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Single Sundays: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

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 5 to 1 (from Goodreads):

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Contestant Five, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Five’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Five thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

Told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Contestant Five’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Holly Bodger
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Poetry
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this as a book I found from a blog but I’m not sure where. Not that it really matters, this book seemed to be everywhere when it came out so I’m sure it wasn’t a single source. The cover was making lists of fave covers; the synopsis is more than intriguing and the narration style is noteworthy. So I put it on my TBR but never got a chance to read it back in 2015. Which is why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a pick for 2015.

The Concept:

I love stories that challenge our everyday norms; in particular our views on gender roles. I just loved the idea of a matriarchal society–where women are in control and boys compete to win their hand. It’s very reminiscent of something you might see in Victorian times; only this is the future and an isolated society and girl’s are the ultimate prize. I thought this exploration was done fantastically and you can tell it is the driving force behind this story. It really makes you think about what it means to be a woman or a man in society and the expectations that come along with it.

The Narration Style:

I definitely missed the part in the synopsis about Sudasa’s chapters being in verse so that was a cool surprise. It’s easy to read (the flow is great) and the formatting is awesome. Very unique. As a whole it really works as a tool to convey how restricted Sudasa is in her life.

HOWEVER, I did struggle near the end trying to interpret what was happening. The ending seemed so rushed to me because it is told in verse (not in full paragraphs) and I had a hard time following. I just felt like I was misinterpreting what was being said and so I couldn’t put in together the developments. And in turn, that dampened my reading experience (and my rating).

The Characters:

I really liked these two as leads. They were not only rebellious but also intelligent as well. Meaning they thought about everything they did before they did it. I liked that they weren’t overly impulsive.

For this story being a shorter novel, I was really impressed by how developed they were as characters.

The Romance:

I just want to say that if you think this is going to be some epic romance between two people who never wanted to get married–think again. Like I said above, this story is all about pressures from society and not the romance. The marriage situation is just a tool to emphasize the circumstances.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

As I approached the final few chapters, this was going to be a 4/5 star read for me. Unfortunately, this story just felt a little rushed at the end. It’s a great story about gender roles/expectations but it isn’t a romance by any stretch of the imagination.

Read if You Like: dystopia, reversed gender roles
Avoid if You: want a romance
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Reading Challenge: Summer TBR Wipeout

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Like most Book Bloggers, I do yearly challenges but I don’t often do time-limited challenges or very many readathons throughout the year.

When I saw this challenge on the Candid Cover, I thought this was a great idea! Sometimes, I need that little kick in the butt to get those titles down and having a plan/goal works well for me. I can’t wait to get some things done!

How it works:

You do not have to run a book blog or a website for that matter. All that I ask is that you create your posts on some sort of social media website, such as Instagram, Facebook or Tumblr, etc. You can also read backlist books, ARCs, new releases, audiobooks,  or anything else that has been beckoning you to read it. There will be 4 posts in total that you can link up to here on The Candid Cover.

My Reading Time Frame: July 8 – August 19, 2017

Thanks to this event, I was able to do a bit of a midterm review of how my reading is going so far. While I’m knocking my Goodreads challenge out of the park (meaning I’m reading wayyyy more books than I expected to this year so yay!), I feel like I’m not always reading the titles I should be. I’ve been a little swept into some request/ARC madness and been a little too “checkout now” happy when browsing my library’s eBook section. I want to get back to reading those titles that have been sitting on my Kobo for months and reading some of those “much anticipated” sequels I couldn’t wait to release last year.

I’m going to keep my plan for this TBR Wipeout a little general so I can have some flexibility. I try to do the Make Me Read It Readathon every July (hopefully it’s happening this year!) and that’s when I get title specific. So for this, I’m going to create some general goals and highlight some priority titles for each category.

My Plan:

  • No ARC requests!
    • I’ve closed requests until September so I can focus on those TBR titles
      • That means I’m limiting my hosting and review copy sign-ups as well!
  • Finish (at least) 3 Series
    • Hopefully I can knock off some oldies but goodies this summer!
  • Read Sequels for (at least) 2 Previously Started Series
    • Waiting a 1+ for the sequel is not something I’m good at remembering!
  • Read 1 Classic Novel
    • I was doing so well at the start of the year but flopped once my new job started
  • Binge Read 1 Series from start to end!
    • I feel like I don’t get to do this anymore!

Priority Reads:

Endure (Need, #4) The Rising (Darkness Rising, #3) Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2) Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

What plans are you making for your Summer TBR?

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Series Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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

The Crown’s Game Duology

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Synopsis for The Crown’s Game (from Goodreads):

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

breakdown

Series: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
# of Books: 2 (The Crown’s Game, The Crown’s Fate)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book EVERYWHERE last year, and so the hype (and curiosity) was inevitable. But it was also on my radar because it is set in Imperial Russia–the kryptonite of book settings for me. I LOVE that setting and I try and read any book that uses this time period.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Like I said, Imperial Russia is one of my favourite book settings and this one was pretty perfect. You could tell that Evelyn Skye had done her research before writing this book. She really brought this setting to life in nearly every aspect: clothing, royalty, perception of magic. It hit all the marks.

–Multiple POV–

I LOVE having multiple POVs in my novels. It just gives you a full-circle view of the world I think and adds dimension to the plot and world. This one succeeds in that. It kept the story moving, added suspense to the plot and just gave you more insight into the characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard Time Picturing Magic Scenes–

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t in the best headspace to start reading this book. I was studying for my licensing exams and was a little pre-occupied in my brain. So maybe take the next two paragraphs with a grain of salt and read another review to get another perspective.

For a third person POV, this book flowed wonderfully. It’s easy to get lost in the 3rd person narration when pronouns are used liberally; but I never found that to be the case here.

What I did struggle with is the scenes where magic is described. I had a hard time visualizing it. I think I missed the part about the purpose of the Enchanter and how the Game works so I didn’t get why these two were doing what they were doing when it was their turn. Again, I think I just wasn’t in the right place to read this.

–The Romance–

While I don’t enjoy the aspect of a love triangle in any book, that isn’t my sole issue here. My issue: the insta-love. I can forgive Vika and Nikola’s insta-connection because of the magic. That makes sense. But love? Stretching it a little. And Pasha hardly interacts with Vika before he is swooning at her feet. I just wanted a stronger romance here or at the very least, pick a team to root for and I never did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There was a rush of things that happened at the end and so I’m excited to see what will happen next. There’s so much potential moving forward.

updates

–June 25, 2017– Book #2: The Crown’s Fate

I think I might be in the minority but I fully believe that this book was better than the first one. I found the plot to be much more engaging and interesting than it was in The Crown’s Game. Despite some slight monotony in the middle of the book with one plot aspect, I found that this story always kept moving and developing in a way that was rather addicting to read. I was flying through the pages.

The character development was also great. When you have essentially 3 key players to keep tabs on, one or more will inevitable fall to the wayside in terms of growth. But I felt like everyone had a great story to tell and I’m glad we got to see them all.

This series is still missing that something to make me give it a 5/5 though.  And truthfully, I was leaning more towards a 3.5/5 rating for this particular book because I did find the middle of the novel to be a little stale. But I really liked how everything was brought together in the latter half of the novel and I did feel like this was a much stronger showing on Evelyn Skye’s part. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her in terms of her writing and I’ll be keeping an eye on what she writes next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Crown’s Game 3.5/5 | The Crown’s Fate 4/5

overall

I enjoyed myself while reading this novel, I just wasn’t blown away. (Maybe the hype monster killed this one for me?) It’s a solid series and definitely worth a read if you love alternate history with a dash of magic!

Read if You Like: fantasy, Imperial Russia, alternate history
Avoid if You: dislike magic, want more romance
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2017 Reading Challenge Announcements

2017 Reading Challenges

Last year, I participated in 2 reading challenges. One was Rock My TBR in which I focused on reading books I had purchased over the years. Another was a personal challenge to read books listed on Epic Reads’ 365 Days of YA infographic.

I had great success with the Rock My TBR and was able to clean up my eReader a bit by focusing my reading on those books I had purchased over the years. So moving into 2017, I knew I wanted a similar challenge (I like trying new challenges each year). On the other hand, my personal YA challenge fell through the cracks; I was much too ambitious with that one but I learned a lot from that attempt and know what to do moving forward.


What’s the Plan for 2017?

This year, I am a part of a Jane Austen reading group so I plan on reading more classics. But other than that, I really don’t know if I’ll have the time to dedicate to a particular challenge. I’m going to be joining the working world once school is over in two months and I really don’t know how that will affect my reading time (hopefully not too much).

Learning from my 365 Days of YA failure, I wanted to create my own personal yet flexible challenge!

Some of my most anticipated reads slip through the cracks simply because of time or my lack of memory. So, I decided to pick 5 books from each of the last 5 years that I was dying to read upon their release, but never got around to. The result is the following personal challenge:

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The 5 Year 5 Book Challenge

The list totals 25 titles that were published between 2012 – 2016. Because most are the start of a series, I plan on reading as many of the sequels as possible in order to get some reviews for this blog!

(Fun Fact: That’s a total of 54 Books and 10 Novellas!)

Here are my picks:

2016

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1) The Forbidden Wish (The For... Smut Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)

2015

A Thousand Nights (A Thousand Nights, #1) The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1) The Cage (The Cage, #1) 5 to 1 The Isle of the Lost (Descendants, #1)

2014

Loop (Loop #1) Solitaire Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy M... Prisoner of Night and Fog (... Beautiful Oblivion (The Maddox Brothers, #1)

2013

The Archived (The Archived, #1) Born of Illusion (Born of I... Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1) These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

2012

The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare, #1) Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) The Unnaturalists (The Unnaturalists, #1) The Raven Boys (The Raven C... Tiger Lily

Full details on how I plan to do this can be found on my challenge’s homepage.

See any that you plan on reading this year? I’d love to have a buddy!


Shelf Love Challenge 2016

#ShelfLove Challenge 2017

In the same vain as my Rock My TBR Challenge, I wanted one that would focus on the books I already own. I don’t like doing the same challenges twice so I went out in search of a new one and I found #ShelfLove.

What I liked about this challenge was that each month had prompts for discussion. It also didn’t require me to pick out all the books I wanted to read in advance. I also liked that it was a yearly tally and not necessarily a monthly goal. I could just tally whatever I read from my TBR shelf whenever I read it and I had the flexibility to change my own guidelines/goals when I needed to.

(Not that Rock My TBR Challenge didn’t provide that; just this one compared to other similar challenges had more flexibility).

My Goal for 2017:

41-50 books: my shelves are now my bff

With this challenge, I’m going to try and curb my book purchases as well. Only if I find a really good deal (<$5 typically) will I buy the novel. I read a lot of books from my TBR last year but essentially replaced a good number of them with purchases.


As always, you can follow my progress on my 2017 Reading Challenge Page.

You can also learn more about my Goodreads & Judged by Cover Challenges.


What Challenges are You Doing this Year?

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Spin-off Saturdays: Darkness Rising Series by Kelley Armstrong

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Darkness Series is a spin-off of the Darkest Powers

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Author
Series: Darkness Rising Trilogy
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 3 (The Gathering, The Calling, The Rising)

This is a spinoff of the Darkest Powers Trilogy.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Action, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 2011 – April 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook & Paperback

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WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, The Darkest Powers, this review may have spoilers!

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**This post was originally posted as a review of the first two books of the series. It has now been updated to include the last publication in the series.**

My Expectations:

Because I loved, Darkest Powers Trilogy, this spin-off series was a must read for me. That also meant I was going in with high expectations.

My Review of The Gathering and The Calling:

Unfortunately the first book, The Gathering didn’t quite meet my hopes. I found it a little predictable and a little lackluster in plot. It does pickup plot-wise near the end (and book 2, The Calling continues with this faster pace) but for the most part I was a little bored with it. I also didn’t really like Maya. I really tried to like her (and at the start it seemed promising) but she seemed very petty and selfish to me so I had a hard time liking her character. However, if there is one thing this book does well, it is establishing the setting and circumstances for the next book.

I enjoyed The Calling a lot more than book 1. In this book, the plots begin to unfold and there is a lot more action to be found. We also get to learn more about the other characters in the series, so there is a little less focus on Maya, which in my opinion is a bonus.

How Does it Compare to the Original Series?

This series is very similar to Darkest Powers Trilogy and rightfully so as it is the sequel series (I mean, even look at the titles and you can see a pattern between the two). Both involve a group of teens learning about their true heritage and what that means for them in the world they find themselves in. Of course there are different plot stories, but the main progression of the novels follow a similar path. For those hoping for a direct sequel to Chloe and company, as you can probably tell, this isn’t it. The two series are loosely connected but the Darkest Powers Trilogy plays a huge role in the plot development of this series.

updates

–August 7, 2017– Book #: The Rising

I will admit, it took me far longer than it should have to pick up this finale. But thanks to my Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge, I got around to this final novel.

Even though it has been nearly 4 years since I read this trilogy, I was immediately thrown back in. There was enough info at the start to get me up to pace and feel like I literally just read The Calling last week.

This book was good and definitely a solid finale. It was nice to see how this series intersects with The Darkest Powers and I felt like I was able to get closure with both series because of that.

I still found myself irritated by Maya at times and some of her friends. They just aren’t as likeable as Chloe & co. to me. They come across as entitled and slightly petty (and they are because of the circumstances of their situation so its understandable). So I found myself getting frustrated at the romantic developments of this series. (Let’s just say my “team” didn’t win).

Series Rating: 4/5

The Gathering 4/5 | The Calling 4/5 | The Rising 4/5

overall

Not as good as the Darkest Powers series, but a solid sequel that is unique in its own right. I recommend that you read the Darkest Powers before you read this series, but you can probably make do on your own without doing so.

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The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Powers Trilogy, #1)

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED the Darkest Powers SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS may have SPOILERS!

Synopsis for The Gathering (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn’t know much about her background – the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip – but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island.

Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town – from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend’s hidden talent for “feeling” out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya’s biological parents and it’s easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

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