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Series Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

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 Perfected (from Goodreads):

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows… and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving… and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Kiera Cass’ Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

breakdown

Series: Perfected Trilogy
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
# of Books: 3 (Perfected, Tarnished, Unraveled)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2014 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (Perfected); Netgalley–eARC

Tarnished & Unraveled were provided via NetGalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I initially had this series as a pass after reading a few mixed reviews. But then I saw the audiobook at my library and decided to give it a second chance. I was intrigued by the concept and I seem to have great success listening to dystopian YA worlds (The Lone City Trilogy for example) so why not?

The Concept / The World:

The idea that girls are bred as pets for wealthy people is an interesting and unique dystopian spin. I’ve read books where girls are bred for surrogates (The Jewel) or girls are sent off to marry older men to repopulate the world (Wither) but nothing of this variety before.

What’s the purpose? Why has society come to this?

Unfortunately, we don’t really explore this too much, especially in Perfected (Book #1). I think we get one line in Perfected that gives us the history of why they started breeding girls (or at least where the idea originated from). So in that respect, I was a little disappointed because I wanted to learn more.

However, I find the sequels do a better job or highlighting the various issues of having “pets”. The focus shifts to questions about what makes someone human and allusions to owning humans (ie slavery). It gets more of a social conscience as the story progresses and that definitely appealed to me as a reader.

The Plot:

I’d have a hard time telling you the exact plot for Perfected  (Book 1) because there isn’t too much of one. The synopsis is a touch misleading because the kidnapping aspects seems like it would be the main plot-point but it isn’t. It’s a crucial moment in the novel but it isn’t the main story.

Perfected is mostly about Ella losing her naivety about the world. She’s been at her “kennel” for 16 years and told the world is a certain way. But as she lives in the real world, her ideology changes and she grows as a person. It isn’t terribly exciting but I did find myself entertained nonetheless. I love good character progression and Ella–though she makes some mistakes–is endearing in her efforts.

Compared to the first novel, the sequels (Tarnished and Unraveled) have much better pacing and are constantly introducing new elements into the plot. I didn’t find myself getting bored or lost in the mundane everyday life of a pet. Ella gets tested and she has some hard decisions to make and I loved watching that journey.

The Characters:

Like I said, Ella is naive but given the circumstances of her life up until the start of Perfected, it makes sense. I think people might forget that a little. She’s the very definition of sheltered and so she has a child-like approach to the world. I found as the story progressed, she evolved and the gears started turning for her a little more. She broke out of that shell and I liked that. Sure, she makes some silly mistakes but I find she is constantly learning and evolving as a character and you can’t ask for much more than that.

I also really liked some of the side characters as well, especially as the series progressed. There’s one character who completely captivated me with her story and I think she provides a nice complement to Ella with her someone jaded personality and approach.

The Romance:

Truthfully, I wasn’t totally sold on the romance between Ella and Penn. It’s one of those situations where they connected over one thing (music) and the rest is developed “off-camera” away from the reader. It’s cute but it just seemed fluffy to me. But it is a good catalyst for driving the plot forward, especially in the sequels. It isn’t a huge focus moving forward so I appreciated that and I even appreciated the sweet moments later on.

My Audiobook Experience for Perfected (#1):

I was only able to read Perfected as an audiobook and I’m glad I did. I think getting Ella’s tone of voice as she narrated her story helped me understand her character a lot more. I could understand her struggles and developed sympathy for her character which allowed me to enjoy the story more. Having that voice in my head as I read the print versions of the sequels helped me establish her character as well.

Series Rating: 4/5

Perfected 3/5 | Tarnished 4/5 | Unraveled 4/5

overall

Despite a slower start in Book #1, I found this series grew exponentially as the sequels evolved. It’s an intriguing concept and world and I think if you take the time to establish everything in the first novel, you’ll appreciate the great sequels.

Read if You Like: light dystopian, romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, action

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Single Sundays: Savage Love by Ella Miles

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 Savage Love (from Goodreads):

I hate him.

He’s made my life a living hell every day since we were five years old. We’ve been enemies since the day he cut off my pigtails in first grade and I retaliated by drawing on his face with a sharpie.

Our hate of each other grew stronger as we got older. We grew more savage in the way we dealt with each other. We broke bones in fights, sabotaged each other’s dates, and ruined any chance each other had at happiness.

We went our separate ways after college. I never thought I’d have to deal with that asshole again.

But I’m out of a job, so when the opportunity to compete for one of the highest profile PR jobs presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Even if it means I’ll have to compete with Carter for the job. I’ll be more than happy to crush him on the way to my dream job. I’m willing to do anything, savage things, to ensure I win.

There’s just one problem. I forgot how much my body betrays me every time I see Carter. Because despite all the horrible things he’s done, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to do naughty, unthinkable things with him. Will my savage heart be enough to resist his charms?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 26th, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of Ella Miles and her darker contemporary works. So I was really excited to see what she would do in a more contemporary, slightly lighter romance.

I’m a huge fan of the hate to love you trope and when it’s linked to the “in love with brother’s BFF” one? And you add in some pranks? I’m so there!

The Concept:

It definitely lives up to the “Savage” title with some of the ways these two try to out smart each other!

These two go to the extremes in their efforts to out match each other. Being a seasoned Ella Miles reader, I know that she will take things to that next level and that’s the case here. It makes the read entertaining though and keeps you hooked because you have to know what will happen between them.

The Plot:

I loved the back and forth nature of this story–it’s one of my favourite aspects of the hate to love you story. The characters would have these moments where they want to rip each other apart and then they want to rip each other’s clothes off. I love that type of drama and this book had it in spades.

My only complaint was with some of the dramatic elements that came as a result of the job they were competing for. They both are PR “fixers” but their solution to the situations just didn’t seem plausible to me. Plus, it resulted in some drama that I wasn’t a fan of.

The Characters:

I really liked these leads. I loved how driven Victoria was. How she wouldn’t stay down for long because she’d come back fighting.

It helped getting Carter’s POV as well because you start to understand his rational for his actions and thoughts. I’m not sure if I would have liked him as much if his POV was omitted because I really appreciated that insight into his mind. I did think he changed his tune a little too quickly but I enjoyed watching him trying to make things right.

The Romance:

For me, it was so easy to see why these two have been at ends with each other for years: they are too similar and so stubborn that they clash whenever they meet. I always love watching leads who are so perfect for each other fight the obvious and this was no exception. Their romance was definitely a highlight of the story and met my every expectation.

My only complaint was with some of the dramatic elements that came as a result of the job they were competing for. They both are PR “fixers” but their solution to the situations just didn’t seem plausible to me. Plus, it resulted in some drama that I wasn’t a fan of.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you love dramatic “hate-to-love-you” stories with plenty of steam, pick this up now!

Read if You Like: hate to love you, rivals, second chances
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes, dislike lots of drama

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2018

2017 Was the Year I Had Been Working Towards

2018 Is the Year I Keep the Momentum Going

You can read all about my journey to read smarter, not harder in last year’s reading plan post. But the gist is that I was overwhelming myself in a lot of ways which, in turn, was creating a lot of reading slumps and not so much fun.

Since 2016, I’ve worked very hard on changing some of my reading habits. I’ve cut down significantly on my library holds, I’ve limited the number of requests I read in a month and I’ve become more comfortable with DNFing books when I’m not interested. Overall, it’s led to a more positive reading experience that has resulted in less reading slumps and more flexibility.

So I want to keep that momentum going and I’ve come up with 3 goals I want 2018 to be all about.

#1 – Read More Owned Novels

While I may have achieved my goal to read books I own with my #ShelfLove Challenge in 2017, I still want to clean up my eReaders and bookshelves when it comes to unread novels. If you compare 2017 (51 books) to 2016 (79 books), I actually read less books from my personal collection and that is a little disappointing. (Mind you, I did DNF at least 8 titles from my personal collection last year as well).

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: Tackling the TBR Personal Reading Challenge 2018

I did a good job of not buying too many books in 2017 so hopefully I can continue that trend and give myself a shot at upping my “% of library complete” on my Kobo.

>> Fun Fact: It takes me approximately 11 read books to complete 1% of my Kobo library!

#2 – Read More Sequels

As I write this, I currently have 131 book series on the go which totals nearly 179 books when all is said and done. Mind you, a third of that are series that will be releasing their Book 2 in 2018 so it’s not totally daunting. (It totally is!).

>> 2018 Reading Challenge: 52 Sequels Personal Reading Challenge

But that being said, I still have a lot of series that do have all their books released and I’d love to update and publish some of those series reviews I’ve had sitting in my draft folder for awhile…

>> Sneak Peek: Look for a post in the next few months detailing how I keep track of all my series sequels!

#3 – Stick to my ARC Limits

I allow myself 3 ARC copies a month (this includes author requests, personal requests, review opportunities and blog tour commitments) but I often increase that limit…with mixed results. I’ve already been tested when it comes to January 2018 commitments but I’m hoping I will stick with my reading plan and not get too request happy this year.

Introducing my 2018 Reading Plan

It’s very similar to my Reading Plan for 2017 only it’s tweaked for more sequel opportunities. The idea is that each month I have a total of 11 books that are the foundation for my reading. Since I usually average 12-15 books a month, I’m using the other books as a “what I want to read when I want to read” option. At the end of each month, I determine what books I want to select and make the appropriate arrangements (like going to the library or purchasing the book) to make sure I can complete the selection.

The Highlights:

  1. TBR Picks – purchased novels on my Kobo/Kindle/bookshelf
    • I’m keeping this at 2 as a minimum
    • Hopefully once I fill my monthly checklist, I can read more books from here
  2. 5 Year 5 Book Challenge — a Personal Challenge to read 25 books from the last 5 years
    • While I might not have gotten to all the books I wanted to on my 2017 challenge list, I’m bringing it back once again to get some titles off my TBR
  3. Sequels — 52 Sequel Challenge
    • I’d like to read (at least) 1 sequel novel a week for the entire year
  4. Netgalley
    • In an attempt to curb my requesting habits, only one book per month!
    • This includes review opportunities and/or personally requested novels
    • It does not include provided copies for tours
  5. ARCs/Tours/Requests
    • I’m setting a hard limit of 2 books per month
    • I’m going to take my time considering what tours I want and not be so quick to sign myself up all the time
  6. Library Holds
    • I’ve done a great job of not putting every book I see at my library on hold. Instead, I use the various wishlist features to keep track of titles I’m interested in and saving them for a later time.

Going Forward:

I’ve done a spreadsheet like this for the last 2 years and I’ve found it’s a great foundation. I don’t always stick to it (especially following the summer) but I’ve promised myself I will re-evaluate it once I stop using it or need to make some changes.

Overall, I’m very excited to see what 2018 has in store and I truly hope I can accomplish some of my reading goals for the year!

Do you create a yearly plan or do you just go with the flow?

What are some of your 2018 reading goals?

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Series Review: Freedom by Bella d’Amour

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

Freedom Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free to Play (from Goodreads):

He’s a player and she’s ready to play… but what happens when the fun gets serious?

“Brent, will you be my first?”

Joey is mortified to face Brent the next morning after letting the question slip in a weak moment. She’s shocked when Brent not only agrees but proposes a friends with benefits arrangement. How can she accept when it threatens what’s most important to her: her friendship with his sister, her new job with his football team, her self-respect when an ex-girlfriend is suddenly back in the picture – and her heart?

After years of working hard to fulfill his responsibilities, Brent is finally enjoying his life – with women who want nothing more than a good time. But when Joey asks him to be her first lover, he can’t resist finally getting his hands on her luscious body, one he’d been lusting after for years. Only problem is, once isn’t enough. He’s not ready to give up his hard-earned freedom nor is he ready for a woman to invade his life – or his heart. When demons from his past come back to haunt him, will he let them ruin what he’s found with Joey?

breakdown

Series: Freedom Series
Author: Bella d’Amour
# of Books: 2 (Free to Play, Free to Live)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 27, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Bella d’Amour!

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the “in love with BFF’s brother trope”. I just love all the delicious tension it brings when two people inevitabley fall for each other (if they aren’t secretly in love with the other person already). I wasn’t sure what the case was going to be here, but I was excited to dive into Free to Play.

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

These two had great chemistry from the start! Their attraction to each other is palpable and I loved every moment shared between them. They make such a great pair and part of the reason is that:

–They Actually Talked to Each Other!–

Don’t worry, there are plenty of steamy moments between the two of them. However, they had these great moments of conversation where they discussed their hopes and fears among other topics. I like seeing that emotional connection be established in my romances and this one succeeds beautifully.

–Building Joey’s Self-Esteem–

I love stories where the heroine learns to be confident in herself. Sometimes that’s hard to do in a romance because all too often, the heroine only become more independent by becoming dependent on the hero/their relationship. (I know that’s confusing but I hope you get what I am saying). And while Brent does help Joey build her self-esteem when it comes to her body image, I would say he is a vehicle for her start to see herself in a different light, not the sole reason. He helps her to see herself outside the stereotypes she’s boxed herself into and once that seed is planted, she learns to grow on her own. I loved that.

This isn’t to say that Brent doesn’t have great character development. He too goes on a journey where he grows up and figures out what is truly important in his life and I liked that a lot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Tad Too Dramatic Near the End–

I get why certain things happened at the end. They help enhance the lessons of the novel and that’s great. But this novel felt so grounded for so long that I didn’t entirely enjoy all the (slightly) over the top drama that occurs. Again, I know why everything happens as it does, I just wish it didn’t.

However, we have more than enough time to wrap everything up nicely so win!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for the sequel! I loved Brent’s family and I hope they become the focus of the sequel novels. I already have a hypothesis of who the next book involves so I can’t wait to see if I’m right!

updates

–April 15, 2018– Book #2: Free to Live

I had my suspicions about who the leads for book 2 would be and I was not disappointed!

Despite the quick initial spark with these two shared, I loved the slow burn of this romance. It gave the romance an edge of anticipation knowing that they had crossed the line but were holding back despite their every need not to. I loved watching these two get to know each other and breakdown those barriers that they had erected in the past to stop the pain of falling in love only to be hurt later.

In this story, I think it’s our hero who gets more time to shine but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He definitely had the more convoluted history and I enjoyed the mystery of uncovering that past so he could move forward. I would have liked to have seen a little more from the heroine in terms of development, but I think she was a great compliment to our hero’s story.

We get just a taste of what the future might hold in terms of possible sequels and I know that I’m definitely sticking around to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4/5

Free to Play 4/5 | Free to Live 4/5

overall

If you love character-strong romances, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: sport romances, heroines building self-esteem
Avoid if You: dislike steamier reads, dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: Witchlands by Susan Dennard

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

Witchlands Series

book4 book5

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Truthwitch (from Goodreads):
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New YA Series 2016
Series: Witchlands
Author: Susan Dennard
# of Books:  5 (Truthwitch, Windwitch, Bloodwitch, Book 4, Book 5)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Sightwitch

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Bloodwitch, will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book had SERIOUS hype prior to its release. It was everywhere and everyone was singing its praises. Normally, I avoid anything with “witch” in the title but once I read the synopsis I realized this wasn’t going to be your everyday witch novel. It sounded a lot like Throne of Glass but not as dark and so I was excited to find another fantasy action series to read.

What I Liked:

–The Action Starts Right Away–

This novel literally hits the ground running. There is no waiting around for Safiya and Iseult to get into trouble: they are already in it as soon as you read the first sentence. I found this book was always moving, drawing me in and keeping me on my toes. I never got bored and part of that was because:

–Multiple Character Perspectives–

I like books that have a lot going on and that usually means multiple POVs are happening. Here, the use of multiple character perspectives helps to shape the story in a 360 sort of way. Everything circles back to each other in an intriguing way that allows you get to see the fuller picture much easier and without so much effort. I find there is just enough plot to keep you interested but not so much that you are confused as to what is happening or easily forget. Simply put, this story is well crafted in terms of plot movement.

–The Female Friendships–

It was so refreshing for me to see two girl BFFs working together so well. I don’t mind independently strong females who can do it all on their own, nor to I mind a female character who can hold her own with a male counterpart. But I rarely read about female friends who kick serious butt together and Safiya and Iseult are a fantastic example of that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World-Building Explanations–

For the most part, the Witchlands world is pretty easy to figure out. I mean a Truthwitch is one who can discern the truth from fiction; a Windwitch is someone who can control the wind and air; etc. But there are still some terms that even after finishing the book I am not totally clear about. What the heck is cleaving? What are threadstones? What are threads really? I felt like the descriptions and explanations were lacking when it comes to some of the various terms that are thrown around in this book. I’m not asking for a lot, just a simple sentence or two to help explain what those terms really mean instead of me making assumptions based on how the characters use the words and/items. It made me feel a little lost and that dampened my reading experience.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to see what happens next for these characters. I really loved all the characters we got to meet and they all had such interesting events happen to them near the end so I’m curious to know what will happen in Windwitch.

updates

–January 18, 2018– Book #2: Windwitch

Once again, this series throws us right back into the action…with mixed results for me. Having been away from this series for two years, I had a harder time reorienting myself with what was happening. It didn’t help that we start 2 weeks after the events of the previous book and major things have happened in the time since. Things that are only mentioned in passing with the details coming later. I felt like I was playing a little bit of catch-up.

I found the first half to be on the slower side as well. The synopsis describes the first 30% of the book perfectly so it felt like a drawn out exposition to me. Once we get past the halfway point, things definitely improve. The action picks-up and the plot points of where this series is likely going to go start to shine a little more so I’m curious to see how everything unfolds next!

My Rating: 4/5

[Sightwitch TBP] | Truthwitch 4.5/5 | Windwitch 3/5 | Bloodwitch TBP | Book 4 TBP | Book 5 TBP

overall

This book was a solid fantasy adventure. It has a fast, building plot and great, interesting characters. While I found the world-building to be slightly lacking for certain things, I really did enjoy reading this one.

Read if You Like: fantasy stories, female duos, action, Throne of Glass
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs, want more romance

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Series Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

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 Falconer Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Falconer (from Goodreads):
One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

breakdown

Series: The Falconer Trilogy
Author: Elizabeth May
# of Books: 3 (The Falconer, The Vanishing Throne, The Falling Kingdom)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Steampunk, Faeries, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2014 – June 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook, Hardcover

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere early last year and the cover captured my attention. What made me super eager to pick it up was the fact that it was set in Scotland AND had faeries! I love faery stories and pretty much reading anything featuring them. This one promised to have a lot of action with a dash of romance and so I put it at the top of my TBR for 2016.

The Concept / The World:

I totally forgot this book was steampunk until I started to read it. It gives the world a really neat flavour to it and makes everything seem so much more badass. Steampunk is another favourite genre of mine and I really liked the world we get here–it has its own unique spin on everything.

I thought it was the perfect hybrid between the aristocratic world of Scotland and England during that era, and the supernatural elements like the faeries. It was an easy world to understand and has a lot of complex features to it so you pay attention to what is happening. I highly recommend reading the “bestiary” glossary at the back to keep everything straight though.

The Plot:

I thought there was a great balance between the social aspects of Aileana’s life–such as her duties as a daughter of the upper class–and her supernatural pass times. This book honestly had a great flow to it and kept you interested. I always felt like it was building to a grand moment and that kept me reading.

I also love the action! It has been a long time since I’ve read a book with such great action scenes that are easy to understand and visualize in my head. I had a lot of fun reading this book!

The Characters:

I liked Aileana a lot! I really liked the fact that she isn’t some heart of stone heroine who can kick serious ass but that she has emotions and isn’t too afraid to show them. Sure, she wants vengeance but I liked that her character had more depth than that to her. It was great watching her grow as a young woman and I find it easy to root for her.

Everyone else does their jobs perfectly and add to the story without taking too much away from Aileana.

The Romance:

This is probably why I dropped my rating to a 4.5/5 instead of a 5. I just didn’t like the way this one progressed exactly. The romance really plays a very small role in this story and so it takes a bit of a backseat. While I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen romantically, I felt like its flow was a little off and perhaps a little sudden? I wasn’t in love with the romance as much as I thought I was going to be but I’m hoping that changes in the sequel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to learning more about the fey world and how Aileana is going to handle everything going forward. There were some great developments and I’m stoked to see how everything unfolds in the next one!

updates

–November 3, 2016– Book #2: The Vanishing Throne

This novel was super easy to get reoriented with. There was enough recap to quickly get you up to speed with everything that had happened but not so much that you were bored out of your skull waiting for some action.

When compared to The Falconer, I thought this one had less physical action. It’s more political and drama filled, meaning you get some fantastic reveals and character developments. So it’s a strong sequel in that sense because it starts to bring everything together.

However, I did find it lag a bit in the middle. In a series like this where action is at the pinnacle, it’s easy for you to see when things slow down. But that being said, I never got bored with this book and I am desperately in need of the finale!

–May 23, 2018– Book #3: The Fallen Kingdom

Despite life constantly interfering with my reading time when it came to this finale, I truly enjoyed myself as I read this. There is such a great flow to the writing that it doesn’t take much to find yourself immersed once again in this captivating world.

The action here is pretty consistent and there are always new developments happening along the way. This book kept me on my toes to say the least. And for someone who wasn’t necessarily a fan of the romance early on in this series, the scenes in this book melted my heart. A fantastic conclusion!
–November 3, 2016– Book #2: The Vanishing Throne

Series Rating: 4/5

The Falconer 4.5/5 | The Vanishing Throne 4/5 | The Fallen Kingdom 4/5

overall

If you want a historical fantasy that is lighter on the romance and heavy on the action, I think this is a great one for you to grab!

Read if You Like: action, steampunk, faeries
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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

Illuminae Files Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Illuminae (from Goodreads):

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav YA 2015
Series: Illuminae Files
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
# of Books: 3 (Illuminae, Gemina, Obsidio)
Book Order: Chronological Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Emails, Files, Chats, Reports
Publication Date: October 2015 – March 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere before it came out! Those who had ARCs loved it and so my interest was peaked. I’ve been looking for a great Science Fiction YA Thriller since I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis and Illuminae seemed right up that alley.

What I Liked:

–Format–

Originally, I tried to get the eBook of this from my library but they kept delaying the release date for it. I didn’t really understand why until I picked up the hardcover in person. When I first heard of the book, I totally missed the paragraph that told you this book was told through “hacked documents” etc. So when I opened it up and saw how everything was formatted, I simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief (because the size of the book scared me a little) and grinned in excitement!

You would think a story told like this would suffer from underdeveloped world building and the like but it’s the exact opposite! Because you can include pictures and reports about everything in the world, it really makes it easy for the reader to see and understand what is happening. It also makes reading go a lot faster since the pages aren’t loaded with text.

–The Plot–

I loved that there were so many elements at play! From the romance (which was there in just the right amount) to the plague to the actual escape: it was just plain fun and addicting to read! I really wanted to get to the bottom of everything and there were great twists along the way.

–The Humour–

I just have to say that there were quite a few times I laughed out loud during this.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing?–

Nothing immediately comes to mind when I think about what I didn’t like. I didn’t like how heavy the hardcover novel was to hold when I was reading in bed but that can’t be helped. I will admit though that it took me a little while to warm up to Kady but I was a total fan of hers by the end!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think it is really interesting that the next book will feature completely different characters. While I love Kady and Ezra’s story (and really grew to like them as characters), I definitely want to see what else is happening in this world at the same time!

updates

–November 24, 2016– Book #2: Gemina

Illuminae was going to be a tough act to follow–but Gemina is more than a worthy successor!

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Hanna’s character. Like Kady, I had to learn more about her character and see how she handles herself before I could call myself a fan. I think it’s hard to get to know these characters sometimes because the narration is just documents and chats. You don’t get the inner emotions you would if it were a first person narration; more outside looking in. But despite that, these are really well developed characters, it just takes a bit of time to establish it all.

I loved the action-suspense vibe we got in this book! Illuminae has some high-risk situations but this one really seemed more life-and-death to me and that made it a lot more thrilling to read. Add to it the great plot twists along the way and you have yourself a pretty addicting book!

–April 12, 2018– Book #3: Obsidio

I’m so torn over my rating for this book! I think my love of the concept (and format) for this series often clouds my rating because it truly isn’t like any other book I’ve read before.

However, I had the hardest time becoming invested in this story. At the 30%, I found that the plot finally started to build. But it wasn’t until I reached the 50% mark that I started enjoying this novel. Parts were a touch predictable but I still enjoyed watching how everything unfolded as the end neared.

I thought Asha and Rhys would be a bigger focus of this novel–and they weren’t. This book is all about bringing everything together so it was nice to see our past leads take part in the events of this book. But at the same time, I think this stifled Asha and Rhys a bit as characters and left them a little underdeveloped.

So while I think this book is a great finale, I wasn’t as “wowed” with it as I was with the first novel.

My Audiobook Experience:

I was only able to briefly listen to the audio version of Illuminae but it was a huge treat. It has a full cast of narrators and they do a great job of bringing this story to life. It’s a completely different experience listening to the audio and something I definitely recommend to audiobook lovers (or those wanting to give audiobooks a try!).

My Rating: 4/5

Illuminae 5/5 | Gemina 4.5/5 | Obsidio 3.5/5

overall

One of the coolest reads ever in terms of its formating! If you want to try Science Fiction but are scared to jump into the complicated worlds, this is a great introduction!

Read if You Like: unique POVs, world-building, Science Ficiton
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

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 Girl at Midnight Series

Synopsis for The Girl at Midnight (from Goodreads):
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

breakdown

Series: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
# of Books: 3 (The Girl at Midnight, The Shadow Hour, The Savage Hour)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult,  Urban Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 2015 – July 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (Shadow Hour)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere when it was first released. I loved the cover but everyone’s positive reviews really drew me to read the synopsis. It sounded like my type of book: a blend of action, urban fantasy and prophecy. Plus, it has been a really long time since I’ve read an Urban Fantasy and waiting for the next Mystic City novel is leaving me with a bit of an urban fantasy hangover.

What I Liked:

–The Mortal Instrument Vibes I got–

Don’t get scared off by this statement if you aren’t a Mortal Instruments fan and really wanted to read this book! They really don’t have that much in common besides some very basic urban fantasy tropes (like teleportation across the world, war against two different races, magic, etc), set in NYC and the fact that they are both narrated in the third person by multiple characters.

It was the narration that spoke to me the most. I got really attached to the side characters with The Girl at Midnight. Echo was a little on the dull side as a heroine for me so I liked having multiple characters tell the story instead of just Echo. (Who I grew to like more, for the record)

–It Surprised Me!–

There were some twists at the end that I wasn’t expecting. I probably should have but I just didn’t put two and two together. So I really liked that! It made the last 100 or so pages exciting to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Start–

I’m all for gradual plot progression but this book just took too long for me. I felt like nothing really happened for the first 200 pages (its was ~295 eBook pages). Sure, some minor plot leads were there and they definitely added to the awesomeness that was the last 50 pages that knocked my socks off, but otherwise, this book was on the drier side.

I think I was expecting more action given the fact that Echo is labelled as a thief. Thief just equates to action/suspense to me but this book reads more like an adventure/journey. Which is fine, just not what I wanted. I find adventure novels can be dull until the end and this is definitely the case here.

–The Romance–

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like the romance, I’m just not sold on it quite yet when it comes to Echo. (I’m definitely on board with some other potential romances though!). The direction Echo’s romantic life is going in is completely different from what my intital impression was when I first started so I’m interested to see what is going to happen next. It’s just going to have to work a little harder to get me to ‘ship her romantic life.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see where this series is going to go next! There were a lot of neat spins that were added near the very end that make me want to read the sequel. I’m not dying to read it though.

updates

–April 8, 2018– Book #2: The Shadow Hour (Audiobook)

I enjoyed this middle novel enough. It did take me awhile to get into it because I have been away from this world for a very long time but I also think not a lot happens at the start either so it was a nice gradual approach. I still really like all the characters so I enjoyed the various spurts of growth they experience. However, this series is very singular in its plot despite having a cast of multiple characters to follow. They all approach the main problem with different angles but I often wished for something else to be happening in the background. We get a few good twists along the way but nothing really impressed me.

As for the audiobook–unfortunately it’s narrated by one of my least favourite narrators so that was a bummer. But it was a great way to read this book regardless.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

The Girl at Midnight 3/5 | The Shadow Hour 3/5 | The Savage Dawn TBA

overall

I wasn’t blown away by this series like I had hoped. It’s a little too one dimensional when it comes to the plot for my liking (ie not a lot of subplots). However, I really liked the cast of characters and how we move around from person to person. It keeps the narrative moving at a steady pace, even when much else isn’t happening.

Read if You Like: slower stories, urban fantasy, adventure stories, the Mortal Instruments
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, dislike adventure

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Series Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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 Vengeance Road (from Goodreads):

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

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

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2015, Favourite Heroine (Vengeance Road)
Series: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
# of Books: 2 (Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events / Spin-off
Note: The Author calls the sequel a companion novel but to me, a companion novel is the original story told from an alternate POV. As such, I label it as a connected sequel or a spin-off.
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Action, Historical, Western, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Retribution Rails)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015 – November 2017
Source & Format: ARC Paperback — A prize from Lola @ Hit Or Miss Books! Thanks so Much! | Hardcover (RR)

thoughts

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

The Concept / The World:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

updates

–January 21, 2018– Book #2: Retribution Rails

I would say Retribution Rails was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. Unfortunately, it took me forever to get to it thanks to life and my mom (I let her read it first), but thankfully, I was able to renew my library copy enough times to get to it myself.

It took me a while to get into this one. I’m not sure why because I loved both leads and their stories. I think it just took a little bit to get the plot in motion for me. I wasn’t as into it as its predecessor (which I couldn’t put down) and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t like this book was predictable–it went in directions I didn’t even fathom.

I think it was just the different style this book took. The revenge plot needed to brew instead of being the main drive like it was in the first book. The characters get a little more time to develop and make mistakes. And the romance is very subtle and goes unnoticed.

But the last third of this book was awesome! It had that faster, thrilling pace to it that reminded me of Vengeance Road and I enjoyed that a lot.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Vengeance Road 5/5  |  Retribution Rails 4/5

overall

I loved the Western setting, the AMAZINGLY strong heroines (and later hero) and the plot!

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

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Series Review: Thunder Road by Katie McGarry

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

Thunder Road Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nowhere But Here (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Favourite Read 2016
Series: Thunder Road Trilogy
Author: Katie McGarry
# of Books: 3 (Nowhere But Here, Walk the EdgeLong Way Home)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes

Originally planned to be 4 books, the publisher has decided to keep this a trilogy.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I simply adored Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits Series. It is the standard for me when it comes to YA contemporary. McGarry’s writing just has a maturity to it that blows me away and keeps my attention.

I broke my no holds at the library rule (as per my Tackling the TBR challenge) to put this book on hold because Take Me On left me in such a book hangover–one that has lasted close to a year long.

What I Liked:

-The Backstory/History-

The mystery surrounding Emily’s family captured my attention from start to finish. There was just so much history and depth to these characters that I just had to know what happened, why and how they were going to move forward.

Which is really important, because this book is quite long page wise (375 eBook pages; the typical eBook is ~250) but it really doesn’t feel like it. I got so absorbed into this story that the pages were just flying by. McGarry has a great balance between the romance, drama and character growth–honestly, YA contemporary doesn’t get better than this if you ask me.

-The Character Development-

This goes hand in hand with the backstory because it really adds to the character development. I started this book not totally loving Emily (she’s a bit of a spoiled princess but she is supposed to be) but I really enjoyed watching her story unfold. And truth be told, she won me over by the end. Her character really grows, as does Oz’s, and I loved that.

-New Book Boyfriend-

All I have to say is: where can I find myself an Oz? Swoon <3

What I Didn’t Like:

Honestly, this book worked on all cylinders for me. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book.

Perhaps, the motor cycle club aspect was a little over-dramatic and perhaps unrealistic BUT the situations dealing with family and the like were extremely realistic and that is why I put the “realistic” tag on this book,

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is one story that I CANNOT WAIT TO READ…do I make myself clear? I’ll probably have to wait until the very last book to get the story I want but that is OK. Given this explosive start, I can only imagine that great things are on the way. I’m stoked to see what is going to happen in the next book, Walk the Edge, because I didn’t expect the lead we get and I can’t wait to see the next phase of this series.

updates

–May 4, 2016– Book #2: Walk the Edge

Honestly, this book had me from start to finish and I never wanted it to end!

This novel just builds off the great foundation of Nowhere but Here. Some minor story-lines carry over and you start to see the overarching series plot but it keeps it focus on the two leads when it needs to. It’s fast-paced but well-developed and it kept me on the edge of my seat (pun intended) waiting to see what would happen next and it often surprised me in a totally great way.

I thought the romance was AMAZING. Not only were these two a great match for each other in every way possible but the sexual tension was palpable. It was by far the most addicting part of this novel and my favourite aspect. Sigh…it was just great. I also found it easier to understand these characters, especially our female lead when I compared her story to Emily’s. She isn’t as angsty as Emily but has the right and understandable level given her character background and I thought I worked really, really well.

I cannot wait to see what happens next!

–January 23, 2017– Book #3: Long Way Home

I’ve been dying for Violet’s story since book 1. This wasn’t what I expected but in a good way. I got sucked in by the plot and there were so many great twists along the way. I would have liked more romance though. I think the fact that we already knew these two loved each other stopped some of the great tension these books usually have from surfacing. I still adore them together and their scenes melted my heart, but I just craved more from them.

I had no idea that this book was going to be the finale for the series until after I finished it. But I started to suspect it by the end anyways and fans will be more than satisfied with how everything wraps up.

My Rating: 5/5

Nowhere But Here 5/5 | Walk the Edge 5/5 | Long Way Home 4.5/5

overall

This series steadily amplifies in all aspects as the pages increases. Fans of Katie McGarry will be more than happy with this next series and I have no doubt that she will pick up some new fans!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, realistic fiction with a dash of dramatics, balanced stories
Avoid if You: dislike motor cycle clubs

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