Tag «Third Person POV: single»

Spinoff Saturdays: Finishing School by Gail Carriger

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 Etiquette & Espionage (from Goodreads):

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

breakdown

Series: Finishing School

This is a prequel spinoff of the Parasol Protectorate Series.

Author: Gail Carriger
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Steampunk, Paranormal
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2013 – November 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Disclaimer: I’ve opted not to pick up the second novel, Curtsies & Conspiracies. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a Steampunk story and Gail Carriger is a staple author when it comes to the YA world of Steampunk. The espionage aspect also caught my attention. I’ve been searching for a Gallagher Girl-esque series ever since I finished it. Her Parasol Protectorate Series has caught my eye a few times but I ended up picking this one because my library had the audiobooks (and I wanted to try listening to an entire series via audiobook).

What I Liked:

–Steampunk & Espionage–

Obviously this would be a highlight for me. But I really liked the blend of paranormal and the classical steampunk features. The world is really rich and it keeps things exciting.

I also enjoyed the espionage plot as well. The idea that these girls are getting trained in everything from dance to swindling is just so much fun!

–Smart Writing–

I was truly impressed with the wit story. It’s so subtle that you almost miss the humour of everything. And I think listening to the audiobook helped me grasp that humour quicker than if I had read it thanks to its delivery.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Felt Old Reading This!–

I’m a firm believer that just because a book is listed as “young adult” doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it as an adult. I’m in my mid-20s and I still read more YA novels than adult.

However, sometimes there are stories that you would enjoy more if you were the target demographic and I think this is one of them.

While there is an overarching plot in Etiquette and Espionage, it also suffers from what I call an aimless plotline. You know, when the “new to the school” lead explores the boarding school. The plot takes a back seat and teenaged shenanigans begins. Which is fine and all but I just didn’t care to listen to that at this point in my life. I need the book to stimulate my mind and this just wasn’t doing it for me. I found myself zoning out more often than not and when the main plot line resurfaced, I just didn’t get as involved as I would have liked.

Will I Finish It?

Unfortunately no. This is a classic case where if I had read these books years ago I would have loved every minute of them. It’s just that my interests aren’t here anymore for the type of plot this series uses.

Audiobook Experience:

I have to point out that my waning interest while listening to this audiobook had nothing to do with the audiobook narration. I have to say that this is one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to when it comes to the narrator. Not only was the accent great but she did a fabulous job when delivering the dialogue of other people. Sometimes I struggle with female narrators doing male voices because they seem odd to me when they attempt to change their voice. But each character here had a distinct voice and that made listening to it super enjoyable.

Series Rating: DNF

Etiquette & Espionage 3/5 | Curtsies &
Conspiracies
  N/A  | Waistcoats & Weaponry  N/A | Manners & Mutiny  N/A

overall

This is perfect for fans of steampunk, espionage, girl power and fun historical stories. However, this book does feel like a younger YA read so be sure to keep that in mind before you pick this up.

Read if You Like: espionage, steampunk
Avoid if You: want a strong plot, want a more mature YA read

similarreads

  • I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girl Series#1)
  • Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Steampunk Chronicles #1)

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Series Review: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (from Goodreads):

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Mystery Read 2017
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
# of Books: 2 (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line; Mr. Kiss and Tell)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I didn’t watch Veronica Mars during its initial airing (long story but I missed the premiere and this was before the days of easy internet streaming) but I marathoned the entire series just before the movie came out and LOVED IT!

The wit, the intelligent writing and the amazing characters: there’s a lot to love about this series! So I was really excited to see that the creator of the show was writing series novels because who better to write a spin-off series than the visionary himself?

When I started my new job, I wanted to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and I thought what better than a novel set in a world I am already familiar with? It also didn’t hurt that mystery/thrillers were my current obsession at the time and so I decided to give The Thousand Dollar Tan Line a shot.

The Concept / Time Line:

These books take place a couple months after the movie (and the movie takes place 10 years after the TV series ends).  Which is great because it ties up some of those lingering questions you likely had at the end of the movie. I felt like I got a lot more closure reading these two novels than I did by just watching the movie.

And these books read like you are watching the TV show. Maybe that was just because I was listening to the audiobooks (one is narrated by Kristen Bell herself) but I felt like I was watching the TV show.

The Plot:

In true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery introduced is rarely cut and dry. There are twists on twists and it’s fabulous. You don’t want to know how many times I freaked out in my car when some plot twists (curious? more than 10 for sure).

The plot is always moving! I thought there was a great balance between the mystery, the character drama and Veronica’s character growth. There’s always something to pique your interest and everything just blends so well together.

The Characters:

Ok, I had so many great fangirl moments reading this series. There are so many returning characters that I freaked out many times. I adore all of these characters, but Veronica especially. She’s such a strong and independent female lead. I love her wit but I also love how she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Image result for veronica mars gifs

The Romance:

I don’t want to spoil this but this was one of the many reasons for my fangirling 😉

Audiobook Experience:

OK, this series made me fall in love with fiction audiobooks!

I love that Kristen Bell (Veronica) narrates the first novel. It made me feel like I was watching the TV show and immediately got me comfortable with the story. She also does an AMAZING job when she narrates the other characters. She manages to capture their personalities in her delivery and it’s perfect!

Unfortunately, the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell (I think she was pregnant at the time) so I missed the true Veronica sass but the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line 5/5 | Mr Kiss and Tell 4/5

overall

I will say, I think it helps if you are familiar with the series in some complicity but the mystery is great regardless and I think if you aren’t a fan before you start this, you will be when you finish!

Read if You Like: Veronica Mars, thrillers, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike modern mysteries, crime
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Fresh Fridays: Caraval (#1) by Stephanie Garber

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:

Caraval Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 1+ (Caraval, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC  | Thank you so much Jamie!!!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

similarreads

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Movie Mondays: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen (2009) | Movie: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Series: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Horror, Action, Zombies, Retelling
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Source & Format: Own–Paperback

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I had just finished Pride and Prejudice (PP) when I picked up this zombified version. I’ll admit, I was more interested in this horror version than the classic simply because I had heard really good things about it. But I wanted to be familiar with the original story (not just what I watched in movies) and so it served as good motivation to pick up the classic novel.

The two books are very, very similar. The best way I can think to describe Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) is PP with new scenes added to include the zombie aspect. Of course, certain things are reworked to account for the fact that all the Bennet girls are warriors but lots of scenes are word-for-word the Austen writings–which is why she is listed as an author on this novel.

As a girl who likes action in her stories, the zombie slaying battles were a lot of fun to read. It (ironically) adds a little life to the story and makes such a well known story fresh and exciting. Not that PP isn’t great on its own, it’s just cool to see a different spin on a story we know so well.

And dare I say, it actually made me really like the Elizabeth and Darcy pairing even more. Their love-hate relationship really works well for this zombie version. You could see why they liked each other so much and how great of a pair they were for each other.

overall

I think fans of the classic novel will enjoy this fun take if they don’t mind zombies. I also think it will appeal to people who want to read the classic but might find it on the drier side. It serves as a great introduction to the classics of Jane Austen and will hopefully ignite a love for her work.

Rating: 5/5

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First, it took me wayyyy too long to watch it! I wanted to see it opening weekend but it wasn’t playing in my local theatre on my Reading Week break and by the time I got back to a bigger city a week later, it was gone! So I had to wait forever to get my hands on a copy!

Were My Expectations Met?

I just wanted to have fun watching this movie and I definitely did! While I love the other PP movies, this one lacked the more sombre and seriousness of those presentations. This one exaggerated characters more (like Mr Collins) and had great action sequences so it moves at a fast and exciting pace.

All the Bennet girls kicked serious ass; especially Lizzie. She’s still that strong and stubborn heroine who doesn’t give up a fight–only in this case it is literally!

How Close is it to the Book?

I read the book ages ago so I’m not sure how close it truly was. While I know the PP classic story very well, I don’t really recall all the action and zombie scenes all that much. But everything seemed to be the same to me or if it was different, it was all in the same vein so I truly didn’t notice.

Did I Like the Cast?

I’m a huge Lily James fan. Don’t ask me why exactly; I think she just does a great job at playing strong heroines. I know that Natalie Portman was originally tapped to play Lizzie but I think Lily was the much better choice.

glitter zombies pride and prejudice and zombies jane austin

Sam Riley will never be Collin Firth’s Darcy in my eyes (the standard for all Mr Darcy’s past and future), but he really did a fantastic job. He’s got the whole stiff and proper vibe going on and it works.

mr darcy colin firth

But you know who really stole this one for me? Was Matt Smith as Mr Collins. He was just hilarious! His character adds a lot of humour to this story which can be pretty depressing at times (I mean, they are killing undead people they sometimes know). In other adaptations, I always feel sympathetic to Mr Collins and how he gets tossed aside as a husband; but here he is the Shakespearean fool and it makes it easy to see why he isn’t that much of a catch.

Image result for matt smith gif pride and prejudice

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I think we can all agree that the original novel by Austen is the real winner. I mean it’s a classic that is adored by generations and is one of the most well known romances in history.

But I think it depends on what you want when it comes to PPZ and its forms. The book rings more true to the classic novel simply because it shares a lot of the same passages. So if you want a retelling, perhaps the book is your pick. But if you want to be entertained with a loose adaptation, the movie is just a lot of fun. It has the action and it has the romance and it’s simply a joy to watch.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (from Goodreads):

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

Trailer:

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Fresh Fridays: The Good Fight (#1) by Justin Robinson

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:

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Good Fight (from Goodreads):
Toronto is a crowded place. Plenty of eyes and ears all around. Plenty of chances to be overheard. Be careful what you say…

In this spooky Canadian page turner, 16-year-old Terry Conner finds herself the target of an unspeakable evil, bent on enslaving all of humanity. Her crime? Nothing less than speaking her mind. Faced with the choice between silencing herself or fighting back, Terry chooses to fight.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Good Fight
Author: Justin Robinson
# of Books: 1+ (The Good Fight, book 2, book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, more books to come!
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love supporting Canadian authors whenever I get the chance. So when Justin asked me if I would review his debut novel, I of course said yes! It wasn’t just because the novel was set in Toronto–a place I called home for 2 years–but because I was genuinely curious to read a novel that was part science fiction part thriller.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

You don’t have to be familiar with Toronto or even Canada to enjoy this novel. Sure, it’s nice to be familiar with the setting for once (like I’m sure it is for people who live in NYC and read books set there). But Toronto is a modern city and that’s what makes this setting so adaptable to readers anywhere.

–The Premise–

It was this line right here in Justin’s email that had me on board:

“a positive message for teen readers about the importance of individuality and integrity”

I love smart fiction; especially fiction that takes our everyday modern world and challenges it by forcing something in our everyday life to the extreme. And it doesn’t get much more extreme than the limiting of someone’s right for the freedom of speech. It’s what makes this book interesting for both teenagers, young adults and adults. The execution on this front is great and it really is something I haven’t come across in YA in recent years.

–Terry Is Kick-Ass, In an Intelligent Way–

I like heroines who cannot only kick butt physically but intellectually as well. I really liked Terry. It was refreshing not to have a lead who worried about popularity or one who was jaded from the past. She’s a smart girl who uses her brains more than anything to solve the problem at hand and I really liked that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Started a Little Slow–

This one took a while for me to get into. I’m all for establishing the setting and the characters, but I wanted a little more action or thrills earlier on in the story. Because the last half of the novel–where Terry actually starts to unveil the “evil” group–is a lot of fun to read and quite thrilling at times.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure what will happen next! I am curious to see though what will.

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Good Fight 3/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This story reminded me a bit of a mash-up between 1984 and The Walking Dead. But unlike the zombies in The Walking Dead where they want to eat your flesh, you get a group of people who want to create a horde of like-minded individuals who believe the world should be as uniform as possible (ideal utopia of 1984). While slow at the start, I enjoyed this story very much.

Read if You Like: modern science fiction, books set in Canada
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Queen of Blood by Jill Myles

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 Queen of Blood (from Goodreads):
For one hundred years, Seri’s people have lived under the thumb of the Blood, the cruel and mysterious rulers of Athon. Seri wants nothing more than to put food on the table and marry the hotheaded but handsome Rilen come spring. But when a noblewoman asks Seri to be her handmaiden, Rilen insists she move to the enemy’s castle . . . and spy on the newly arrived prince.

Prince Graeme has grown weary of his family’s curse. The Blood are powerful and immortal, but doomed to live in the shadows, flitting from lover to lover, always in search of the mythic Eterna—the one woman who will sate their hunger. Now his father has sent him to the outskirts of the empire to stamp out a rebellious Vidari faction. But when a wild and alluring Vidari girl shows up at court, he finds himself torn between following his father’s orders and following his heart . . .

A war is brewing between Athonite and Vidari, between Blood and man. As uprisings sweep through the land, Seri and Graeme find themselves at the center of a storm with only one choice: betray each other, or betray their people.

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Author: Jill Myles (aka Jessica Clare)
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Vampires
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly found this book on NetGalley thanks to its stunning cover. It drew me in and when I read the synopsis, I just had to request it! It’s been a long, long time since I read a vampire story and so I couldn’t wait to dive into this one!

Did I fail to mention the whole forbidden love and politics? That was a big draw for me as well!

The World:

I really enjoyed how simple this world was. I don’t mean simple to be a bad thing either–in this case it was perfect! What I mean is that the world isn’t overly complicated and it is easy to follow along. Within a few chapters you know why the world is the way it is, why Seri struggles with her new position and how Graeme and his people operate. Getting a strong handle on the world a few chapters in really let me connect to these characters and their story–instead of focusing on what this term or that term is.

The Plot:

I got HOOKED into this story. Everything built at a great pace when I was reading. In hindsight, it took a long time to get to what the synopsis describes and I think the beginning is slow action wise. It also felt a little rushed at the end. However, I think it goes to show Jill Myles’ talent that none of that really mattered to me as I was reading. I was addicted to see what happened next and didn’t mind that it took me awhile to get there.

I would say the plot mostly focuses on Seri learning who she is and becoming comfortable with that person. It’s very “New Adult” in that respect. While the politics of the world are important, don’t expect some great political saga or action (ie fighting) packed story. The tension of the plot comes from the romance and the character development.

The Characters:

It took me a while to like Seri–but I think that is part of the point. As I said before, it is her coming of age story in a way and so I expected her to have some great growth as we progressed and she did.

I did immediately like Graeme though. I think because we don’t really get his POV, he comes across as an already established character. He easily became a book boyfriend for me I think 😛

The Romance:

This is what sold me on this book: the sexual tension. WOW, it was off the charts. I’m not one for insta-love but I expected it given the synopsis–and in the end, I really didn’t mind. I really saw how these two worked together and it was a blast watching them find out for themselves. Definitely a New Adult romance and not a YA read.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perhaps I just read this book at the right time but I really, really enjoyed it! It was a lot of fun to escape into this world. The romance is passionate and drives the story forward. I wish the plot had a better flow but I honestly didn’t realize until I had finished the book. If you want a New Adult vampire book, I recommend this one!

Read if You Like: vampires, forbidden romance, New Adult
Avoid if You: don’t like insta-love/connections, want more political drama

similarreads

  • The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection Series #1)
  • Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Jessica Series #1)
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

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 Nevermore (from Goodreads):
Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

breakdown

Series: Nevermore Trilogy
Author: Kelly Creagh
# of Books: 3 (Nevermore, Enshadowed, Oblivion)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2010 – July 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (Nevermore, Enshadowed), eBook (Oblivion)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t recall how I found Nevermore. I think it was through Indigo’s YA Summer reads one year. Anyways, the idea of a cheerleader falling for a “goth” is a cliché in and of itself, but the weavings of Edgar Allen Poe’s work into a paranormal world? Call me intrigued!

The Concept / The World:

I’m not a huge Poe fan per say, but I’ve read many of his works for school and enjoy his unique stories. So I was excited to see how Kelly Creagh was going to work it all together.

The great thing about this series is that you don’t have to know Poe’s work inside and out in order to understand what is happening. I’m sure it would help at times and it would enrich your experience, but it isn’t necessary.

I will admit I still don’t really understand the world all that well–even after finishing the books. I know enough to enjoy the story and move forward without feeling completely lost. Part of the issue is that there was nearly 2 years between all the books–that is a super, super long time between books! Especially when you have read numerous other books in between and don’t have the time to reread everything (because these books are long). Thankfully, I kept good notes on what happened but I still feel like some of the finer details were missing for me in the grande scheme.

The Plot:

The plot takes a long time to get going at the start. I remember reading Nevermore waiting for the romance and drama to begin. And that isn’t to say that nothing happened during those first few chapters; it’s just not a high action paranormal read. Those chapters instead focus on character and world development, which is needed because the paranormal aspects are quite complex. But once everything starts to reveal itself, you get more of the paranormal plot line. 

There really isn’t much else to these books besides the romance and paranormal plot line. Meaning, there isn’t a lot of subplots as everything stems to the one common problem. And because of that, I didn’t find this book to be extremely “twisty”, rather it just had big revelations when things were made clear to the reader. Despite not having high levels of action for its book length, I still found this series to be super easy to read and it kept my attention. My attention may have been spent 80% of the time trying to keep everything about the world straight, but it made me pay attention.

The Characters:

I remember not really liking Isobel initially when I started Nevermore. She reminded me a lot of Elena from The Vampire Diaries in her character delivery–the cold hearted, popular cheerleader. But she really grew on me as her character expanded.

Varen is also a complex character but I always really liked him. He’s got that tortured soul thing going on and I like the mystery surrounding him. He always really intrigued me, especially when Isobel is the main focus of the narration, because he comes across as such an enigma. It was fun trying to learn more about him as a character while I read.

The rest of the cast is pretty typical of a paranormal YA series. New girl quickly becomes BFF, crazy exes, over protective parents, etc. But they all really work for this story and do their roles well.

The Romance:

I really liked Van and Isobel together. I think it helped that we got to really know their characters first when it came to seeing their relationship bloom.

It’s also a dark love–very reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s work. Perhaps I was just oblivious to it or perhaps it really doesn’t manifest until the final book but it almost seemed unhealthy to me. I think part of my issue was that it had been so long since I read Enshadowed and so I forgot plot developments and feelings. Once I got into Oblivion a bit more, I was totally back on board with their romance.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Nevermore 4/5 | Enshadowed 4/5 | Oblivion 3/5

overall

This series continually builds to its climax in the final book so I recommend reading them as close together as possible. I think because I read Oblivion nearly 2 years after Enshadowed, it lost some of its appeal to me and I ended up really disappointed in the story. I don’t think would have been the case if I had read it right after Enshadowed.

Overall, it is a dark paranormal YA romance that has a unique edge to it that I haven’t really encountered in just one book and I really enjoyed them was all said and done…I just didn’t like waiting for them all 😛

Read if You Like: Edgar Allen Poe, dark paranormal, alternate dimension stories
Avoid if You: dislike long books with slower starts

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Single Sundays: Never Never by Brianna Shrum

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 Never Never (from Goodreads):
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

breakdown

Author: Brianna Shrum
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Fairy Tale Retellings
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first found this book on another blog (after I added this one, I started to actually list where I find these for future posts). I love Peter Pan. I watched the animated movie as a kid numerous, numerous times. I also adore Captain Hook from the Once Upon a Time TV series <3

So when I saw that there was going to be a prequel of sorts with this book–and one that focuses mostly on Captain Hook–I was sold!

The Concept / The World:

When I started reading this, it reminded me a lot of Wicked: The Musical in the sense that in this prequel, you have two well known enemies start as friends. And the focus is even on the “villain” character (Hook in Never Never and Elphaba in Wicked) more so than the “hero” character (Peter Pan and Glinda) in each case. But are they really the villain? Or are they just misunderstood? That’s what each story tries to convey and I love that approach–well, more so in Never Never than in Wicked.

Back to Never Never: I thought the take on Neverland was really cool. The idea that it’s fuelled by dreams really works for the story. The world itself is easily recognizable to fans of the various mainstream adaptations but it also has this darker feel to it–which was my favourite part. It doesn’t shy away from death or violence–which is what you want (or at least what I want) when I read about a pirate. That doesn’t mean it is gory or extremely violent–all I’m saying is that there are consequences when boys fight with swords and I liked the unpredictability the story had as a result.

The Plot:

I’m not sure what I was truly expecting the plot to be when I heard about this book. I think at first I thought it would be high action but when I started reading, it felt more like an adventure/coming of age story to me. There are definitely action scenes and definitely moments of suspense but I felt like a majority of the time was focused on James trying to deal with his situation in Neverland and his budding rivalry with Peter.

I think some people might feel like that focus makes the story dry at times because I know I initially thought that too. But as I got further into the book, I really became interested in James’ story. And I realized that the reason I truly picked up this book was because I wanted to know more about James Hook the character and how he becomes Captain Hook.

The Characters:

Casting Peter Pan as a villain really gives this story an interesting edge and made me think twice about how I perceive the whole Peter Pan persona. Is he truly saving the Lost Boys or is he just projecting his ideals on others? It also makes you wonder if it truly is a good thing to remain as a child forever; that even if you don’t grow up, you can still lose your innocence but doing foolish actions.

Perhaps a little too deep for this book? Maybe, but I enjoyed the thoughts it provoked in me.

As for Hook, I didn’t think I would have anything in common with him, but I easily attached myself to his character. Like him, I always wanted to grow up. People always say I’m extremely mature for my age and I think that goes hand in hand with being the oldest child AND the want to do things in life that you have to be older/more responsible for.

I liked watching Hook’s character develop and grow. And what I liked even more is that he makes mistakes. He isn’t perfect, he chooses to do some not so bright things and he learns from them. I love that about coming of age stories! It really grounds him from being this over the top villain that I watched as a kid to a real boy who is human too. I love when stories can make me empathize with a villain or make me feel something I would never have felt about them before.

The Romance:

I’m not sure why I didn’t see the romance coming. In hindsight it seems so obvious to me. But nevertheless, I was a little surprised that there was a romance when I first started reading and that it does play a pretty significant role in the grand scheme of things.  In the end, I really enjoyed that aspect. It really worked for the story and those moments were some of my favourite in the entire book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you have ever wanted to know what caused Captain Hook to be the notorious villain he is, this is the book for you! It is Hook’s coming of age story that really makes you double-guess about what you know about Neverland and Peter Pan!

Read if You Like: adventure stories, prequel retellings of well known tales
Avoid if You: don’t like coming of age stories, Peter Pan

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Single Sundays: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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 Fangirl (from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 30, 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you don’t follow any YA blogs, I’ll let you know that there are two books that always get high praise: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and basically anything by Rainbow Rowell–but more often than not, it’s Fangirl.

So, I was curious and just had to pick up this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was up for anything and I tried to not let the numerous positive reviews cloud my judgement as I read.

The Plot:

This is probably one of the greatest examples of a coming of age story in recent times. This story is all about Cath adjusting to the many changes in her life: college, separation from her twin sister, navigating her relationships with her parents and basically anything that a young adult has to go through. Oh, and don’t forget first love!

What makes this story great is that everyone can relate to Cath in some way. I think the most obvious one is going to college but we all can relate in some indirect way. Sure, I don’t have a twin but I sympathized with the evolving sibling relationship–and that relationship could just as easily be with your BFF. I think lots of bloggers can relate to Cath’s need to write fanfiction. I know there were times in my undergraduate career where I told myself “just finish this assignment and then you can write your book reviews” just like Cath.

And the fandom part…I think we’ve all been there about something in our lives.

This is a slow journey watching Cath evolve but it touches on so many different aspects that it keeps the pace steady and true. While it was long for my personal tastes, I thought it was very thorough and well-balanced. Nothing is resolved immediately so in that respect, I found it to be very realistic in how the characters react and deal with various issues.

The Characters:

Cath can be a very hard character to like. I’m a very stubborn person so I find it hard to read about other stubborn characters. Cath is the very definition of stubborn and I think that can be off-putting to a lot of readers. She can make it hard to root for her when she says or acts a certain way when she knows it’s wrong. But I think that’s what makes this book so great; you watch Cath evolve and grow up right before your eyes. Does that make it very easy to read all the time? Of course not! But I can appreciate the journey.

I really liked all the characters in this book. They were really close to being clichés but they just had that little something that kept them grounded in reality. I think we all have these people in our lives to some degree which again, adds to the realistic element of this story because it is very character driven.

The Romance:

Yeah, that didn’t go the way I expected! I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the romance. I thought it was going to play a minor role in the story but it definitely had a larger role than I anticipated–not that it was a bad thing. I thought it was really well developed and I feel like it contributed in a very beneficial way to the plot.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I didn’t fall in love with this book. One part is that I’m not the biggest coming of age YA fan (which is weird because I love New Adult and that’s pretty much coming of age all the time) and I think part of the reason is because it is so hyped up. I was expecting this book to blow me away and put other coming to age novels to shame…and I’ll admit, it was great, but I just never got sucked into it. It just didn’t WOW me.

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about everyday relationships
Avoid if You: don’t like stubborn characters, want a more romance driven novel

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Series Review: Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

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: The Vampire Diaries

There are a number of spin-off series; some written by L.J. Smith, others by a ghost writer. See all here. The Wikipedia page for the series has some interesting statements about how this series and the spin-offs are published.

Author: L.J. Smith
# of Books: 4 (The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, Dark Reunion)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Technically, Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Supernatural, Vampires, Magic, Witches
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: First and foremost, I read these books a looooonnnngggg time ago. Also, I want to be clear that I am only rating the original 4 Vampire Diaries novels. There are a number of spin-offs that I have never read…find out why below…

I can’t remember if I read these books before or after Twilight; I’m pretty sure it was after but definitely before the show first aired. I had the combined volumes I used for the covers for this post so I really have a hard time differentiating the plot of each book because it just seems like one big story–which is what a series is really–but what I’m trying to say is that it is all one big blur so don’t ask me about individual books!

One thing I really loved about Vampire Diaries is that it is a darker series where evil is always lurking. I know that there is lots of disagreements over how vampires are portrayed in books/popular culture but I’ve never really minded these alterations to what I call “modern vampires”. Yet Vampire Diaries features your blood drinking, bat-changing vampires who are up to no-good. It makes things creepy and darker than some of the other vampire series out there. I like how there is a villain and I like that actual dangerous things happen and sometimes they have disastrous consequences. It wasn’t always happy-go-lucky in this series and I liked that.

What I didn’t really like about the series was the romance. I’m not sure how many of you have read old romance novels from the late 80s/90s but they are drastically different from the romance novels you get today. Elena and Stefan’s romance was super cheesy to me and I think it was a product of it’s time (the first Vampire Diaries novel was published in 1991). I also wasn’t annoyed with the love triangle because, to me, it wasn’t truly a love triangle; it was more a by-product of what was going on plot-wise.

As for the characters, they weren’t anything that exciting or unique to me. They didn’t seem all that complex to me–even brooding, fighting-against-his-nature Stefan. I remember liking one of Elena’s friends more than I liked Elena.

I know a lot of people probably watch the TV or watched it (I stopped after season 3) and want to know how close it is to the books. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t anything close to the books. Sure, the basic ideas are there but things are drastically different. Things as simple as Elena’s list of friends and family are changed and the TV series definitely has a sexier feel. Some of the basic backbones are there but characters have radically different purposes in each. I LOVED the first two seasons of the show; but Season 3 just started to get too complicated for me and with school it was hard to keep up with it all. I plan to catch up on Netflix this summer.

The TV show is the reason I stopped following the book series. I enjoyed the TV series way more than I ever did the books so I never felt the need to pick them up. And I probably won’t ever pick up the books. I don’t like dragged out things and I feel like these spin-off series are just the by-product of the TV show. (Which is great because anything that encourages reading is fantastic but I feel like it takes away from the original spirit of the series).

Conclusion:

Simply put: I’ve read better vampire romances. But I can appreciate the fact that I can probably thank this series for spawning all of the “better vampire romances” out there. Unlike the TV show, it’s cheesy and basic in its delivery. If you want a sexier, danger-filled vampire romance, watch the TV show instead!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No, I’d recommend the TV show first!

Similar Reads: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight Saga #1)

Synopsis for The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (from Goodreads):
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.