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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.

breakdown

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

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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?

breakdown

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.

Novella Serial Review: The Inheritance by Olivia Mayfield

Serial Saturdays: On Saturdays, I review serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Series: The Inheritance
Author: Olivia Mayfield
# of Parts: 6
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Chick Lit, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm (not a lot of sexual content but it is rather descriptive)
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

I randomly stumbled across this serial at my public library when browsing the newly added eBooks. I think at one point, I came across this book as a freebie on Amazon because the plot sounded extremely familiar to me when I read it  (but I opted not to download it because it was a serial series). However, my library had the complete novel available to borrow so I decided that I might as well grab it.

I don’t read a lot of contemporary mystery novels. In theory I should because I love puzzles, Clue is my all-time favourite board game and I just love the movies that require you to piece together clues to understand what is happening. But when it comes to reading, I prefer my suspense to come from drama and family secrets. This book has a mixture of both because the mystery focuses on family drama that is the result of a crime so I liked that it blended together. It managed to keep my attention and even when I wasn’t reading it I was trying to put the clues together.

I think like most serialized series, this series suffers from lack of character development. I didn’t really get attached to any of the characters and I didn’t love Maggie. I think part of the reason is the third person narration but from a technical aspect I understand why mystery novels are written in third person. But most of the characters are your cookie-cutter mystery characters so nothing felt wholly original to me.

As for the mystery, I was expecting something a little more complicated as the solution to be honesty. However, I didn’t fully figure out the solution until shortly before the big reveals so I liked that.

Conclusion:

It was a cute read and it made for a good way to pass the time. Not the greatest story ever told but it was interesting and managed to keep my attention throughout. Don’t expect the romance aspect to be the main focus here; this book is primarily a contemporary mystery with a dash of romance on the side.

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

Similar Reads: His Wicked Games by Ember Casey (His Wicked Games Series #1) and Juliet by Anne Fortier

Synopsis for The Inheritance: The Complete Novel (from Goodreads):

Olivia Mayfield’s thrilling and sexy novel about seductive money, deadly secrets, and fatal attractions—available in one complete edition!

Maggie Willings knew that returning home for her estranged grandfather’s funeral would not be easy, but she never expected the reading of his will to be the most difficult part. It turns out her grandfather named four people beneficiaries to his vast estate—Maggie, her brother Robert, her ex-boyfriend Andrew, and her grandfather’s far-too-young girlfriend Bethany. But only one of them will win his millions: whoever finds out the truth about what happened to Maggie’s younger sister Cassandra, who vanished over eight years ago.

As her grandfather’s strange challenge pits Maggie against those nearest to her, she’s reluctant to drag up painful memories of her sister and distracted by a lingering attraction to Andrew. But as she delves deeper into her sister’s mysterious vanishing, she begins to discover that each of the contestants has dangerous secrets to hide—and with ten million dollars on the line, no one, not even those she loves most, can be trusted…

DNF Series Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy
Author: Laini Taylor
# of Books: 3 (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters)

There is a novella listed as Book 2.5 called Night of Cake and Puppets

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Angels, Urban Fantasy, Demons
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: That as of the publication of this review, I have only read the first book in the series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Find out why I haven’t read the next two below…

I’ve wanted to read this series ever since I saw the cover for Daughter of Smoke and Bone when it was first published. It has been at the top of my to-read list ever since and I’ve been anxiously waiting for the eBooks to become available at my library.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone starts off slow but intriguing. It really starts to build up as you continue reading and you get a little hooked into the story’s mystery. It isn’t overly exciting in the sense that there is a lot of action or fighting but it is exciting in the sense that as you learn more about Karou, the faster the plot seems to go.

While the writing is well done, I find because it is told in third person I sometimes have a hard time following what is going on. This isn’t a book you read when you are a little sleepy because you will probably miss something important. One thing I didn’t like about the writing was the flow of the story. One chapter would be in the present but the next would be in the past and sometimes I would get a little lost trying to piece together the timeline. By the end of the book, I was into the story but nothing really wowed me about the book. It wasn’t really what I thought it was going to be as I found it to be slower than expected.

The end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone promises that the sequel will be a bit faster plot-wise but the mere size of the book is daunting. Most books are approximately 250 pages as an epub file for my Kobo and I can read that in 5 hours. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was in the 300s which is only an hour or so more. But Days of Blood and Starlight was over 400 pages and Gods and Monsters was even longer. Not that I have an issue with longer books–sometimes I prefer them–but the problem was I had multiple books out from the library (never fails that all your holds become available at the same time) and not a whole lot of time that I had to make the executive decision to return the last 2 books in the series and try again later.

That was 5 months ago and I haven’t thought about this series since. I would like to finish the series because I do find it interesting but with the hectic life I lead, I probably won’t be able to even contemplate finishing this series until Christmas break.

Conclusion:

A unique series for sure but one that moves slower than most. If you don’t like really long books, avoid! But if you like books that focus on demons and the paranormal/supernatural elements associated with them, this is a good one for you to pick up.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

Synopsis for Daughter of Smoke and Bone (from Goodreads):
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Series Review: IFICS by Julia Crane

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

Freak Fractured

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

Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

 

Freak

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

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

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

Fractured

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

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

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

~*~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~*~

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

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

WEBSITE: www.juliacrane.com

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/JuliaCrane2

Series Review: A Billionaire Love Story by Lucy Lambert

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: A Billionaire Love Story
Author: Lucy Lambert
# of Books: 2 (The Pretend Girlfriend, The Pretend Fiance)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: That I did not finish book 2 in the series: The Pretend Fiance. I was 40% through the book when I DNF’d it.

This is the second (and third) book that I have read by Lucy Lambert. Her Rocked by Him story I read last year and subsequently ranked as the 2nd worst book I read in 2013. However, never knock the power of Amazon freebies because when The Pretend Girlfriend popped up as Free on Amazon, I was willing to give it a shot.

The book summary for The Pretend Girlfriend is very misleading. For one thing, the book is told from a third person POV, not a first person like used in the summary–though this isn’t the first time that has happened with a book. I have mixed feelings about it being third person: I prefer first person but I have a feeling if we got to read every thought that went through Gwen’s head we might get easily annoyed with her. So perhaps it was for the best. Right from the first line of the synopsis, it steers us in the direction that this is some dark, BDSM-driven billionaire erotic romance. You know, the type where an unbelievable attractive billionaire falls for the common girl and changes his ways when he falls in love with her; that same old song and dance. But, this isn’t the same old song and dance; which I found very refreshing but not what one expects after reading the synopsis.

First, let me say that this book is not erotica in the slightest. There isn’t a sex scene until the 60% completed mark and it isn’t anything particularly steamy. There is also no BDSM–which is awesome because I really hate that and I hate that all rich guys in novels have that as their kink. So I really wouldn’t say that Gwen is his “property” just that he expects her to be available when he calls her (she is his pretend girlfriend for appearances and that requires public outings!). I also hate that the synopsis says that she owes “money to the wrong people”. It makes her sound like she is in some criminal ring when she really just needs to pay her rent to her landlord: hardly the “wrong people” if you ask me.

But I will end my rant there. I just wanted to point out that the plot synopsis makes this book sound like something it is not and if I went in with those expectations I would have been severely disappointed. Because we don’t get all that dark, edgy romance. Instead, we get a nice guy hero who is as vanilla as they come and a heroine who falls for him a little to fast (in my opinion).

Regardless, I actually did enjoy The Pretend Girlfriend. Maybe I just needed a lighter read and this met that need. But I found the book refreshing in a way. As I said before, BDSM really doesn’t do much for me (though I enjoy the higher-stakes drama that usually accompanies it) so I liked reading about a genuinely nice billionaire who didn’t want to own the object of his attraction. I do wish that his character was more developed though. He just seemed like he was missing pieces of his past to explain why he was the way he was. Gwen was the same though she was a little more developed in a way but I think that was because we followed her throughout the novel.

Despite that though, I really liked them together as a couple. I think they balanced each other out well and seemed to genuinely have common interests besides physical attraction. I just wished that things didn’t happen within a two week span or else I would have enjoyed it more. Not the best “pretend girlfriend” novel I have read but it was a nice light read and seeing as I got the sequel as a freebie, I decided to read it.

The Pretend Fiance was a little too over the top for me. And by a little: I mean it was extremely over the plot. Again, the synopsis is misleading. Who I expected to be the main “antagonist” for Gwen was not who I would have ever pictured in a million years and I think it suffered from that. There is no other way to describe the plot as other than stupid. It was so ridiculous that it hurt my brain trying to read it. While the first book isn’t overly realistic it did have that touch of realism to it in a fictional sense whereas this one did not. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it because both Gwen and Aiden were acting as idiots. I wish I just left these characters at the end of The Pretend Girlfriend because this sequel was completely unnecessary.

Conclusion:

While The Pretend Girlfriend is a nice, light freebie read its sequel really drops the ball off the face of this earth. This series was a flop. There are way better “pretend-billionaire’s-girlfriend” novels out there. And I think it is safe to say I won’t be reading more of Lucy Lambert’s work in the future, even freebies.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: NO

Similar Reads: Fixed on You by Laurelin Paige (Fixed Trilogy #1) and Break by Vanessa Waltz

Synopsis for The Pretend Girlfriend (from Goodreads):
If you’d have told me a week ago that I’d be a billionaire’s property…

Confident. Brilliant. Rich. Devastatingly handsome. Aiden Manning seemed to have it all. As naïve as I was, when he seemed interested in me, I fell head over heels immediately.

But Aiden Manning’s life held a dark side, one that he needed to hide at any cost. That’s where I would come in. My trusting nature had caused me to owe money to the wrong people, and Aiden was right there and ready to help, if only I’d help him out as well. Just one signature on a piece of paper, and suddenly I was bound to him. The ground rules I had laid out at the beginning quickly melted away, and I found myself being drawn deeper and deeper into Aiden’s life.

However, someone couldn’t handle that. An even more powerful figure in Aiden’s life would stop at nothing to break the two of us apart. It soon became clear that I might have to sacrifice everything I had to keep the two of us together.

The real question was: How long could I pretend?

Single Sundays: Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore

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 Evanescent (from Goodreads):
“Then it is settled,” Felix declared. “Come hell or high water, when this is all over, at least one of us here will not make it out alive.”

When Bronwen Snow is pulled from her cottage in the middle of the night, she finds herself seeking the help of three mysterious boys who reside in an abandoned castle deep in the hillside. With only a hasty handwritten note and a vague sense of dread to guide her, Bronwen is forced to put her trust in the eccentric and willful Felix Cavara and his eternal curse – immortality.

Review:

This was another freebie from Amazon that I randomly decided to read one day between library books. I grabbed it because it was free, of course, but because it sounded interesting and had a shorter page count.

This book is pretty quirky if you ask me–which made it fun to read. There where quite a few times that I smiled or chuckled to myself because I really loved Felix’s wit. It really made the book a light, easy read that was just what I needed between my heavier, darker themed books.

Despite a plot that felt slower to me, I went through the pages pretty quickly. Don’t expect some high action novel with tons of fighting and high levels of suspense. There were definitely moments of action but it was pretty minor and it was suspenseful at times. I didn’t find it predictable (I never would have guessed the ending) though it was easy to follow. It was fun to read and to try and figure out what was going to happen to Bronwen and company.

Conclusion:

This book was like reading a modern faery tale with more supernatural elements to it. If you go in expecting a more light hearted novel with paranormal and supernatural elements, you will like this book for what it is.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Paranormal, Supernatural
Recommended for: 15+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: third person
Similar Reads: Devoured by Amanda Marrone

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