Tag «worst reads»

Series Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

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 A Wicked Thing (from Goodreads):

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

breakdown

Series: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
# of Books: 2 (A Wicked Thing, A Kingdom of Ashes)
Book Order: Chronologocal
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2015 – 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I’ve said many times before, my favourite fairy tale princess is Sleeping Beauty. Why? I’m not sure because her damsel in distress situation is one I don’t enjoy (I hate when the heroine has to wait for a hero to save her). I think it’s because I love the Disney movie and its beautiful animation.

But in the same breath, I love seeing what other authors will do with the story in various retellings. So I was curious to see what this one was all about; in particular, the focus on HEA.

The Concept / The World:

What I really enjoyed about this story was that it focused on what happens after Aurora wakes up. She finds herself in a world she doesn’t know and one where she is a pawn in schemes she doesn’t fully understand. Watching her navigate this new political world and coming to grips with the fact that everyone she has ever known is dead, was an interesting take. I don’t think it was used to its full advantage but it was an element at play.

And like I say with most retellings: forget the Disney version! You’ll always end up a little disappointed because the Disney version is just a retelling of the origin story and not the source material.

The Plot:

Have you ever read a book where everything seems to be happening around the lead and the lead just seems to sit there and take it? That’s how I felt for 90% of A Wicked Thing. Aurora did absolutely nothing and I get why. She is literally in a world where she knows no one and it’s not like anyone is telling her what is happening either. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t know what is going on yourself. But it was just frustrating as a reader because she’d get these little moments of courage and then they would fizzle out.

This story needed something else to keep it going. I feel like so much time is wasted in both novels rehashing everything we’ve previously encountered. With so many people wanting things from Aurora, it should be a more suspenseful read than it actually is. But it takes Aurora nearly the entire 2 novels to finally get the backbone to do something and by then it is far to late to keep me invested.

The Dialogue:

When I contemplated DNFing A Wicked Thing, I read a few reviews on Goodreads and quite a few mentioned the dialogue. I definitely see where they are coming from after reading this. One of the contributing factors is that they don’t use contractions in the narration. It’s just not the way we talk (I mean look at how many I’ve used in this review so far) so it comes across as stiff.

But Aurora isn’t saying anything inspiring or profound either. No one is. So everything comes across as flat and it does dampen the reading experience at times.

The Characters:

Aurora was extremely dull. Like I said, I get why she lacks the confidence–I would act the same way if I woke up 100 years in the future. But I wish she gained the confidence a hell of a lot earlier than the 90% in A Wicked Thing.

The rest of the cast is kinda “meh”. I didn’t gravitate towards anyone but I think that’s because we don’t get to delve deeper into anyone’s character.

The Romance:

Three love interests is wayyyyy too much for me. And when you have an uninspiring heroine like Aurora, it’s hard to get the appeal of her for the potential suitors. I guess you can say I never picked a “team” to cheer for.

However, I will say that I like that the romance wasn’t the sole focus of this series. Other things are at play and this series could have easily been about Aurora and her “true love” and not the world she lives in.

My Audiobook Experience:

I don’t have anything against the audiobook production because you can only do so much when your source material isn’t fabulous. However, I will say that I found the dialogue delivery to be super slow. See, I’m not one to speed up the audiobook but I had to with a Kingdom of Ashes because it had a glacial pace. I first bumped it up to 1.25X and then 1.5X and the crazy thing is that the dialogue sounded much more natural at this faster pace! It was so much easier to listen to and stopped the awkwardness of the narration.

Series Rating: 2/5

A Wicked Thing 2.5/5 | A Kingdom of Ashes  2/5

overall

I’m still in search of that great Sleeping Beauty retelling. This one was terribly dull and too basic for my tastes.

Read if You Like: sleeping beauty, slow stories
Avoid if You: want action, want more romance
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Series Review: Twisted Tales by Liz Braswell

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 A Whole New World (from Goodreads):

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Read 2018
Series: Twisted Tales
Author: Liz Braswell (Books 1-3); Elizabeth Lim (Book 4)
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retellings
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2015 – March 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I have only read the first book (A Whole New World) in this series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a Disney kid. I grew up watching all the movies; I’ve been to Disney World many, many times; and I’ve never lost a game of Disney Scene It in my life. So a series that reimagines the classic Disney movies? Hell yes.

Truthfully, I forgot about this series. I think I might have had it marked on my TBR but cleared it when I did a massive purge last year. Anyways, I found the audiobook for A Whole New World one day at my library as an “Available Now” title. The title captured my attention (immediately I thought of the song) and then I remembered this book and the series. I didn’t have it marked on Goodreads but that didn’t matter. I even berrated myself for not having an Aladdin retelling (my all-time favourite Disney movie) on my TBR. So I picked it up, started it on my way to work and promptly asked myself why.

This is one of those times I should have read the reviews to know what I was getting myself into.

Read Carefully: The Series Title is “Twisted” Tales

Retellings are a funny thing. You need to have enough new content to impress readers but pay enough homage to the source material as to not piss them off. It’s a delicate thing to do. Often times you get the basis of the original tale but a completely new story and setting (ex Lunar Chronicles). Other times, you expand the inaugural tale and fill in some of the gaps (ex Tiger Lily).

So you need to expect some changes with a retelling. This isn’t the story you’ve watched for years. It starts that way but it transforms (“twists” if you will) into something else that you may not recognize. That means characters aren’t going to be like you remember (or perhaps want) and events are going to change. I think that’s important to remember because it is so easy to compare these stories to their source material and end up disappointed.

What I Liked:

–Jasmine Gets More Time With the Genie–

I love the Genie for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest reasons is his ability to show us our humanity and the faults that lie within it. Wishing for things versus the reality of those things is something that he emphasizes throughout the movie. He does that a bit here too by sharing his backstory with Jasmine and how his role as a Genie isn’t what he thought it was going to be.

While I love all the scenes Aladdin and Genie share in the movie, it was nice to see Jasmine get that time with the Genie. Her character at the start of this novel wasn’t winning me over in the slightest. I found her conversations with the Genie provided her with a taste of character growth and development. He is the wise old sage that teaches her the ways of the world in a way that Jasmine doesn’t really get much in the movie. It was nice to see her get in touch with reality.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The First 25% is a Play-by-Play of the Movie–

I mean, it was nice to set the scene and all but I found it boring to reiterate scenes I’ve had ingrained in the membrane for years.

–Most of the “Twists”–

Yes yes, Lauren read the message you posted up top about changes being necessary in a retelling. My problem isn’t that they changed events or characters, my problem is how this affects the core of what Aladdin is as a story. The twists here just seemed so out of place to me and didn’t benefit the overall message of the story.

>>Read my Spoilers Post (June 27) for more information on that here!

–A Lot of Telling, Not so Much Showing–

I found my interest quickly waned in this book. It’s a lot of dialogue between the characters and a lot of assumptive-explanations. Why is Jafar acting like this? The answer is a speculation made by Jasmine and never from Jafar himself.

Time passes oddly in this book once the rebellion begins and I just found I didn’t care by the end.

Image result for aladdin gifs

–Very Little Character Growth–

Retellings provide ample opportunity to flesh out the characters. Considering Jasmine and Aladdin are characters in a 1.5 hour movie, you could do so much with them in a full novel. The same can be said about Jafar. Instead, these characters are left with their basic shells in order to get the story across. I feel like there was a big missed opportunity with this story.

Will I Finish It?

This time, I looked at the reviews of the other novels and see that they feature many of the same issues as this one. So at this time, I’m going to leave this series as is.

Series Rating: DNF

A Whole New World 1.5/5

overall

Watch the movie. There are much better retellings for stories out there.

Read if You Like: different retellings
Avoid if You: want more substance
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Year’s Reads in Review – Top Picks for 2017

For me, 2017 was all about reading what I wanted when I wanted to.

Two years of attempting to curb my TBR had allowed me to go into 2017 with a more carefree attitude than I was used to. I got more comfortable DNFing books and learning to say no to every book I meet. Audiobooks became an everyday avenue for reading, cutting down my TBR one listen at a time. I even got to a few Jane Austen novels! My challenges might not have gone entirely to plan but I read more books than I anticipated so I can’t really complain.

> > Check out which books I read this past year HERE!

As always, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top picks (and not so great) from the various categories that I read this past year. Most categories deal with books published only this past calendar year (2017) but there are some noted exceptions. Click on the cover to read my review of the book/series–if available! Lots of these won’t have reviews until early next year.

Without further ado:

(Books are in no particular order; click on cover for review if available)

– Novels that were first published in 2017 –

– Series that were first published in 2017 –

– Series that were first published in 2017 –

– Novels that were first published in 2017 –

– Series that ended in 2017 –

– A series sequel book published in 2017 –

– Movie Adaptions Released in 2017 –

– Novels I read in 2017 that were hyped by the community & met expectations –

– Best audiobooks I listened to in 2017 (not necessarily their publication year) –

– Favourite New Adult Series Read in 2017 –

– Best standalones I read in 2016 –

– Favourite YA Series I read in 2017 –

– Favourite Adult Standalones read in 2017 –

– Books published in 2017 that I DNF’d –

– Books I gave 2 Stars or Less to in 2017 –

– Books that I enjoyed more than I expected! –

Have a fabulous 2018!

Do we share any titles? Agree or Disagree?

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Fresh Fridays: To Betray My King (Betrayal Legacy #1) by Kayla Lavan

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

The Betrayal Legacy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for To Betray My King (from Goodreads):

Would you choose to save your kingdom or follow your heart?

Brave and kindhearted, Arianna is a princess of a kingdom that nobody wants. The magicless. Marrying the charming, flirtatious, and egotistical Prince Roland was the last thing either of them wanted, but for the sake of their people they agreed. War breaks out with the neighboring kingdom, forcing the prince’s hand to join in the fight. He leaves his new wife with the only man he trusts, his childhood friend, a dutiful, strong, and handsome knight.

A sweet romantic tale of forbidden love in a dark fanatical world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Reads of 2017
Series: The Betrayal Legacy
Author: Kayla Lavan
# of Books: 3 (To Betray My King, To Betray My Kingdom, To Betray Myself)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, there are sequels planned
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 1, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Blog Tours–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Despite the suggestion of a love triangle in the synopsis, the fact that there was forbidden romance (I’m a sucker, what can I say?) and the hopes of political intrigue had me eager to see what was in store.

What I Liked:

–Roland–

I didn’t expect to like him but I really liked the prince. He’s that charming, smug prince that I’m a sucker for. I thought he had the best character development of anyone in the novel.

Which is why is is a shame that he is gone for more than half the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance–

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about when it came to the love triangle. It was pretty non-existent. And that’s thanks to the fact that Arianna and Conrad had absolutely no chemistry together. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have known they were supposed to “fall in love” if the synopsis didn’t tell me that was the case.

I think that Arianna and Roland had a much stronger connection and one that could have believably turned into a romance.

–Lack of a Plot–

This book treaded water for a majority of the book. Honestly, nothing much happened to the character’s POVs we get. Everything seems to happen around them and they just carry on.

And it’s a shame because the ending does have some great twists and revelations. They just come too late to salvage the story.

–The Missing Chapter–

This book ends abruptly. I mean you literally reach the climax of the fight and then you get the epilogue. No wrap up for the big fight, no telling you what the hell happened to all the characters. Instead, you get a vague epilogue that lists no names and leaves you wondering, WTF just happened?

Then you turn the page and realize that if you want chapter 21.5, sign up for the newsletter. I’m going to bite my tongue on my thoughts about that. Regardless, I wanted that chapter and when I read it, it immediately tied up some of those loose ends. It’s a crucial chapter, one that shouldn’t be left out of the initial novel because it changes EVERYTHING! It changes what you think happens to the characters, changes the meaning of the epilogue and changes the projection for subsequent sequels.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really don’t know. I’m so mixed up over this whole novel.

My Rating: 1/5

overall

Frankly, this book was all over the place. It had the right ideas but truly lacked the right execution. It’s the end of the road for me with this one.

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DNF Review: Until I Met You by Jaimie Roberts

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 Until I Met You (from Goodreads):
What happens when the worlds of two tortured souls collide?

Angelina Bradshaw has always believed that she does not need a man in her life. That’s what she has been telling herself her entire adult life. She feels worlds apart from her family’s dreams for her to meet a man, settle down, and have babies. She certainly can’t be doing that because love just gets in the way. She has a ‘go to’ guy and that’s enough for her.

Living in rural Cornwall, she is bored and in desperate need of adventure, so when a family friend offers her a job in London, there’s no hesitation. She expected adventure, she expected a new start, but what she didn’t expect was to meet a man who would turn her life upside-down. Seth Jacobs is hot, sexy, and can’t understand why Angelina doesn’t want him. No one has ever said no to Seth Jacobs—in fact—they all fall at his feet.

Seth pursues her relentlessly and Angelina fights him at every corner. He is the only man who has ever affected her, and the need to run from him is immense. However, Seth is not one to give up so easily. He soon finds himself on a mission, determined to win her heart.

Unfortunately for Angelina, all is not well when her past and present collide after receiving some unwelcoming and frightening news from home. She feels desperate and alone, but most of all, she feels she has to push Seth away before it’s too late.

To make matters worse, a catastrophic secret from the past is revealed, threatening to destroy the one thing, Angelina finally holds dear to her heart.

Review:

PLEASE NOTE: That I only read until the end of Chapter 6 (page 91) for this book and did not finish it prior to publishing this review. Find out why below…

I got this book as an Amazon Freebie one day and decided to read it right away because of the positive reviews on Goodreads and the synopsis captured my attention (also, I needed a standalone novel for my blog post this week). But once I was 50 pages in I started to wonder if I was reading the same thing as everyone else…

I can get past the slightly sloppy writing and editing errors when reading a book, especially ones that I get for free on Amazon because they are mostly self-published. And that was my plan going into this book after reading the reviews. However, I can’t get past slow plot lines and annoying heroines. I almost enacted my 50 page rule but decided to give the book the benefit of the doubt because we hadn’t met Seth yet (yes, that’s how slow the book is) and I had hoped he was going to save the book.

He didn’t…

And the reason is Angelina. Of course every man in the world is attracted to her and I have no idea why. For a 26 year old woman she acts like she’s 15 at times. Perhaps I expected her to be more mature considering “her secret from the past” but I was very disappointed in her as a character. I just didn’t like her at all and because the book is told solely from her POV it irritated me beyond belief. Lots of other reviews said she was “funny”–again, I fail to see how. I laugh at everything and I never laughed at anything she said/did. I just didn’t like her.

As I mentioned before, the book was slow. Certain plot points weren’t needed. For example the first chapter could have been greatly reduced to get the same message across and get into the thick of things. Because from what I’ve read from others’ reviews, there were some great twists along the way. I just wish we got that momentum earlier in the book because I probably would have stuck it out if we did.

Conclusion:

As of this moment, I don’t have any plans to finish this book. I was 1/3 of the way through when I stopped reading and I really don’t feel like I missed out on anything as I write this review. Just poor execution and nothing original (from what I read) in terms of contemporary romance. Pass.

Rating: 1/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Hell no.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Contemporary, Romances, Drama, Chick Lit
Recommended for: 18+
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Worst Reads 2014
Similar Reads: Reflect Me by K. B. Webb (Reflect Me Series #1) and Chosen Heart by Ann Stewart (Hart Series #1)

DNF Series Review: Gilded Wings by Aimee Agresti

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

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Worst Reads of 2014 (Illuminate)
Series: Gilded Wings Trilogy
Author: Aimee Agresti
# of Books: 3 (Illuminate, Infatuate, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 will be published in the near future
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

PLEASE NOTE: That I only read 50% of Illuminate (Book 1) when I wrote this review. I stopped reading it and currently have no plans to finish it. Find out why below:

My Expectations:

Illuminate has been on my Kobo for quite some time now but I only managed to read it this year. It was simply a case of out of sight, out of mind and its subsequent burial in my Kobo once I bought more books.

My Review:

Anyways: I started Illuminate and was shocked by how long it was. It nearly put me to sleep a few times because I found it so slow. This book is one that suffers from a very detailed exposition–so detailed that it is actually mind-numbing and I would forget what I was reading because I would get lost in thought or fall asleep. I NEVER FALL ASLEEP READING A BOOK, especially in broad daylight. There really was no need for the drivel that is in this book–and as I said before, it was USELESS information. I love getting a full description of the scene but this was overboard and in place of essential character interaction. I found a lot of the dialogue between the characters was also unnecessary and boring.

I was 48% through the book when I made the decision to stop reading–despite having paid for this book and also having the sequel, Infatuate, out from the library. There were two reasons I stopped reading: 1) was that my Kobo was telling me that it was going to take another 5 hours to finish it; and 2) there was absolutely no plot happening.

Again, this book suffered from too much detail and it shows in the nonexistent plotline. The parts where Haven reads from the mysterious book and ACTUALLY interacts with Lucian are too few and far between for my tastes. I was very bored with this book and even reading the plot synopsis for the sequel, Infatuate, wasn’t enough to stimulate my curiosity for what is actually happening at this hotel and to Haven.

It doesn’t help that Haven is extremely dull herself. I didn’t understand her fascination with Lucian at all. They met twice and only spoke a handful of words to each other and she fancies herself in love with him. I was expecting more romance in the story but instead, it focused more on Haven doing every day things at her internship and giving a minute-by-minute account of what she does in a day–which is BORING! So I think it goes without saying that this book was lacking in sexual tension or any romantic interaction really–and that makes it a dull read.

One day in the far future I might decide to finish Illuminate just for the sake of having a complete library on my Kobo–but until that day comes, I won’t be finishing this series anytime soon.

Series Rating: DNF

Illuminate 1/5 | Infatuate N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

For me, this is one of these book series that I should have read the reviews to before I bought it. I think I was blinded by the cover because if I managed to read the reviews I probably wouldn’t have read this book at all. Just a poor execution for a good idea (or what I assume is the idea). If you want a similar book but with a much better plot and execution, read Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins.

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Synopsis for Illuminate (from Goodreads):

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything changes when she is awarded a prestigious internship at a posh Chicago hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous strangers: the powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

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