Tag «politics»

Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

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 Blocked (from Goodreads):

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

breakdown

Series: Blocked
Author: Jennifer Lane
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Blocked); Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I think I got this series mixed up for another when I was selecting my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge Titles. I blame the very similar covers. (The book I’m thinking of is Love Garage by Liz Crowe). Regardless, I thought  the premise for Blocked was very interesting; especially in the politically charged environment we find ourselves in today.

The Concept:

While the political system is quite different where I live in Canada, I know enough about the American system to understand why the “hate to love you trope” is quite the obstacle for our leads to overcome. I’ve read books in the past where modern politics are a theme but never to the levels that are displayed here. By no means are the characters preachy to the reader; but various views are expressed throughout the novels and they are used well as plot devices.

Another major theme in these novels is sports and how athletes balance sports and their everyday lives. There is a big emphasis on therapy and counselling–which I loved. Mental health is often something shied away from in novels and I liked how these books broke down the stereotypes and included the sessions in the scenes.

The Plot:

For me, all of these books had a weird pacing to them. We spend so much of these novels focusing on the individual characters and their stories that the romance gets a little lost in the shuffle. It all felt a little repetitive to me at times; and more often than not, it felt like we were trapped in the mundane of everyday life. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than it could have used a little polish to fine-tune everything.

The Characters:

First, hats off for diverse characters! It was awesome to read about Latino and Black leads and get that layer to our characters.

What I didn’t like about the leads was the maturity level…or the lack of a higher one. I get that they are freshman in college but I don’t think anyone talks like that as freshmen (or maybe I’m just getting old). I wasn’t a fan of how we would go from serious conversation about therapy to wanting to “bonk” the girl. Nope. It was almost like a parent was trying to be “hip” with the kids but used all the wrong slang…

The Romance:

While I could see the draw to all the romantic pairings (they had a lot of common interests with the exception of politics), I wasn’t entirely sold on them either. They all seemed to be based on lust and some unspoken connection that never gets built upon. For the majority of the story we get their individual stories and then in one instance they are a couple and declaring everlasting love. And perhaps the romance is just a small piece of the story the author wants to tell but I went into this series thinking it was the main one…thus my disappointment.

Series Rating: 3/5

Blocked 3/5 | Aced 3/5 | Spiked 3/5

overall

I think I had the wrong set of expectations for this series. The premise is refreshing and if you want more politics in your contemporary reads, pick this up! But I think it needed a little polish to get the pacing just right.

Read if You Like: modern politics, sports
Avoid if You: like more romance
similarreads

  • Dirty English by Isla Madden Mills (English Series #1)
  • Unbreakable by Rebecca Shea (Unbreakable Series #1)
  • Pretty Smart Girls by Shea Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)

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Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

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 The Cruel Prince (from Goodreads):

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Top Pick 2018
Series: The Folk of the Air
Author: Holly Black
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 The Lost Sisters

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Queen of Nothing will be released January 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Faeries, Action, Politics, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I honestly thought I wrote a review for The Cruel Prince when I read it last year…but I guess not! The hype was so big for this book that I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve always heard great things about Holly Black but none of her stories in the past have interested me. But FAERIES?! They are my favourite fantasy creature of all time. I love their backstabbing and tricks and uniqueness. So this was a no brainer for me.

The Concept / The World:

I ADORE anything with faeries and this world certainly set the bar. I haven’t read such a rich faerie world since I finished Wicked Lovely years ago. I loved the Courts; I loved the different type of faeries; but most of all, I loved the deviousness of the faerie world. I love how you never know who to trust or what the deals truly mean. And even knowing that deception is around every corner, I still found myself shocked by the events that unfold.

The Plot:

I was fully enthralled by the plot from the very start of The Cruel Prince. It was a weird addiction though because I really didn’t think much was happening drama-wise for the longest time. But there is just something so compelling about Jude’s drive to make her mark in the Court.

But when it came to The Cruel King: non-stop developments from start to finish. If it wasn’t one thing brewing it was another and I couldn’t get enough! Jude’s story is exactly what I crave from a Faerie story.

The Characters:

I really love Jude as a lead. She is exactly what I want my human protagonist to be in a world of Faerie. She’s cunning and strong–definitely able to hold her own–but she also has this vulnerability to her that makes her endearing…and human, much to her dismay. At times, The Cruel Prince read like a coming of age story because she has some great character growth.

And Cardan! Le SIGH! He is the ideal faerie prince for me. I love how I can never get a read on him. He’s mysterious and swoon-worthy; endlessly frustrating but charming. I positively adored his scenes with Jude.

The Romance:

When I started The Cruel Prince, I really thought it was going to be more of a romance focus (I don’t know why but most faerie stories are) but I’m glad it’s only a small component of the story. It does a great job of enriching the story without distracting for the various dramatic plotlines.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 The Lost Sisters:

How cool is it that this is in an audiobook! I was going to read the eBook when I saw my library had the audio version. Rarely are novellas in audiobooks.

I read this after I finished Book #2–mostly because I forgot this existed. I’m glad I did though. Not that it gives away anything but I kinda liked having this person’s motives unknown to me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I LOVED the audiobooks. Caitlin Kelly does an amazing job bringing Jude to life and I think it definitely impacted my reading experience in a super positive way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I cannot wait to see how all of this wraps up!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Cruel Prince 4.5/5 | [The Lost Sisters 4/5] | The Cruel Prince 5/5 | The Queen of Nothing ?/5

overall

If you love the dark world of faeries (or want to dive in head first), there is a reason people can’t stop talking about this series!

Read if You Like: faeries, lots of twists, drama
Avoid if You: want more romance focused

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Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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:

Rule Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

breakdown

Series: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlet
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Rise, to be released June 2019
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into this read. I was browsing my library’s new additions when I scrolled across this one. I actually checked out the hardcover from my library but never got around to it. But the premise was promising. I love the drama and secrets of Pretty Little Liars (well, the TV show at least; I never read the books) and Three Dark Crowns won me over with its sequel so I was optomistic I would enjoy this one.

What I Liked:

–Multiple POVs–

I love books that follow multiple characters. I find it gives the novel a 360-degree view of everything that is happening and keeps the story moving. Even if you don’t enjoy one POV, at least you have some others to look forward to.

–Diverse Cast–

When books mimic real life (especially by highlighting prejudices and the like) I’m always invested. This book has quite the group of characters. All the girls come from different family styles, races and castes (travelers, maids, etc). You’ve also got characters that are LGBTQ (in a very normalised, not token kind of way). So in that respect, I truly found this book to deliever on diversity without it feeling like it was simply checking all the marks off.

–The Magic–

I liked how straight-forward the tithe system seemed to be. Not only is everything magic-wise easily explained but it also has limitations. One of my biggest peeves about magic is the almost unlimited power it can have but the magic here makes sense.

–The Blackmail–

I think this is where the Pretty Little Liars comparisons come in because there is someone taunting these girls with their secrets. And the secrets are pretty juicy–and contribute to the plot in a rather strong way. These aren’t petty “I know about your secret relationship” type of secrets; they run much deeper (and more complex) than that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Seems Needlessly Drawn Out–

Perhaps starting this book the week I was working nights wasn’t the best idea–my concentration is pretty crappy. However, I found the chapters used a lot of words to deliver very little in the grand scheme of things. I would get lost in text at times. But I will say that each chapter ended in a way that had me eager for the next one so I was a fan of that.

–Blending of the Characters–

While I praised this book for its diversity earlier on, sometimes I couldn’t tell Zofi apart from Ren from Akeylah. The “problem” is the third person narration. It isn’t very personal as it lacks the depths a first person POV can provide (ie the inner character monologue). As a result, I often had to reread the synopsis just to remember that Zofi was from “A” and her secret was “B” so I wouldn’t get the girls mixed up.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really started to enjoy how the various plots were starting to weave together so I am very curious to see how everything with wrap up (or unravel) in the finale.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Rule 3.5/5 | Rise TBP

overall

While nothing immediately stands out about this fantasy novel, fans of the genre will enjoy this solid and diverse story.

Read if You Like: multiple POV, wordy stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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DNF Series Review: Prisoners of Peace by Erin Bow

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Scorpion Rules (from Goodreads):

The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Cover Love
Series: Prisoners of Peace; The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
# of Books: 2 (The Scorpion Rules, The Swan Riders)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Scorpion Rules at 18% (middle of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There was a lot that drew me to this series. It’s written by a Canadian. It has political intrigue. Its unique concept. The cover. I quick marked it as an anticipated read upon its release in 2015 but let it slip away after I read some mixed reviews.

Despite that though, I was eager to read it and that was why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2018.

What I Liked about The Scorpion Rules:

–The Concept–

The whole setting of this novel is really intriguing. Children of political leaders are used as pawns in the hopes that forfeiting their lives in order to go to war will prevent the battle from even taking place–because who would sacrifice their own child?

Like many political things, this one is convoluted and that does result in some info dumping moments. I found the whole idea straight forward though I will admit I struggled with the AI portions of the information.

What I Didn’t Like The Scorpion Rules:

–All the Characters Seem to do is Farm–

I’ve got nothing against farming (where I live is predominately farms) but I didn’t pick up this book to read about Greta and company milking goats or making cheese.

I wanted back stabbing and conspiracy theories. I wanted a little more action and drama.

Instead, I got polite teenagers doing chores. Yawn.

My Audiobook Experience with The Scorpion Rules:

I do think part of the reason I DNF’d this so quick was the audio version (though truthfully, I would have found it boring either way). While I appreciate that each of the Children of Peace had their own accents, I found everyone seemed to have a slow drawl that proved to be distracting. When we would get those info dumping moments (usually when the teens are answering something in class or talking to each other), I just couldn’t concentrate on their words or the importance of what they were saying. I also thought the that narrator sounded to old to be Greta’s age so that was off-putting as well.

Will I Finish The Series?

Nope. I read the synopsis for Book 2 and I don’t think much really happened to get to that point.

Series Rating: DNF

The Scorpion Rules DNF | The Swan Riders N/A

overall

If you like slower books that take their time or want a book that is completely unlike any other out there, check this out.

Read if You Like: LBGTQ characters, slow novels, lots of detail about the world
Avoid if You: want action, want conspiracy theories

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: The Fallen Isles Trilogy by Jodi Meadows

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:

Fallen Isles Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Before She Ignites (from Goodreads):

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

breakdown

Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Before She Ignites, book 2, book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2, will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Before She Ignites at 58% (Start of Chapter 19). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adored Meadow’s Orphan Queen Duology so I’ve made an effort to read her other novels. I didn’t enjoy Newsoul Trilogy as much as I wanted to, but this one sounded promising. Dragons? Yes please!

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

I love a fantasy world that is rich in political turmoil and this one had it. There are so many secrets to uncover and that conspiracy angle really intrigued me. Especially when the plot is being told in pieces, with Mira’s POV alternating between the “before” and the “after”. I enjoyed trying to get the bigger picture of what was happening.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Blah Storyline–

Don’t go into this book thinking you are going to get an action packed novel with a girl who rides a dragon. Reread the synopsis again. This is the key statement you need to focus on in order to enjoy this novel:

Mira must learn to survive on her own

Because that’s really what this book is all about. It’s an extremely character driven story about Mira’s journey to realize that she is more than just a pretty face; that she actually has the power to do something. Which is inspiring unto itself…but not the story I wanted to read.

Or I guess I wouldn’t have minded if I felt like anything else was happening plot wise. And despite the little inklings of the larger conspiracy, I just wasn’t invested.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I didn’t connect with the characters, the romance wasn’t enough to keep me and the plot was lackluster to me. I’m sure bigger and better things were brewing but I just wasn’t into it.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you like character driven stories and a slower overall plot, pick this book up. The writing is great and the diversity of the cast is definitely appealing. The promise is there, I just don’t have the patience to get invested in this series.

Read if You Like: slower stories, character driven stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance, want more action

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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 — ongoing
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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Series Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

Series Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

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

Ruined Trilogy

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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.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; Audiobook (#2 & #3)

thoughts

**This post was originally published 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’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!

updates

–June 12, 2019– Book #2: Avenged

What a solid sequel! It’s been years since I read the first book but it was so easy to re-imurse myself into this story and world (even if I was getting it mixed up with Frostblood when I started it 😅).

The story was always moving and I loved how we jumped from different characters to give us that 360° view of everything. Definitely some good twists/plot progressions along the way (my wish for more politics was definitely met) but nothing shocked or overly wowed me which is why I give it a 4/5 despite enjoying the ride.

Since it had been so long since I read the first book, I decided to try the audio version and am so happy I did! It almost makes me wish I read Ruined as an audiobook. Such an entertaining listen! Everyone has their own voices and it really brought the story to life!

–June 18, 2019– Book #3: Allied

Again, I listened to the audiobook here and it was a great listen. I finished it very quickly! This story is just so engrossing and I was eager to see how it would all wrap up. I’m not sure what ending I wanted/imagined but I don’t think it was necessarily what we got. It perhaps felt a little anticlimactic. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable end to an enjoyable series.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged 4/5 | Allied 4/5

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.

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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

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  • 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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