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DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

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


Synopsis for Insignia (from Goodreads):

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . .


Series: Insignia
Author: S J Kincaid
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella, #1.5, Allies

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – October 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Insignia (#1) at 51% (middle of Chapter 14). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read (and simply ADORED) Kincaid’s The Diabolic in the summer of 2018, I was eager to check out her other works. This was the other series my library had and they had it available in audio (which is how I read The Diabolic) so it seemed like a good sign!

The synopsis doesn’t give much away but it sounded interesting enough and so I dove in immediately after DNFing another SciFi novel that just wasn’t working for me.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I really loved the entire concept of this story. Society is so advanced that we don’t use humans to physically fight wars; instead, they use machines to do it remotely. When I went through my anime phase in high school, Gundam SEED was my first and favourite show and they used mechas to fight; so the concept here gave me some great nostalgia.

And the simulations the kids do for training were creative and entertaining to read about.

–Despite the War and Premise, It Had a Lighter Tone–

I find most of my YA novels have a darker tone to them lately. I think part of that goes hand in hand with me growing up and where my interests lie when it comes to book. However, I enjoyed the lighter tone this novel had. Sure, Tom’s life isn’t easy and he is being recruited to fight in a war. But there isn’t murder behind every chapter or villains who will do anything at any cost. (I hope that makes sense). It’s got a more upbeat tone to it as Tom tries to navigate his new life and undergoes most challenges a 14 year old boy does in a futuristic setting.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of an Overarching Plot–

I should clarify that there are some overarching plots in this story. You’ve got Tom’s rivalry with Medusa and breached files for example. But I just kept waiting for this “big” reveal to get the plot really started. See I was halfway through and in some ways I felt like we just kept rehashing the same things over and over. I needed a little more to the plot besides Tom navigating school.

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the first Divergent book where you watch Tris train and find her way in her new faction. But where that book succeeds is in the inklings letting you know that something bigger is happening and as that gets revealed, you get more invested in the story. I didn’t get that sense that that would be the case here.

–I Felt a Little Old Reading This–

I’m a firm believer that you can read any book of any genre at any age; that YA and middle grade novels are not just for the targeted marketing audience. However, I do believe that there are some books you just might not enjoy if you read them when you are not  a part of the intended audience. That’s the case here.

I firmly believe if I read this book when I was in high school (ie when it first came out), this review would be completely different (namely, I would have finished the book). But as it stands now in my life, I didn’t really care for (what is petty to me now) issues that were plaguing Tom’s life like popularity and physical appearance. I crave something a little more cerebral than that when reading.

My Audiobook Experience:

Other than the wickedly long length of the audio version (it’s like 15.5 hours!) it’s a very well done production. I thought the narrator did a great job with the story.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. Perhaps the text version would be quicker for me to read but the sequel’s synopsis didn’t really interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Insignia  DNF | [Allies N/A] | Vortex N/A | Catalyst N/A


Perfect for fans of books in the Teen or younger YA genres! I’ve never read the Ender’s Game but what I do know makes me think this recommendation holds true.

Read if You Like: science fiction, dystopian
Avoid if You: like older (age-wise) YA titles




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Series Review: Red Winter by Annette Marie

Series Review: Red Winter by Annette Marie

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


Synopsis for Red Winter (from Goodreads):

Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess-and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command-whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate-but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Canadian Author
Series: Red Winter Trilogy
Author: Annette Marie
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Disclaimer: I finished Book 1: Red Winter but have opted not to pick up the sequels at this time. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobooks at my library, the covers for this series immediately grabbed my attention. They are positively gorgeous! And then I read the synopsis and knew I had to read this series!

I was obsessed with anime when I was in high school and that in turn lead to an interest in Japanese culture and mythology. Red Winter looked like it would have a great world and I hoped for lots of action and so I was excited to get started!

What I Liked:

–The World–

The world building here is great! Everything described in this story came to mind so easily for me. I felt like I was watching an anime. I loved the various creatures and the hierarchy of the deities. It’s a very thought out, rich world for the setting.

–Emi’s Character Growth–

Emi is very naive when the novel starts and understandably so. She’s been told her destiny for so long that she has accepted that as her fate. So she seems a little dull at the start, but when she starts to question everything she knows, she begins to evolve as a character. The Emi we end with in Red Winter is not the one we started with and I love to see that evolution in my books.


When I think of a kitsune (fox) shapeshifter, Shiro is exactly what I picture. His confidence and swagger was a lot of fun to read about. His interactions with the sheltered Emi at the start were funny and charming. He always brought a smile to my face when he was in a scene.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slow Start–

I found the first 25% of this book to be pretty dry. It’s mostly Emi reflecting on her new life at the shrine and how a past event still affects her. I started to contemplate DNFing it at around this time but a review I read on Goodreads mentioned that the first quarter is slower. So I pressed on hoping for the best.

It does pick up around the 35% mark when some new info comes to light and Emi gets a bit of motivation to learn more about her destiny. But then my issue was:

–Simple Plot–

I like a lot happening in my fantasy novels. I like plots happening in the background while characters fight the main issue. I like lots of physical action or political intrigue to keep me interested.

For the most part, this book had a pretty linear progression. It would tackle one issue at a time. As we got closer to the end, the little tidbits of future plotlines started to be laid out and I got a better idea of where the sequels were going to go. So the last quarter of the book was great! But up until that point, my interest had waned.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think my mistake with this novel was picking up the audiobook version. Now, that isn’t to say that the audiobook is bad. Far from it! The narration is wonderful. All the characters had distinct voices and there was so much emotion and expression in the delivery. I did struggle with the “whispering”/quieter characters. The main narrator had such a strong voice but then would drop the volume for a quieter character and I constantly had to adjust the volume back and forth.

My mistake was choosing that as the format to read this story. I’m a visual learner and I do better seeing various terms than hearing them. To me, they all sound the same after awhile. I found myself getting lost in the various creatures/roles of people because I couldn’t remember what they all were. I know the physical versions of these novels have a glossary (something that obviously is lacking in the audiobook) and I would have benefited greatly from that I think.

Will I Finish It?

I’ve been going back and forth on this one. I really love the idea of this story and I adore the world. I know that I don’t want to listen to the audiobooks for the sequels but I noticed the Kindle editions are on Kindle Unlimited so when I do my KU binge, I might throw these novels in to see how this series wraps up! But for now:

Series Rating: DNF

Red Winter 3/5 | Dark Tempest N/A | Immortal Fire N/A


This series gets a lot of glowing reviews on Goodreads so be sure to read some of them if this sounds like something you would enjoy. For me, I think this would have been more enjoyable if I had read the physical book (though the audio production is fantastic!) and made use of the glossary for terms. I also just needed a little more from the plot even though I loved the world and enjoyed its characters.

Read if You Like: urban fantasy, Japanese mythology/culture
Avoid if You: are impatient for action, don’t like slower starts


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Single Sundays: Tiger Lily Jodi Lynn Anderson

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 Tiger Lily (from Goodreads):

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.


Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre: Teen, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this book at my local library when I was getting into eReading in 2012. I’m really only familiar with the Disney version of Peter Pan but Tiger Lily is a character that we only see a flash of and it’s in a slightly negative light. So I was curious to see what her story was and learn a bit more about her.

Of course, I never got around to this story. I blame my focus on book series for this blog a bit since standalones get a lower priority. So that was why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2017.

The Concept / The World:

I wouldn’t say this is a retelling but more so an origin story. The introduction of Wendy really doesn’t happen until well after the 80% mark so you spend most of the time learning about Tiger Lily’s home life and how she met Peter. It’s like a prequel to the events of Peter Pan.

I truly struggled with forgetting the Disney Peter Pan story and remembering that a retelling will change things. You get inklings of common story themes (Hook, the crocodile, mermaids) but things change (like how people get to Neverland, etc)–that’s the point of a retelling. It manipulates what you know to show you a new perspective.

I also thought it was interesting that the novel is narrated by Tinkerbell. It provides some good insight for why Tink is often a pest to Wendy and others.

Also–maybe it’s just me–but this book felt “weird” to me. I mean, the whole premise of Neverland is an odd one (and I like that this one addressed why some people were older and some were forever young) but I really struggled with understanding what exactly was happening. Everything just seemed “odd” to me.

The Plot:

I definitely read the synopsis and interpreted it wrong. I thought the story would focus a bit more on Wendy’s arrival and how Tiger Lily deals with that. But like I said above, that only happens in the last quarter of the book.

For the most part, I felt like this book didn’t have much of a plot. The first 20% jumps all over the place talking about past stories and current situations. And then you get Tiger Lily living her life and struggling with her relationship with Peter and her family. I think I wanted more drama than the mundane everyday life moments. It just didn’t capture my attention like I wanted it to.

The Characters:

I find origin stories often focus on the mundane but what really makes them are the characters (Blackhearts is a great example of that, where the story is slower but you just fall in love with the characters).

Unfortunately here, the characters fell flat to me.

I went into this really wanting to like Tiger Lily. She’s such an enigma of a character to me and I wanted to see her in a new light. But I just felt indifferent to her. I couldn’t get a good read on her character (perhaps because we get everything through Tinkerbell who develops a bias?) and that stopped me from getting total invested.

Peter was annoying–I mean what type of maturity did I expect from a boy who never grows up?–and I felt like Tiger Lily could do better.

Understanding Tinkerbell was a highlight though–I almost wish this was called “Tinkerbell” instead.

The Romance:

Like I said, I wasn’t feeling the love between Tiger Lily and Peter. When I don’t like the two characters, I don’t like the romance between them. I also didn’t get the draw of Tiger Lily. Everyone seemed to be in love with her and I didn’t get why.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was a book I probably should have read as a physical book because I could have benefited from page breaks. The start jumps around a lot between past and present and I found myself getting lost. And having the third but first person POV with Tink made it hard to follow at times.

My Rating: 2/5


This book was a huge let down. I feel like my expectations and what the story actual was were polar opposites. If you plan on reading it, know that Wendy Darling doesn’t play that big a role in the story despite what the synopsis implies.

Read if You Like: Peter Pan retellings, slower stories
Avoid if You: want action, want all consuming romance



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Fresh Fridays: Shattered Blue by Lauren Bird Horowitz (Light #1)

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Light Trilogy

Other books in the series:


Synopsis for Shattered Blue (from Goodreads):
For Noa and Callum, being together is dangerous, even deadly. From the start, sixteen-year-old Noa senses that the mysterious transfer student to her Monterey boarding school is different. Callum unnerves and intrigues her, and even as she struggles through family tragedy, she’s irresistibly drawn to him. Soon they are bound by his deepest secret: Callum is Fae, banished from another world after a loss hauntingly similar to her own.

But in Noa’s world, Callum needs a special human energy, Light, to survive; his body steals it through touch—or a kiss. And Callum’s not the only Fae on the hunt. When Callum is taken, Noa must decide: Will she sacrifice everything to save him? Even if it means learning their love may not be what she thought?


Series: The Light Trilogy
Author: Lauren Bird Horowitz
# of Books: 3 (Shattered Blue, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 has yet to be published
Genre: Teen, Fantasy, Faerie, Magic, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 15, 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you Skyscape and Two Lions!



Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into looking at this book. But what made me read it was the faerie plotline. I ADORE faerie stories–so much so that I almost always read any faerie book I come across.

While the premise seemed like your typical YA story, I was intrigued by the idea that faeries steal light.

What I Liked:

-The Faerie World-

I love faerie stories because they always have their own unique spins to things and this book is no exception. There are a lot of cool elements at play. From the faerie hierarchy of powers to the way their world borders with ours–it really intrigued me.

-Family Situations-

I really didn’t expect the plotline regarding Noa’s family life. I was captivated by the mystery behind her sister’s death and how her family has reacted. It added an element to Noa’s otherwise dull and typical character.

Callum also has a very interesting family dynamic as well and that adds depth to his character. It also helps reinforce the connection he has with Noa.

What I Didn’t Like:

-The Romance-

I knew the romance was going to happen fast but I didn’t expect it to be THAT fast. It was like they talked and then BAM, love. And given the magic of the world it makes sense–they have that instant connection and I can accept that. I think I just wanted more buildup to the big moment because I love romances in my novels!

-The Plot-

Because the romance happens to fast, I really feel like nothing happened for the first half of the novel (~150 eBook pages). I had thought I would read this book in a day or two but I read it over the course of a week because I couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time. Noa wasn’t all that interested aside from her family life–which got monotonous after awhile. I wanted more action, intrigue and passion and I didn’t really get that.

Well, I didn’t really get that until the end where bombshell after bombshell was dropped! By that point I was just skimming the book when the first great twist happened I was sucked in! The last  40 pages or so were great and really bumped this book up from the 2 stars I was going to give it to the 3 I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m currently undecided about reading this sequel. When I was about 80% way through this book I was leaning towards no. But when all the big revelations happened in the last few pages, I will admit my curiosity was peaked. I think the rest of the series has potential but I don’t really want to commit at this time.

My Rating: 3/5


I really don’t think this book was for me. I don’t enjoy slow building stories and that’s what this one was. But, I do think a lot of people will like this one! If you want a faerie series that isn’t dripping in faerie politics, this is a great one for you!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, faeries
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance





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Single Sundays: Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

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 Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator (from Goodreads):
Guy Langman can’t be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren’t expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they’re assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy’s mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father’s past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He’s going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .


As you may or may not know, I am taking part in Books and Iced Coffee’s Everything YA Challenge this year. This month’s (March) mini-challenge is to read a book someone ELSE has picked for you. Sad truth is I didn’t really know who to ask but then I got a great idea to “ask” my local library. First, I decided that I would see what books the library recommended for me based on my eBook check-outs but because I have been taking out more adult romances lately, it wasn’t really suggesting YA novels or ones that I haven’t already read. So I browsed their recommended reads list and came across one that was called “What’s So Funny? Hilarious Books for Teens”. I wanted to read a standalone because I was long overdue for one and I recognized this title as one I came across years ago put never picked up. And luck was on my side when I saw that the eBook version was available for check-out.

What drew me to this book was the Crime Scene Investigation portion. Back when CSI was big, I was a fan and because I am a science student (plus a huge Sherlock Holmes fan!) I love the forensic science aspect of it all.

So I felt like I was a little mislead by the synopsis because we really don’t get the mystery aspect of the “crime” until well over halfway through the novel. Instead, the focus is on Guy dealing with his father death–which is fine and dandy, just not what I was expecting. This book definitely had a more “coming of age” vibe to it than it did mystery.

When we do get to the murder (which is just a little over halfway through), I thought the book picked up in its pace. Despite the clues, I really didn’t put everything together until it was revealed so I appreciated the twists we got.

As for the humour, the primary reason why I picked up this novel, it wasn’t as great as I was expecting. I found a lot of the lines were odd or a little on the rude side; some were funny though, especially near the end–I thought his mom had some good lines 🙂 To be fair, I had just finished reading the 4th Tangled book, Tied, by Emma Chase which was freakin’ hilarious so I had higher humour standards going into this one. As I said, I though the humour got better near the end and I did laugh a few times after that.


Nevertheless, I was entertained reading this book. I wish there was more focus on the crime aspect of the synopsis and if I had known that it wasn’t going to be the main focus of the novel, I probably wouldn’t have felt as let down by it as I was. But if you are looking for a coming of age novel told by a boy with a dash of forensics, this is a great one for you!

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

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Teen, Coming of Age, Mystery, Crime, Grief
Recommended for: 15+ (boys will like this one!)
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Similar Reads: #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler; Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Trust Me Series #1) and Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein (Cold Fury Trilogy #1)


Single Sundays: Cold Calls by Charles Benoit

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 Cold Calls (from Goodreads):
In the vein of the teen suspense classics I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Face on the Milk Carton, Cold Calls is a chilling thriller, an unsettling mystery, and a provocative exploration of bullying, culpability, and the cost of keeping secrets.

Three high school students-Eric, Shelly, and Fatima-have one thing in common: “I know your secret.”
Each one is blackmailed into bullying specifically targeted schoolmates by a mysterious caller who whispers from their cell phones and holds carefully guarded secrets over their heads. But how could anyone have obtained that photo, read those hidden pages, uncovered this buried past? Thrown together, the three teens join forces to find the stranger who threatens them-before time runs out and their shattering secrets are revealed . . .

This suspenseful, pitch-perfect mystery-thriller raises timely questions about privacy, bullying, and culpability.


When this book was first published, it seemed to be everywhere for me. I read the synopsis and it managed to grab my attention. It sounded like a realistic Pretty Little Liars mixed with messages about bullying and social media to teach a lesson and it promised to be a suspenseful thriller so I was looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me in many ways. It wasn’t suspenseful–in fact it was very tame–and while it did raise some questions about social media, bullying and privacy I didn’t feel like it did anything useful with those questions.

This book is slow–it’s only saving grace is that it isn’t super long. I wouldn’t have continued to read it if it had been longer than what it actually was. It wasn’t suspenseful in any way to me; maybe I had the wrong expectations going into it. But to be fair, you can’t claim that it is similar to the movie I Know What You did Last Summer and not expect some stalker killer following the group around. So don’t get your hopes up that it’s going to be that type of thriller. It’s more a mystery than anything with the 3 teens trying to figure out why they are the targets and who is the one targeting them. However, I found most of the novel focused on each teen struggling with their secret and the possible consequences of its unveiling and to me that was boring.

The three characters, Eric, Shelly and Fatima, are your everyday people so I found that this book was very realistic in that respect. Their secrets were secrets any teen could have and I liked that it wasn’t some elaborate, over the top secret. To be honest though, I found them kind of boring so that dampened my reading experience. I like realism in stories like this but I wish there was more development. I also wish that the 3 of them took ownership of their secrets and did something about them instead of just trying to bury them.

One thing that I really disliked about this novel was that nothing felt resumed to me. Sure, the mystery is solved but I felt like the bigger issues, like bullying, social media privacy and “culpability” (who is to blame), where barely touched upon. Perhaps the purpose of the novel was to simply bring them to the reader’s attention but I would have liked more elaboration or some more discussion about them. I just felt like there were no serious consequences for any of the characters actions–but maybe that was the point: to highlight the fact that society thinks nothing of these issues on a regular basis. If that was the mission, it succeeded but I wish there was more to it.


This read was meh to me. I can appreciate what it was attempting to do, I just wish it did it in a different, more exciting way. It’s a quick, pretty realistic read but I think readers will get bored with it pretty quickly.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No. I think it might make for an interesting read for a school class because I think there is a lot of potential for discussion but for the everyday reader it isn’t that exciting.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Mystery, Thriller, Realistic
Recommended for15+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Boring Reads of 2014
Similar Reads: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

Single Sundays: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis

Synopsis for Whisper (from Goodreads):
I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin…
Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears a frightening whisper from Jessica’s own mind, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.


I picked up this book because of my cover love for it. I had never heard of it before I saw it as a new addition to my library’s eBranch and once I read the synopsis it sounded interesting enough.

This book starts slow–I mean what we read in the last bit of the synopsis doesn’t even occur until after the halfway  point in the book. The first half is spent establishing Joy’s everyday life with her friends and family. It was a little boring but I generally didn’t mind too much. It was interesting for me to read about Joy’s perspective on things because of her ability to hear people’s thoughts. Joy seemed fairly realistic to me in the sense that she thinks like any other teenage girl but isn’t overly dramatic about it.

This book is really about Joy finding herself more than anything. It focuses on her relationships with her sister, her parents and her friends–and not so much on her romantic interactions but they are there. I don’t know if I particularly like the messages that this book sends about your relationship with your parents but this book definitely focuses on family relationships.

The last 1/4 of the book is the most “exciting” because you get an actual plotline. But I felt like it happened too fast and then the ending just felt lackluster. Goodreads lists this book as the first part of a series but it was published nearly 4 years ago and the author doesn’t seem to have the intention of publishing a sequel. It’s probably a good thing because I’m not sure what else you could to plot-wise other than Joy learning more about her ability.


A very slow read about familiar relationships more than anything. Don’t be deceived by the book synopsis because the really “exciting” plotline promised doesn’t happen until the last end of the book. But, if you want a short, clean teen read, you’ll like this one.

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Supernatural, Family, Romance
Recommended for: 14+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person
Similar Reads: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Series Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Series: Breathe
Author: Sarah Crossan
# of Books: 2 (Breathe, Resist)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Survival, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple


Breathe was a random read I found in my library’s eBook collection. The cover is what drew me to it but it was the concept that made me read it. I’ve never thought about what it would be like not to have air or have it controlled in such a way and I was also on a dystopian fiction kick so it seemed like a good choice.

Breathe was an interesting read. I didn’t particularly love it but I didn’t hate it either. It occupied my time and I enjoyed reading it but it wasn’t my favourite book ever. It moves really slow–same with its sequel, Resist– but once it gets going its pretty easy to read. Again, it’s the concept of the book that fascinated me the most and it was interesting to see how science fiction element of Breathe was carried out and then continued in Resist. I would say Breathe is more dystopian-survival-esque while Resist is more science fiction based which made each book interesting in their own ways. I’m glad that there are only the two books because I’m not sure how you would make this into a trilogy without dragging everything out.

I think the main reason I didn’t love this series outright is because of the characters. Given the odds that there are 3 main characters (and a fourth in Resist) the odds that I would like someone should be pretty high. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with any of them. I would say that Alina was my favourite for a long time but then she became a little annoying to me and I started to like Bea better because her story got more interesting. But in the end, I was pretty indifferent to both of them and Quinn. I’m not sure exactly what it was about them that made me feel that way but I just didn’t really care for them and that dampened my reading experience.


The books are well written and they are thought-provoking as you read them. They aren’t the greatest reads ever but if you want to read about a world where oxygen levels are controlled by the government, they might be worth your while.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1); Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (Mystic City #1)  and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Breathe (from Goodreads):
Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?



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Series Review: Keegan’s Chronicles 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:

book2 book3

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Biggest Disappointments 2014
Series: Keegan’s Chronicles
Author: Julia Crane
# of Books: 3 (Coexist, Conflicted, Consumed)

There are 4 spinoff series to read. Find the full list here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Fantasy, Elves, Romance, Action, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts on Coexist:

Disclaimer: I will not be picking up the sequel Conflicted. Find out why below…

Coexist has been on my to-buy and read list for a good amount of time. The main reason is because it focuses on elves and I haven’t been able to find many stories about elves–most books deal with faeries so that intrigued me. I also hoped it would be what the Laurel series wasn’t to me. At a price of $0.99 (CAD) I had no problem picking it up BUT it was free on Amazon one day so I grabbed it for my Kindle.

In the end, I’m glad I didn’t pay for this book: it was such a huge disappointment for me.

I’ll start with the writing: it’s very choppy and almost mechanical in its execution. It just didn’t flow very well and seemed to be mostly dialogue and thoughts. The third person narration makes things very confusing. I found it hard to differentiate between who was thinking what and when because I thought we were following one character and then it would jump to another. Simple line breaks between a change in character focus would have helped a lot with this but the writing in general is nothing fantastic.

Keegan was another let down. I had hoped for a strong female lead that wouldn’t annoy me like Laurel from the Laurel Series did. Laurel was annoying, but I didn’t find her overly annoying until book 2; but with Keegan, I disliked her immediately. She is just so petty and immature that I had a hard time liking her. She is extremely spoiled and selfish and that just grated on my nerves. My biggest problem with her was how she handled her chosen mate situation and her thought process regarding her dating life. Too be fair, she is 16–but man, it was painful to roll my eyes by the end of it and painful to endure her thoughts.

As for the plot, it wasn’t overly excited. It does pick up and have some interesting elements to it but nothing I haven’t seen before or anything that made me want to keep reading nonstop.


While I am intrigued by how the book ended, I won’t be picking up book 2 anytime soon–or ever. I have read a lot better–freebies or not–and I want to spend my limited time on something a little more exciting and at my age level (and to be fair I wouldn’t have enjoyed this at the age of 16 either).

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: Wings by Aprilyne Pike (Laurel Series #1)

Synopsis for Keegan’s Chronicles (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Keegan is struggling to keep her huge secret from her friends–she’s an elf, descended from a long line of elves that live in secrecy alongside humans.

In elfin society, mates are predetermined but not allowed to meet until they are eighteen. Against tradition, Keegan’s brother Thaddeus told her Rourk’s name because his visions warned him she’d need Rourk’s protection, especially since Keegan will play a key role in the coming war between the dark and light elves.

Rourk finds himself drawn to Keegan’s side every time she thinks his name. He wants to talk to her but remains in the shadows, silently guarding her every time she mentally beckons him. A twist of fate thrusts the two of them together when Rourk is forced to step up his protection and make his presence known.

An ancient prophecy deeply entwines Keegan’s family and the future of their society. Somehow they must find a way to thwart fate and win the battle…without losing Keegan. With war brewing, and dark forces aligning, will Keegan and Rourk ever have the life together that they both desire?

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Single Sundays: You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?

When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.


Every once in a while I like to read a realistic fiction novel between my never ending list of series. I found this little gem when browsing my local library’s eBook collection and decided on picking it up…and I am SO glad that I did.

This was a great story! It was just so realistic and mature that it blew my mind. I really enjoyed watching everything unfold and watching the relationship that develops between Mikey and Ellie. Everything was just so believable and real–which I loved.

I have to give mad props to Jenny Downham for how she handled the subject of sexual assault. Unlike some novels that add it in for “dramatics” or down play the severity of it, Ms. Downham portrayed everything with grace and sensitivity which I really respect and appreciate. I also like that we get to see the impact the whole situation has on both families involved and not just a biased, one-sided approach.

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 5 was the way it ended. I would have really appreciated an epilogue or a defined answer of what happens after. I just felt like the whole thing was building to the climax of what happens in the case and then SPLAT, nada.


If you don’t mind reading about more mature subject matter, this is a book for you. Overall, a great and believable insight into what happens to both families when someone is charged with a sexual assault and what can come out of it. Realistic fiction as its best!

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Recommended for: 15+
Point of View: Alternating
Similar Reads: Stolen by Lucy Christopher