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Series Review: The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole

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

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Synopsis for Poison Princess (from Goodreads):
She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

breakdown

Series: Arcana Chronicles
Author: Kresley Cole
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Dark Calling will be published in Spring 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: public library–hardcopies & eBook

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My Expectations:

In the same vein of bestselling adult romance author Gena Showalter writing a Young Adult Series (White Rabbit Chronicles), Kresley Cole has done the same thing with the Arcana Chronicles. And like Showalter, I had never read a book by Cole until I picked up this YA series.

The Concept:

I wanted to read Poison Princess because the premise really interested me. It sounded like it was going to be like the White Rabbit Chronicles meets The Scorch Trials–two of my favourite apocalyptic themed books–but with a Tarot Card theme (instead of zombies or science fiction) so I just had to read it! Once I started reading it though it also reminded me of a lot of other novels. Not in the sense that it is a carbon copy of these other books but that it incorporates elements that I have come across in other series. For example: Evie’s character reminds me a lot of Isobel from Nevermore; and the post-apocalyptic world and book delivery reminds me of The Blood of Eden Trilogy. (Endless Knight also had some Cruel Beauty vibes coming from it as well).

But the whole tarot card aspect is definitely a unique feature of this story and its best feature for sure.

The Plot:

Unfortunately, Poison Princess (to me) falls prey to the same issue The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) did: it’s boring until the very end. I didn’t mind the beginning so much (before the apocalypse) because it had some character development, but there is a solid 100 pages where nothing of importance happens. I’m not lying. I honestly don’t think anything happened to progress the plot forward other than days passing. The last 50 pages definitely improve with the addition of a few new characters and the actual progression of the supernatural plotline.

I could probably rant for a few days on why I didn’t like Poison Princess, but I’ll just keep it short here:

  • The supernatural elements really don’t come into play near the very end which sucks! I feel like Poison Princess simply served as a really long prequel novella because it didn’t do much to set up the Arcana Game in the slightest, rather it just introduced you to Evie and her life before the apocalypse.
  • The romance just fizzled for me! I really didn’t see the connection besides the physical lust. Jackson isn’t anything to write home about in my books so I was disappointed in that aspect as well.
  • Evie is just plain annoying! She is not the kick-ass heroine I wanted. She is a petty, immature girl who isn’t all that bright either. I get that she is 16 and all, but the world is ending! Being thankful that you don’t have to shave your legs because you had laser hair removal isn’t something I would worry about in an apocalypse! I really didn’t connect with her whatsoever and all I really wanted to do was slap some sense into her as I turned the pages!

Part of the problem is that I built up what the plot of this book was going to be in my head before I ever read it. I really thought the focus was going to be more on Evie finding other Arcana characters in this new world. Not her wandering boringly towards one destination for 200 pages.

Turns out that Endless Knight is the book that I thought I was getting with Poison Princess. This book managed to keep my attention the entire time and actually had some plot development to it. Evie was still annoying to me, but I felt like she had some great character development so she went from “extremely annoying” to “annoying”–which is quite the leap. I also liked the romance a touch more as well–I think this is the rare case where a love triangle actually helps the story progress. But what I really think helped with this book was the addition of more characters that I found to be much more interesting to me. Reading Endless Knight made me happy I continued on with the series despite the painful drag that was Poison Princess.

Dead of Winter is probably my favourite of the 3. I quickly motored through it because the plot is fast, the action is high and–dare I say it–I actually started to like Evie as a character. I know! CrAzY! Well, it’s partly true: I liked Evie the “let’s-get-down-to-fighting” Evie, not the “I-can’t-decide-between-the-two” Evie. Evie has a true case of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome when it comes to “dealing” with her love triangle. Man-oh-man, I don’t know why she struggles so much with just saying the full truth to these boys who constantly fawn over her! It would solve a lot of problems other than assuming shit all the time! I also don’t know why there were 50 pages dedicated to each boy giving his case for why she should pick her–let’s just get on with the story please!

The Romance:

Speaking of the romance, I think I have to mention that it borders more on the “older” scale of young adult reads. If you are someone who doesn’t like sex being mentioned in their YA reads or having it described in more detail (I’m not talking full blown erotica, merely descriptions of how the body is reacting, etc) you might not like this series. The sexual situations aren’t really a huge focus of the books but it is definitely present. (For those who have read the White Rabbit Chronicles, the sex scenes here are the same as in it)

updates

–July 11, 2017– Book #4: Arcana Rising

This started very slowly for me and while it did pick up, I feel like it was just coasting along to get to the end. Bigger things are definitely in store for this series but this book was nothing more than a (necessary) bridge in the middle.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Poison Princess 2.5/5  |  Endless Knight 3.5/5  |  Dead of Winter 4/5  |  Arcana Rising 3.5/5 |  The Dark Calling TBR

overall

Poison Princess lived up to its name in my opinion: it truly poisoned my views for the other books because I really struggled to read it. The series definitely gets better as you go, especially when the Arcana aspect of the plot actually comes into fruition and more characters are introduced. But the love triangle and heroine are often hard to swallow, even in the later books. It’s definitely a series that you have to invest into to enjoy

Read if You Like: slow building stories, post-apocalyptic worlds, fights to the death
Avoid if You Dislike: petty heroines, love triangles (extreme), slow starts

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Fresh Fridays: The Conspiracy of Us (#1) by Maggie Hall

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:

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | The Conspiracy of Us Trilogy

Other books in the series:

Series: The Conspiracy of Us Trilogy
Author: Maggie Hall
# of Books: 3 (The Conspiracy of Us, Maps of Fate, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Maps of Fate, will be published in March 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Adventure, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: getting warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

What drew me to this book was the cover, but what made me want to read it was the hook that it was “perfect for fans of Ally Carter”. It’s no secret that I fall prey to these every-time; especially when they are for Ally Carter. Let me explain why: Ally Carter is one of my favourite authors because I love her strong heroines and the suspense of her novels. While Gallagher Girls started off more light-hearted and fun, it definitely became more intricate in the plot later on; whereas Heist Society always seemed more tense and serious to me right from the start. Most of the time when books say they are perfect for Ally Carter fans they are referring more to the style of Heist Society–which I liked but didn’t really love–and how it is intricate right form the get-go. Which is fine because I’m still looking for that perfect heist novel, but I can’t wait until I find a book with the same flare as the Gallagher Girls Series.

Regardless, The Conspiracy of Us is its own novel. The premise reminded me a bit of the slightly darker novel The Book of Blood and Shadow–a book I thought had a great premise but a poor execution.

For the most part The Conspiracy of Us had a good execution. However, it was difficult for me to get past the idea that Avery literally jumps on a plane to travel across the world with two boys she barely knows without any hesitation. I understand that this event had to happen to get the story in motion; and to a certain degree I could see why she would jump at the first chance she gets to any information about her unknown family past. But, I just wanted to see a few lines about her concerns or why it could potentially be a bad idea. It just frustrated me because, for the most part, I felt like she was a rational character with everything else that happens in the book.

The book is pretty slow until you get about half-way through. That’s when the clues start to come into play and the pace of the book picks up exponentially. Which is why I am giving the book a 3.5 instead of a solid 4 because that first half of the book really didn’t do much story-wise and felt a little unnecessary.

While some of the events are cliche to a mystery novel, I thought the whole prophecy/mystery bit was a lot of fun. There were a lot of little unexpected twists that accompanied it and that made me excited to continue reading. It actually reminded me a lot of a Young Adult version of Juliet by Anne Fortier in terms of its execution (though the plots are completely different!).

I’m looking forward to the sequel but I am not dying to pick it up.

Conclusion:

I won’t lie: it’s a bit of a snoozer at the start. But once things start falling into place, the pace picks up and before you know it you get sucked into the story. A great read for those who like slower building stories and/or those who like solving ancient prophecies in a modern world.

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: Pending sequel.

Similar Reads: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman; A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird Trilogy #1) and Juliet by Anne Fortier

Synopsis for The Conspiracy of Us (from Goodreads):
A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

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Movie Mondays: Avalon High

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

Book: Avalon High by Meg Cabot | Movie: Avalon High (2010)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Not a part of a series but it does have a graphic novel set. See full list here .
Genre: Young Adult, Arthurian, Romance, Action, Mystery
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

Back in the day, I read everything by Meg Cabot and I continue to read most of adult books now that I am older. But even if I wasn’t familiar with her work, I would have grabbed this book anyways because the cover and synopsis really interested me.

This book is a lot of fun! I loved Ellie’s character: she was strong, smart and independent. Will was also a great character and an excellent match for Ellie. The rest of the cast is intriguing as well and all contribute to the story in a positive way.

While this story does feature a lot of the typical “high school drama” there is a lot more to it. I love Arthurian stories and this book has a great interpretation of the Arthurian legends. It’s a cool spin and quite the mystery which makes it a joy to read.

I only read the first graphic novel which takes place after the events of Avalon High but I never bothered with the rest. They just weren’t as exciting as the other story once everything is revealed but I was also quite a bit older by the time they came out.

Conclusion:

This is probably my favourite Young Adult novel by Meg Cabot. It’s a lot of fun, has a great plot and a strong female lead. A winner!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs (Oh. My. Gods #1)

The Movie:

I was really excited to final watch this as a movie when it was announced because I loved the book. It’s got a great plot and I could easily see how they would make this novel into a movie.

It is important to keep in mind that this is a made for TV movie so the acting and special effects aren’t fantastic–but I can simply appreciate the fact that this was made into a movie and I’d take it anyway I can.

I’m not a huge Britt Robertson fan so I was a little disappointed that she was cast. She wasn’t what I pictured Ellie (or Allie as she is called in the movie) and I don’t particularly love her acting (she overacts or something–I’m not sure but I’ve never enjoyed her previous roles). In the end, she did an alright job but I don’t blame her for the slight flop this movie turned out to be.

I think the fault lies in the adaption. I know that things get cut and changed when movies are made–and I can respect that–but sometimes the cuts really take away from what makes the book so great in the first place. The movie just lacked the excitement of the novel and the lack of chemistry between Allie and Will in the movie hurt that aspect of the story as well.

This is definitely one of those movies that you watch before you read the book so you can appreciate how awesome the book is 😉

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

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. The movie was just flat and not as exciting as the book. The book is a must read for YA fans; the movie is a guilty watch on a rainy weekend day.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Avalon High (from Goodreads):
To newcomer Ellie, Avalon High seems like a typical American high school, complete with jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and even the obligatory senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy. But it doesn’t take Ellie long to suspect that something weird is going on beneath the glossy surface of this tranquil hall of learning. As she pieces together the meaning of this unfolding drama, she begins to recognize some haunting Arthurian echoes, causing her to worry that she has become just a pawn in mythic history.

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