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Series Review: Mythic Maids by C K Brooke

Fresh Fridays: I, Guinevere (Mythic Maids #1) by C K Brooke

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

Mythic Maidens Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for I, Guinevere (from Goodreads):

If you think you know the story of King Arthur and his mythical sword, think again. Your legends have it wrong. Here’s the truth: I was never married to Arthur, and he wasn’t a king. Because Arthur never pulled that sword out of the stone. I did.
I, Guinevere.

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword in a stone appears in the churchyard. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives it a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: she is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was born royalty. Now, between apprenticing the eccentric wizard, Merlyn; swordplay lessons with an abrasive—albeit, attractive—boy named Lance; and clandestine, magical meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by the barbarous Saxyns and visitations from mysterious dark forces continually warn that she may be in over her head. Can Guinevere defend the kingdom from the darkness and deception that threaten to seize it? Despite her doubts and the sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

From the unstoppable pen of C.K. Brooke comes a fresh and unforgettable new retelling seeped in Arthurian mythology. Queen Guinevere has her own tale to share, and it’s nothing like what you thought! Experience the magic and myth of Camylot, Avalon, Merlyn, and Exkalibur like never before as, in the vein of Brooke’s award-winning SECRETS OF ARTEMIS, this legendary maiden of lore recounts her side of the story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Mythic Maidens
Author: C K Brooke
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 14, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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:

Over the last few years, I’ve really become a fan of C K Brooke’s work. She writes some really intriguing, entertaining stories that I’ve had a hard time putting down. So when I was asked to read her new Arthurian Legend based novella, I was so there! I love anything and everything to do with King Arthur (I’ve seen the musical Camelot at least 3 times) so I couldn’t wait to see what unique spin she’d give Guinevere.

What I Liked:

–I Saw Guinevere in a New Light–

Guinevere is one of those legendary characters that we all have a preconceived notion of–and I know for me, I have a not so favourable one. (Unless we are talking about Gwen from the TV show Merlin–she’s the best!).

I feel like she is one of those characters that is often defined by the men she is involved with but that really wasn’t the case here at all. It was nice to read about her in a more positive, independent light and based on the merits of her own character. In the author’s note, Brooke explains her main goal for writing this story was to allow readers to see Guinevere in a different way and she most definitely succeeds in doing that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing was Slightly Off–

While I enjoyed this story and the blending of classic Arthurian elements, there was just something about the pacing that caused this book to lose the momentum for me. I felt like nothing happened for the vast majority of the pages and everything was rushed together at the end. The twists (both in the plot and the character roles) were great but I almost feel like they happened too late to truly allow me to appreciate them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I got a little hint about who the next book will be about and I CANNOT WAIT! I love the concept of this series so much and I’m excited to see what will happen to our next heroine!

updates

–September 23, 2019– Book #2: Marian, Princess Thief

What fun spins on a story that you’ve seen so many times before! Seriously, this felt fresh in a way that surprised me given the numerous Robin Hood literature and adaptations out there.

I thought the start was a little slow, perhaps too much time establishing Marian and her crew when we already know the gist. It was cool to see how Tuck joins the group but I thought we had one too many heists to give back to the poor. I wanted to see more of the conflict with the Sheriff and how she was going to over throw John.

But the end was exciting, especially when more of the surprises were unveiled. It had that faster pace I’ve come to enjoy in my Robin Hood stories.

My Rating: 3/5

Secrets of Artemis N/A | I, Guinevere 3/5| Marian, Princess Thief 3.5/5

overall

It’s an enjoyable read and C K Brooke never fails to deliver fresh, entertaining YA reads so fans of her work will no doubt enjoy this!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, novellas, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy/magic, want more romance

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Series Review: Madison Sisters by Lynsay Sands

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 Countess (from Goodreads):

THE FAIRY TALE COURTSHIP DID NOT TURN INTO A HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER …

Not until her husband dropped dead, that is. He had been horrible enough to Christiana during their short marriage, and she was not going to allow the traditional period of mourning to ruin her sisters’ debuts as well. So she decides to put him on ice and go on as if nothing’s happened …

Until the real earl appears. Richard Fairgrave had every intention of confronting his villainous twin who had robbed him of his name and title … only to discover that he had died. Quietly assuming his identity, Richard must now deal with a maddening desire for his ravishing inherited wife — certainly a gold digger and possibly a murderess. And Christiana must deal with an unwanted new husband … and they both must figure out what to do before the ice melts.

breakdown

Series: The Madison Sisters Trilogy
Author: Lynsay Sands
# of Books: 3 (The Countess, The Heiress, The Husband Hunt)
Book Order: Companion (The Heiress), Connected (The Husband Hunt)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Source & Format: public library–eBooks

thoughts

I first came across Lynsay Sands during my Highlander novel phase when I read her Devil of the Highlands Series. After my Highlander phase Regency/Historical Romances were my thing (perhaps it was more concurrent than I remember) and I came across the synopsis for The Countess and immediately had to read it. Her husband dies and she tries to hide it? Plus it turns out her husband was posing as his twin? It has all the makings of a great comedy so I was totally there.

I really enjoyed The Countess. It was a lot of fun to read and the characters were entertaining. I find Lynsay Sands writes really light-hearted stories that lean more towards “cheesy” romance than “erotica”. So of course you get your assumptive communication scenes and a lot of back and forth, but I was highly entertained when reading The Countess.

The Heiress is a true companion novel as most of its events take place congruently with The Countess. The problem with this is that if you The Heiress immediately read after reading The Countess, the first half of the book seems redundant. The first half is a rehash of what happens in The Countess but with a different perspective. I didn’t mind that much because I always forget what happens in previous books but I think it would bother some people. The last half or so is completely new scenes and those are fantastic!

I read these books years ago so I don’t remember my exact feelings but I do know I was disappointed in The Husband Hunt. The characters just weren’t what I was expecting and I didn’t love the romance because of it. I liked getting that closure but it just didn’t meet my expectations.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a light-hearted Regency read, this is a great series for you! It’s light on the sex scenes but is very entertaining. The concept of the first book, The Countess, is one I have never encountered and that made it a refreshing read.

Read if You Like: fun regency reads, light romance, humour
Avoid if You: like more erotica in your regency reads

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Single Sundays: Rewind to You by Laura Johnston

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 Rewind to You (from Goodreads):
Wish You Were Here

One last summer before college on beautiful Tybee Island is supposed to help Sienna forget. But how can she? This is where her family spent every summer before everything changed, before the world as she knew it was ripped away.

But the past isn’t easily left behind. Especially when Sienna keeps having episodes that take her back to the night she wants to forget. Even when she meets the mysterious Austin Dobbs, the guy with the intense blue eyes, athlete’s body, and weakness for pralines who scooped her out of trouble when she blacked out on River Street.

When she’s with Austin, Sienna feels a whole new world opening up to her. Austin has secrets, and she has history. But caught between the past and the future, Sienna can still choose what happens now…

Review:

I came across this book completely by accident when I was browsing eBooks from my public library and I’m glad that I took a chance on it and picked it up.

This book has so many layers to it that it’s hard to decide where to start. When I first grabbed this book, I thought it was going to be more New Adult in nature, and to a degree it is, but it is missing the sexual content that often accompanies New Adult reads. I suppose it is just an issue of semantics and what the definition “New Adult” means to you. To me, it means collage students who deal with heavier topics and have sex with their romantic lead. But, I’ve read a lot of “New Adult-like” books that have characters in high school who also deal with heavier subject matter but lack the sex-focus. Anyways…this book straddles the line between Young Adult and New Adult but I would say it leans more towards New Adult than it does towards a Sarah Dessen novel.

One thing I really loved about this book was the character development. When we meet the characters, they are already well developed and complete characters; but as the book progresses their layers really get revealed and that’s what drove the story for me. Laura Johnston did a great job writing this book and I loved how it never seemed to follow a formula in its presentation. When Austin’s story needed to be the focus, we got multiple chapters of him in a row and vice versa.

Another thing I loved was that there was a lot going on in each character’s life. It wasn’t focused on just Sienna with a little bit of a side story for Austin. I felt like it was really well balanced and both characters complemented each other very well.

My only disappointment with the book was that it felt a little too “love-at-first-sight”. It wasn’t really in the grand scheme of things–and I really don’t want it to deter you from reading this if you don’t like love-at-first-sight novels–but it was an element that wasn’t my favourite part of the story. However, unlike most love-at-first-sight novels I really felt like these characters had a connection that simply wasn’t lust and that was super refreshing.

Conclusion:

It was a very refreshing read and very well written; one of my favourite reads this year. If you want a book that is heavy on the dark drama that is often found in New Adult reads but without all the sex, this is a great book for you to grab!

Rating: 4/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Yes

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Tragedy, Coming of Age, Mental Health
Recommended for: 18+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Standalone 2014
Similar Reads: Kiss the Tiger by Raquel Lyon and Breathe Into Me by Sara Fawkes

Series Review: Rusk University by Cora Carmack

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

Rusk University Series

Other books in the series:
book4 book5

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Author
Series: Rusk University Trilogy
Author: Cora Cormack
# of Books: 5 (All Lined Up, All Broke Down, All Played Up, All Closed Off,TBD)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, All Closed Off will be published in the near future
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Football, Coming of Age, University Life, The South
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I loved Cora Cormack’s Losing It Trilogy and when I read the synopsis for All Lined Up, I knew I had to read it!

All Lined Up really reminded me of Losing It. Both follow a similar set up but I think All Lined Up improves upon my complaint that we didn’t get to see much of the relationship develop between the two leads. It definitely gets more of a focus here but it isn’t the only thing the book is about. What I really love about Cormack’s New Adult reads is that each lead character develops independently throughout the novel. They don’t become this person who relies so much on their significant other that it gets to the point of becoming nauseating to me. This book is just as much a coming of age novel as it is a romance.

I found All Lined Up to be a super quick and fun read. I loved the chemistry between Dallas and Carson–it was there from beginning to end. Dallas was a smart heroine who also had her funny moments as well. I really loved that she didn’t create senseless drama by jumping to conclusions (which is a very rare find in New Adult novels that are set in The South and/or deal with football players). They were both also very real characters and I think that most readers can identify in some capacity to each other them one way or another.

The only thing really lacking for me was a dramatic plot line–and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think I was just expecting more drama based on the assumptions I drew from the synopsis. Instead, this book focuses on the growth of the characters instead of petty drama which is rather refreshing when I look back on it.

I’m surprised at who the hero is in the next novel, All Broke Down, but nevertheless I am super excited to read it! I hope that the third book, All Played Out focuses on two characters introduced in All Lined Up (Though NewsFlash, it doesn’t!). Regardless, I will be picking both of these books up!

updates

–December 5, 2015–Book 2: All Broke Down

I just finished All Broke Down and I have to say, I enjoyed it more than All Lined Up by just a smidgen. While the feelings for the two leads progressed more quickly than I normally like (not quite love at first sight but more insta-connection) I really felt like they were a good pair. The sexual tension was even better than All Lined Up and I loved watching everything unfolding. Before I new it I was halfway through the book and just kept plowing through it. While I feel like some things were left a little unresolved, it wasn’t enough to truly upset me and I have a feeling the next book will help wrap everything up.

Again, I’m surprised at who the leads are for All Played Up but given what we have seen of them so far and the plot synopsis, it promises to be a very fun and sexy ride. There is one particular character that I hope we get to see more of but I’m not sure if we will given the fact that the initial deal for this series was 3 books. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get something because I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants her story to be told 😉

–September 6, 2015– Book 3: All Played Out

I was really excited to read this one and after a few failed attempts at the library checkout system , I FINALLY got my hands on a copy!

All Played Out was exactly what I expected: a sexy but heartwarming read. The leads had fantastic chemistry together–both physical and emotional–so it made for a really easy read. So easy in fact that I stayed on the couch all day to finish it.


It’s my favourite of the series…so far…

As it turns out, this series has been extended to include at least 5 books which is fantastic! That means the particular character I wanted to read about will get their own book! It is the next book to be published as well so I simply CANNOT WAIT! I’ve been looking forward to the story we are about to get in All Closed Off since All Lined Up so this has been a long time coming!

Series Rating: 4/5

All Lined Up 4/5 | All Broke Down 4/5 | All Played Out 5/5

overall

Cora Cormack fans will love this new series as will fans of football themed New Adult novels. A quick, fun and romantic series that has that dash of reality that is often rare in this genre. For those who like New Adult novels that focus more on the coming of age aspect of the genre, this is a great one to pick up.

Read if You Like: coming of age, realistic New Adult, football
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult

similarreads

  • Crash by Nicole Williams (Crash Trilogy #1)
  • Losing It by Cora Cormack (Losing It Trilogy #1)
  • The List by Kate L Mary (College of Charleston Series #1)

    Synopsis for All Lined Up (from Goodreads):
    In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

    Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

    But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

    Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated.

    Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter.

    And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

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Single Sundays: Dangerous to Know and Love by Jane Harvey-Berrick

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 Dangerous to Know and Love (from Goodreads):
Silence is only skin deep.

Nineteen year old Daniel Colton is the guy all the girls want to date, and the man all the guys want to be. Moody, with an explosive temper, closed off and sullen, he’s also beautiful, tatted in delicious ways, with a pierced eyebrow and spiky black hair. It’s rumoured he has piercings in other places, too. Is he really mad, bad and dangerous to know?

Daniel lives with his older brother, Zef, and their home is party central. You want drugs, a good time, liquor, no questions asked? Colton’s is the place to go.

When Daniel and good girl Lisanne Maclaine have to work together on an assignment, Lisanne finds there’s a lot more to the college’s bad boy than his reputation. He’s intelligent and funny and good company. And then she discovers his secret, why he’s so closed off to everyone, and determined to keep people at arms’ length. But being his secret-keeper is harder than she ever dreamed.

breakdown

Author: Jane Harvey-Berrick
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 13, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book had been on my Kindle Wish List for a very long time and one day I randomly decided to check and see if any of the books I “wished” for had dropped in price. Turns out, this one had by quite a bit and I still had a gift card to use so I immediately grabbed it.

The Concept:

This book was really refreshing to read in terms of its concept. Unlike a majority of New Adult reads, this book focused on the current struggles in the protagonists lives–and by that I mean that there isn’t some mysterious event that happened in the past that explains why the character acts like they do. Well, there is…but it’s really hard to explain what exactly is happening (I try to write spoiler free reviews in every sense of the theory!). I guess what I’m trying to say is, I haven’t come across Daniel’s secret in any other book so I really liked that.

The Plot:

I really got sucked into this book; though I think the fact that I should have been studying / reading another slower book at the same time contributed to my slight addiction to this one. But I think the biggest reason was that I wasn’t sure where it was going to go and I wanted to know.

But I felt like it never really went anywhere. It really was a day by day thing with these characters in the sense that it was mostly about them trying to find out where their relationship fit in with their lives. Nothing really exciting happens and it got a little tedious to read; especially when they started acting childish about certain things.

The Romance:

Pair that with the fact that the exposition was wayyyyy to long. It took a good number of pages to get to some character interaction and with romances I really like the sexual tension ASAP. And then when we finally got some sexual tension, it felt like everything accelerated very quickly. I’m not a fan of love at first sight books and in that bracket I include books where the L-word is dropped within two weeks of dating. Just sours what was a nice romance to me–but that is more of a personal preference.

The Narration:

My last comment about the writing is that the third person narration isn’t my favourite. I don’t mind third person, though I prefer alternating first person, but I don’t like when the thoughts of the two characters aren’t separated by page breaks. When I read third person, I like that each character has their own section and for that section you only follow that character from their perspective. With this book, it was jumbled a bit so I really had to focus to make sure that I was getting everything straight.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really liked the concept of this book, but not so much its execution. It just needs some polishing and some fine-tuning and it would be a great read. If you want a new adult read with a bit of a different spin on it and don’t mind longer books, this one might be worth your time. However, don’t be expecting a some super dangerous bad boy. Daniel definitely has his bad boy touches but he isn’t super “dangerous” per say.

Read if You Like: unique stories, longer reads
Avoid if You: want a true bad boy
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Series Review: Legend by Marie Lu

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 Legend (from Goodreads):

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Series 2014, Favourite Couple 2014, To-Watch Author
Series: Legend, Legend Trilogy
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 4 (Full Series Reading Order)

There are some novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Adventure, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Political
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2011 – October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

I’ve wanted to read Legend since it first came out in 2011 but I could never get my hands on a copy from the library. I also let it slip to the back of my mind and read other, more “popular” dystopian novels. But after reading the first novel, Legend, I’m upset with myself that I waited this long!

Review of Legend (#1):

Legend was everything I love in a novel. It has strong lead characters (especially a strong female heroine), suspense, mystery, a dash of romance and action. I was sucked into the book the moment I started it and couldn’t put it down. Like most dystopian novels, it has many layers to it. You have the overall political issues, the class divisions and then the main plot for the individual novel. There were some great twists and turns along the way and I found that the suspense never died.

What I also loved was that this book wasn’t like other dystopian books out there. Yes, it had similar elements but I found the story to be very refreshing. It is definitely on the darker side in the sense that it isn’t afraid to talk about death or feature killing. It might make some readers uncomfortable but I thought it really added to the story.

June was great on her own as was Day but I loved the chemistry they had together. They weren’t immature despite being only 15 years old and they didn’t grate on my nerves like some teen leads can. I felt like I was reading about 17 year olds and I almost wish that they were older just for the sake of what they have to go through but it really isn’t a big deal. June does do a few things that irk me a little later on but overall I really do like her character.

Review of Prodigy (#2):

Prodigy never slumped in its delivery. It was fast-paced from start to finish and I loved the character development we get along the way. It’s one of the best middle books of a trilogy that I have read. I find a lot of novels in a trilogy, especially a dystopian series, really struggle with the sequel book. But this one was strong throughout and I loved every minute of it!

Review of Champion (#3):

Champion started slow (compared to the rest of the series) but picked up quickly. The last third was super intense and I couldn’t get enough of it. Dystopian authors take note, this is how you write the conclusion to your trilogy: it was perfection. It had action, character development, a dash of realism (which I really, really appreciated) and a thorough wrap-up. Just well done.

When to Read #0.5 Life Before Legend:

Just a quick note on Life Before Legend. The title is slightly confusing in the sense that it gives the impression that you should read it before you read Legend. DON’T! It really won’t mean anything to you until you read Legend and have met the characters. And it’ll have some spoilers.

Life Before Legend isn’t anything spectacular. To be honest, I mostly skimmed through it. It’s a cute little extra that fans will enjoy but it’s nothing to worry about as it really doesn’t add anything to the story. I recommend you read it after book 2, Prodigy, just because one story refers to a particular scene in Prodigy so it will have more relevance than if you read it after the finished series.

updates

–November 18, 2019– Book #4: Rebel

I was both nervous and super excited when this book was announced. While I wouldn’t say I LOVED the ending of Champion, I respected it. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t read any future novels set in this world.

What an amazing way to return and wrap up an amazing series. Honestly, it’s been years since I finished Champion but I felt like it had been days.

Everything you want and need is here. Powerful character moments; a strong plot.

And I have to say that I love the idea that the solutions to problems aren’t always so clear and that the world is ever changing. Perfection.

Series Rating: 5/5

Legend 5/5 | Prodigy 5/5 | Champion 5/5 | Rebel 5/5

overall

I devoured these novels! I would sit down and find that an hour had past and I had made significant progress reading. I highly recommend you read them as close together as possible because you will need to know what happens next. Marie Lu has become an author I plan to read a lot more from. If you loved Divergent and want a book with a similar vibe, this is the series you need to read. If you like action, a splash of romance and suspense in your young adult novels, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: dystopian, fast paced novels, rebellion
Avoid if You: dislike science fiction

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Series Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Dystopian Series
Series: Divergent Trilogy
Author: Veronica Roth
# of Books: 3 (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant)

There are a bunch of short stories told from Tobias’ perspective. See the list here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!

Thoughts:

After reading The Hunger Games, I discovered my love of dystopian fiction and like most people who enjoy a book, I look for similar books to read next. Divergent was one that was constantly recommended and it sounded really interesting so I picked it up. This was just when it started to get a lot of hype and I didn’t know anyone else who had read it, but it quickly became popular and after reading it, I understood why.

While Divergent starts fairly slow, it really picks up and keeps going for the duration of the book. I also slowly grew to like Tris. She wasn’t the best heroine I had ever read initially but watching her and reading her thoughts about things really made me love her. She is a very strong character and after reading the series, I would say she is one of my favourite characters in young adult fiction.

I also like how the romance is handled in this series. Like The Hunger Games, but without the love triangle (BONUS!), it’s subtle and slowly builds. So this isn’t a series you read solely for the romance–if you want a dystopian series that focuses mostly on the romance read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium –but the relationship Tris develops is very important later on in the series and takes a bit more of a central focus. I loved the tension between her and Four in Divergent and I have to say they are easily one of my favourite literary couples.

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of what happened in Insurgent –just the ending because it was fantastic! While it was a lot slower to me, I love what happens and what is revealed as you read so I didn’t find it particularly dull–it just lacks the action and fighting you get accustomed to in Divergent.

It took me a long time to get my hands on Allegiant and then actually get a chance to sit down and read it. I was eagerly anticipating where this series would go and I have to say it blew my mind where it went! I have to give Veronica Roth a lot of credit because she did a great job creating this world the books take place in and I totally saw all the dots connect as I read the last novel. Again, this book is a lot slower action-wise than Divergent as most of the plot development comes from talking and revealing the mystery of the world. I think this may disappoint a few people who enjoy this series for the action–but those who like the politics and the mystery of the world will like this book a lot.

When I look at Goodreads, I see that the rating for this book is a lot lower than the previous books in the series and after reading it, I totally know why. Roth took a lot of risks writing this book and taking it in the more Science Fiction direction that she did and I personally think they paid off. I can appreciate what she did even if the book fan in me doesn’t particularly enjoy it. I think that is why a lot of people rate Allegiant lower than the rest because they don’t like the direction it takes and the movement away from dystopian to science fiction. But after reading it, I am totally satisfied with how it ended and content with it.

I’ve never read the short stories about Tobias and I will eventually get around to reading them but not at this particular moment in time.

Conclusion:

This series constantly surprised me and in that great way I love as a book reader. When you read as much as I do, you get bored with the same cut and paste storylines that seem to appear when Young Adult trends start. But every once in a while, you find a book that is a result of that trend that stands out from the rest and for the Dystopian Trend: Divergent is that series for me (though I still love The Hunger Games). I recommend this series to practically anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games and they have all enjoyed it as well.

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy #1); Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1); Matched by Ally Condie (Matched Trilogy #1) and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Divergent (from Goodreads):
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Series Review: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

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

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray | Spellcaster Series

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Synopsis for Spellcaster (from Goodreads):
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed – and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them.

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Surprise Reads of 2013
Series: Spellcaster Trilogy
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 3 (Spellcaster, Steadfast, Sorceress)

There is also a prequel novella, The First Midnight Spell — see note below

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Witches, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

Witches are not normally my “thing” when it comes to reading. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed witch books as much as I should. The only exception being Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, one of my all time favourite series. However, I did like the CW TV Series “The Secret Circle” (based on books of the same name) and this book was pitched for fans of that so I decided to give it a shot. I also enjoyed Gray’s Evernight Series and like her style so I decided to pick this book up.

My Review:

I’m glad I did. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a young adult book (but that could also be because of my hectic school schedule cutting out my reading time and/or only reading short, freebies from Kindle ;)) and once I got into this one, it was hard to put it down.

I think one thing that I liked about this book was the writing style Gray uses. One is that it was very mature. Nadia and group are very grown-up for high school students and I really appreciated it. They weren’t focused on who was dating who (though it does come up of course) but the main point is that it wasn’t the ONLY plot of the book–more on that later. They were all very smart and I really liked all the characters we meet. Another thing I really liked was the third person POV and how it switched between multiple people. I like books like this because you get more plot development and you get a better understanding of the characters. I think it worked really well for this book and I’m glad this was the route Claudia Gray took when writing it.

The plot development in this was great. I like how it unfolded as you read it but there were still a few twists that really add to the story. As I said before, it isn’t primarily a romance novel but there is that element. It is more a mystery/suspense plot that keeps you hooked. I don’t want to dive into it, but the plot really builds as you read.

The series reminded me a lot of Beautiful Creatures in it’s delivery (they have similar starts I think with the main characters) but there is enough in this book to make it unique and different. It will do a good job of filling the void Beautiful Creatures left after the final book was published 🙁

The Novella:

Although The First Midnight Spell is listed as a “prequel” novella, I wouldn’t read it until after you read Spellcaster because it will have some spoilers. While it isn’t necessary to read it for the rest of the series, it does shed some light on a particular character and helps explain why things are the way they are in Captive Sound.

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–May 12, 2014– Book #2: Steadfast

When my eReader died in March, the book I was reading was Steadfast and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish it just as I really got into the story. So after a few months of waiting, I finally got my hands on a copy.

Steadfast was a great follow-up to Spellcaster. It has the exact same formula that made the first book so enjoyable and addicting. Again, lots of twists and turns throughout the plot so I never found it to be predictable. One thing I really enjoyed was that we got to see more about Verlaine and to be honest it was her story that really drew me in this time around. I’m really excited to see how everything wraps up in the next and final novel of the series.

–March 25, 2015– Book #3: Sorceress

I was first on my library’s list to get Sorceress when it was released but because of school, I wasn’t able to read it for a few weeks. I’m not sure if it was because I was in a rush to finish it before my download expired or if it is because its been a year since I read Steadfast but I just didn’t get into it. I think I was expecting more instant drama/action based on how Steadfast ends so I felt like Sorceress took a long time to build up to what should have been there from the start (in my opinion). Just past the halfway point was where things started to pick up but by then I was a little bored. Overall though I thought it was a solid way to end the series and I liked the way things progressed eventually. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that my current mood really influenced my reading. (So while I gave it a 3/5 on GoodReads, it’s more of a 3.5/5 because I think fans of the series will be satisfied).

Series Rating: 4/5

Spellcaster 4/5 | Steadfast 4/5 | Sorceress 3/5

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If you like witches and magic with a dash of romance, pick this up!

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Single Sundays: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures

Review:

I absolutely love Steampunk and I also love strong female characters so this book seemed like a no-brainer to me. After over a year, I finally got my hands on it!

I think it is fair to say that is book wasn’t what I was totally expecting–and that is OK. I still really liked it but not in the way I thought I would before I picked up it up.

I found this book to be really refreshing. The wit in it (all you really have to do is read some of the chapter titles and you will get what I am saying) is unlike any book I have read in recent memory. It was just a lot of fun and I did chuckle a few times at the characters and what they say/do. That being said, this type of humour and writing might not appeal to everyone so just be forewarned.

The characters were great. I think as a girl you can relate to some part of the three of the ladies in some way. I will say I was a little disappointed in Michiko’s character and I would have liked to have seen her character develop a bit more than what we get but I still liked her a lot. But overall, I really liked the strong ladies we get!

The book started a little slow and it didn’t help that I was thrown off by what I was actually reading. It isn’t very steampunk–and by that I mean that the steampunk element isn’t the driving force of the story like some other books. This book chooses to focus instead on how the girls live in a society that limits what girls in what they can do in polite society and the solving of a murder. But, the book really does pick up once you are a few chapters in and between the 3 girls, there is always something to grab your attention. The last 50 or so pages were really addicting.

Conclusion:

A very fun and witty read! I really hope that there is a sequel because I would love to see what else these girls get themselves into!

Rating: 3.5/5
Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Young Adult, Steampunk, Mystery, Action
Recommended for: 15+
Similar Reads: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

Though it isn’t a book, I highly recommend that you watch the TV show, Avatar: Legend of Korra is you like this genre and type of story!

Series Review: Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

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

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Synopsis for Mila 2.0 (from Goodreads):

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

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Series: Mila 2.0 Trilogy
Author: Debra Driza
# of Books: 3 (Mila 2.0, Renegade, Redemption)

There is also a prequel eNovella, Origins: The Fire available for free on Kobo and Amazon/Kindle

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young adult, SciFi, Action, Suspense, Thriller
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2013 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up:

I came across this series when I found the eBook prequel, Origins: Fire, for free on Kobo. The cover drew my attention so I decided to see what the series was about. The main summary for Mila 2.0, the first book of the series, didn’t immediately grab my attention. I feared it would be some attempt to find the meaning of life or life as a human and that just didn’t interest me too much. What ended up making my decision for me was the title dropping of the Borne Identity and I am Number Four, titles that I have enjoyed in the past for their blend of action and plot–so when a book is compared to these two titles, I can’t help but to check it out.

My Thoughts on the Prequel Novella:

I’ll start briefly with the prequel novella. You don’t need to read Origins: Fire before you start this book. It ends abruptly and it confused me a bit because of this abrupt ending but it does explain what happened and why Mila is where she is and why she feels as she does. If you have a Kobo or a Kindle, pick up the eBook for free. It also offers sample chapters of Mila 2.0 as well if you wanted to get a bit of a feel for the full-length book.

My Review of Mila 2.0:

Mila 2.0, the first full length novel of the series, started off really slow. It isn’t until Chapter 8 that Mila learns the truth about herself so for the first 8 chapters of the novel you read about her life as a high schooler and her friends. It is a little dull and I don’t care for her friends (they are everything I dislike about girls in high school) so that made it hard to get through. But once the discovery is made, it really picks up. This set up of an extraordinary protagonist living in a ordinary world reminded me a lot of I am Number Four because in that book, Four/John goes through a very similar situation and most of the action picks up after a few “everyday-life” chapters in that novel as well.

Once Mila learns the truth, the action begins. More about her features and abilities get revealed as she navigates her way through the situations she faces. How Mila thinks and processes is very much Borne Identity-esque so there are some great action sequences in the latter half of the book. The detail in these sequences is also amazing–I was easily able to picture and have the scene run through my head as I read it which always gives a book bonus points in my opinion.

The last 30 pages have a lot going on and I was devastated when my Kobo ran out of batteries in the middle of it 😛 The ending was a bit abrupt but I guess most cliff-hanger endings are 😉

Why I Won’t Be Continuing With the Series:

I’ve just been too far removed from it over the last few years.

Series Rating: DNF

Mila 2.0 3.5/5 | Renegade N/A | Redemption N/A

overall

Overall, it wasn’t as “what makes us human” as I initially feared though it does have that as a focus of the novel–my point is that it isn’t the ONLY thing that this novel focuses on. This was a very refreshing read in a genre that is usually filled with romance and high school drama. It was a nice change of pace to get a true action/suspense read that isn’t a paranormal SciFi read but a genuine SciFi read. For those who love SciFi and a novel that builds up the story as it goes, check this one out!

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