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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?


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

Review copy only provided for #1, Breakwater


**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.


–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

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



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


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

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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:


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.


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)


**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.


–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


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




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Series Review: Beautifully Broken by Courtney Cole

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

book book book

Synopsis for If You Stay (from Goodreads):
24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.

He’s a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.

But he’s got his reasons.

His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn’t understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.

As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn’t work. His dad couldn’t overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn’t keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.

Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn’t want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn’t there, then it isn’t, right?

And it’s never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn’t know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he’s got to figure it out because he needs her to breathe.

When memories of his mother’s death resurface from where he’s repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one…the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.

But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.

He knows that. And he’s working on it.

But is that enough to make her stay?


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, Favourite New Adult Series
Series: Beautifully Broken
Author: Courtney Cole
# of Books: 5 (Full Series Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #2.5 Until We Burn

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drugs, Abuse, Tragedy
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild [Before We Fall])
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2013 – July 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook


**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.**

Wow, I LOVED this book! It was everything I wanted in a New Adult read and it was such a great read!

I will admit, I was skeptical before reading this. I find with New Adult reads, some hit the mark perfectly by blending tragedy+romance+drama+maturity all into one. That is why I enjoy New Adult reads because they are more mature than most young adult books that have characters in high school. I’m in university myself so I find I relate better to characters my own age & their problems than the often petty high school drama. However, not all books hit the maturity level quite so well and I got worried this one wouldn’t.

I’m happy to say I was proven wrong. This book was extremely mature and handled the issues within it perfectly. The characters didn’t run from their past or just jump into bed together. They actively worked on their issues (and did so in the right way) and I found that extremely refreshing. (FYI, I had just finished the first book in Kelly Elliot’s Wanted Series which I found to be an extremely immature series so I might be a little skewed in my opinion when it comes to this one ;))

For some reason, I love the jerk/player character in romance novels. I guess it’s the hopeless romantic in me that likes to think love can heal people. Regardless, I really liked Pax as a character. He is charming, sweet and troubled but willing to make the right changes. Mila is also fantastic. She is strong and mature and I really respect her as a character.

The book is a really quick read–or maybe you just get sucked into it and lose all sense of time. There isn’t too much else to the plot other than their relationship and dealing with their personal problems (score for no unnecessary drama!) but there is enough to keep you interested.

I’m really looking forward to book 2, If You Stay and I refused to read the little 1 chapter preview in my book because I don’t want to get hung up on it 😛


–January 28, 2016– Book #2: If You Leave

It is just a TAD ridiculous that it took me nearly 3 years to read a book I was super excited to read–and I want to be clear that it in no way reflects my opinion on the series. I was faithful and continued to buy each book as they were released–I just never got around to them thanks to the countless other books that fell into my hands.

But let’s just start by saying that this book was worth the wait! I loved this story for so many different reasons! I thought the relationship and characters were extremely realistic, even if things between them happened fast or some of the events were more dramatic than necessary. I felt so many emotions when reading this book–from joy to sadness to anger to frightfulness–you name an emotion and this book probably has it. It was just plain addicting to read and I easily became absorbed in the story.

–February, 2016– Book #3: Before We Fall

I was really curious to see where this book was going to go given the heroine–but it went in a direction I wasn’t expecting nor one that I loved.

I really didn’t enjoy the relationship between these two at the start and even contemplated not finishing the novel. But I really wanted to find out the backstory of our hero and so I stuck around. I do feel like the story and relationship improved as the story progressed but it could have simply been me  becoming accustomed to these characters and their story.

While the tragedy of the past novels is here, the dynamic of this story is so different from the previous books I think. I didn’t love the heroine’s progression, especially given the events of the past book and I felt like the focus was more on our hero. Which is fine, just not what I really expected. I also felt like their romantic relationship was very unhealthy and I didn’t immediately see why they would like each other besides physical attraction. I supposed I just wanted–and expected more from these characters.

Loads of sexual tension (though it did make me uncomfortable at times) and buckets of drama, this book combines elements I’ve read in other books in a way that is unique but I think will be really hit of miss with its readers.

–March 1, 2016– Book #4: Until We Fly

This one was a definite improvement over Until We Break. The romantic connection was more sound; there was a better (albeit tough to read) story line; and the characters had a better progression. My only hesitation in giving this a 5 was how fast the romance side of things developed.

This one was more of what I’ve come to expect from Cole’s work: a strong, passionate romance with great plot twists along the way. It was a solid way to end the series and I think fans will appreciate that.

–February 13, 2020– Book #5: My Peace

I was quite satisfied with the ending of this series but I was curious to see what this return would be all about. This was a touch more dramatic than I wanted it to be. While I adore the overall aspects Cole extracts from Pax’s character, I think we could have accomplished the same without the over the top dramatics.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

If You Stay 5/5 | If You Leave 4.5/5 | Before We Fall 3/5 | Until We Fly 4/5 | My Peace 3/5


One of the best new adult reads I have read. Great story, great characters and it is mature in its delivery. You can’t go wrong!

Read if You Like: mature stories, passionate romance, tragedy filled stories
Avoid if You: dislike tragedy


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