Tag «readingchallenges2020»

Series Review: Virtue by Mia Asher

Series Review: Virtue by Mia Asher

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 Easy Virtue (from Goodreads):

Love is selfish…

My name is Blaire.
I’m the bad girl.
The other woman.
The one who never gets the guy in the end.

I’m the gold digger.
The bitch.
The one no one roots for.
The one you love to hate.

I hate myself too…

Everyone has a story. Are you ready for mine?

breakdown

Series: Virtue
Author: Mia Asher
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2)
Publication Dates: December 2014 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty sure Kobo recommended Easy Virtue to me based on my purchases. And it worked because I ended up buying the first book after I read the synopsis.

I like books that focus on unorthodox leads. There’s something refreshing about a somewhat villainous lead and I’m always intrigued to get their stories.

The Concept:

If you don’t like a lot of sex scenes don’t read this. You start the first chapter in the middle of a sex scene and there are copious amounts of sexy times throughout the series.

Also, if you struggle with the idea of “using” someone and/or uber messy relationships, maybe look elsewhere.

The Plot:

This is a very character driven story. If you look past the sexy times, the heart of this story is a coming of age story. The Blair at the start of the series isn’t the Blair we end the series with and the journey to get there was one that always surprised me. I thought I had a good idea of what the twists were going to be but I was definitely wrong–which was nice.

The Characters:

I wasn’t a Blair fan in the sense that she isn’t someone I would be friends with in real life. (And if we were, I would smack some sense into her). But I think it shows the talent of a writer that instead of getting annoyed by Blair and her questionable decisions, I understood her reasoning and motivations. She’s a girl who lacks self-esteem and that’s what drives her need to seek security using her looks in the wrong places.

It was nice to get some more POVs in the second book. It helped to develop some of the key players and their motivations for some of their decisions as well.

The Romance:

There is plenty of steam and chemistry thanks to the sexy times we get. But I wasn’t entirely convinced that the stable foundation for an all consuming romance was there–especially after we get the additional POVs in the sequel. The relationships Blair have all seem toxic to me in one way or another. But in some ways, things improved in the last bit of the second novel which redeemed some stuff for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’ll admit, it’s a little uncomfortable to listen to full blown erotica as an audiobook sometimes. So if you can’t get past that, go for it. It is a different narrator for Blair in Easy Virtue and Sweetest Venom but once I was a few chapters into Sweetest Venom, I didn’t really notice it so much.

Series Rating: 4/5

Easy Virtue 4/5 | Sweetest Venom 4/5

overall

I think if you are someone who doesn’t mind erotica and grasp the motivations for the characters, you will enjoy this unique story.

Read if You Like: “bad girl” leads
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike love triangles

similarreads

readingchallenges

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Spin-Off Saturdays: Dirty Sweet Duet by Laurelin Paige

Spin-Off Saturdays: Dirty Sweet Duet by Laurelin Paige

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:

TheDirty Sweet Duet is a spin-off of the Dirty Duet

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Games, Dirty Universe

This is a spinoff of the Dirty Duet Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1) & Single (#2)
Publication Date: February 2019 – March 2019
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

We get the tiniest taste of what could be between these two in Dirty Filthy Rich Love but it was enough to have me craving more. I love a good forbidden romance and Laurelin Paige is a master at the trope (see First Touch or Rivalry for examples) so I was excited to see what would happen next with these two!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

This is perhaps the lightest duet of the Dirty Universe. What I mean by that is the kink (which is so tame that I feel bad almost calling it a ‘kink’) is so minuscule and really doesn’t impact the story all that much. I look back at Dirty Filthy Rich Men and everything is so dark and twisted compared to the romance here.

This story is about Dylan learning to love again and willing to take a risk on something he thinks society won’t accept. And for Audrey, it’s about finding herself and asserting her wants and desires for life. They share an incredible passion together but is there anything more to the relationship? It was fun trying to watch them figure it out.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Their time together in Sweet Liar felt extremely rushed–probably because it literally takes place within a week or two. And because of that, I didn’t see these deeper connection besides incredible sex together. There were little inklings of it for sure but not enough to convince me that Dylan would be pining for her in the months to come.

That connection is fostered more in the sequel but some of it happens behind the scenes or is summed up with “she was at my place for the next two weeks, talking and watching tv, etc”. I just needed a little more.

Reading Order for the Dirty Universe:

There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

If you want to read the books though in chronological order of events though, I would almost suggest:

  1. Dirty Filthy Rich Boys
  2. Dirty Sexy Bastard
  3. Dirty Filthy Rich Men & Dirty Sexy Player nearly simultaneously
  4. Dirty Filthy Rich Love
  5. Sweet Liar (once Audrey is introduced in Rich Love, you could start this one)
  6. Dirty Sexy Games
  7. Sweet Fate

Series Rating: 4/5

Sweet Liar 4/5 | Sweet Fate 4/5

overall

Both a super quick reads if you enjoy solid writing and a romance that oozes sexual chemistry from the start!

Read if You Like: forbidden love, older guys/younger girls
Avoid if You: dislike lots of  sexy times

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sweet Liar (from Goodreads):

British ad exec Dylan Locke isn’t looking for love. He isn’t looking for fate. He’s definitely not looking for Audrey Lind. She’s pretty, far too young, and overly romantic–in short, exhausting.

But when the girl, young enough to be his daughter, literally lands in his lap and asks for his expertise, he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t interested. In her body, in her innocence, in her philosophy.

In the kind of kismet that starts with kisses.

But Audrey isn’t looking for love either–she’s looking for lessons, and she’s certain Dylan knows everything she needs to learn.

If he agrees to play the teacher can he keep his heart?

Of course he can.

Then again, he might be lying.

readingchallenges

connect Twitter GoodReads Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Spin-Off Saturdays: Dirty Games Duet by Laurelin Paige

Spin-Off Saturdays: Dirty Games Duet by Laurelin Paige

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:

Dirty Games Duet is a spin-off of the Dirty Duet

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Games, Dirty Universe

This is a spinoff of the Dirty Duet Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here) (Dirty Universe Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella called Dirty Sexy Bastard

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2018 – November 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

Ever since we were introduced to Weston and his arranged marriage predicament in Dirty Filthy Rich Men I was intrigued. All the little inklings about his relationship with Elizabeth had me super eager to get his story. So immediately after finishing that inaugural series, I dove into this one.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Dirty Filthy Rich Men is a unique read. It’s a very dark contemporary romance and one that some people will struggle to get into if that isn’t their tastes. The Dirty Games Duet is much lighter in that regard.

Yes, these two have their baggage and burdens but their relationship isn’t as…twisted…as the previous one was. It’s much lighter and follows more of your typical “fake marriage to acheive something but oops, we fall in love” story.

Though if you know anything about Laurelin Paige, her books are never just anything books. There are a lot of layers to these characters and I found the situations they endure together to be refreshing as a frequent reader of contemporary romances.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

That I read them too fast? Seriously.

Reading Order for the Dirty Universe:

There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

If you want to read the books though in chronological order of events though, I would almost suggest:

  1. Dirty Filthy Rich Boys
  2. Dirty Sexy Bastard
  3. Dirty Filthy Rich Men & Dirty Sexy Player nearly simultaneously
  4. Dirty Filthy Rich Love
  5. Dirty Sexy Games

Series Rating: 5/5

[Dirty Sexy Bastard 5/5 ] | Dirty Sexy Player 5/5 | Dirty Sexy Games 5/5

overall

Fantastic chemistry with a refreshing contemporary plotline for a “fake” relationship trope story!

Read if You Like: fake marriages, strong heroines
Avoid if You: want erotica
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for TITLE (from Goodreads):

 

readingchallenges

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

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 Dirty Filthy Rich Men (from Goodreads):

When I met Donovan Kincaid, I knew he was rich. I didn’t know he was filthy. Truth be told, I was only trying to get his best friend to notice me.

I knew poor scholarship girls like me didn’t stand a chance against guys like Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, but I was in love with his world, their world, of parties and sex and power. I knew what I wanted—I knew who I wanted—until one night, their world tried to bite me back and Donovan saved me. He saved me, and then Weston finally noticed me, and I finally learned what it was to be in their world.

And then what it was like to lose it.

Ten years later, I’ve found my way back. Back to their world. Back to him.

This time, I’m ready. I’ve been down this road before, and I know all the dirty, filthy ways Donovan will try and wreck me.

But it’s hard to resist. Especially when I know how much I’ll like it.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Duet, Dirty Universe

There are a spin-off Series: Dirty Games Duet, Dirty Sweet Duet

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here) (Dirty Universe Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Filthy Rich Boys

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything by Laurelin Paige without much thought because I just love everything that she writes. But this series in particular was one of my more highly anticipated reads by her. I’ve been craving a new darker contemporary romance and this seemed like it would fit the bill.

The Concept:

I’m not at all familiar with the movie Sabrina (1954 version or the 1995) so the basis for this story was a little lost on me. (I read the synopsis of the movie on Wikipedia so I was able to draw the allusions after the fact). But if you are, I’m sure you’ll love this take on the story. And if you aren’t, there is this anticipation from not knowing that will hook you in!

The Plot:

This is a story that is driven by the relationship of the major characters and there was just something so freaking addicting about their lives that had me completely invested.

I found sometimes things seemed to be a little repetitive in the narrative. I really noticed it in Book #2 Dirty Filthy Rich Love where we seemed to watch Sabrina rehash the same sentiments again and again. But perhaps I was just being picky about it.

The Characters:

Sabrina was a great lead to follow; she has everything I like in a strong heroine for a romance novel like this. Her independence was great.

Donovan is such an enigma–and the mystery around his character was so addicting to read! In the same breath, I wanted more from him in Dirty Filthy Rich Men. I found we seemed to rehash the same stuff with him again and again when I wanted a new layer to add to his evolution. His character evolves in the sequel though.

The Romance:

I was worried that there would be a love triangle given the synopsis but you’ll find out early on that isn’t really the case (and if you read the novella you’ll already know that).

I really loved the chemistry and the tension between these two. It’s thick and twisted (and that will definitely turn people off and away from this story; especially if you are triggered by/references to sexual assault) but I couldn’t get enough of it! And they actually,y took time to communicate with each other which I always appreciate!

When to Read #0.5 Dirty Filthy Boys:

Definitely read it before you start Dirty Filthy Men! While it gives away the slight mystery about why Sabrina hasn’t seen these guys in 10 years, it provides a lot more context about the relationship (and Sabrina’s character) than I thought the first few chapters of the novel did.

The Dirty Universe:

This duet is the start of what Laurelin Paige refers to as her Dirty Universe. Basically, each duet follows one of the guys that work/own the company. You see little inklings of each of the spin-offs here and parts of the Dirty Games Duet take place during these novels. There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Filthy Rich Boys 4/5]| Dirty Filthy Rich Men 4/5| Dirty Filthy Rich Love 3/5

overall

I think some people will struggle with the darker nature of the romance but for those who like darker romances, this is great!

Read if You Like: dark romances, loosely based on other stories
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, are triggered by rape/sexual assaults

similarreads

readingchallengesbook  

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Series Review: Wright Series by K A Linde

Series Review: Wright Series by K A Linde

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Wright Brother (from Goodreads):

I’d dated his brother.

He didn’t remember and I wish I could forget.

I may have sworn off the Wright family a long time ago. But when I returned home, Jensen Wright crashed into my life with the confidence of a billionaire CEO and the sex appeal of a god. Even I couldn’t resist our charged chemistry, or the way he fit into my life like a missing puzzle piece.

Too bad he’d forgotten the one thing that could destroy us.

Because Jensen Wright doesn’t share. Not with anyone. And if his brother finds out, this could all go down in flames.

When it all was said and done, was he the Wright brother?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Wright Series

There is a spin-off: Wright Love Duet

Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 4  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve become a fan of K A Linde’s work over the years. She writes some great drama into her romances and isn’t afraid to write unlikable characters as her leads. That draws me in as a reader because it gives the stories a unique flare and allows for some great character moments.

This series seemed more like your average contemporary romance and I loved that it followed a group of siblings, so I was curious to see what it would be like.

The Concept/Reading Order:

While you could definitely read each book as a standalone and in any order, I think you will get more out of it if you follow the publication order. Because it follows a group of siblings, you get little tidbits about the next set of leads in each book and I find that helps to build up the tension and anticipation of the sequels.

The Plot:

I wasn’t overly impressed with the plots in most of the books. They were all pretty melodramatic–maybe that was the point since it follows a wealthy family of siblings in Texas? It feels very Dallas or Dynasty-esque (the TV shows that is).

I felt the vast majority of the books spent most of their time reiterating the physical attraction between the leads and steamy moments where they appreciated that attraction. Throw in some horrible communication tactics (like you can’t reach someone by calling? Just send them a quick text instead!) and there’s your drama. The only somewhat realistic drama was the events that transpire in the 4th book, The Wright Secret. But if you’re into that type of drama–go for it!

The Characters:

As the series progressed, I thought the leads got to be a little more complex and layered. They all make silly decisions sometimes so that was frustrating to read about at times. But for the most part, they are all likeable or become redeemable by the end.

The Romance:

Some romances were better than others for me. Again, it depended on the drama of the plot and how it was written into the novel. I could have used a little more oomph to take them to the next levels though because they seemed to be slightly on the superficial side of things.

My Audiobook Experience:

I actually own the first book (and maybe the second?) but opted to read the audio versions instead simply for convenience (I’m slowly running out of audiobook series to listen to at my library and they have this whole series available). The audiobook production is solid (with the exception of #3, The Wright Mistake. I did not enjoy the Southern drawls the narrators attempted). I really appreciated that they had a new set of narrators for each book because it can be tiring listening to the same two narrators be 6+ different leads in an audio series.

Will I Read the Spin-off?:

YES! I’m really curious to see what happens with this character because of the events that transpired in the series.

>> My Review of The Wright Love Duet

Series Rating: 3/5

The Wright Brother 3/5 | The Wright Boss 3/5 | The Wright Mistake 3/5 | The Wright Secret 3/5

overall

While this isn’t my favourite contemporary series that follows a group of siblings, they are entertaining reads that make for a quick read when you need it!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, follow siblings
Avoid if You: want deeper romances/connections

similarreads

readingchallenges

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Series Review: Retrieval by Aly Martinez

Series Review: Retrieval by Aly Martinez

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 Retrieval (from Goodreads):

One story. Two couples.

I proposed on our first date.
She laughed and told me I was insane. Less than a day later, she said yes.
It was a whirlwind, but we were happy…
Until we got greedy and wanted a family.

It was a life I couldn’t give her, not for lack of trying. Fertility just wasn’t on our side. We sought out doctors and treatments. Spent money we didn’t have. Lied to our families. Smiled for our friends. Put on a brave face for a world that didn’t understand.
Finally, we were successful…
Until we were forced to bury our son.

We were left broken, battered, and destroyed.
They say love is in the details, but it was the details that ruined us.

This is the story of how I took back what had always been mine.
The retrieval of my wife and our family.

breakdown

Series: Retrieval Duet
Author: Aly Martinez
# of Books: 2 (Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Second Chance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Retrieval as a freebie from one of the book deal emails I subscribe to. What drew me into it was the fact that this couple struggled with fertility–a topic that isn’t always covered in romances (or at least the ones I read). It didn’t sound like your everyday second chance romance and I was excited to read it.

The Concept:

The following line from the synopsis is key:

One story. Two couples.

You’re not just getting Elisabeth and Roman’s story and it’s important to remember that. Everything gets clearer the further into the story you are.

The Plot:

The plot completely surprised me. It went in a direction I didn’t expect–and I loved the suspense that brought out! I’ll admit, it is a little confusing as the start, trying to figure out how it all connects; but like I said above, the further you read, the more it makes sense.

However, the dramatic moments are broken up by the romance and sometimes I felt like it stifled the movement of the plot. This was particularly the case in book #2 Transfer. The pacing was off a bit for me there and I got a little bored of the repetitive scenes.

The Characters:

All the characters are well developed and likeable. I was immediately drawn into their stories and histories. Because we hop around between the characters I was impressed by how fleshed out they were.

But, I do have a little rant for something Roman did in Retrieval:

Spoiler for Retrieval about Roman

When Roman goes to convince Clare that he is there to help her (knowing full well that she is likely abused by her husband), he forcefully grabs her. Why would you do that to a woman you know is abused? Do you think frightening her will bend her to your will? Why should she trust someone who does exactly what her husband does? This irked me to no end when it happened. He is a little too brash for my tastes.

[collapse]

The Romance:

Surprisingly, this isn’t as important as I expected it to be. The romances are great don’t get me wrong and they do their job to enhance the story when needed.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Retrieval 4/5 | Transfer 3/5

overall

This isn’t your everyday second chance romance. It has a suspense edge to it with some great twists that will suck you in!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike suspense

similarreads

readingchallenges book

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

“>

Series Review: Steam Raiders by Sara Raasch

Fresh Fridays: These Rebel Waves (Steam Raiders) by Sara Raasch

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

Steam Raiders Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for These Rebel Waves (from Goodreads):

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

breakdown

Series: Steam Raiders
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: August 2018 – August 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been looking forward to Sara Raasch’s next work ever since I finished the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy. And this new series sounded like something I would love. Pirates, magic, deception, a kickass heroine? Those were just many of the reasons why I added this series as a pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge.

What I Liked:

–Lu and Vex’s Chemistry–

I loved the tension between these two from the moment they meet. Both deny any true feelings but there is something palpable whenever they are together. In a lot of ways, they reminded me of June and Day from the Legend Series where the odds against them to ever meet but when they do, something magical happens. Their banter was top-notch!

–Magic, Science and Religion–

I enjoyed the concept of this series a lot when it comes to the magic properties of plants. It’s a cool fantasy spin on real world concepts like the clashing of science and religion.

–The Politics–

I loved the political dilemma of this series and how all our leads are stuck in the middle of it all. It added a great air of tension.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lagged a Little in the Middle–

I was really invested for the first half of the story (though a lot of info is thrown at you) and then just past the middle, the excitement died for me a little. I’m not sure what it was that made it seem that way. Perhaps the physical action just simmered out a bit.

We do get some great twists at the end (though one I thought was super obvious) that have me eager to see how it’ll all wrap up.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio version was very engaging considering it is told in third person. I often struggle with third person audio stories but not here. It was very well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see how things will come together in the finale now that some major truths have been uncovered!

updates

–April 9, 2020– Book #2: These Divided Shores

When I finished Book #1, These Rebel Waves, I had high hopes for the inklings of things I could see in the works. The world is so fascinating (the blend of science, magic and religion) and the characters are complex so I was excited to see how things would wrap-up in the finale.

Perhaps I didn’t start this book at the right time but this fell flat for me. I was worried it had been too long since I read the first book but I had noted the plot highlights of the first book so I was able to dive back into this world fairly easily.

Much like the first book, it starts strong and loses its way in the middle. I think there was far too much talking and not enough action. Things just felt dragged out and my interest waned as we approached the end. And while some characters’ action were understandable, others felt cliche.

This whole book was just a little lackluster to me. (But the audio production is fabulous!)

My Rating: 3/5

These Rebel Waves 3/5 | These Divided Shores 3/5

overall

This one had all the right ideas but the execution left me wanting a little more.

Read if You Like: following multiple leads, fantasy with politics
Avoid if You: want lots of action, want more romance

similarreads

readingchallengesbook bookrecapbutton

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Series Review: Broken Tides by Catherine Jones Payne

Series Review: Broken Tides by Catherine Jones Payne

Synopsis for Breakwater (from Goodreads):

A red tide is rising.

As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancé murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads. Jade learns too late that the choices she makes ripple further than she’d ever imagined. And as she fights against the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers danger lurking in every canal, imperiling her family and shattering the ocean’s fragile peace.

Can the city’s divisions be mended before the upwelling of hate rips apart everything Jade loves?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Breakwater, Broken Tides
Author: Catherine Jones Payne
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order Here)

There are prequel novellas.


Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mermaids
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 – December 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#2); Own–Kindle (#0.5)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble  /  Kobo

disclaimerYAbound
Review copy only provided for #1, Breakwater

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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’ve been going through a bit of a mermaid withdrawal since I finished Jennifer Donnelly’s Waterfire Saga last year. I particularly liked that series because it had strong female characters and the world was fantastic. So I was eager to find another story to get lost in and this one looked promising!

The World:

One of my favourite aspects of an underwater world is when the author uses our everyday expressions and “water-ize” them. It’s the little things like “What the Depths!” (instead of “What the Hell!”) or “I’m not going to float here all day” that get you integrated into the world as a reader. It also shows all the effort the author puts into creating their world by looking at those “tiny” details. This one does this flawlessly and I loved watching it come to life as I read.

The Plot:

This book definitely has a slower plot line to it than I was anticipating and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This story is all about doing the right thing even when other’s tell you not to. It’s more talking and reasoning than physically kicking bum, like so many other stories out there that have the clash between races/social hierarchy as their main plot. Most of the time, those stories require actually fighting back to make a change. So I found it really refreshing here that Jade tries to create a positive impact by speaking the truth and fighting for ideals through actions.

As a reader, you get caught up in the flow of the novel and it is easy to read even if it isn’t your typical action packed fantasy novel.

The Characters:

Jade lives in a bubble at the start of the book so it was nice when it burst and she got a dose of the real world. Once that bubble burst, she’s able to grow as a character…but not as much as I wanted. See, the problem is that Jade is a classic case of “Lead Heroine Sacrifice Syndrome“–meaning she thinks she alone can save the world by sacrificing herself. Like I said above, I can appreciate her efforts to change her world but I can’t believe how dense she is to the situation at hand. Her naivety (which is understandable given the fact that she is treated special by practically everyone) is a little tiring to read.

The Romance:

While I liked that this wasn’t a huge part of the story, I can’t help but think that it was bit of a missed opportunity. You are kind of told that there is this connection  instead of being shown it. So I didn’t really get behind the romance as much as I had hoped.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The last 15% of this book does a lot to set up a sequel and I’m eager to see what is in store.

When to Read #0.5 A Gathering Tempest:

You can definitely read this book before you start the series since it does chronologically take place before the events of the first book. It doesn’t give anything away that you don’t learn within the first few chapters of Breakwater anyways. I read it in the middle of reading Crosscurrent since I didn’t have my audiobook player on hand. I actually liked this because it gave me more insight into Alexander’s character and helped me understand his motives of the first novel a little better. So I would almost recommend reading it after you finish book #1.

When to Read the Other Broken Tide Stories:

The only other novella story I read besides the prequel was Daughter of the Rivers. But all of these novellas basically enhance the worldbuilding of the main series. So you can truly read them at any time.

updates

–June 20, 2019– Book #2: Crosscurrent

When I saw that my library had recently acquired the audiobook version of book 2, I was pretty excited. I was curious about this series and what would happen next but I never found the time to go out and get the sequel.

This was a great follow-up to the first novel. Everything I wished would happen did to some capacity. I really enjoy the diplomacy of this series and how most of it is done through talking and debate. It isn’t about a special snowflake warrior fighting battles but a girl who is slowly realizing that there is more to life outside of her bubble. I also loved how Jade realized she suffers from being a martyr when the time comes. I was really impressed with her character development in this novel.

As for the audiobook itself, I thought the delivery was a little stiff at times but is was still a super easy, enjoyable listen.

–February 16, 2020– Book #3: Maelstrom

I had been holding out for the hopes that my library would get the audiobook for this installment but no luck. Thankfully, I noticed this series is available on Kindle Unlimited so I made sure it was a priority.

Perhaps I waited too long to read this because I struggled a bit to get into it. I think the start was slower than I’d have liked. But everything I like about this series is here again. I love that it’s more political strategy through words than battle. And I like how we see that there is no clear solution, just the lesser of two evils so to speak. So it was refreshing, even if it felt slower at times.

My Rating: 3/5

[A Gathering Tempest 3/5] | Breakwater 3/5 | Crosscurrent 4/5 | Maelstorm 3/5

overall
If you want a fantasy novel that isn’t action based, this is a great one for you! Especially if you love mermaids.

Read if You Like: mermaids, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more physical action

similarreads

 


Catherine Jones Payne
Author Links: Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

 

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble  /  Kobo

Book Tour Organised by:

YA Bounk Tour Button

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Series Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Series Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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 Carve the Mark (from Goodreads):

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.

breakdown

Series: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First & Third Person
Publication Date: January 2017 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (#1); Audiobook (#2)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been waiting for Roth’s next series since the end of the Divergent Trilogy years ago. While the rest of that series paled in comparison to the first book, (something I only learned in hindsight), I was eager to see what she would come up with next.

Not only was the cover for this beautiful, but it sounded like something I would no doubt enjoy. Enemies become lovers? My ultimate trope.

The Concerns Surrounding this Book

I know that there is a lot of controversy out there about this book, especially on Twitter and Goodreads. One of the problems with Twitter is the 140 character limit, so I’ll admit, I didn’t fully know the issues people were bringing up before I started to read it. I only ever caught bits of it here and there; not enough for me to fully understand what the bigger problem(s) was(were).

But at the same time, I also didn’t want to read too much into the issues either. Not that I’m ignorant of the issues, just that I wanted to be able to form my own opinion and investigate further once I finished. I didn’t want any preconceived notions before I started to read (because it is easy to find things once they are pointed out to you). Plus, I like having a full understanding of the source material prior to reading the criticisms to understand the arguments.

What I Liked:

–The Galaxy Setting–

I really enjoy science fiction stories that take place in another galaxy. I love exploring new planets and their unique attributes. I especially like that there is no place called Earth. That this is a completely different entity in terms of its world. (Could have used a little more world-building but that’s an issue for down below).

–Cyra’s Development–

I’m sure people may disagree with me on this one, but I thought Cyra had a solid character evolution from start to finish. It isn’t the greatest development ever but you could tell by the end of the novel that she gained confidence in herself and that’s all I really want from my characters.

–Concept of Hiding in Plain Sight–

Ok, I got a few little Red Rising allusions here when Akos essentially conforms to the Shotet way of life in order to get revenge and get his brother back. It provides some anticipation for when the big betrayal is going to happen and kept my attention.

What I Didn’t Like:

–First and Third Person Narration–

There are times and genres for third person narration but for the most part, I prefer first person POV. It’s just a little easier to follow and I find it easier to connect with the characters.

In this novel, Cyra’s POV is first person and Akos’ is third person…and I’m not sure why it was that way. Obviously, I felt it easier to read Cyra’s chapters and connect more with her character. Akos just seemed so distant to me and I felt like I never knew his character the way I should have. His POV should have been first person in my opinion.

(An example of a series that does first and third person narration well is The Pledge Trilogy where our lead heroine is told in first person but multiple other characters gets POVs told in third person. The differing POVs help establish the narrative and the world as a whole I think).

–Easy to Get Lost in the Writing–

I’m not sure what it was about the writing, but I found myself missing tiny things in the narration which had big impacts on my understanding of the story.

Like a significant time change in the narration (that’s mentioned like once in the opening paragraph of a chapter); or understanding exactly WHAT the various current gifts are. As I said above, the world-building could have been stronger. Yes, we do get a glossary but it really only highlighted the “bigger” things and not the inner workings of the world.

–Very Slow Plot–

At the halfway point of the novel, I could count the number of important “events” that moved the story forward on one hand. It wasn’t a lot. You could have easily cut this books size in half and had a much stronger, fuller story.

Because we do get some exciting twists within the last few chapters of the novel that set up for the sequel beautifully. I just think a lot of people will lose interest wayyy before than.

My Final Thoughts on Issues Raised by Other Readers:

After reading the novel, I read arguments from “both sides” and I understand what both are saying.

I’m a firm believer that we should let fiction be fiction. Fiction is a medium used to explore things we can’t always explore in reality. But my favourite aspect about it is its ability to start a conversation; as this novel obviously has.

I know that for some people, the ideas present here are their reality; and I know that for others, they won’t see that reality because it doesn’t pertain to their life. Reading is such a personal experience that everyone reads (and interprets) something differently. And it’s ok that we do; so long as we can have healthy conversations and respect those differences of opinion in a civil way. Debate is healthy, it’s how change comes about. I’m glad this novel is bring conversations about diversity to the surface and I hope we can learn from it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see how the next novel will unfold. I think there were enough things introduced in the final chapters to keep my interest in picking up the sequel.

updates

–January 16, 2020– Book #2: The Fates Divide

Because it had been so long since I read the inaugural book, I decided to try the audiobook for this finale. And I think know that might have impacted my overall enjoyment for this book but I don’t believe my review would be any higher than it currently is if I had stuck with the hardcover.

Basically, my issues with the first novel came back to bite me. I struggled with the narration between first and third person this time again–and it didn’t help we had two additional POVs told in first person to keep track of. I was getting so lost–which didn’t help the fact that I found Roth’s writing style to still be hard to understand at times.

But I think my biggest disappointment was the underwhelming plot. I think this book tried to take on too much on a “meta” level and the drama got pushed to the side as a result. Not a lot is happening except characters lamenting the past. There were a few good twists but they were too far between to have an impact on my enjoyment.

My Rating: 3/5

Carve the Mark 3/5 | The Fates Divide 2/5

overall

I was hoping for a Divergent type of read; instead, we got Allegiant. A lot of talking and not as much action. And when it came to the finale, it just couldn’t hold my attention.

Read if You Like: slower stories, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance-focus

similarreads

recapbutton

readingchallengesbook

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact

Series Review: Trust Me by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Series Review: Trust Me by Mary Elizabeth Summer

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 Trust Me, I’m Lying (from Goodreads):

Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

breakdown

Series: Trust Me
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summer
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #1.5 Down to the Liar

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, a third book is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

My Expecations for Trust Me, I’m Lying:

I’m a sucker for book synopses that say “fans of ___” because I almost always pick them up (so mission accomplished marketing peeps). With this book, it’s targeted for fans of Ally Carter’s Heist Society Series and Ocean’s Eleven. Now, I didn’t love the Heist Society novels but I still love Ally Carter’s work; and I loved Ocean’s Eleven (but not so much its sequels). Basically, I like heist/crime-thriller books/movies but haven’t had too much luck finding that perfect book series that meets all my expectations. Maybe this series was the elusive mark (see what I did there :P) I had been waiting for…

My Review of Trust Me, I’m Lying (#1):

As I was reading this book I kept thinking it was more of a Cold Fury-esque (by T.M. Goeglin) novel than it is a Heist Society-esque novel: though it does share some similarities to Heist Society (like the heroine going to a private school; trying to get into college like a normal girl her age; and being aware of the “family business”). Ally Carter’s Heist Society focuses on a group thieves actually completing a heist, much like the Italian Job or Ocean’s Eleven. Trust Me, I’m Lying doesn’t really focus on Julep completing a big heist but instead focuses on her trying to solve the mystery behind her father’s disappearance–which is why I say it is more similar plot-wise to Cold Fury where the heroine is trying to find her kidnapped family than to Heist Society or even Ocean’s Eleven. (Even at one point in the book Julep makes the comment that she is acting more like a sleuth than a con artists which is so true!) However, it does read a lot like an Ally Carter novel so fans of one will like the other.

Julep is one of those characters I could easily see people disliking; I myself struggled deciding if I actually liked her or not. I think I’ve reached the conclusion that I appreciate her independence but we would never be friends in real life. I admire that she works for what she wants but she does is it in such a brash manner that it just rubbed me the wrong way at times. She puts on a tough girl act and that gets more apparent as you read the novel; I warmed up to her as I read the novel for sure but it was a rocky relationship to start. If anyone has watched/read Veronica Mars, Julep is a similar character to Veronica in her personality I think.

Once I reached the halfway point I would say that I was getting addicted to the story. I had a hard time putting it down because I really wanted to get to the solution for her father’s disappearance. I never found that part of the book to be predictable; but I found Julep’s personal life was so predictable it was almost cliché at times–until it wasn’t.

The last few chapters of the book really surprised me because I really enjoyed them. They were faster paced, we actually get a heist-esque plot and there were a few twists I wasn’t expecting to happen. It made me excited to see where this is going to go next.

updates

–May 2, 2019– Book #1.5: Down to the Liar

It’s been a couple of years since I read the first book in the series so this novellas was the perfect way to bring me back to Julep’s world. It truly bridges the events of the first book to the second so it’s one of those novellas that actually follows chronological order.

–May 8, 2020– Book #2: Trust Me, I’m Trouble

I had every intention of picking this up after I read the novella but time got away from me. So I made it a part of my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2020, thinking this was the finale as that was my theme for this year’s challenge (and it has been 5 years since it was published)–only to get to the last page and realize that another book is planned. Which is good, because I have more questions than answers at this point!

I probably would have enjoyed this a little more if life didn’t seem so dark around me with the Covid pandemic. Julep has a pretty sullen narrative and it gives this book a sad vibe to it. I could only read it in bits because it would become slightly depressing. But there are a lot of highlights in this book like the romance (I definitely was looking in the wrong place for that), family and the complex plot. I was really impressed with the layers to this. Things I thought I had figured out were either sorta-true or completely off and I liked that it surprised me.

Series Rating: 4/5

Trust Me, I’m Lying 4/5 | [Down to the Liar 4/5] | Trust Me, I’m Trouble 3/5

overall

While Ally Carter fans will more than likely enjoy this book, I think fans of Veronica Mars will also enjoy this novel. It’s not really a heist novel but it does have that slow build to it that Ocean’s Eleven has (even if it isn’t all that apparent as you read). This novel surprised me with how much I actually enjoyed it because for a good while I was giving it a bare pass–but the ending was great!

Read if You Like: slower stories, mystery/thrillers
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

recapbutton

readingchallenges
book

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Disclaimer | Request a Review | Contact