cover is gorgeous but a “game of cat and mouse”…that it right up my alley and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

I am a HUGE steampunk fan, so to read a book where machines are taboo was really quite the change for me. Especially when everything about this world is so steampunk-esque in terms of politics and society. But I loved how this world came to be–and the scary thing is I could see it happening with today’s society! Our dependency on technology definitely has its strengths and weakness and I liked that this book explored that concept.

The Writing:

I added this subheading because I feel like this is people’s biggest complaint about the book–and I totally get why!

Third person narratives are always hard to get into; especially if you primarily read first person POVs like I do. I find the more familiar you are with an author and their style, the easier it is to read subsequent novels by them. But this is my first Sharon Cameron book, though it won’t be my last!

The narration in this book is not as forthcoming or honest as one would expect; but it has to be. It is a suspense novel so scenes are going to be left vague or a character will be referred to in generic terms until it is beneficial for the reader to know their exact identity. You also get multiple POVs to keep the plot moving and evolving. It makes for a frustrating read from the readers perspective but I always felt like the big reveal was worth it.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to reread lines to make sure I was fully understanding what was happening…because I did. But eventually I got used to the flow of the book and I really enjoyed the narration by the end of it.

The Plot:

As I said, there is a lot going on at times. Which is great for a reader like me who loves layers to their novels. You have the game between Rene and Sophia; Sophia and the debt collectors; the Red Rook and LeBlanc; LeBlanc and Rene; the Upper and Lower parts of the city…I think you get the point. There are a lot of players in this game and they definitely keep things interestingAnd the great thing is that I never felt overwhelmed by it all!

I was sucked into the plot pretty quickly. I feel like it builds really well and has a great balance between all the different elements. Things were always changing and it kept me on my toes, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. This book felt really long when I first started but I pretty much read it in a day as the pages just flew by.

The Characters:

This book probably has some of the most intelligent characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I expected LeBlanc (the “villain”) to be a bumbling fool easily outwitted by the Red Rook but he was so on point it was almost scary! A worth adversary who definitely kept me on my toes whenever he figured something out. Of course these characters all have their flaws but their wit and tenacity really captured my attention.

Also, I just have to add this quote because I absolutely adore it:

The idea that women are not fit for certain tasks is based on cultural expectations, not the science of fact. It is an old-fashioned belief coming from the less civilized centuries after the Great Death, and has nothing to do with medicine. Any man of science knows that.

I just loved the strength of the female characters in this novel! Sophia was amazing as a heroine! She is everything I adore in my leading ladies and exactly what I had hoped for. René was a perfect opponent for Sophia and I loved their interactions together. He was a solid character in his own right and kept my attention throughout. The rest were just fun and balanced the leads and the story extremely well.

The Romance:

I really, really liked that the romance didn’t overshadow this book. It shone when it needed to but stayed dormant when it didn’t. There is a love triangle but it actually contributes to the plot in an obvious and beneficial way.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book just hit all the right points for me! It was fun, twisty and full of action and mind games! I was really hooked into this only a few chapters in! I think the writing will turn some people off, but once you get used to it, it moves at a great pace!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, suspense, post apocolyptic worlds
Avoid if You: want more romance, don’t like third person POVs

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Single Sundays: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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 Vengeance Road (from Goodreads):
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2015, Favourite Heroine
Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Action, Historical, Western, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source & Format: ARC Paperback — A prize from Lola @ Hit Or Miss Books! Thanks so Much!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won this book through a contest on Lola’s Hit Or Miss blog and immediately loved the cover. I wasn’t planning on reading it until late August, but the cover kept popping up everywhere and I was eager to try reading a Western novel–something I had never experienced before–so I decided to post-pone some books and bump this one up to the top.

The Concept / The World:

I was speaking like a prospector by the end of this one! From the language used to the descriptions of the setting itself: I really felt like I was in the Wild West. It has all the “stereotypical” aspects of the Wild West but is grounded in a realism that shows Erin Bowman did her research. I was really impressed with how the world-building came together in this story and it easily drew me in!

The Plot:

Normally, I’m not one for adventure stories. I find they drag and if I don’t like the leads, my attention wanes. That isn’t the case with this story! Part of it is because of the heroine (more below) and the other part is that this story never lags. We aren’t left in the Arizonian desert  stewing for the next exciting thing because plot twists are happening every few pages. It builds up the excitement and keeps the pages turning.

I really didn’t know how things were going to end. I had my theories but I was definitely surprised by some of the events that happened, thus the 5/5 because I loved that!

The Characters:

Can Kate be my new BFF? That would be great thanks! She reminds me a lot of Scarlet from A C Gaughin’s Scarlet Trilogy: one kickass, let’s get-er-done heroine who takes no attitude from no one. I loved her by the end of chapter one and rooted for her the entire way. Definitely a new favourite heroine for me!

As for the rest of the cast, they are great! While they fill your typical Western roles, they each have their own unique quirks that made it so enjoyable to read. Overall, a solid cast that does their job perfectly.

The Romance:

This isn’t a straight forward romance as the romance takes a backseat to the revenge-adventure plot. There is enough to satisfy the romantic reader (I’m a huge romance junkie and I was more than happy) and when it is there, it helps keep the plot moving–it doesn’t overshadow it and its great!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I was really impressed with this novel! I loved the Western setting, the AMAZINGLY strong heroine and the plot. It kept me on the edge of the seat and I enjoyed every minute of it! A new favourite for sure!

Read if You Like: kickass heroines, revenge stories, Westerns
Avoid if You: want more romance, don’t like action stories

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Series Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch

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 Snow Like Ashes (from Goodreads):
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2015 (Snow Like Ashes)
Series: The Snow Like Ashes Trilogy
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 3 (Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire, Frost Like Night)

You can read the deleted prologue (Icicles like Kindling) here! Flames Like Vines is a companion story to Ice Like Fire, read it here!

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; First & Third Person (Ice Like Fire onwards)
Source & Format: Public Library, eBook

thoughts

Snow Like Ashes caught my eye after I saw the cover on a few blogs. I had seen it before when browsing various book sites but I never bothered to read the synopsis. I’m SO glad that I decided to read it–because I absolutely loved it!

When I started reading Snow Like Ashes, I wasn’t totally in the right mindset and the slightly slower pace of the first two chapters didn’t keep my attention where it should be. But, that QUICKLY changed when Meira leaves for her mission.

I was initially worried that Meira would be like Celaena from the Throne of Glass Series: a jaded, take-no-prisoners kind of girl. And while I do love Celaena’s character (and other kick ass heroines like her) it was refreshing to actually watch a character develop into that strong female heroine role like we do with Meira.

Unlike Celaena, Meira isn’t so great at the  hand-to-hand combat aspect, but what she lacks she makes up for in passion and intelligence. Her passion to save her kingdom is there right from the get-go and she doesn’t let it jade her in anyway–she keeps pushing forward and I loved that tenacity. I find a lot of heroines–especially in more dystopian novels–are reluctantly thrust into a rebellion situation and their dislike of being in the “leader” position shows, giving the books a sad, more negative feel. With Meira, I never felt that because she is so optimistic about everything and that was so refreshing to me.

What is even better is that she actually thinks about the consequences of her actions before she gives in to her impulses which wins her major points in my books. I also love her narration: she was sarcastic, witty and just a lot of fun to read about which made this book so addicting to read!

I could probably go on for days about why I loved Meira but I’ll touch on some of the other great aspects of this book.

The “dangerous politics” portion of the synopsis is probably overlooked by most potential readers–I know I sure overlooked it! While this book does have some great action sequences in it, the real focus (at least it seemed to me) was the politics of the world these characters find themselves in. It’s been a long time since I read kingdom focused book a la The Girl of Fire and Thorns or The Iron King and while I did initially have issues sorting out all the places/people (use the map in the books my friends!) it was easier to pick up on as you went.

updates

–November 6, 2015– Book 2: Ice Like Fire

I was super excited to start this one but my excitement died a little once I actually started to read it. Compared to Snow Like Ashes, this book has a more melancholy feel to it and less action…at the start. Given the ending of Snow Like Ashes, I should have expected that and I did to a certain extent. I just kept waiting for it to amp up a bit and get to the good stuff.

Even though most of this story is the politics of the world (something I LOVE in my High Fantasy stories), I did get bored with it. It was just so expected and ordinary that it made me worry that this book wasn’t going to deliver.

Patience is a virtue and in this case, it is your best friend. The last 100 pages were intense, oh so very twisted and action packed. Suddenly the very dry, level story reaches an amazing climax that makes you connect the dots to everything you previously read. In hindsight, it is a beautifully crafted story but it isn’t until the end that you appreciate that. 

–November 6, 2016– Book 3: Ice Like Night

I’ll admit, I went into this book wrong. Despite my excitement to start this, I had briefly read someone’s observations that this wasn’t that great of an ending and so I lowered my expectations.

I could see why someone would be disappointed. I thought the first half of the book was terribly slow. A lot of talking and not enough action–which sucks because I associate this series as the perfect blend of action and political intrigue. It was boring at times and I was thankful we had two other POVs to counteract the somewhat dull Meira POV.

Once I got to the halfway point, there were little blimps of excitement. But it did start to build and I really did enjoy the last 75 pages of so.

Overall, a satisfying ending but not as strong as I had wanted.

My Rating: 4/5

Snow Like Ashes 5/5 | Ice Like Fire 4/5 | Frost Like Night 3.5/5

I hesitated for a long time between giving Snow Like Ashes a 4/5 and a 5/5 (on GoodReads–man I wish they did half stars!). I found that it did lag in places but the slower bits were necessary to the story. I think if I didn’t have to study for exams–which caused my reading to be broken up into large and small chunks–I would have finished this book in one sitting guilt-free. So I opted to give it a 5 on GoodReads and I’ll do the same here.

overall

It’s a solid series that starts to move away from the action into the political sphere of things, slowing the momentum down at times. But even when I thought I had things figured out, I was quickly turned in another direction–so I loved that it kept me on my toes!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, world-building, political intrigue, kick-ass heroines
Avoid if You: dislike action, dislike magic

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Single Sundays: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

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 Princess of Thorns (from Goodreads):
Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

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Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve enjoyed Stacey Jay’s novels in the past for their original retellings of classic stories, like Romeo & Juliet and Beauty and the Beast. So when I saw the Princess of Thorns novel as an upcoming novel from her, I immediately went to see what it was about. Three things immediately sold me on this book:

  1. “Game of Thrones” meets (I love watching Game of Thrones, I have yet to tackle the books)
  2. “Grimm’s fairy tales” (I love fairy tale retelling stories)
  3. Sleeping Beauty (my favourite Disney princess is Aurora)

This book just seemed to have been made for me and I wasn’t going to do it the disservice of not reading it.

The Concept / The World:

Considering I was reading this book solely for the concept, I was expecting great things and I really did like the setting of Princess of Thorns. It was gritty and intricate which made reading about Aurora’s and Niklaas’ adventure very interesting.

I don’t recommend starting this book when you are tired like I did or else you might be a little lost at the start. It took me a lot longer to understand what was going on because I wasn’t in the right mindset and that dampened my reading experience. But once I understood the elements of the curses I really liked them.

The Plot:

I would say this book is more of an adventure/quest novel than a strict fairy tale retelling. Yes, the fairy tale element is a huge part of the plot but I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of Sleeping Beauty. When you read it, you clearly understand why they say it is like “Game of Thrones meets Grimm’s fairy tales” because that is the best way to describe it. However, don’t be expecting the politics of Game of Thrones when you read. Rather, expect Aurora to be more like Daenerys Targaryen in the second season (second book) where she struggles to find an army to get back her throne: which means it can be a little boring at times.

I did feel like the book was slow to start and I felt my mind wandering as I was reading. Again, I wasn’t in the right mindset when I was reading it (I had to read it ASAP to return it to the library on time) so I kept waiting for it to get really exciting and it never really did. I found the last half was a lot more interesting to read but it didn’t wow me in any way. I also think Stacey Jay’s writing isn’t totally for me. This is the fourth book by her that I have read and I find her writing style confusing. I’m often rereading lines to make sure I have things clear and I’ve found that to be the case with all her books so far.

The Characters:

I really liked Aurora. She reminded me a lot of Katsa from Graceling in the sense that she could kick some serious ass when needed but was a more reserved heroine (ie not in your face). I liked that she was strong and independent and had some passion for her cause. While she may not be my favourite heroine ever, I did like her and never got annoyed with her.

Niklaas on the other hand took me a while to like. It’s weird because I normally like the suave, charming male heroes but I didn’t instantly love Niklaas like I was expecting. And I think a part of that is the romance…

The Romance:

*sigh* I really have mixed feelings on this romance: the critic in me is battling with the reader in me.

The critical me can appreciate the “friends to lovers” approach this book takes. It’s a classic Shakespeare scenario where the girl disguised as a boy falls in love with the boy she is helping. It even reminds me of the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty where Aurora and Philip meet for the first time and find that connection that saves them later on. I can appreciate the approach, it just doesn’t mean that I liked it.

I wish the romance had a little more of a spark to it. Because once it was there, it was great. I loved the relationship between these two, I just wish it was elaborated on earlier in the book.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really, really wanted to love this book but it fell flat. To me, it was Princess Aurora’s shot to prove that she isn’t the perfect case of Damsel in Distress and for the most part I truly think she did. I just wish the other elements were up to snuff and the book was 50 pages shorter.

Read if You Like: quest based stories, fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want more passionate romance, dislike slower starts

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Series Review: Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter

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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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: A Favourite Young Adult Series
Series: Gallagher Girls Series
Author: Ally Carter
# of Books: 6

There is a crossover novella with the Heist Society novels called Double Crossed. There are also two other novellas: Classified Material (#4.5) and a Gallagher Wedding (#6.5).

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Espionage, Action, Adventure, Romance, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

The first thing that capture my attention with this series was the witty titles. I love punny things so I counted that as a sign that I should read these books. I also love stories about kick-ass female heroines and the whole espionage thing was an added bonus. When I really started getting into my reading addiction, this series came up all the time but I didn’t read the first book until 5 years after it had been published (so my first year of university). I was probably a little too old to be reading it but I couldn’t resist.

This series reminds me a lot of the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Series--but if Georgia and crew were spies. Gallagher Girls definite has more suspense and focuses on the action part of the plot, but the friendship between Cammie and her friends really reminds me of Georgia and her crew which I really liked. It was a lot of fun reading about this group of girls and joining them on all their adventures from finding first love to saving the world.

These books continued to be a lot of fun even when the plot line got to be more serious after book 3, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover. The first three books have a story arc that starts and concludes within the same novel (for the most part). There are some hints here and there about the eventual over-arching plot line that takes place in the later books but I found they focused mostly on a single plot line. Book 4, Only the Good Spy Young, is where the final story arc of the series begins but I found that the plot never dragged despite spanning 3 books. I think it helps that the characters are all solid in their personalities and by this point in the series you are attached to every single one of them.

I really enjoyed reading these books! They were always what I expected them to be (and a little bit more) and I’m sad to see Cammie and co. go.

Conclusion:

A very well executed and written Young Adult series. If you like tough but fun and lovable girls as your YA heroines, this is a great series for you to read. Definitely geared more towards the younger set of readers but older YA fans will no doubt enjoy.

Rating: 4.5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: Yes

Similar Reads: Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson #1)

Synopsis for I’d Tell You I Love You, But I’d Have to Kill You (from Goodreads):
Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it’s really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real “pavement artist”-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she’s on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

Series Review: The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Author, Favourite Series #14
Series: The Drake Chronicles
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
# of Books: 6 (Hearts at Stake, Blood Feud, Out for Blood, Bleeding Hearts, Blood Moon, Blood Prophecy )

There are a lot of novella side stories and prequels: Full List Here

Book Order: Connected Chronologically
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Action, Vampires, Humour
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I’ve read a lot of vampire novels so I was excited to see that this series appeared to be a fresh take on vampires and by a Canadian author to boot!

And this series is a fresh take! It reminds me of a more up-beat Vampire Academy because we have different types of vampire species at play here with a lot of kick-ass action but it is done in a much more fun way. Lucy is witty and her parents are a little crazy and the Drake family is highly entertaining.

The first 4 books in the series focus on a different Drake sibling and their respective love interest. I like this setup because we get to learn more about the different Drakes, get to watch a new couple fall in love and get a fresh take on the overarching plot. You see, although the first 4 books focus on different characters, they each contribute to the plot that starts in the first novel and concludes in the last. This has its pros and cons in my opinion but it is a setup we don’t commonly see in other young adult series and it makes this series unique.

A pro about this series setup is that there is never really a lull in the plot progression (or at least there isn’t one that is as noticeable as in other series). It also gets you more familiar with the characters and helps your understanding with the world the Drakes are apart of. And at the same time, you don’t get annoyed or bored reading the same characters’ perspectives for an entire 6 book series.

A con about this series is that the last 2 books focus on Solange, Nicholas and Lucy who are the stars of the first book. Now the con isn’t that it follows these characters–because Nicholas and Lucy are my two favourite in this series–rather I was under the impression that when I started this series that each book was going to focus on a different Drake sibling and their love interest. I was expecting to see the oldest Drake brothers fall in love and unfortunately, I don’t get to (though a novella follows one of their love stories).

It would be easy to get past this I think if I enjoyed where the plot ended up going; but unfortunately, I didn’t love the path we take for the final climax. Solange was never my favourite character but I really didn’t like her storyline in Blood Moon and Blood Prophecy and because she is a main focus, I felt like it really dragged.

It took me a really long time to finish Blood Prophecy–I just couldn’t get into it. Although I loved the fact that the characters we were previously introduced to get adequate screen time I just felt like the book was way too long. The plot dragged and I got bored with the plot. I warmed up by the end but it was too little too late.

Part of the problem is that it had been 1.5 years since I finished book 5, Blood Moon–which I didn’t totally love either so that also changed my expectations for the final book. Regardless, I just found it hard to keep everything straight because there are multiple vampire species that have different abilities and the like; and they all have odd names so I found it hard to keep them straight. If I had read all books in a row within a month, I probably wouldn’t have been as lost and enjoyed the final two books a lot more.

A note on the novellas: I’ve only read some of the novellas. They aren’t necessary for the story but they do give some context and are entertaining, purely fan-service reads.

Conclusion:

If you want a vampire series that focuses equally on romance and action–this is a series for you. It’s a lot of fun, has strong heroines and lots of kickass action! But be sure to read them close together to keep everything straight and keep within the Drake-mindset!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy #1)

Synopsis for Hearts at Stake (or My Love Lies Bleeding) (from Goodreads):
On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.

Series Review: The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Top Series #11, Must-Read Author
Series: The Iron Fey
Author: Julie Kagawa
# of Books: 4 (the Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen, The Iron Knight)

There are lots of novellas and extras that take place between the books. A full list is here.

There is also a spin-off series: Iron Fey: The Call of the Forgotten

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Faeries, Romance, Action, Mythology, Fairy Tales
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

This was one of the first series I read in an eBook format–and truth be told I wanted to read this series so bad that I started to read eBooks just so I could read it! So I strained my eyes on my tiny iPhone screen reading the first two books of the series and then read the rest on my best gift ever: my Kobo.

By the time I picked up The Iron King I had read a considerable amount of faerie novels. While some didn’t do much for me, I do have a few that are within my top series picks so I do have a pretty hefty set of standards when it comes to faerie novels. But one thing I find with these faeries novels is that each series has a different spin–and this one is no exception.

Ms. Kawaga creates a world that is so unique yet easy to follow that it’s extremely easy to get immersed in it. Not only does she blend in the faerie world with the human world but she manages to add everyday fairy tales and other aspects that just give this world so much depth. It was such a pleasure reading about the world Meghan and company are in.

And Meghan is probably one of my top favourite heroines ever. She is just so strong and independent that I never got annoyed with her–even when a love triangle comes about (but let’s be real, we always knew who she was going to pick). Her complex to save the world (aka Lead-Heroine Sacrifice Syndrome) didn’t piss me off, it just made me really sad at times because I really didn’t know how everything would end up. Ash and Puck were also fantastic.

That was another thing I loved about this series. It was never predictable. Sure I could put the dots together but it wasn’t until I got the clues that I had an inkling about what was going to happen.

Each book built upon the last and reading the novellas is extremely helpful in bridging the gaps between the books–so I recommend that you do follow the reading order you see on Goodreads.

When I read this series, it was only a trilogy but the fourth book, The Iron Knight was on its way due to fan demand (and when you read the third book you will understand why). I was really worried about this book because I find when author’s write something because fans want it, the result is a mediocre fan-fiction effort (I’m looking at you Breaking Dawn). But The Iron Knight was fantastic. I laughed, I cried (more like balled my eyes out and sobbing) and it made me really excited to see where the spin-off series was going. It gave me the impression that Kagawa had always intended to write this story because it was crafted so well.

I haven’t picked up the spin-off series yet, but it is near the top of my to-read list!

Conclusion:

I remember telling my roommate she had to read these books and she did and she loved them! It’s not just a romance novel set in a faerie world–it’s a complex story that happens to be filled with a romance, lots of action and plot twists. Simply a great series that I think even older “young adults” (ie adults) will enjoy.

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Glimmerglass by Jenna Black (Faeriewalker Trilogy #1); Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely Series #1) and Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (Wondrous Strange Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for The Iron King (from Goodreads):
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Movie Mondays: Divergent

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Divergent by Veronica Roth | Movie: Divergent (2014)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Divergent
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Action
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I read Divergent right as it was becoming big. I had read the Hunger Games and was enjoying the dystopian trend that seemed to follow after it so this seemed like an obvious choice to read.

I think a lot of people expect this book to be a rip-off of the Hunger Games but it’s important to know that it isn’t. Sure, there are some similarities but you find similarities in all Dystopian fiction–it’s what defines the genre. They both share corrupt governments (what dystopian book doesn’t?) and have strong female leads who don’t mind kicking some ass when push comes to shove. But I think that is where the similarities end and each book has a completely different feel to it as each book has a different message.

As a first book, I really enjoyed Divergent. While it started slow and I wasn’t totally in love with Tris initially, this book really picks up fast and Tris really grew on me. I would consider her one of my favourite heroines in dystopian young adult fiction.

I also loved the sexual tension between Tris and Four. I especially like that their relationship doesn’t take the main focus–so it makes those little moments between them that much more awesome.

Conclusion:

Overall, it’s a great start to a great series. It has a lot going on so once it gets going, it never really stops. Dystopian fans will really enjoy this one!

Rating: 4/5
Series Review: Full series review here!–Coming Soon

Similar Reads: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy #1); Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1) and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium Trilogy #1)

The Movie:

I’ve been anticipating this movie for a really long time so I had to go and see it opening weekend. And I have to say, the wait was worth it!

I will be the first to admit that I don’t remember all the little details of Divergent (though I am currently reading Allegiant so I had a pretty good refresher prior *no pun on Tris name intended*) but I do remember the main points of the novel. My friend, who recently read the book and saw it with me, said that they didn’t change things all that much and it was pretty true to the story. There was just one scene that I definitely know wasn’t in the books but knowing what I know about the story in the next two books, I think it was a smart decision on the screenwriters parts.

Casting is always a big deal for me (and I’m sure most other book fans) and I really liked the casting in this movie–though not always. I remember watching Shailene Woodley in The Secret Life of the American Teenager and anyone who has watched the show know that it is the ultimate guilty pleasure TV show with mediocre acting–but to be fair to the actors on the show, I think it is the writing. So I was a little worried when she was cast but since then she has done a lot of other acting projects since and I don’t mind her acting. After watching the movie, I think she was a great choice–as was the rest of the cast. I felt like they captured the characters extremely well so I really felt like the book was coming to life in front of me.

The movie really reflected the slower pace of the book but once it got going, it never really stopped. It went by super fast and I really enjoyed it overall and I think other fans of the book will too.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is TIE. I really enjoyed the movie but I really do love the novel. I think the movie does a great job of capturing the book and fans will enjoy it so I can’t knock it down!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Divergent (from Goodreads):
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Trailer: