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Single Sundays: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

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 All the Rage (from Goodreads):
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A few years ago I read a fantastic novel called You Against Me which focuses on the siblings of the two people wrapped up in a rape case. I loved how it showed the effects on both families involved in a rape situation. So what appealed to me about All the Rage is that it deals specifically with the victim of a rape case–the victim who no one believes.

The Concept:

There are so many rape cases that are never reported for the simple reason that they feel powerless. Shame, self-blame and the belief that reporting will have no effect are all common reasons rapes are never reported. (You can read an in-depth news article here)

I think that sometimes these statistics do more harm than good. For example, if you broadcast something as an unfavourable experience (such as reporting a sexual crime), people won’t want to go through it. However–and more importantly–they also prove that the system is broken if these are the statistics it produces. Rape culture is getting more awareness now in mainstream media but still, no real change is happening. The double-standards, prejudices and attitudes towards victims disgusts me and it made me all the more eager to pick up this book which explores all these facets in today’s modern world. 

The Plot:

As is expected, this story mostly focuses on Romy trying to live her life after reporting her rape. It’s an absolutely heart-breaking story to read because this poor girl is just continuously decimated by her peers. She is the butt of every joke and is continuously bullied by everyone in town. Yes, everyone. This book does a great job of showing that it isn’t just young people who have stigmas against anyone involved in a rape, it spans all ages and genders.

I was actually surprised with the mystery element to this book. I really just thought this book was going to be more about Romy’s life after she reports her rape and how she has to deal with all the backlash at school. So having that mystery aspect kept the book moving forward. I thought it was a great mystery plot and very unpredictable. It also adds another layer to the story that really drives the message home.

The Characters:

Romy is a hard character to get a grasp on because she is unravelling before you. Her story is so emotionally draining that it breaks your heart that there are women around the world who live in Romy’s world everyday.

My problem with Romy is that she is an unreliable narrator. Which is fine, I just found that I had a really hard time following what was happening. The critic in me can appreciate the frazzled, tormented mind of Romy but the reader in me got lost a lot trying to figure out what was happening and that really diminished my reading experience.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I’m so torn over how I feel about this book. On one hand, I LOVE the message is has and how it opens the discussion about rape and how society deals with it. On the other hand, I got lost sometimes in the narration. There are still parts in this book that I have no idea what was happening and I really don’t like that.

I think this is a great read for young people to read. It’s very eyeopening and the mystery aspect makes you want to keep reading about Romy’s experience even when it gets hard to swallow it all. It’s definitely a book that will stick with me for the rest of my life because it truly nails the message that we need to fix how we perceive rape in our culture or else we will suffer terrible consequences.

Read if You Like: eye-opening realistic fiction
Avoid if You: don’t like reading via unreliable narrators

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Series Review: Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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

Illuminae Files Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Illuminae (from Goodreads):

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav YA 2015
Series: Illuminae Files
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
# of Books: 3 (Illuminae, Gemina book 3)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: No, Book 3 will be published in Fall 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Emails, Files, Chats, Reports
Publication Date: October 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere before it came out! Those who had ARCs loved it and so my interest was peaked. I’ve been looking for a great Science Fiction YA Thriller since I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis and Illuminae seemed right up that alley.

What I Liked:

–Format–

Originally, I tried to get the eBook of this from my library but they kept delaying when the release for it would be. I didn’t really understand why until I picked up the hardcover in person. When I first heard of the book, I totally missed the paragraph that told you this book was told through “hacked documents” etc. So when I opened it up and saw how everything was formatted, I simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief (because the size of the book scared me a little) and grinned in excitement!

You would think a story told like this would suffer from underdeveloped world building and the like but it’s the exact opposite! Because you can include pictures and reports about everything in the world, it really makes it easy for the reader to see and understand what is happening. It also makes reading go a lot faster since the pages aren’t loaded with text.

–The Plot–

I loved that there were so many elements at play! From the romance (which was there in just the right amount) to the plague to the actual escape: it was just plain fun and addicting to read! I really wanted to get to the bottom of everything and there were great twists along the way.

–The Humour–

I just have to say that there were quite a few times I laughed out loud during this.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing?–

Nothing immediately comes to mind when I think about what I didn’t like. I didn’t like how heavy the hardcover novel was to hold when I was reading in bed but that can’t be helped. I will admit though that it took me a little while to warm up to Kady but I was a total fan of hers by the end!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think it is really interesting that the next book will feature completely different characters. While I love Kady and Ezra’s story (and really grew to like them as characters), I definitely want to see what else is happening in this world at the same time!

updates

–November 24, 2016– Book #2: Gemina

Illuminae was going to be a tough act to follow–but Gemina is more than a worthy successor!

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Hanna’s character. Like Kady, I had to learn more about her character and see how she handles herself before I could call myself a fan. I think it’s hard to get to know these characters sometimes because the narration is just documents and chats. You don’t get the inner emotions you would if it were a first person narration; more outside looking in. But despite that, these are really well developed characters, it just takes a bit of time to establish it all.

I loved the action-suspense vibe we got in this book! Illuminae has some high-risk situations but this one really seemed more life-and-death to me and that made it a lot more thrilling to read. Add to it the great plot twists along the way and you have yourself a pretty addicting book!

My Rating: 5/5

Illuminae 5/5 | Gemina 4.5/5 | Book 3 TBP

overall

One of the coolest reads ever and one of the best reads I read in 2015! If you want to try Science Fiction but are scared to jump into the complicated worlds, this is a great introduction!

Read if You Like: unique POVs, world-building, Science Ficiton
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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

Six of Crows Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Six of Crows (from Goodreads):
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Series: Six of Crows

This is a spinoff of the The Grisha Trilogy.

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Heist, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s not a secret that I didn’t really enjoy the Grisha Trilogy. The pacing was off, I couldn’t stand the lead character and I felt like nothing ever happened. And that was a shame, because I loved the Grisha universe and liked a lot of the secondary characters–it had a lot of potential but just didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it for me. So the idea of reading a spin-off, with a completely new cast of characters but set in the exact same universe was appealing to me.

When I read that this was going to be a heist novel, I was stoked! I’ve been looking for a great heist novel since I read the Heist Society novels years ago and have come up disappointed every time. But this one sounded like it could be the next fantastic heist novel for me.

What I Liked:

–Multiple Character Perspectives–

I like my books to have a lot going on in them so that I am never bored. I found the Grisha Trilogy really didn’t have that much else going on other than the main plot line and the romance, so it was a little dull at times. It was especially difficult for me because I didn’t like the lead heroine who was also the sole narrator. I didn’t particularly care for her story but I did like a lot of the side characters and wished their story was told.

My wish was granted here…in a sense.

I really enjoyed reading about multiple characters. It kept things interesting and kept the pace faster. I also liked that each character had a bit of a mystery surrounding them that we got to uncover more as we read. Plus, these characters were infinitely more interesting than Alina ever was and that helped immensely.

–The Heist–

A good heist is hard to write and I think this one was done exceptionally well. I loved the many twists and turns and I liked that it kept me on my toes.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Still Feel like I’m Missing Something

Naturally, heist novels leave stuff out. You always learn about things after the fact because it is more suspenseful that way–and I really enjoyed that about heist novels. It’s also the reason why I understand that they are more often than not third person POV (it just makes things easier).

But at the same time, there were a few things about the characters that I wish were made clearer earlier on in terms of personality. As I said before, one of the things I liked was that their past was slowly revealed and that is completely true. But there were some things about some characters that I felt should have been elaborated on earlier (it’s hard to give an example without giving a spoiler). Because when it was revealed, it was like getting kicked in the face–it just seemed to come out of nowhere and it made me feel like I was missing something.

I still feel like I don’t have a full grasp on what really happened. And to be honest, I had the same problem with the Grisha Trilogy where I felt like things weren’t properly explained. Whether that is a fault in the writing or a fault in my reading abilities–which I tend to lean towards because I am a fast reader–I’m not sure. It could have also been the result of a residual assumption from reading the first series and not really enjoying it. Regardless, it prevented me from getting fully immersed in the story and really made it hard to rate this book overall.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to see what happens next! I became really invested these characters and their stories and I’m looking forward to learning more about them all. With the way everything ended, I’m not sure what is in store, but it if can keep building the momentum I think the sequel will be fantastic!

updates

–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Crooked Kingdom

I picked this book up earlier than I intended just because everyone was so “wowed” by it on Twitter. But I also really wanted to see how everything was going to wrap up and I didn’t want anything to be spoiled for me.

This book was a little up and down for me.

I thought there was wayyyy too much detail at times. Bardugo goes off on these tangents throughout the novel and while some are beneficial for character development, others just threw me off course and made me forget what was happening. You could have easily cut out a few pages and had a totally solid novel. So I found myself getting bored at times simply because we weren’t moving the plot forward because of this excess detail.

What I loved about this book was discovering how attached to these characters I was. One of my biggest problems with the Grisha Trilogy was not loving the leads (minus the Darkling and Nikolai of course) and I really didn’t have that problem here. There were romances I was rooting for; characters I wanted to see come to their full potential; scenes that made my heart stop. This is quite the crew assembled here and they were fabulous!

So overall, it was a solid novel to wrap up this series. Maybe we will get to see this crew in another adventure somewhere down the line but I think everyone will be satisfied with this finale.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Six of Crows 4.5/5  |  Crooked Kingdom 4/5

overall

This series is very different from the Grisha Trilogy. Fans of the Grisha Trilogy will enjoy this alternate look at the world but it is much darker and almost a more grown-up version of the previous series. And even if you didn’t enjoy the Grisha Trilogy but enjoyed the world, this is a great read and definitely not as generic as the inaugural series.

Read if You Like: heist stories, multiple character perspectives
Avoid if You: dislike long books, third person narration

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Single Sundays: Soundless by Richelle Mead

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 Soundless (from Goodreads):
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Even if Richelle Mead wasn’t one of my favourite authors ever, the cover of this book alone would beg me to pick it up!

Soundless was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015 simply because it is Richelle Mead’s newest YA novel–and a standalone one at that! I’m used to Mead’s paranormal series–both adult and YA–so I was very, very curious to see what she would do with a standalone novel. I also love mythology/folklore based stories so this seemed like a no-brainer to pickup.

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Richelle Mead’s ability to build worlds is that they are complex (meaning they have layers) but they are easy to understand and get acquainted with. It doesn’t take copious amounts of pages to understand what the setting is; but at the same time I never feel like the world is under developed.

The idea that this village has no hearing is really intriguing–and is very well done. You can tell she has done her research on the matter. It was very easy to visualize every aspect of this book as I was reading.

As for the folklore, it really doesn’t come into play until later on in the story so don’t expect it to be there as soon as you start.

The Plot:

I don’t know why I was expecting a faster paced book before I picked this up as this story reads very much like an adventure story; and that is because it is. I usually find adventure based stories to be a little dull and I did feel that with this one at times. However, Mead does a great job of ending her chapters in places that make you want to continue. So in that respect, I did find it to be suspenseful at times. I also liked its unpredictability as it kept me on the edge of my toes; wanting to see what was going to happen next.

BUT, I still feel like the plot is really simple. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it is just your personal preference. I like a lot of things happening in my stories and the straight-forward plot made it a little boring for me to read. And to be honest, I don’t know what else you could do with the story she wanted to tell to make it a bit more exciting.

So I’m a bit mixed on my feelings for the plot: I think the simple plot works for the story but I can’t help but want the more complex plotlines I’ve come to expect from Mead’s series.

The Characters:

What I like about Fei compared to Mead’s other heroines that I have read is that she doesn’t seem like a carbon copy of them (mainly Rose or Sydney). While she is a rule follower, I didn’t feel like I was reading Sydney reincarnated as a Chinese artist who lives on a mountain. All the characters are their own selves and that made it enjoyable to read but at the same time, they weren’t anything you haven’t encountered before. 

Fei is a tad on the dull side but I liked her spirit. I didn’t hate her but I didn’t love her either.

The Romance:

This is the only place where I find the synopsis is a bit misleading. “Unlikely romance” implies that it comes out of nowhere but when I was only a chapter in, the “unlikely romance” becomes very obvious. So in that respect, I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t what I was expecting. It really is just a small background subplot and nothing really develops from it.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one is really hard to review because I such mixed feelings. I really wanted to be blown away by this novel but it fell a little short in that regard. It’s beautifully written–no question–but I just wanted more from it. More action, more drama and more romance. I think if I read a review prior to this, I would have had the right mindset and have enjoyed it a lot more. Simply put: it’s a straightforward tale with a little Chinese folklore thrown in about a girl who uncovers the simple truth about her village.

Read if You Like: slower books, adventure books, simple plots
Avoid if You: want more action, want more drama

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  • Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (The Lotux War Series #1)
  • Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Allison Goodman (Eon Series #1)

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Series Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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

Passenger Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Passenger (from Goodreads):

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2015
Series: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
# of Books: 2 (Passenger, Wayfarer)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Time-travel, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2016 – 2017
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook | Thank you SO MUCH Disney Hyperion for granting my wish!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing NetGalley one day, they were taking wishes for Passenger and I just had to take a chance. Not only is the cover beautiful, but the premise itself sounded right up my alley. I love time travel books and I’m a sucker for a sailor like Nicholas so needless to say, I was intrigued. I hoped it would be more of A Thousand Pieces of You (although that one deals with alternate dimensions) type of book instead of the dud that was Timeless by Alexandra Monir.

What I Liked:

–The Time Travelling Premise–

Time travelling can be very confusing; especially when there is a chance you can come across past selves and the like. I will admit I was more than a little confused with the time travelling concept of the Ruby Red Trilogy but that wasn’t the case here with Passenger. I thought the world was pretty straight forward and everything was easy to follow. Even the loop-holes and roundabouts were easy to understand and I really liked that. It’s complex without being overly complicated. It made the story flow in a great way and made it addicting to read.

–The Adventure–

Normally, adventure novels bore me but time travel novels seem to be the exception. This one was fast paced and goes to a lot of interesting places and times. I always felt like the plot was moving forward and it never seemed dull to me. There were also some great twists along the way and you have the romance to fill in when necessary. This story simply builds up at a great pace and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Love Connection–

It’s weird that this is my dislike because I actually loved Nicholas and Etta together. They were adorable together and I loved how they treated each other–I’m a sucker for a forbidden romance after all.

BUT, I just didn’t like how it seemed to be so insta-connection on their part. They had hardly spoken and they were already swooning over each other. Which is fine, I get the physical attraction between them. I also get that in times of high stakes, emotions are amplified and so I could see how they could fall so fast for each other (and I did LOVE their romantic scenes together don’t get me wrong). I just wanted to see more of a tangible connection between them at the start.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited for the next part of the journey! I think some interesting twists are at play and I don’t even know where to start next!

updates

–August 18, 2017– Book #2: Wayfarer

**Copy Not Provided for Review**

It took me 3 attempts to finally get the time to read this book–it’s rather daunting in size! I was excited to see what was in store for Etta and company and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

I did find the first half to be a touch slower–there weren’t a lot of new developments happening and it was a lot of basic adventure. Some things felt more organic than others in terms of character development and that strained the story a touch for me. And while it was fun to jump from time to time, I needed just a touch more. However, the last half of this book captured my full attention. It was non-stop action and great character moments! I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a solid conclusion that wraps everything up very nicely.

concSLOW

My Rating: 5/5

Passenger 5/5 | Wayfarer 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a great adventure novel or want to give a time travel novel a shot. I highly recommend this novel! It was fun, heartwarming and simply a fantastic read!

Read if You Like: world-building, time travel
Avoid if You: dislike time travel, dislike forbidden romance

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Single Sundays: Little Peach by Peggy Kern

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 Little Peach (from Goodreads):
What do you do if you’re in trouble?

When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.

This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

breakdown

Author: Peggy Kern
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Dark, Contemporary **Mature Subject Matter**
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this book on someone’s blog (I should really start noting where I find these things!) and the whole topic of child prostitution caught my attention. I’m not a huge YA contemporary fan, but I do enjoy ones that deal with mature, often darker, subject matter (like bullying, teen suicide and similar issues). I’ve never read a book about child prostitution and my knowledge of it is very limited so I looked forward to (as much as one can with a topic like this) learning more about it.

The Concept:

As I was writing this review, I decided to look into some facts about child prostitution or trafficking.

The United Nations defines it as:

the act of engaging or offering the services of a child to perform sexual acts for money or other consideration with that person or any other person

I was shocked to learn that my country, Canada, has a serious child prostitution problem! I suppose it is one of those taboo subjects that just doesn’t get talked about or, even worse, isn’t reported to authorities. You can read about the 5 countries with the highest rates of child prostitution and I highly recommend you read this list of the 10 Most Surprising Facts of Child Trafficking: it is truly eye opening and informative!

The Plot:

The plot itself alternates between the present and the past (Michelle’s journey into prostitution): and boy, is it hard to read! Michelle’s situation is so heartbreaking and shocking that I couldn’t stomach more than a few pages at a time (and this book just clocked in at 100 pages on my Kobo which isn’t very long at all!). It was hard to watch her go through everything she did because it was so realistic! I could easily see this happen to real people and that’s what made this so hard: seeing what happens when people see no other option.

I also found this hard because Michelle is a bit of an unreliable narrator–not that I entirely blame her either given what happens to her. It was especially noticeable in the “present” scenes where I believe it is intentionally left vague as we haven’t met all the characters yet. It presses you to read on but I’ll admit I had a hard time trying to figure out who the “you” was and that I didn’t exactly understand what was happening. It definitely gets clearer as the story progresses and you are brought up to current events.

The Characters:

It isn’t long before you start to develop both empathy and sympathy for her because of how this story is written. You develop sympathy because you see how this 14 year old girl has been abused from early childhood all the way up to the present. And then you develop empathy because of how this book is written; how the scenes are described and the emotions and thoughts Michelle expresses as she narrates her story.

Everyone else is written in an extremely realistic way and they all contribute to this story in their own twisted way. I thought everyone was really well developed despite the short length of this book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

You can tell that Peggy Kern has done a lot of research and interviews to write such a real characters and situations.

Read if You Like: eye-opening books, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: don’t like realistic fiction, don’t enjoy shorter stories

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Single Sundays: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

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 Forbidden (from Goodreads):
She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite 2015
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dark, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 27, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had heard about this book years ago but never picked it up. I was really hesitant to pick is up because of one word: incest. It’s a word that is reserved for taboo erotica novels (though those are mostly pseudo-incest where the people involved aren’t actually related but are “step-etc”) or ancient, royal blood lines who wanted to keep their bloodline “pure”. As a scientist, I’ve discussed the ramifications of breeding with close relatives (ie you don’t get “pure” blood lines as an outcome) but otherwise, it’s not a topic I really want to read or discuss at the end of the day.

However, many of my Goodreads friends/people I follow have given this book 5/5 so call me curious. When it comes to books, I feel like I am a much more open reader now than I was years ago. Since starting my blog my attitude is more of “I’ll try anything once” and so I decided to bite the bullet and put this one on hold at my library.

WOW. Am I ever glad that I did!

The Concept:

If you had asked me before I started this book whether or not I would have fallen in love with Lochan and Maya’s story I would have told you “NO”. Even going in with an open mind like I did, I still had my reservations. But it wasn’t long before those reservations were shattered to pieces.

I mean, positively-blown-out-of-this-galaxy, shattered.

The way Tabitha Suzuma has written this is absolutely heart-wrenching, beautiful and gripping–things I never thought possible given this “taboo” topic.  It’s done in such a classy, objective way that it doesn’t take you long to sympathize and root for Lochan and Maya. It focuses on the love between the two people and not just a physical desire (like I’m sure the freebie taboo erotica novels do). It’s probably the ultimate “forbidden romance” situation and I love how it explores that ideal within the book. It brings such a realistic edge to this story that easily wins its readers over.

The Plot:

I didn’t really expect the focus on Lochan and Maya’s homelife to be so emphasized at the start but I’m really glad it is. It really helps establish who they are as characters and why they find themselves in the situations they are in. It makes me see how this consensual relationship between siblings could happen–whether that is right or wrong is a moral dilemma that may never have an answer–but I suppose it helped me understand these characters in a way that allowed me to continue reading their story. It made me want to get to know them and see how they handle all the problems in their way.

The plot is a great balance between the romance and the coming of age aspect. It’s just beautifully crafted and if I wasn’t reading this at work, I would have shed tears.

The Characters:

I loved the depths to these characters. Lochan and Maya were such interesting characters all things aside and I loved watching them develop as individuals. The rest of their family were also intriguing and do a great job supporting the story and the leads. They are complicated people in a complicated situation and I loved the way it was all portrayed.

The Romance:

The romance was as equally cringe-worthy as it was romantic. Watching the love between these two made it so easy to forget they were blood related–and I often did until I forced myself to remember. I was rooting for them the entire way, hoping for some crazy twist where you find out that they aren’t really related at all and they can live happily ever after together. Because, at the end of the day, if you take away the fact that they are related, their romance is the type I love to see with my romantic leads in a contemporary romance: an emotional connection that pulls people together and is reaffirmed by physical chemistry. They are such a great pair together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book blew me away! I should have known that consistent 5 star reviews from all my Goodreads friends means a great book! But I think if you can’t get past the idea of incest, you won’t enjoy this book at all! You need to read this book with an open mind and explore the fiction of the story. It doesn’t mean you have to change your views on incest and everything associated with it; I just like that it explores a side of a relationship that people might not think about.

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, emotional gripping novels, dark contemporary
Avoid if You: don’t like taboo topics

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Series Review: The Field Party by Abbi Glines

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

The Field Party Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Until Friday Night (from Goodreads):
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Most Read Author 2015
Series: The Field Party
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 4 (Until Friday Night, Under the Lights, After the Dark, Losing the Field)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Losing the Field will be released August 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Abbi Glines is my most read author according to Goodreads–so I think it is apparent that any books she publishes, I’ll probably be reading it even if I’m skeptical.

You see, I don’t tend to enjoy books set in the Southern part of the USA. I find the drama is a little too…dramatic for me. It’s a little over the top and seems to bring out the worst in some characters. Of course, there are exceptions. Beautiful Creatures is one of my all time favourite series and it is a TOTAL Southern novel–but oh so good. Oh, and anything Abbi Glines writes seems to work for me…though maybe not The Vincent Boys.

From reading her various posts, I know that Abbi was really excited to start this series and it is something that is really close to her heart. Needless to say, I was excited to see what Abbi Glines would bring with this series…

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Lately, I’ve been droning on and on about characters lacking an emotional connection when it comes to romance. This one did NOT have that problem!

I really loved watching West and Maggie develop that friendship first. I love romances where the characters support each other and work as partners to move through a difficult time. Sure, everything happens really fast in this novel but that is just part of the circumstances. It didn’t bother me that their relationship was fast-tracked because I could see why it was forming and how well they worked together.

OMG, you do not know how happy I was when Maggie clearly stated that their relationship was starting to become unhealthy! I’m all for the idea that love heals but I’m also a firm believer that it isn’t the only thing that can save a person. So I really appreciated the maturity Maggie showed by looking at their relationship and stating that it was heading into a place she didn’t like. She scored major points with me after that!

–The Plot–

I thought there was a great balance between the romance and the main plot line which is dealing with grief/family tragedy. The romance wasn’t all consuming but always had that underlying tension to keep it developing. It complimented the character progression well I think.

And if you’re worried this book is only going to focus on football, rest assured that it plays a very minor role in this story. It’s more of a connecting factor for West and the rest of the characters.

We also get introduced enough to the other characters who I assume are going to get their own books later. Not a ton to make me wish I was reading their book instead of West’s and Maggie’s but enough to get me excited for their stories once they are released.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maggie’s Character Development–

I really feel like it was lacking for Maggie in this book. Looking back at the synopsis, I can see why the novel focused more on West because he really has the main, ongoing story unfolding. However, Maggie is a full POV character and I wish her situation was addressed more than it was. If the story was only told from West’s POV I would have been satisfied with her growth but I felt like more could have been done with her.

–Rushed Ending–

I know that some things were left dangling for the rest of the series but I felt like West and Maggie’s story could have used an extra 30 pages or so. Some things were wrapped up wayyyy to easily for my liking and others were just left out in the open. This was really the only time I felt like the plot focus was on the wrong aspect the entire time I was reading. I’m sure some of those things are going to be addressed in the next book but I kinda wanted a resolution to their story within their story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I’m curious to learn more about the rest of the characters and get some of my questions answered about those dangling bits.

updates

–March 19, 2017– Book #2: Under the Lights

Ok, I was really scared to read this when I read the synopsis. I detest love triangles in my stories; particularly in my YA because I can’t take all the petty back and forth drama. And I didn’t really enjoy The Vincent Boys which focuses on a girl torn between two BFFs…the same concept here.

But I should know better! Abbi’s writing over the years just gets stronger and stronger.

While the love triangle is an element here, it is never the sole focus. Instead, we get great character development which in turn leads to a strong romance.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than its predecessor for a variety of reasons. One is that all the leads had solid character development and it never felt lopsided or like one character was the focus more than the other. I also liked the dramatic plot a lot. It constantly surprised me with its development and I liked that it kept me on edge trying to figure it all out..

And of course, it sets up beautifully for the next installment.

–September 17, 2017– Book #2: After the Game

This was super cute! Their story was really heartfelt and mature in a way you don’t always see in YA contemporary romances. Watching these two learn to forgive and forget about what people think was fabulous. They’re just so likeable as characters and super sweet that you want to see them succeed.

I do wish the romance was a little more though. I just wanted to see that connection emphasized a little more at the start but they do make a great pair when all is said and done. I was thoroughly addicted to this story!

It was like the perfect hybrid between the first and second novel but with a new set of unique leads.

My Rating: 4/5

Until Friday Night 4/5 | Under the Lights 4/5 | After the Game 4/5

overall

It isn’t my favourite Abbi Glines series, but it was exactly what I was expecting. I cried and swooned so mission accomplished. This is perfect for those who want to try an Abbi Glines’ novel but don’t like New Adult.

Read if You Like: high school drama, stories about grief, books set in the South
Avoid if You:  don’t like football players, high school drama

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Single Sundays: Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook

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 Every Last Promise (from Goodreads):
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

breakdown

Author: Kristin Halbrook
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found this book: I think it was a combination of blogs and browsing my libraries newest additions.

I wanted to read this book because it focuses on a sexual assault–I wholeheartedly support any book that gets the conversation started about sexual assault and reporting it. The statistics about sexual assault are devastating to read and break my heart (you can read some here). I was looking forward to reading a book that tackles the notion of what happens when a sexual assault happens in a small community and how young people deal with it.

The Plot:

The chapters alternate between the past and the present. I found that this delivery keeps your attention and contributes to the suspense of finding out what actually happened to these characters. Learning about the past helps establish the characters and the setting, thus helping you decipher the actions of the characters in the present.

Because when the plot isn’t focusing on what has happened, it’s focusing on Kayla struggling to come to terms with what she knows…and what she doesn’t know. And knowing the community she was a part of helps understand why she is reacting the way she is.

The scary thing is, I can totally see this situation happening in real life. It feels very real and that can make it hard to read at times. As you read, you want these characters to do the right thing but because it is so realistic and because you read the statistics of sexual assault, you know that they may not do the right thing, making it frustrating at times to watch things unfold in the way that they do.

The Characters:

This is why I have labelled this book as mixed feelings: I didn’t like any of the characters (well, maybe Noah). And it isn’t because of how they react to the situation at hand. Kayla and her friends are the type of girls I would never be friends with in high school so it was just a clash of personalities with me. I just didn’t like her. However, I did understand her. As I said before, the altering between the past and the present really helps establish her character.

I do feel like these characters are a little cliché. They are your typical popular girls in YA contemporary but as someone who comes from a small town, I do see the realism. They straddle that line between realistic and extreme but I think it works well for this story overall.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance to this story and I like that what is there doesn’t take away from the main story at hand.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I think this book does a great job at tackling a subject that we like to shy away from. This is a great story about talking and reporting sexual assaults. While the characters aren’t my personal favourites, they worked well for this story overall.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, books talking about sexual assault
Avoid if You: N/A (I think everyone should read this)

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Series Review: Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

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

Inherit the Stars Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Inherit the Stars (from Goodreads):
Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

breakdown

Series: Inherit the Stars
Author: Tessa Elwood
# of Books: 2 (Inherit the Stars, Split the Sun)

There is a short story prequel, Inherit the Stars: Reprive

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 18, 2015 – December 6, 2016
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book in the Young Adult Gallery on Netgalley and planned to request it closer to the date but when I later saw that it was available as a Read Now, I immediately grabbed it.

I’ve been searching for a great YA SciFi since I read Across the Universe and I hoped that this one would fit the bill nicely. I mean, it has everything I love: space, romance and politics, so the odds were in its favour…

What I Liked:

-The Politics-

I loved the high-stakes, blood thirsty political world this novel is set in. It was fast-paced and was a major part of the plot. It wasn’t some little side plot but a core element of the story and I loved that. It’s hard to say more without giving things away.

-The Romance-

This was a slow burn romance and if you are worried that it is going to overshadow the story, rest assured that isn’t the case. It builds quite nicely and it wasn’t long before I rooted for them.

-Asa’s Fighting Spirit-

Asa was a character that had great growth I thought. Sure, she suffers a little bit from lead-heroine-sacrifice-syndrome but at the same time, I really don’t blame her for feeling that way. And I liked that she was always thinking about how to solve this problem or that. It really made you want to root for her.

What I Didn’t Like:

-The World Development-

I love books that have fast plots and I liked that this one thrusts us into the action from the first page. However, I felt like I was left hanging for the rest of the story. I was so lost in terms of the world. What is the Blight specifically? Why do people have to go through decontamination? I mean, I get the concepts (they easily parallel our real world)  but I just wish they were explained fully. I felt like it was assumed I knew the world and all it’s elements–like it was explained a chapter earlier but we didn’t have it–and I definitely learned as I went, but I spent the first third trying to grasp the world while keeping track of the actual plot.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the world, because I did, I just wish it was explained in a different way than it is.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really looking forward to what is going to happen next! I love the political side of the plot and I can’t wait to see how these characters grow!

updates

–December 11, 2016– Book #2: Split the Sun

DNF’d at 33% (pg 95/290)

This book wasn’t really what I was anticipating for the sequel. I was expecting a continuation of Asa and Eagle’s story truthfully, not the introduction of a new character that I would have to reorient myself with.

Kit provides an interesting side to the overall plot of this series. She’s a regular person with regular problems who is stuck dealing with the consequences of the previous leads’ actions. It’s something as a critic I can appreciate. Inherit the Stars focused on the politics and higher society aspect while Split the Sun changes the focus to the people who are directly impacted by their choices. But the reader in me just wanted more.

For that first 33% of the book, nothing was really happening. It was mostly Kit moaning about her problems (and she has a lot) and going through the motions which isn’t interesting to me. I needed some action or even a hint of where the plot was going to keep my interest. I think the plot had just started to show its potential direction just before I stopped but I wasn’t as invested in Kit’s story as much as I wanted to be (even if I sympathized with her situation).

So while I appreciate the direction this series wanted to go by changing the lead characters, I didn’t like the execution of it at all. I would have much preferred a direct sequel of Asa and Eagle’s storyline.

My Rating: DNF

Inherit the Stars 3.5/5  |  Split the Sun DNF

overall

While the world building leaves something to be desired, the plot speaks for itself. If you like stories that are politically driven and heroines who will do anything to save their world, this is a great one to pick up!

Read if You Like: YA science fiction, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, want more romance

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