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Series Review: The Dream War Saga by Erica Cameron

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 Sing Sweet Nightingale (from Goodreads):
Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

breakdown

Series: The Dream War Saga
Author: Erica Cameron
# of Books: 2 (Sing Sweet Nightingale, Deadly Sweet Lies)
Book Order: Connected / Companion
Complete?: Yes–from what I can find
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook | Thanks Spencer Hill Press!

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thoughts

Note: I only read the first book, Sing Sweet Nightingale, of this series. Find out why…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly stumbled upon this book when browsing NetGalley and decided to wish for it. I’ve read a few great books over the years that have a “dream-world” premise and so I was intrigued by the concept of Sing Sweet Nightingale. I really didn’t know what else to expect though heading into it.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I found the world was really easy to understand and get into. When it comes to magical things, I sometimes struggle with the limitations of the world (I like my magic to be clearly defined) but that never happened with this one. Everything made sense and I didn’t feel like there was copious amounts of information to read.

The world itself is pretty interesting too. The idea that there are creatures contacting people in their dreams and manipulating them–very cool and also a little scary. I’m thankful my exam schedule tired me out or else I might have had a few interesting dreams about Orane coming for me…

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Really Happened–

While the world is cool, I felt like nothing happened in the plot. There really is only one plot line and it’s convincing Mariella that the dream world is more of a nightmare. Everything is focused on that and everything that happens is because of that. Which is fine–I mean, it is the premise of the story–I just wanted something more. And I often felt like the same scenes were being repeated over and over again (now some things were and had a purpose so that is fine). I just needed a great twist or a subplot to make me go “wow”.

–The Lack of a Romance–

Not ever book needs a romance but when you have a plot that is rather dry like this one, it sure doesn’t hurt. I almost thought we were going to get a platonic relationship between Hudson and Mariella–which excited me–but that turned out to be false hope…

Will I Finish It?

Sweet Deadly Lies focuses on two different characters and that has me mildly intrigued to read it but at this moment it’s a pass. I need a little something more to my story and I’m not sure the sequel will provide me that.

Series Rating: 3/5

Sing Sweet Nightingale 3/5 | Deadly Sweet Lies N/A

overall

If you like very linear, uncomplicated plots, this is a great one for you. I think younger YA fans will enjoy this more so than adults. If you want something more intricate when it comes to the plot, check out my Similar Reads.

Read if You Like: dreamworlds, linear plots
Avoid if You: want more romance, want a faster plot

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Series Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

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

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | The Book of Ivy Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Book of Ivy (from Goodreads):
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

breakdown

Series: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
# of Books: 2 (The Book of Ivy, The Revolution of Ivy)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
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 for the Book/Why I Picked it Up:

I was very excited to read The Book of Ivy. I loved the concept of the story–it was very Cruel Beauty-esque but with a more dystopian focus than fantasy and I really, really enjoyed Cruel Beauty so I couldn’t wait! But then, I started to see mediocre reviews for The Book of Ivy on some of the blogs that I follow and got a little less excited. Yet at the same time, it just really made me want to read this more. So I lowered my expectations slightly and went into with an open mind.

I’m glad that I did commit to picking up this book because I really did enjoy it! I was reading The Book of Ivy just on the cusp of my exams so I wanted a book where I didn’t have to think so hard and could get lost in the story. And with this book I could. I was immediately drawn into the world and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Was I able to put it down and function with my life–absolutely. But when I was reading, it managed to capture my attention and keep it.

The Concept/The World:

Why I think a lot of people give it a low rating is because its execution isn’t completely original; or at least to me it wasn’t. I’ve read a LOT of dystopian books and The Book of Ivy is a super mashup of ones I’ve read before. If anyone has ever read Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy‘s 2nd book) they have very similar story lines and concepts. I also got vibes from the Matched Trilogy, The Breathe Series and The Selection as well. The only key difference is, while I found Ivy to be a little on the boring side, I liked her character a lot more than the heroines of these other series. The same can be said about Bishop who completely won me over from the start.

The Plot:

I think the key going into this book is to not expect some high-tension scenarios. I found The Book of Ivy coasts along at a moderate rate because the romance isn’t very passionate; the action is non-existent (ie Ivy isn’t some kick-ass heroine) and it really isn’t politically focused. It’s a very subdued dystopian novel which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–it just makes it look like the younger, not as interesting sibling of bigger dystopian titles like The Hunger Games.

However, that isn’t to say the dystopian world we get isn’t interesting! I really enjoyed the look at gender roles in society, especially how a female “contributes positively” to her community; and what happens if the concept “for the common good” is taken to an extreme. While these themes aren’t highly elaborated, they are definitely present and it add to the story in a positive way.

The Characters & The Romance:

As I said before, Ivy didn’t particularly “wow” me but I did like her character. She showed a considerable amount of growth as the story progressed and I liked her rebellious nature. And while I thought Bishop’s character was a little more on the stereotypical side of things, I liked him a lot. Together I thought they made a great pair.

Which is why I wish the romance was a little more elaborated on. I didn’t mind the slow build and I actually think it was executed in the best way for this story; but the romance fan in me did wish for some more passion 😉

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to The Revolution of Ivy and am very glad that this book will be the finale. Not everything needs to be a trilogy and I feel that 2 books is the perfect length for this series!

updates

–July 4, 2016– Book #2: The Revolution of Ivy

While I forgot some of the littler details of the inaugural novel, I really enjoyed this finale.

I found the start to be slow but I kind-of expected that given the ending of The Book of Ivy. However, it quickly built up speed and become very interesting.

I liked the character development of Ivy we get here. This novel is really about her coming to terms with who she is as a person and what she wants to be happy in life. She makes some tough choices and I applaud her for that.

I wanted a little more excitement at the end but given the nature of the series, I’m very satisfied with how this finale played out. And, the romance was adorable <3

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Book of Ivy 3.5/5 | The Revolution of Ivy 3.5/5

overall

Is The Book of Ivy the greatest dystopian novel ever? No. But if you go in expecting a slower, more subdued dystopian story, I think you will enjoy it! It’s execution is very similar to that of the Delirium Trilogy in the sense that it isn’t a high action, high tension story (like Divergent or The Hunger Games). However, I did feel like The Book of Ivy had a better execution than the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie which explores similar themes.

Read if You Like: low action dystopian, mild romance
Avoid if You: like kick-ass heroines (literally), dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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

A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Court of Thorns & Roses (from Goodreads):
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy; ACOTR
Author: Sarah J. Maas
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological (Books 4-6 are a different story arc)
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in 2020
Genre: New Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Faeries, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was a huge fan of Throne of Glass before it became mainstream. I loved the world Sarah J. Maas created but before I could move her from a “must-read” author to a “favourite author” I needed to read another series/book by her. So when I saw that she was releasing a 2nd series my reactions were this: 1) WHAT?! Write Throne of Glass faster! Not start a new series!; and 2) Yes please!

I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is a very popular one. So I really was expecting something out of the box with this book; especially because it focused on actual Fae, my favourite fantasy species. I also was expecting some fantastic world building, a strong heroine (or at least one who becomes strong) and a great romance. Some tall shoes to fill but I knew Sarah J. Maas could do it.

This book was everywhere before and after its release! ARC reviews were posted months in advance and there was so much hype that I was a little terrified to read this. I avoided all reviews (sorry everyone!) so I could go into it with a fresh mind and give it a fair shot.

The Concept / The World:

I loved the world Feyre lives in because I LOVE faerie stories! Doesn’t matter how many faerie books I read, each one has its own unique flare that sucks me in and this book is no exception. Maas does a great job building up the world and devotes the first half of the book really explaining how the faerie world works. And this could have been really dry but I felt like things moved along at a decent pace for the first half of the book so it didn’t bore me.

As for the Beauty and the Beast element, I liked that it didn’t follow the traditional conventions. The parallels are obvious but I felt like each had its own little spin on it. I thought it worked really well and I would have to say it is one of the best (if not the best) Beauty and the Beast retellings I have had the pleasure of reading.

The Plot:

So, don’t hate me, BUT, I felt like the first half of the book was really slow. It could easily just be due to the fact that I was reading it really early in the morning or late at night so I was more than a little tired. However, I feel like there really wasn’t much happening in the first half of the book besides building up the world–which is fine and all but not my personal cup of tea. I like action in my books and when it comes to faeries, I love their games.

Which is why I adored the second half of the book. It focused more on the faerie world’s political games, had more romance and had better character growth. I couldn’t put down the book once I reached the halfway point. And I knew that going into this book because Throne of Glass was written in the exact same way: slow and building.  So while I was expecting it, that doesn’t mean I was happy that that was the case.

The Characters:

What I loved about this series is that these characters made you work to like them. Feyre is jaded and initially hard to like because she really isn’t in a good place in her life. You really sympathize with her and I enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel.

Tamlin–yeah, I wasn’t completely sold on him. I really didn’t feel like he was present much in this book enough for me to develop a crush on him. Sure, in theory he is everything a swoon-worthy hero needs to be: mysterious, charming and caring. It just didn’t work for me.–I’ll explain more in my romance section. I feel like he’ll have some great development in the sequel (that seems to be the trend in the Throne of Glass Series) so I’m hoping that will convince me of his “amazingness”.

All the other characters were great. Love ’em or hate ’em, they were all well developed and evolving as the story progressed which was great.

The Romance:

For a majority of the book, I wasn’t really sold on the romance between Feyre and Tamlin. A lot of their interaction isn’t narrated verbatim, rather it is just summarized by Feyre after it happens. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great scenes between them–because they’re are–I’m just saying it didn’t totally convince me their feelings were at that higher level. I could see why they would suit each other, I just wanted more scenes together that showed that.

For me, I couldn’t see why Tamlin had such deep feelings for Feyre when they really hadn’t talked all that much. They ignored each other at the start of time together (or at least is seemed like that because a lot of their interaction happens “off-stage”) and then BAM! His primal instincts are calling for her. It was a little too alpha male for me and I don’t like alpha male heroes.

Eventually, I warmed up to their romance and was totally rooting for them–it’s hard not to really given what happens in the last third of the book. It’s just that they won’t be gracing the top of my favourite couples list anytime soon.

I know that some people’s concerns with the Beauty and the Beast romance is the Stockholm Syndrome  situation. I definitely had those thoughts when I started reading and I could see why people would label it as that (I mean Feyre can’t really leave) BUT, I felt like these two would have connected even if they weren’t kept to his estate for the majority of their relationship.

Now, I feel like I have to say that is book is more like a New Adult Fantasy than it is a Young Adult Fantasy. While the sex scenes aren’t fully described (and there really isn’t a lot of them either)–they are sex scenes that don’t leave much to the imagination which isn’t really a YA characteristic. I found that refreshing because I don’t understand why sex should be so taboo in YA (I’m not saying full out, descriptive endless pages here)–it happens people so why should we ignore it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really don’t know what to expect for the next book! While not everything is wrapped up in this book, I felt very satisfied in how everything is left at the end of the book. I’m not dying for a sequel though I really do want to read it. I have some worries because I fear that one of my least favourite romantic tropes is on the way BUT I’m putting my faith in Maas to deliver and totally shock me like she did with Crown of Midnight–no pressure though!

updates

–July 3, 2016– Book #2: A Court of Mist and Fury


I was really impressed with this book!

I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses but somethings just weren’t on point for me, so it wasn’t an automatic 5 star read.

But what Maas does here is genius! The manipulation of the Beauty and the Beast story; the richness of the faery world; to Feyre’s character development–everything hits its peak here, making this one hell of a read.

While I still struggled to like Feyre, she definitely grew on me; as did the romance. The way everything interweaves and builds really helped with that.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for this cast of characters next!

–July 21, 2017– Book #3: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Oh dear, I’m in the minority for this one!

My rating hovers somewhere between 2-3/5 but considering the fact that I would have DNF’d this book at the 30% if it wasn’t the finale of the series (which it isn’t [ugh], but it is the end of the arc), I’m going to leave it at a 2.

Admittedly, I had high expectations. ACOMAF blew me away in every respect so it would be a hard book to top regardless. And the hype around any Maas book is so UNREAL lately. So I was a little scared to start this one.

This one just seemed painfully slow. Which sucked because it started so strong! Yet once I reached the 30% mark, it totally lost me. It just seemed slightly repetitive and monotonous to me. This book could have easily been 200 pages shorter and it would have delivered successfully. I needed more intrigue and action to keep my full attention.

So maybe seek an alternative opinion! Because others seem to enjoy it, but for me, this one fell flat and it has me thinking the next 3 books aren’t going to be for me.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

A Court of Thorns and Roses 4/5 | A Court of Mist and Fury 5/5 | A Court of Wings and Ruin 2/5

overall

This series starts slow, peaks in the middle and has a slower end. But if you want a series that keeps you guessing; is rich in characters and the world; and has a heroine who truly transforms from start to finish, you might consider investing your time in this one!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, faeries
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, don’t like jaded heroines, don’t like fairy tale retellings

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Series Review: The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley 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:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Poison Princess (from Goodreads):
She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

breakdown

Series: Arcana Chronicles
Author: Kresley Cole
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Dark Calling will be published in Spring 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: public library–hardcopies & eBook

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My Expectations:

In the same vein of bestselling adult romance author Gena Showalter writing a Young Adult Series (White Rabbit Chronicles), Kresley Cole has done the same thing with the Arcana Chronicles. And like Showalter, I had never read a book by Cole until I picked up this YA series.

The Concept:

I wanted to read Poison Princess because the premise really interested me. It sounded like it was going to be like the White Rabbit Chronicles meets The Scorch Trials–two of my favourite apocalyptic themed books–but with a Tarot Card theme (instead of zombies or science fiction) so I just had to read it! Once I started reading it though it also reminded me of a lot of other novels. Not in the sense that it is a carbon copy of these other books but that it incorporates elements that I have come across in other series. For example: Evie’s character reminds me a lot of Isobel from Nevermore; and the post-apocalyptic world and book delivery reminds me of The Blood of Eden Trilogy. (Endless Knight also had some Cruel Beauty vibes coming from it as well).

But the whole tarot card aspect is definitely a unique feature of this story and its best feature for sure.

The Plot:

Unfortunately, Poison Princess (to me) falls prey to the same issue The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) did: it’s boring until the very end. I didn’t mind the beginning so much (before the apocalypse) because it had some character development, but there is a solid 100 pages where nothing of importance happens. I’m not lying. I honestly don’t think anything happened to progress the plot forward other than days passing. The last 50 pages definitely improve with the addition of a few new characters and the actual progression of the supernatural plotline.

I could probably rant for a few days on why I didn’t like Poison Princess, but I’ll just keep it short here:

  • The supernatural elements really don’t come into play near the very end which sucks! I feel like Poison Princess simply served as a really long prequel novella because it didn’t do much to set up the Arcana Game in the slightest, rather it just introduced you to Evie and her life before the apocalypse.
  • The romance just fizzled for me! I really didn’t see the connection besides the physical lust. Jackson isn’t anything to write home about in my books so I was disappointed in that aspect as well.
  • Evie is just plain annoying! She is not the kick-ass heroine I wanted. She is a petty, immature girl who isn’t all that bright either. I get that she is 16 and all, but the world is ending! Being thankful that you don’t have to shave your legs because you had laser hair removal isn’t something I would worry about in an apocalypse! I really didn’t connect with her whatsoever and all I really wanted to do was slap some sense into her as I turned the pages!

Part of the problem is that I built up what the plot of this book was going to be in my head before I ever read it. I really thought the focus was going to be more on Evie finding other Arcana characters in this new world. Not her wandering boringly towards one destination for 200 pages.

Turns out that Endless Knight is the book that I thought I was getting with Poison Princess. This book managed to keep my attention the entire time and actually had some plot development to it. Evie was still annoying to me, but I felt like she had some great character development so she went from “extremely annoying” to “annoying”–which is quite the leap. I also liked the romance a touch more as well–I think this is the rare case where a love triangle actually helps the story progress. But what I really think helped with this book was the addition of more characters that I found to be much more interesting to me. Reading Endless Knight made me happy I continued on with the series despite the painful drag that was Poison Princess.

Dead of Winter is probably my favourite of the 3. I quickly motored through it because the plot is fast, the action is high and–dare I say it–I actually started to like Evie as a character. I know! CrAzY! Well, it’s partly true: I liked Evie the “let’s-get-down-to-fighting” Evie, not the “I-can’t-decide-between-the-two” Evie. Evie has a true case of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome when it comes to “dealing” with her love triangle. Man-oh-man, I don’t know why she struggles so much with just saying the full truth to these boys who constantly fawn over her! It would solve a lot of problems other than assuming shit all the time! I also don’t know why there were 50 pages dedicated to each boy giving his case for why she should pick her–let’s just get on with the story please!

The Romance:

Speaking of the romance, I think I have to mention that it borders more on the “older” scale of young adult reads. If you are someone who doesn’t like sex being mentioned in their YA reads or having it described in more detail (I’m not talking full blown erotica, merely descriptions of how the body is reacting, etc) you might not like this series. The sexual situations aren’t really a huge focus of the books but it is definitely present. (For those who have read the White Rabbit Chronicles, the sex scenes here are the same as in it)

updates

–July 11, 2017– Book #4: Arcana Rising

This started very slowly for me and while it did pick up, I feel like it was just coasting along to get to the end. Bigger things are definitely in store for this series but this book was nothing more than a (necessary) bridge in the middle.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Poison Princess 2.5/5  |  Endless Knight 3.5/5  |  Dead of Winter 4/5  |  Arcana Rising 3.5/5 |  The Dark Calling TBR

overall

Poison Princess lived up to its name in my opinion: it truly poisoned my views for the other books because I really struggled to read it. The series definitely gets better as you go, especially when the Arcana aspect of the plot actually comes into fruition and more characters are introduced. But the love triangle and heroine are often hard to swallow, even in the later books. It’s definitely a series that you have to invest into to enjoy

Read if You Like: slow building stories, post-apocalyptic worlds, fights to the death
Avoid if You Dislike: petty heroines, love triangles (extreme), slow starts

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Series Review: 2B by Ann Aguirre

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

Series: 2B Trilogy
Author: Ann Aguirre
# of Books:3 (I Want it That Way, As Long as You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

I love the Backstreet Boys–so as soon as I saw the title “I Want it That Way”, I broke out into song and choreographed dance–just kidding! But I did start humming along to the song soon after…and do so every time I read the title…

Anyways, I decided to pick up the book because the plot synopsis was interesting enough and has a premise I don’t often read. But I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect given the reviews on Goodreads (FYI it has a rating of 3.67 from ~1500 readers which isn’t stellar) so I was a bit skeptical when I started it.

I Want it That Way was cute, but I also found it a little boring. There really wasn’t a plot other than Nadia pining away at a guy she falls in love with after sparsely talking to him for a week. And when she isn’t pining away for Daniel “Ty” Tyler, she is describing her work and school work which I don’t particularly want to read about when I pick up a romance novel. So while I appreciated that this book was more realistic than it was dramatic, I just needed something to add a little dash of excitement to it. It also didn’t help that I was expecting to get an alternate POV from Ty given the synopsis. I think it would have kept things interesting because by the midway point I was a little bored with the book and found myself skimming some sections to get to the end.

As for the characters, they were an interesting cast. Nadia was alright. I appreciated the fact that she wasn’t your typical innocent virgin heroine despite her younger age (same with the other heroines in the series). And I liked the relationship she develops with Ty despite the rushed “love at first sight” aspect to it.

So even though I didn’t love I Want it That Way, I decided to read the next two books in the series given that the characters they are about intrigued me in the inaugural book. Probably the most interesting thing to happen in I Want it That Way had to do with these secondary characters so I figured their books should be a tad more exciting.

But they really weren’t. Again, the rest of the series is one of those slow romance novels where we get to see every trivial moment of the heroine & hero’s day. I prefer a little more drama in my novels–especially when I am trying to plow through a long list of books from the library. Often times it felt like a bit of a chore to get through the slower parts of the book–which is a shame because it isn’t an awful book by any means. Shape of my Heart had a little more excitement to it because of some family drama but I still had to read parts at a time over the course of a few days (I average a book every two days but this one took me 5) to get through it all without falling asleep.

Conclusion:

I was going to try to come up with some pun about this series not being what I wanted and “I want it that way” but I couldn’t come up with anything creative. If you enjoy slower romance novels where love heals, this is a great series for you. I prefer a little more drama in my books which is why I didn’t rate it as high.

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Keep Her by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings Series #1) and Foreplay by Sophie Jordan (Ivy Chronicles Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for I Want it That Way (from Goodreads):
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

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Single Sundays: On the Edge by Allison van Diepen

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 + my choice for my standalone novel for my Everything YA Mini-Reading Challenge for January:

Synopsis for On the Edge (from Goodreads):
From Allison van Diepen, author of Snitch and Street Pharm, comes a sexy, dangerous novel about a teen who witnesses a murder and gets caught up in the seedy world of Miami’s gangs.

Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.

But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?

On the Edge is a compelling story about fighting for what’s right and figuring out where you belong. The novel showcases a gritty, realistic voice and earth–shattering romance that will intrigue readers of Simone Elkeles and Paul Griffin and captivate fans of Allison van Diepen’s other novels.

Review:

What drew me to this book was the cover and the tagline “Love is a Dangerous Thing”. I enjoy thriller movies but I haven’t really found any good thriller books–especially in the Young Adult department. So when I saw that this book was going to deal with gangs (another plot elements I haven’t had too much exposure too) my interest to read this book grew.

This book started pretty slow–as in the second part of the synopsis doesn’t kick in until a solid quarter of the book has passed. And while a lot didn’t happen up until that point plot-wise, I still found myself easily reading the story and not loosing interest. Maybe it was because Maddie’s world is a foreign one to me so I found it interesting in that sense or maybe it was simply the anticipation for what was to come.

However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to call this book a “thriller”. It was suspenseful for sure in the last little bit but nothing that had me gripping to the edge of my seat (see what I did there ;)). I actually found certain parts of the plot to be predictable so it lost some of the excitement for me. I kept waiting for a good twist to come and while there were a few good spins here and there, it wasn’t enough to make me gasp and go “wow!” or “no way!”.

I also could have done without the somewhat petty friend drama Maddie has going on. I suppose it was there to add to the “growing up” plot of the book since Maddie is leaving for college and while it did add some realism to the story (which seemed fairly realistic to me), it just didn’t do anything for me. I guess part of the reason I felt that way was because Maddie seemed like she was five years older than she was so it didn’t seem appropriate. She actually reminded me a lot of Zoe Barnes from House of Cards because of her passion for journalism (minus the sleeping with politicians bit). But she and the rest of the cast were nothing special or anything I haven’t really read before.

Conclusion:

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. Nothing “wowed” me about it and as such it wasn’t all that memorable but I wouldn’t say it was a waste of time. If you want to read a tame (and by tame I mean not overly suspenseful because there are some heavier subjects like murder, sex trafficking and drug usage mentioned) and grounded gang-related story, this is the one for you!

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic, Suspense, Gangs
Recommended for: 16+ *does deal with mature subject matter like sex trafficking, drugs, sex and murder
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Similar Reads: Crossing Stars by Nicole Williams

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Series Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

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

Series: Everneath Trilogy
Author: Brodi Ashton
# of Books: 3 (Everneath, Everbound, Evertrue)

There is a novella that is listed after book one called Neverfall.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, Urban Fantasy, Underworld, Paranormal
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

Everneath was one of those series that I just never got fully into. If I really think about it there are probably two reasons why that is: 1) I didn’t like the heroine and 2) reading the books so far apart from each other.

I’ll start with the publication gap; it isn’t anything new really, books take forever to get released nowadays. But with this series I read each book as soon as they came out (the exception being the final book) so each book had at least a year between them. The Everneath world isn’t overly complicated but there is a way that the world operates and certain terms used and I would forget that between each book (or get them confused with a similar book). So I always felt a little lost when I started on the sequel books; but I eventually did get back into the swing of things once i got further into the novel. I recommend reading these books as close together as possible to make sure you keep everything straight.

The main reason I didn’t get into these books was because of Nikki, the heroine of the novel. She and I just didn’t connect and that caused her to irritate the crap out of me. She was slightly more tolerable once I got to Evertrue (book 3) but I still didn’t like her. She was unnecessarily angsty to me which always irritates me. Her romance with Jack is one of those overly sweet high-school first loves that really did nothing for me (and I’m a romantic at heart). I much preferred Cole over Jack (so I loved the novella Neverfall which focused on Cole). Cole was a much more complex character than Jack and a lot more fun to read about. And because I liked him so much I really didn’t want him to be stuck with Nikki in the Everneath for eternity (’cause I wouldn’t want her stuck with me for eternity); nevertheless, I was still rooting for him all the way.

As for the books themselves, they moved at a slower pace for me and were often singlular in their plots. I find that as I read more books, I tend to enjoy series that have multiple plot lines going on and as a result I can’t seem to put them down. Reading Evertrue was definitely a chore for me to get through. I would often zone out reading it because it just couldn’t keep my attention. I think Everbound (book 2) was the best for keeping my attention because it actually had some interesting, unpredictable plot twists.

Conclusion:

I’ve read better Young Adult underworld/immortal-focused series than this one. I think if the Revenants Trilogy and the Goddess Test Trilogy had a book offspring together, this would be the result. If you enjoy slower paranormal stories about true loves and immortality, this is probably a good one for you to read. It just didn’t do it for me, though I love the covers.

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Die for Me by Amy Plum (Revenants Trilogy #1) and The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter (The Goddess Test Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Everneath (from Goodreads):
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Series Review: IFICS by Julia Crane

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

Freak Fractured

Series: IFICS Series
Author: Julia Crane
# of Books: 3 (Freak of Nature, Fractured Innocence, Fatal Abduction)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Fatal Abduction is to be published
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: really warm (for a young adult novel)
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: This review is a part of review blitz for the IFICS series put on by Julia Crane’s publicist. I was contacted by her assistant publicist to do a review on the first two books of the series.

My previous exposure to Julia Crane’s work was with the Keegan Chronicles and that wasn’t a totally positive experience. The writing was choppy and the story just didn’t grab my attention the way I was hoping. But I am all for second chances and when I read the synopsis for Freak of Nature, I knew this book was more my tastes.

The writing in Freak of Nature is much smoother than it was in Coexist. It was easy to follow and more importantly flowed smoothly. While third person narration is not my favourite POV form, it works well for this series. I think it would be hard to read the series as a first person POV from Kaitlyn given that she doesn’t fully think like a human. Plus, it added to the story to get a feel for what was happening around Kaitlyn when she wasn’t there. This was especially important in Fractured Innocence–and one of my favourite parts of the book.

Freak of Nature was interesting, just slow to me. It seemed like an extended novella of sorts because it really set the stage for the world the series is set in. The plot was very singular in its delivery: there really isn’t much going on other than Kaitlyn learning the truth about her human past.

While reading Freak of Nature, I kept drawing parallels to Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza. Both are extremely similar novels but I found that Freak of Nature focuses more on the romantic side of things and more on Kaitlyn’s relationships with other people while Mila 2.0 focuses more on the action and what it means to be human. Two completely different takes on a similar Science Fiction element.

To me, Freak of Nature seemed to be struggling with identifying itself as a Young Adult read or a New Adult read. At first I labelled it as a Young Adult read but it was a much more mature Young Adult read in terms of sexual content. With Fractured Innocence, it was more obvious to me that it was more a New Adult read; it deals with some heavy content that not everyone will be comfortable reading.

Fractured Innocence touches on a subject that not a lot of Young Adult/New Adult books do. I enjoyed reading that aspect of the book because I think it is a subject people need to be more aware of. I felt like it was handled in an extremely mature and realistic way which I always appreciate. Though, as I said before, it might make some people uncomfortable reading it because it is a hard thing to stomach.

I was hoping Fractured Innocence was going to be faster paced and more action focused: it wasn’t. At the halfway point they were still sitting around doing nothing and the characters even complain about it in the book. When we do get the action, it lasts for 2-3 chapters and the remainder of the book it coming to terms with everything that happened, which isn’t that much. It kept my attention though because of the added POV and the anticipation that something was going to happen; but nothing ever really did. I was alos expecting more character development but it didn’t seem to happen either.

I’m undecided about whether or not I will be reading Fatal Abduction. It sounds like it will be more exciting and reviews I have seen have all been very positive so maybe one day in the future I will pick it up.

Conclusion:

This series reminds me a lot of the CW TV show Nikita (one of my all time favourite shows) just with a teen aged cyborg as the lead instead. However, it’s slower paced and not as action focused as I personally like when reading this type of genre. Nothing really blew my socks off but for those who like singular plot lines or want to dabble in Young Adult Science Fiction, this might be a series that is worth your time.

Rating: 2.5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: Probably to a younger friend who wanted a taste of SciFi.

Similar Reads: Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (Mila 2.0 Trilogy)

Synopsis for Freak of Nature (from Goodreads):
Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

 

Freak

FIND IT ON GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/FONGR

FIND IT ON AMAZON: http://bit.ly/FONAMAZON

FIND IT ON BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/FONBNB

Fractured

FIND IT ON GOODREADS: http://bit.ly/FrInGR

FIND IT ON AMAZON: http://bit.ly/FIAmazon

FIND IT AT BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/FrInBN

~*~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~*~

Julia crane is the author of the Keegan’s Chronicles, IFICS. She has a bachelors degree in criminal justice. Julia has believed in magical creatures since the day her grandmother first told her an Irish tale. Growing up her mother greatly encouraged reading and using your imagination.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/juliacraneauthor

WEBSITE: www.juliacrane.com

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/JuliaCrane2

Series Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

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

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan | Uninvited Series

 

Series: Uninvited
Author: Sophie Jordan
# of Books: 2 (Uninvited, Unleashed)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: luke warm
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

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

I’ve read a few books by Sophie Jordan in the past (Firelight Series and Foreplay) but I haven’t totally loved her work. I often find it dull and not as action packed as I anticipated; so I was hoping Uninvited would change that.

The concept of the book is really cool and I love her author’s note at the end of the book. The message Ms. Jordan is trying to convey is a good one and I really respect that. And with the way it is written, it’s easy to see how our world could become the book’s one day. (I study some molecular diagnostics like genetics testing so I really do see how this could all happen). I especially like the little info blurbs we get before each chapter–it reminded me of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium which had a similar idea before each chapter. It helps add context to the story without adding additional, dry dialogue to the characters.

This book was a little slower and doesn’t have a lot of action to it, though it picks up near the end. I think the paced worked well in hindsight but I felt like parts dragged on a bit. There isn’t a huge focus on the romance of the novel which I think it probably for the best but I would have liked some more sexual tension between the two of them.

Unlike previous Sophie Jordan novels, I didn’t totally hate Davy as a lead. She grew on me a bit as the story progressed because she becomes a stronger character as the story goes on. She definitely isn’t my favourite character ever but I didn’t mind her and I can justify her angst based on her situation.

I’m glad this series is only two books long because I don’t know how it could drag on for three books. I’m looking forward to seeing how this story concludes in the next book but I’m not going to count down the days in excitement.

UPDATED (April 18/15): Unleashed was a huge disappointment! Given the ending of Uninvited, I was expecting a faster paced novel with more action and the emergence of Davy as a heroine with a mission. Yeah…that never happened. Actually, nothing really happened in this book! It was a lot of Davy sitting around moaning about how she missed her “normal” life. She did absolutely nothing to resolve the world she lives in which was super disappointing. I guess I can appreciate the idea that it takes more than just on person to elicit change (not everyone can be Tris Prior and I get that) but at least with those novels something happens! Honestly, NOTHING HAPPENED IN THIS NOVEL! Throw in a too-fast and out of nowhere romance, a silly love triangle and you have the boring novel that is Uninvited. Very disappointed.

Conclusion:

People who enjoy slower, not high action science fiction novels will like this one. Fans of Sophie Jordan’s work and the Delirium series will also enjoy this. But if you want a faster plot, I would read Divergent. A good read that isn’t a waste of time for those who like Young Adult Science Fiction. Uninvited it worth a read but Unleashed was a huge let down.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads:

Synopsis for Uninvited (from Goodreads):
When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

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Series Review: Defiance Trilogy by C. J. Redwine

Series: Defiance or Courier’s Daughter Trilogy
Author: C. J. Redwine
# of Books: 3 (Defiance, Deception, Deliverance)

There is a prequel novella called Outcast

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Adventure, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternates

Thoughts:

I went into Defiance thinking it was going to be more of a romance novel set in a dystopian-like world. Why I thought that I’m not too sure because the synopsis sure doesn’t give me that impression when I read it again. Regardless, this series is more of an action series set in a post-apocalyptic world that has a dash of romance.

It was great to read a book about a strong heroine. While Rachel probably follows every stereotype of the typical rebellious girl, I liked her a lot. She was smart and determined and doesn’t mope around after Logan. Simply put her maturity about everything is what I really like about her. Although she did begin to irritate me at the start of Deception I can forgive her based on the events of the previous book and she does improve drastically by the end of the novel.

Logan is also a great character! He’s a great match for Rachel and I think if the plot was solely focused on Logan I would enjoy this book just as much. The fact that we get duel POVs from both these strong characters is fantastic.

As I said before, the romance between these two really takes a back seat. It’s all about uncovering the truth about the Cursed Ones and what happened to Rachel’s father. Defiance features some great twists but Deception takes the cake with great plot twists abounds. Both books start rather slow in my opinion, but all it takes is one good twist and the ball starts rolling in both. While I could guess what would be happening in each book, I felt like I was always surprised and didn’t find them to be overly predictable. I would say that Ms Redwine isn’t afraid to take her characters to places that other authors would shy away from and I really appreciate that in these two books.

updates

–October 23, 2014– Book 3: Deliverance

Unfortunately though, Deliverance was a bit of a let down for me. Given how book 2 ended, I thought the action would be right there from the start of book 3 but it wasn’t. Again, it was a super slow start and I found myself skimming over the many scene descriptions and inner monologues of the characters because it was just too much. Similar to the other two books, the action picks up in the last quarter of the book but I just expected a faster paced novel given that it was the final book of the series. Regardless, it was a solid finale for the series and fans will be happy with how it all goes down.

I don’t have any interest in reading the prequel novella, Outcast, because I feel like I have a pretty good grip on the characters that it focuses on. Though my recommendation based on reading the synopsis is that you should read it after Defiance just because the main focus of Outcast‘s plot will give away some spoilers about a certain plot aspect in Defiance.

Series Rating: 4/5

Defiance 4/5 | Deception 4/5 | Deliverance 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a book that features two strong and mature young adult leads, this is a great series to check out. The books have lots of twists, a dash of romance and some great action. While a little slow at the start, each book really start to pick up after a few chapters to make it worth your time.

Read if You Like: slower starts, strong characters
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

  • Starling by Lesley Livingston (Starling Trilogy #1)
  • Black City by Elizabeth Richards (Black City Series #1)

Synopsis for Defiance (from Goodreads):
While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel’s father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city’s brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father’s apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

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