Tag «stranded on island»

Single Sundays: Vanquished by S E Green

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 Vanquished (from Goodreads):

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

**Warning: For mature audiences only**

breakdown

Author: S E Green (aka Shannon Greenland)
Genre: New Adult, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: cool **sexual situations mentioned**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Lola’s Blog Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty happy in my New Adult contemporary bubble. I love my romances but I’m always looking for those non-contemporary reads.

Vanquished appealed to me because it isn’t your everyday story. It has darker vibes to it thanks to the “secret society” and Valoria’s need to fight for her life. I was curious to see what her journey would take to get off the island.

(Also, I didn’t know this until I was writing the review but S E Green is a pen name for Shannon Greenland who wrote one of my favourite NA reads, Shadow of a Girl!)

The World & a Warning:

You can definitely expect a deviant world when you pick this novel up but thankfully, Green isn’t overly descriptive in the scenes. What I mean is you aren’t subjected to any scenes where sex acts are fully described nor are the scenes of violence particularly gory. They get to the point pretty quick.

However, if you are uncomfortable with abusive situations, especially ones involving teenagers and/or children, maybe stay away from this one! Like I said, the scenes don’t go on and on for pages but they are blunt in what is happening and it isn’t always the nicest image to have.

The Plot:

I really liked the action of this novel. Many times the “fight for your life” trope is overshadowed by the politics of the situation or the romance. That isn’t the case here. You get those fights scenes throughout the novel and it gives the story a faster pace.

That being said, the story lagged for me in the middle. While I liked all the developments, I kinda wish the final “putting it all together” ending started a little earlier. It just took a little too long to get there for me.

The Characters:

I really liked Valoria’s spirit. Her drive to save her sister is exactly what I wanted to see. I also liked that she never compromises herself to give in to the temptations of the island. Once she starts to win it would have been easy for her to live a life of relative comfort by being the victor. But she sticks to her morals (as much as she can given the circumstances) and I respected that. She’s one kick ass lady.

The Romance:

This didn’t play as much of a role as I expected (especially when the island has sex slaves–I thought there would be more sexual situations for Valoria). It’s definitely has a slow burn/will-they-won’t-they vibe to it. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure why this gets a romance label on Goodreads because it is such a small factor to the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a gritty, take no prisoners New Adult action story, this is a great one to read. But if you are uncomfortable with violence, depraved sexual acts and fighting to the death, best to avoid it.

Read if You Like: dark stories, action
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance
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Series Review: Swept Away by J.S. Cooper

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

Illusion by J.S. Cooper | Swept Away Series

Other books in the series:

Series: Swept Away Trilogy
Author: J.S. Cooper
# of Books: 3 (Illusion, Disillusioned, Resolution)

There are 2 novellas: #1.5 Charade & #2.5 Masquerade

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Romance, Mystery, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single

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.**

J.S. Cooper is one of those authors that I have a few freebie reads for on my Kobo & Kindle yet haven’t had a chance to read any. But when I saw this series, I had to read it right away. One, it reminded me a lot of Stolen by Lucy Christoper, one of my all-time favourite books where a girl is captured and tells her story through a letter to her captor, and two, it was a contemporary romance with a “dark” tag on Goodreads. So I figured it would have all the elements that I loved in Stolen but with older leads and the cool spin of being trapped on an island (which seems to be a popular plot device lately…).

After reading Illusion, I’m not sure what I am feeling. One word that comes to mind is awkward and I use that word for a few reasons. One is the delivery of the mystery elements. It seemed choppy to me and not smooth in its execution. I mean, I get that in mystery novels, truths are revealed a little bit at a time, but in this case it felt like they were dropping things like they were hot and that you were supposed to know. I find it really hard to explain what I am trying to say without giving away any plot points. I guess to sum it up, I did a lot of flipping back in pages to make sure I had the right idea about things because it just seemed like the planning was messy. Maybe it’s just been a long time since I read a mystery/suspense novel and that’s why I struggled a bit.

That messy planning did have a positive aspect: while I had suspicions about what was going to happen, I never totally predicted what would occur. So being fuzzy in all the details did keep me in suspense and made me want to finish the book faster.

Another reason why it is awkward is the “romance”. I know if I was stranded on an island with a strange, handsome man, my first instinct would not be to jump his bones. I guess you have a lot of free time on your hands since you are stranded on an island and all; so you theoretically could focus your time on sleeping with the hot guy you don’t entirely trust but I’ll just say that isn’t my first priority. I know it is a dark romantic suspense novel, hence the romance focus but I just found it personally weird (and I’m pretty OK with reading nontraditional relationships) and I think it ruined my impression of Bianca. Because of how she is so wish-washy on the romance and how she interacts with Jakob, it made her seem like a complete idiot to me and she never recovered in my books.

Another awkward thing is that the synopsis on the back of the book kinda gives away part of the plot line. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but once you are two chapters or so in, you kinda figure it out and I am thoroughly confused as to why you would let your publisher do that in your synopsis as it kinda ruins the whole “mystery” of the story!

I will be reading the prequel novella, Charade (which is to be read after Illusion despite being a prequel novella as it has spoilers) and the sequel Disillusioned just because I really want to know what the full mystery is and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time with Illusion just because it wasn’t executed the way I would have wanted.

updates

–April 8, 2015– Book #2: Disillusioned

I was lucky to get one of the first copies of Disillusioned from my library as soon as it was released. Again, I have mixed reactions reading the execution of the plot. It seemed a tad more polished this time around but I found the characters to be extremely frustrating. It was like they were intentionally being vague just for the sake of being a pain in the ass! Hey, here’s an idea! Let people actually complete their sentences! Man, the number of times Bianca would interrupt someone when they were talking–and always just on the brink of revealing the truth–was physically exhausting to read!

Even more frustrating is that fact that Bianca is a complete idiot! I really don’t like calling anyone an idiot but this is an exception! Bianca is told one very specific thing and she somehow turns it completely around! Like she was literally told who the one “guilty” person is and she goes on and on thinking it’s someone else! I’m not sure if this is an editing error (it seems possible) but I really do think Bianca is just plain stupid.

Regardless, there is some interesting plot development in the end and I’m looking forward to the closure the finale will provide!

–May 18, 2015– Book #1.5: Charade

It is recommended that Charade should be read after Illusion and I agree. To read it before would give away some spoilers because of how Illusion is written (in its stupid unreliable narrator way). Overall, it gives you a little insight into the events that lead up to Illusion but in the end all it did was continue my perpetual disdain for Bianca’s idiotic character and a few others. Therefore, I wouldn’t say it is necessary to read but it does expand on something that isn’t full explained in the full novels.

–January 20, 2016– Book #2.5: Masquerade
–January 20, 2016– Book #3: Resolution

I will admit, I was very surprised by this book. I thought it was the best of the series in terms of writing and plotline. Finally, we get some answers and I have to say I was impressed by how everything came together. The big reveal was intriging and worked well with all that we had been given.

The characters still annoyed me, but luckily, this isn’t a very long book and most of the book is other people talking or flashbacks so we get very little Bianca time–so I would call that winning!

Series Rating: 2.5/5

Illusion 2.5/5 | [Charade] 2/5 | Disillusioned 2.5/5 | [Masquerade] 3/5 | Resolution 3/5

overall

Interesting premise and mystery but it just seems a little sloppy to me. Because it is a series, I feel a little trapped into reading the next one because I want to know how it all ends. So I’m not completely giving up on this series; however, I won’t be going out of my way to recommend this to people. It’s over the top drama and sex at every turn. Very disappointed in it overall.

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike reading illogical characters

similarreads

  • Facade by Nyrae Dawn (Games Series #2)
  • Wanted by Amanda Lance (Wanted Series #1)
  • Torrent by Gemma James (Condemned Series #1)

Synopsis for Illusion (from Goodreads):
The day started like every other day…

Bianca London finds herself kidnapped and locked up in a van with a strange man. Ten hours later, they’re dumped on a deserted island. Bianca has no idea what’s going on and her attraction to this stranger is the only thing keeping her fear at bay.

Jakob Bradley wants only to figure out why they’ve been left on the island and how they can get off. But as the days go by, he can’t ignore his growing fascination with Bianca.

In order to survive, Bianca and Jakob must figure out how they’re connected, but as they grow closer, secrets are revealed that may destroy everything they thought they knew about each other.

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