Tag «politics»

Novella Serial Review: Chase by Cassia Leo

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Chase (from Goodreads):

Larissa Jacobs’ financial debt is climbing after a failed attempt at becoming the next big thing in Hollywood–and now her roommate has asked her to come up with the rent by the end of the weekend or she’ll be out on the street. But her roommate soon takes pity on her and offers to help her get a job working with him for an escort service. Larissa’s first client is Senator Chase Underwood: gorgeous, married, and the current presidential candidate. Will his penchant for sexual domination destroy his prospects of world domination?

breakdown

Series: Chase

Part of the broader Power Players Series (Luke Series & Knox Series)

Author: Cassia Leo
# of Parts: 4 (Chase, Disclosure, Exposure, Closure)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August – November 2012
Source & Format: Own–Kindle

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cassia Leo is one of those authors I have a lot of books by but haven’t really read. Despite being really excited for her Luke Series, I ended up DNFing it. So I was a little hesitant to start this one but the premise was really intriguing and it was only a total of 80 pages…

The Plot:

There isn’t too much of a plot besides Chase and Larissa trying to figure out how they can be together–and that isn’t overly complicated either. The pages consist of sexy times, Larissa pining for Chase and Chase promising they will be together before he departs. Rinse and repeat.

But the ending? While I expected it, I just didn’t like the far-fetched nature of it all.

The Characters:

When you have a series of this length, it’s hard to get to know these characters on a deeper level. But they work for this story. Could they have been elaborated on? For sure but they did the job well here.

The Romance:

They meet once, kiss and Chase decides he has to risk everything for a girl he essentially hooks-up with in a limo after 5 minutes of meeting. It’s classic over the top, insta-love at its “finest”–and I wasn’t really a fan.

Series Rating: 2/5

overall

If you want a super quick read of insta-love or love the idea of a presidental canditate falling for an escort, give it a try. Otherwise, pass!

Read if You Like: serialized novellas, erotica
Avoid if You: want a little more substance to your erotica

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Blog Tour: Ignited (Dance of Elements #1) by A M Deese

Synopsis for Ignited (from Goodreads):

A NOBLE DAUGHTER.

A FORMER SLAVE.

SCORCHED EARTH AND DANGEROUS GAMES.

“Jura imagined it sounded like rain.”

Juggling death is nothing new for seventeen-year-old Jura, daughter of the First of the Thirteen, successive rulers of the Republic of the Sand Sea. However, when a blood chain ensnares her father, she is thrust into the seat of power and forced to rule her elders.

“To Tylak, water had never tasted sweeter.”

Jura must track down her father’s assassin and balance a country on the verge of collapse. To find the Prince of Shadows and uncover the truth, Jura puts her trust in Tylak, a former slave accused of stealing from the Everflame—a man she once condemned to death.

In a world where water is currency and enemies lurk around every corner, Jura will use her wits or risk igniting a world war.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Dance of Elements
Author: A M Deese
# of Books: 1+ (Ignited)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Pre-Order: Radiant Crown Publishing // Google Play

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love books with political intrigue and this one seemed like it would have that in spades. The whole idea that a young girl has to play a political game while trying to save her father’s life had me interested in seeing what would happen next.

What I Liked

–The World / Concept–

I loved the many layers to this world. First, you have the whole political system which is so cutthroat and devious that I couldn’t help but devour it. Next you have the class system that separates the peoples and creates its own conflict. Add the currency of water, throw in people with special abilities and dragons and you’ve got yourself a pretty epic world to get lost in.

–Multiple POVs–

I love books where we follow multiple leads because it provides a wider, full coverage view of the world. Having all the character POVs we do here does a great job of moving the plot forward and revealing those little tidbits that have you craving more.

–Game of Thrones Vibes–

One of my favourite things about Game of Thrones is the political intrigue. You don’t know who you can trust, there are supernatural elements at play and you never know who is going to live. There are so many players that something is always evolving and I felt like this book captured that same suspense as GOT, just in a YA kind of way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It is a Little Overwhelming At the Start–

When it comes to the world, Everything is explained well so I was never lost in that respect. Where I did get a little lost was keeping all the things straight at the start. A lot of information is thrown at you and trying to remember everyone’s roles overwhelmed me a little. But as you get deeper into the world it gets easier to follow.

–Slower Start–

I found that this book took a while to get its footing. Part of that reason is that we switch POVs a lot in the first few chapters in order to establish all the key players and drama. It takes time to build up the various plotlines but once they get there, you really do become sucked into the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I had a pretty good idea of what was actually happening in the book, there’s a great unexpected twist that really shook things up for me. Now that the world is familiar and I know most of the key players, I’m hoping the sequel can take that great momentum and build on it.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

Ignited 3.5/5| Book 2 TBP

overall
If you enjoy fantasies with a lot going on and lots of characters, this is a great one. The action is in the politics and suspense and not of the physical variety but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Read if You Like: political intrigue, books with multiple POVs
Avoid if You: want more action, faster start

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A M Deesse

Alexis Marrero Deese isan avid reader of young adult and fantasy. Her favorite authors include Brandon Sanderson, Jaqueline Carey, and Orson Scott Card. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and a sun tan she misses dearly since her move to northern Georgia. She has a passion for cooking, spends entirely too much time on Pinterest, and is a self-proclaimed dog training expert to her family’s legion of dogs.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Fresh Fridays: Ruined (#1) by Amy Tintera

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:

Ruined Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined (from Goodreads):
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Ruined, Avenged, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Avenged, will be published in May 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

But this novel also promised to have a slightly darker edge to it; or at least, I hoped it would. Not that I like to have a lot of violence in my novels, but I do enjoy novels with action and the grittier scenes that happen from physical confrontations. It adds another layer of risk to the story.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this novel just after its release, but I still really wanted to read it. So I avoided reading too much into any other reviews so that I could go into this fresh…and I sure am glad I did!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

This book always kept moving! Whether it was romantic developments or character scenes or action scenes, I never had a dull moment while reading this.

Honestly, if I could have stayed in bed all day to read this, I totally would have!

–The Romance–

Like I said, I’m a sucker for this trope of characters falling in love with their enemies. So this was one of my favourite aspects. These two were a perfect match in my eyes and I like the character growth that is a result of their relationship.

A lot of people will probably struggle with this trope–especially with these two and all that happens between them–but I don’t think it overshadows the story too much. You still have a lot of great plot development outside of the romance even if it is often the main focus of the plot.

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

I like books that aren’t afraid to take risks. If that means killing off a character or two, that’s ok. It makes the story that touch more unpredictable and keeps me excited to see what will happen next because there are no restraints.

I also like that there seems to be true villains here. Evil characters are often water-downed but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s in store.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

I’m one of those readers who likes things spelled out for her, especially when I’m starting a new series.

When it comes to the term “ruined” I honestly had no idea what that meant when I first started reading. I knew these people had “powers” but it was never clearly explained. Or if it was, I totally missed it. Sure, it was easy to understand it once I got a grasp of their abilities but I hate when things are told as if you should already know what it all means. 

I also would have loved a map of the world! While it was pretty easy to orient it, I just think it would be neat to see.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There were so many interesting plot developments at the end of Ruined that I can’t wait to see what is in store. I’m hoping for a touch more world-building and maybe a dash more politics; but otherwise, if Avenged sticks to the same foundations as Ruined, it’ll be great!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

While this story does borrow characteristics and tropes common to the genre, (I think many readers will draw parallels to other novels) I still had a lot of fun with this story. It still felt fresh to me and it definitely has its own unique quirks to make it stand out on its own.

Read if You Like: in love with the enemy romances
Avoid if You: want stronger world-building

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Single Sundays: America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert

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 America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t (from Goodreads):
Book nation, in the history of mankind there has never been a greater country than America. You could say we’re the #1 nation at being the best at greatness.

But as perfect as America is in every single way, America is broken! And we can’t exchange it because we’re 236 years past the 30-day return window. Look around–we don’t make anything anymore, we’ve mortgaged our future to China, and the Apologist-in-Chief goes on world tours just to bow before foreign leaders. Worse, the L.A. Four Seasons Hotel doesn’t even have a dedicated phone button for the Spa. You have to dial an extension! Where did we lose our way?!

It’s high time we restored America to the greatness it never lost!

Luckily, AMERICA AGAIN will singlebookedly pull this country back from the brink. It features everything from chapters, to page numbers, to fonts. Covering subject’s ranging from healthcare (“I shudder to think where we’d be without the wide variety of prescription drugs to treat our maladies, such as think-shuddering”) to the economy (“Life is giving us lemons, and we’re shipping them to the Chinese to make our lemon-flavored leadonade”) to food (“Feel free to deep fry this book-it’s a rich source of fiber”), Stephen gives America the dose of truth it needs to get back on track.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Nonfiction 2015
Author: Stephen Colbert
Genre: Nonfiction, Politics, Humour, Satire
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In September 2015 I decided to start listening to audiobooks. It takes me approximately an hour to go grocery shopping when I am at school when you factor in walking, buying and returning home. I reasoned that would be the perfect time to listen to an audiobook instead of regular old music.

Lindsey @ Bring My Books wrote a great review of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me audiobook and it inspired me to try listening to audiobooks of nonfiction novels–especially humour ones. Why I didn’t clue into that earlier is beyond me but it made me want to try an audiobook!

This one was just based on what was available when I looked. I loved watching The Colbert Report and I figured if I could watch Stephen Colbert on a daily basis, listening to him narrate his audiobook wouldn’t be that difficult.

The Concept:

As a Canadian I will admit that I didn’t get every American reference–however, I probably know more than the average Canadian about American politics thanks to my viewing of The Daily Show with John Stewart and The Colbert Report. He even throws in some hilarious Canadian references that had me laughing like a crazy person as I took the subway.

This book is essentially a satirical view of American politics and ideals. It basically reads as if you were watching an extended episode of The Colbert Report but on a much more candid level. As you progress through the story, Stephen gives his ironic tips on how to reclaim every American stereotype I’ve ever heard. It’s entertaining and hilarious and was everything I expected from Stephen Colbert.

The Writing/Narration:

Like I said, I felt like I was listening to a longer episode of The Colbert Report–which is exactly what I was expecting. I couldn’t imagine anyone else delivering this novel other than Stephen Colbert.

Did it Impact My Life?

I suppose it did. The simplest way is that it made me like listening to an audiobook. I had tried to listen to one or two before but I couldn’t get past a female narrator changing her voice to sound like a man during YA fiction. But listening to the author narrate their own nonfiction title–that works for me.

It also taught me a bit more about American politics and ideals. It was rather enlightening.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book thoroughly entertained me. It was so much fun to listen to! I don’t think it would have been the same experience if I had read it. Having Stephen Colbert actually speak the words in the way they are intended to be really helps the humour come to light.

Read if You Like: political satires
Avoid if You: don’t like books that deal with politics

similarreads

  • A Nation Worth Ranting About by Rick Mercer

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Fresh Fridays: Cross the Stars (Crossing Stars #1) by Vanessa Kimball

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:

Crossing Stars

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Cross the Stars (from Goodreads):

What would you risk for love? Would you cross the stars? Steal the moon?

She is American. A commoner, an outsider. Min barra. He is Jordanian royalty. A prince, already promised to another. And their worlds are about to collide.

A year shy of graduating from Georgetown University, Ella Wallace feels like she is losing direction. Having carved her own path through life, rejecting her family’s elitist influences, the last thing she wants is to waste time and prove her parents right. A happenstance summer-long program abroad offers the perfect opportunity to immerse herself in volunteer work, finding richness in family and purpose she has never experienced before.

Prince Rajaa bin Ammaar is returning home to Jordan from Georgetown University. His intent is to spearhead a refugee program meant to bring peace to his country. Amidst threats of civil war and revolt, Raj stands for his convictions, even when they challenge his family and the very culture he is preordained to uphold.

A chance encounter at a crowded party in D.C. brought Ella and Raj together for one fleeting moment – two people never thought to meet again. But it’s not until their diverse worlds collide in Jordan that they realize the power of their connection. With the refugee program as their reuniting bond, they must cross the stars and defy their clashing cultures to protect their forbidden love.

With the culturally rich Jordanian backdrop, Cross the Stars will take you on a journey into the geographical and cultural Middle East, the resilience of people amidst turbulent civil unrest, the parallel unrest of two lovers’ clashing fates, and the diversity they must challenge with every breath to keep their love alive.

breakdown

Series: Crossing the Stars
Author: Venessa Kimball as V Angelika
# of Books: 2 (Cross the Stars, Steal the Moon)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Steal the Moon, will be published in June 2016
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Last year, I enjoyed the YA novel Written in the Stars which explored the arranged marriage of a young Pakistani American and it really opened my eyes to a whole other world of character conflict that I had never experienced before.

So that is what initially drew me into this book: the exploration of a culture I had never experienced before. It also doesn’t hurt that I am a sucker for forbidden romances and what is better than a romance between a prince from the Middle East and American student? The fact that this was a New Adult novel led me to believe I would be consumed in a passionate romance that tested the boundaries of the world it is set in. But is that what I got?

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

While I was reading, I really felt like I was in the Middle East. The description of the conflict and the physical geography of the Jordan really helped me immerse myself in the world. It also doesn’t hurt that the first 50% of the book is used to establish the setting and the character worlds.

–The Coming of Age Aspect–

Like I just said, the first half of the book was spent establishing the characters and their situation. Ella is struggling in her family life and deciding what she wants to do while Raj has a whole slew of family matters to worry about. While I would have wanted the romance to start from the get-go, I appreciated the time given to build these characters up as individuals. It helped you to grasp why they react the way they do or why fate has pushed them together at this point. They become whole characters to you instead of one half of a pair and I appreciated that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance Doesn’t Start Until Halfway Through–

I found the synopsis to be a little misleading. I thought the romance would be introduced shortly after I started the book and would progress through the various issues the couple would face given their social statuses. That isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, these two don’t really enter each other’s orbit until the 50% mark and then the chaos ensues. So it’s a very slow burn romance that quickly ignites once it sparks–but I was disappointed slightly that I wasn’t getting that passionate, all consuming romance earlier on in the story like I expected.

Add to the fact that it’s pretty much a love at first sight type of connection and I was pretty disappointed in how the romance unfolded, even if the sexual chemistry and tension was strong once it is introduced.

–Ella’s Angst–

Despite her age, she came across as an angsty high schooler at the start of the novel. I mean, I vaguely understood her motivations for why she felt the way she did but it seemed a little over-dramatic for me. But like I said above, I did enjoy her character’s growth so all was not lost in that respect.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Now that everything has hit the fan so to speak, I’m really curious to see how this story unfolds. I’m hoping for more drama, more passion and some good plot twists in Steal the Moon.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Cross the Stars 3.5/5  | Steal the Moon TBP

overall

While I didn’t get the passionate romance read that I wanted, I did get an intriguing read that kept me pushing through the pages. It’s a world rich with politics and culture and that was what I appreciated the most about this book.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, politics
Avoid if You: want more romance from the start

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Series Review: House of Royals by Keary Taylor

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

book book book book book

booksynopsis

Synopsis for House of Royals (from Goodreads):

Every town has its history and skeletons, but Silent Bend, Mississippi’s are darker than most. Ruled from the shadows by the House—the immortal Born and their aging, enslaved Bitten—everyone knows not to go out after dark and that the police will never look into crimes involving blood.

Alivia Ryan didn’t know the man who claims to be her father through a will even existed until she inherits the Conrath plantation. Instead of the sleepy house she expects, she finds a mansion and a staff who look at her with fear in their eyes.

Ian Ward tried to kill Alivia the first time they met, and then insisted he train her to defend herself against the House, who he claims will try to manipulate and take her in for their own political reasons. And the growing attraction between them will threaten their lives—Ian is a sworn enemy of the House.

In Silent Bend, people disappear, the threat of a demented King and the legend of his resurrecting Queen hang over everyone’s heads, and proving loyalty means far more than blood. You’d better watch who you trust in this town…

breakdown

Series: House of Royals; Blood Descendants Universe

Spin-off Series: Crown of Death

Author: Keary Taylor
# of Books: 8 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological & Connected

Story Arcs: Books 1-5; Books 6-8

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Vampires, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2015 – July 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley & Own–eBook

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as an ARC 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:

Last year, I tried my hand at a New Adult vampire novel, Queen of Blood and loved it. Despite the bad rep they get, I enjoy the action and excitement most vampire novels have. I also love the new adult genre as a whole and so combining those two things seem like a winning combination.

So when I saw House of Royals on Goodreads and saw that it had a political spin on it, I just had to have it in my hands.

The Concept / The World:

I found the vampire world very easy to understand. It’s pretty straightforward which makes for easy reading. I didn’t feel very confused or left behind in any respect.

I also like the darker aspect to it. Vampires that fight their inner nature are great and all, but I don’t mind a little blood shed and these books definitely had their share of action and death.

The Plot:

The plot for House of Royals is pretty straight-forward and that has its pros and cons. Not having a lot happening really allows the reader to get a grip on the world and the setting. By not focusing on too many issues at once, I was able to get attached to the characters and understand the world they found themselves in. In the same stroke, it made for a story that really only reached its climax within the last few chapters; which is definitely a good thing because it makes you want to pick up that sequel.

The Characters:

I liked Alivia a lot. I thought she had a good head on her shoulder (for the most part) and made the best of the situation she finds herself in. Obviously she makes some mistakes but I totally understand why she would given everything that happens.

The side characters keep things interesting as well. They are unpredictable and have intriguing backstories that kept me wanting more from them.

The Romance:

The romance was really sweet with this one. Forbidden love is my favourite romance trope and this one is pretty flawless. I really liked Ian and Alivia together. I thought they complimented each other well. I simply adored their scenes together and rooted for them the entire time I was reading even when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited to see what is going to happen next for these characters! I feel like House of Royals built everything up at a great pace that the next few books are going to unleash all the pent up energy and tension between all the characters at play!

updates

–January 6, 2018– Book #2: House of Pawns      **copy not provided**

It’s been a long time since I read the first one but I found it so easy to get back into this world. I love all its politics and danger. We get to meet a lot more characters and the world is getting a little more complex so it sucked me in.

Alivia has an interesting character development path in this one. Her reaction to certain things (mostly of the romance variety) at the end frustrated me. But we get some interesting plot developments so I’m curious to see what happens next!

Series Rating: 4/5

House of Royals 4/5 | House of Pawns 4/5 | House of Kings TBP

overall

My experience with this book has just cemented vampire New Adult books to be my new favourite subgenre. While House of Royals doesn’t have a lot happening within its own book, I feel like it sets the stage for some great plot twists in its sequels!

Read if You Like: vampire novels, New Adult characters, simple plots
Avoid if You: dislike royal politics, vampires, forbidden love

similarreads

  • Queen of Blood by Jill Myles
  • Crave by Melissa Darnell (The Clann Series #1)
  • Bloodspell by Amalie Howard (The Cruentus Curse Series #1)
  • House of Night by PC and Kristen Cast (House of Night Series #1)

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Series Review: Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

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

Inherit the Stars Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Inherit the Stars (from Goodreads):
Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

breakdown

Series: Inherit the Stars
Author: Tessa Elwood
# of Books: 2 (Inherit the Stars, Split the Sun)

There is a short story prequel, Inherit the Stars: Reprive

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 18, 2015 – December 6, 2016
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book in the Young Adult Gallery on Netgalley and planned to request it closer to the date but when I later saw that it was available as a Read Now, I immediately grabbed it.

I’ve been searching for a great YA SciFi since I read Across the Universe and I hoped that this one would fit the bill nicely. I mean, it has everything I love: space, romance and politics, so the odds were in its favour…

What I Liked:

-The Politics-

I loved the high-stakes, blood thirsty political world this novel is set in. It was fast-paced and was a major part of the plot. It wasn’t some little side plot but a core element of the story and I loved that. It’s hard to say more without giving things away.

-The Romance-

This was a slow burn romance and if you are worried that it is going to overshadow the story, rest assured that isn’t the case. It builds quite nicely and it wasn’t long before I rooted for them.

-Asa’s Fighting Spirit-

Asa was a character that had great growth I thought. Sure, she suffers a little bit from lead-heroine-sacrifice-syndrome but at the same time, I really don’t blame her for feeling that way. And I liked that she was always thinking about how to solve this problem or that. It really made you want to root for her.

What I Didn’t Like:

-The World Development-

I love books that have fast plots and I liked that this one thrusts us into the action from the first page. However, I felt like I was left hanging for the rest of the story. I was so lost in terms of the world. What is the Blight specifically? Why do people have to go through decontamination? I mean, I get the concepts (they easily parallel our real world)  but I just wish they were explained fully. I felt like it was assumed I knew the world and all it’s elements–like it was explained a chapter earlier but we didn’t have it–and I definitely learned as I went, but I spent the first third trying to grasp the world while keeping track of the actual plot.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the world, because I did, I just wish it was explained in a different way than it is.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really looking forward to what is going to happen next! I love the political side of the plot and I can’t wait to see how these characters grow!

updates

–December 11, 2016– Book #2: Split the Sun

DNF’d at 33% (pg 95/290)

This book wasn’t really what I was anticipating for the sequel. I was expecting a continuation of Asa and Eagle’s story truthfully, not the introduction of a new character that I would have to reorient myself with.

Kit provides an interesting side to the overall plot of this series. She’s a regular person with regular problems who is stuck dealing with the consequences of the previous leads’ actions. It’s something as a critic I can appreciate. Inherit the Stars focused on the politics and higher society aspect while Split the Sun changes the focus to the people who are directly impacted by their choices. But the reader in me just wanted more.

For that first 33% of the book, nothing was really happening. It was mostly Kit moaning about her problems (and she has a lot) and going through the motions which isn’t interesting to me. I needed some action or even a hint of where the plot was going to keep my interest. I think the plot had just started to show its potential direction just before I stopped but I wasn’t as invested in Kit’s story as much as I wanted to be (even if I sympathized with her situation).

So while I appreciate the direction this series wanted to go by changing the lead characters, I didn’t like the execution of it at all. I would have much preferred a direct sequel of Asa and Eagle’s storyline.

My Rating: DNF

Inherit the Stars 3.5/5  |  Split the Sun DNF

overall

While the world building leaves something to be desired, the plot speaks for itself. If you like stories that are politically driven and heroines who will do anything to save their world, this is a great one to pick up!

Read if You Like: YA science fiction, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, want more romance

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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.

breakdown

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: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

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 Wrong Side of Right (from Goodreads):
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

breakdown

Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Politics, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book one day when I was trolling the blogs I follow. The cover captured my attention, as did the positive reviews; but it was the synopsis that made me want to read this book right away.

Meg Cabot’s All American Girl is one of my favourite teen novels ever. Typical of all Meg Cabot’s work, it just had that great blend of teen romance and humour with a dash of realism, making it so much fun to read. So while I knew The Wrong Side of Right was going to focus more heavily on the realistic world of politics, I was hoping it would capture my heart like All American Girl would.

The Plot:

The plot mostly focuses on Kate throughout the campaign trail. I truly think this book could have been 50 pages shorter and still got its message across. Because the beginning was strong, as was the end, but somewhere in the middle it started to lose me. It’s interesting for the most part (especially if you like following campaign stories) but after a while it gets a little monotonous. Like, I got the point: she wasn’t sure she was in the right place–now what was she going to do about it?

What I did enjoy about this story was Kate’s interaction with her new family. I loved the approach this story took with that respect because it seemed so real to me. It wasn’t plagued with over dramatics and I could easily see the situation happening to any family–whether they are in politics or not–when an unexpected child enters their lives.

The Characters:

I have such mixed feelings about Kate. There is no doubt about it: she is an extremely naive girl. I can’t say that I entirely blame her either given the situation she finds herself in. Politics–especially American politics–is its own world and you truly don’t understand it, I’m sure, until you’re immersed into it. I get that. However, what frustrated me is that she was so campaign savvy–she knew she had to act a certain way while in public–yet she was surprised when she did have to act a certain way. It’s confusing I know, which is what bothered me the most while reading.

I suppose her naivety is used to show a non-cynical view of politics. She is that fresh voice on her father’s campaign trail. (Why they gave her as much power as they did within the campaign still baffles me.) But it shows her age that she just doesn’t get it-and hey, what 16 year old really does get politics? I’m 23 and I still don’t get it! I think it’s the fact that she gave me the impression she had a better understanding of how it all worked–when in fact she really didn’t–that made her seem wish-washy to me. She was so strong in her political convictions and quickly interfered on those matters, yet struggled with the simplest aspects of her daily life when it came to her family. Yes, it is a coming of age novel and I totally get the journey she has to go on–I just didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I had hoped when we were first introduced to her.

Also, I just have to get this off my chest because it frustrated me to no end: (highlight until the | to read the spoiler rant) | Ok, so the whole deportation situation with her friend frustrated me to no end! Sure, I can get the initial assumption that her father ratted her friend’s parents out. HOWEVER, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the family staring in a photo with Kate that is publicly released before her father’s apparent change in immigration are somehow linked. That just seemed like a MAJOR DUH to me and I guess I was the only one who saw it that way |

The Romance:

For some reason, I really thought this was going to play a bigger role in the story than it actually did. I think it was my All American Girl bias–which is book that is primarily a romance with a side-story of Samantha’s growing up. I wanted more personally but I understand that it was never to be the primary focus of Kate’s story.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This book started strong but lost me along the way. I think Kate’s naivety may turn people off but I think you have to cut her some slack given the situation she is in. At the same time, this book helped me reaffirm that I am not the biggest YA Contemporary fan. I personally really struggle to connect with the characters in this genre so I think my rating may reflect this.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, the world of politics (especially American)*
Avoid if You: don’t like naive heroines, want more romance

*Don’t be turned off of the fact that this book may present political views you might not agree with. I didn’t find it preachy, pushy or biased in any respect. It focuses more on the world of politics in the sense of how politicians present themselves to the public rather than particular agendas/policies.

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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.

breakdown

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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