Tag «Young Adult»

Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Synopsis for Realm of Knights (from Goodreads):

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Knights of the Realm
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released in December 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (7hrs & 58mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover drew me in, it was the synopsis that sold me. I loved the idea of exploring a character like Reid who has played the role of the opposite gender for all her life. Immediately, I thought about Disney’s Mulan and how she dresses as a man to save her family; challenging gender stereotypes along the way. And I loved the concept of this secret order of knights.

What I Liked:

–Reid’s Identity Struggle–

Reid’s struggle between living as a man versus a woman was an interesting dynamic to watch a character go through. The privileges of a man coupled with the expectations of women in the society here was an interesting lens to see everything through. And that is only heighten by the fact that Reid shifts between her two identities throughout the novel. It provides some fantastic character moments and a deeper layer to this novel.

–The Lack of Romance–

I’m a hopeless romantic and so I crave copious amounts of romance in my novels but I loved the lack of one here. Sure, there are some flirtations and attractions between characters but we completely avoided some cliches along the way and that was uber refreshing.

–Continuously Built–

Everything just builds up in this novel. We learn all these bits and pieces at a time and by then end, we see how everything comes together for the sequels. It really made the book flow nicely from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Needed a Little “Umph”–

I wanted a little more from the plot but I’m not sure what. Perhaps more physical action? There are a lot of subtle twists along the way and I never found myself being bored so I’m not sure what was lacking for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

Highly recommend the audiobook! This was such an easy listen that time literally flew by. The accents were great and everyone had their own voice. Sometimes I struggle with third person narration but this was incredibly easy to follow.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m dying for the sequel! I just need to know what happens right now!

My Rating: 4/5

Realm of Knights 3.5/5 | Shadow Knights TBP| Hidden Knights TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mulan, knights, realm politics
Avoid if You: want a romance

similarreads

  • Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist Series #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)


Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three kids, one weimaraner, and a tortoise. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and lives in the San Diego area.
Jennifer is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel (2013), winner of the Kindle Book Awards (2018), a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards (2014), and a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2014).
Publishers Marketplace listed Jennifer as one of the best-selling indie authors in June 2017. She has also been ranked among the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pintrest

Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 35 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.

Narrator Links: Website

Realm of Knights Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

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Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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 To Kill a Kingdom (from Goodreads):

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

breakdown

Author: Alexandra Christo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Pirates, Mermaids, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book everywhere prior to its release but it was a review I read by Alyssa @ The Eater of Books that convinced me to give this book a try. I love pirate/mermaid/siren stories; especially ones with promises of forbidden love so I was eager to read this and so I quickly added it as a 2018 pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge.

The Concept / The World:

I really loved the hierarchy of the sea world. It was nice to have the distinction between sirens, merman and mermaids. And the pirate crew is everything you want them to be.

I suppose you could say that this is a loose adaption of The Little Mermaid since there are a lot of parallels. But it really isn’t the light-hearted tale you expect if you only know the Disney version. I think this story manages to carve out its own distinct voice.

The Plot:

I found the plot to be terribly slow. Truthfully, I would have DNF’d it but I was enraptured by Elian’s crew and the promise of a good pirate heist. And the book does pick up in the last third, but I was also a little over it by then. It takes a long time to get things in motion and I felt like, at times, there was more describing and travelling than doing (if that makes any sense).

The Characters:

Lira’s character development is great. I think part of the reason for that is that we spend so much time watching her in her own kingdom fighting with her mother’s rule over her. She definitely isn’t the same character at the end of the story.

Elian is the charming pirate through and through. But I didn’t find anything new to his character that I haven’t seen before. Truthfully, I enjoyed the scenes with his crew a lot more than his scenes with Lira. There was just better chemistry there.

The Romance:

The romance was probably the most disappointing aspect for me. Perhaps I read too much into it in the synopsis but it just fell flat to me. A forbidden romance between enemies (even if one person doesn’t know that’s what it is) should be charged and brimming with tension. Not so much here. I didn’t get many romantic vibes from them at all. It’s a shame because they did have some moments of good banter between them but it just didn’t get built upon enough.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I think those who enjoy adventure novels with a larger focus on character redemption stories will enjoy this. But if you’re looking for an action packed pirate romance (a la Daughter of the Pirate King), you might want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: loose adaptions of fairy tales, adventure, pirates
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike darker stories

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Series Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Prudie

Series Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Prudie

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 Burning Glass (from Goodreads):

Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

breakdown

Series: Burning Glass
Author: Kathryn Purdie
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2016 – November 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I finished Book #1, Burning Glass, but will not be picking up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love fantasy and dystopian novels for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest draws for me is the politics of the world. I love political intrigue and conspiracy theories and rebellions so this series seemed promising. Throw in a super cool lead heroine power and I was eager to delve into this world.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I absolutely adore the concept of this novel. Sonya’s ability to read people’s emotions is such a cool idea and I love that Auraseers play such an important role for the Emperor. And for the most part, I thought this aspect was really well developed (as was the world-building).

–The Audiobook Narrator–

I was super impressed with Fiona Hardingham’s reading of this book! She did a really good job of bring such a flat character (more on that below) to life.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Sonya is “Blah” As a Heroine–

I get that part of Sonya’s problem is that she hasn’t had the time to hone her powers because she arrives at the academy later in life. So I can forgive the ever evolving range of emotions she undergoes throughout the story.

What I can’t get over is her logic. She kinda flops like a fish on issues from one chapter to the next and I just didn’t understand. I vividly remember her approaching one character (“A”) about betraying another (“B”) and then two chapters later, she gets upset when “A” tries to ask her to do the same thing. Um, what?! Girl is simply dumb.

–The Romance–

Sure, there’s a love triangle of sorts but I could look past that. My biggest peeve with the romance is the lack of development. I didn’t get the attraction for any suitors in either direction. Why did they like Sonya besides her outward appearance? And vice versa. Yes, she’s susceptible to other’s emotions but I didn’t know where those feelings were coming from and that was where I struggled.

Will I Finish It?

Actually, I kinda like the way Burning Glass ended. It wrapped up things enough for me to feel good about leaving it there. So I won’t be picking up the sequels.

My Rating: DNF

Burning Glass 2/5 | Crystal Blade N/A | Frozen Reign N/A

overall

To me, there was nothing unique separating this series from other’s out there besides Sonya’s powers. But you can swap out that power for anything in the YA fantasy world and you’d likely share a similar experience.

Read if You Like: fantasy, unique character powers
Avoid if You: want something mind blowing

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Series Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Series Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

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 Something Strange and Deadly (from Goodreads):

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

breakdown

Series: Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy
Author: Susan Dennard
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 A Dawn Most Wicked

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Zombies, Romance, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – July 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook, Audiobook (Darkness)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Book #2) at 18%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series initially crossed me radar. I think the covers drew me in as did the titles. I had it marked to read for a very long time which is why I selected it for my 2017 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as an entry for 2012.

I really enjoy historical paranormal reads in the YA genre so I was hoping this series would be another to add to my list of favourites. I had read Dennard’s Truthwitch prior to picking up Something Strange and Deadly so I knew to expect a great world but perhaps one that didn’t have the best worldbuilding (ie easy to understand). But I do enjoy the flow her writing has so I was optimistic I would enjoy this one.

The Concept / The World:

For me, the world building was lacking in some ways. (Not surprising given my previous Dennard experience). I would have liked more background on why the dead are suddenly rising. Now, I’ll admit, I probably wasn’t in the best head-space when I picked up Book 1 so maybe it is explained well and I just missed it. I’ve had that happen before… -.-

However, in terms of understanding how to fight the dead and the various roles of the Spirit-Hunters, that’s explained well enough. I found the concepts that relate directly to the plot and character actions were well established and easy to follow.

Is it Steampunk?

I wouldn’t say so. It has steampunk elements but it’s more of a paranormal read. Scientific technologies do play a role but they don’t have enough of one to make me classify this as steampunk. I actually didn’t think people did until I saw the tags on Goodreads and saw people calling this steampunk. Hence my need to bring it up.

Where This Series Excels:

I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of A Darkness Strange and Deadly. Trying to figure out how everything was connected (if it even was) kept me intrigued and pushing forward. You get that suspense in the sequel as well after everything plays out and that aspect is intriguing.

Where This Series Declines:

I liked Eleanor enough but there was something that stopped me from loving her outright. She wasn’t overly impressive to me despite her good heart and her “I can do it” attitude.

I also despised the romance. It felt very forced to me in A Darkness Strange and Deadly. I seemed like it developed out of nothing and that stopped me from getting fully on board. I actually thought she had better chemistry with another character than the one she’s supposed to…never a good thing!

Why I Stopped Reading #2, A Darkness Strange and Lovely:

I think I’ve just been too far removed from this series (it’s been about a year since I read the first one) and I just can’t motivate myself to care about this story. I don’t really remember things and even the rehash doesn’t bring me to care.

Series Rating: DNF

A Darkness Strange and Deadly  3.5/5| A Darkness Strange and Lovely DNF | Strange Ever After N/A

overall

If I read this the year it came out, I probably would have adored it. It has the right materials but they just didn’t get used well enough to impress me.

Read if You Like: zombies, historical YA
Avoid if You: want a purely steampunk novel

similarreads

  • The Gathering Storm by Robin Brydes (Katerina Trilogy #1)
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Fresh Fridays: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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:

Debutantes Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Little White Lies (from Goodreads):

“I’m not saying this is Sawyer’s fault,” the prim and proper one said delicately. “But.”

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

breakdown

Series: Debutantes
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Deadly Little Scandals, will be released November 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had a hit (Every Other Day) and a miss (Raised by Wolves) experience with Jennifer Lynn Barnes. But the premise of Little White Lies captured my attention when I read Jen @ Jen Ryland‘s ARC review of the novel. So when I needed a new audiobook to read, this one immediately popped out and I instantly downloaded it.

What I Liked:

–The Drama–

There are a lot of layers to this story so I never had a dull moment while I was reading. Between the antics of the other debutantes and the mystery of Sawyer’s father, it was a fun, thrilling read.

–The Lack of a Romance–

While I am a romance addict, it was great to not have a story focused on a boy. Instead, the focus shifted to female friendships and family dynamics–something that often gets left behind when the romance gets the spotlight.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Certain Things Were Predictable–

It was easy for me to figure out certain aspects of the story BUT I have to say that there were some unexpected twists that took things to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

From the accents to the snark: I’d highly recommend the audiobook!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We’ve only scratched the surface so I can’t wait to see what happens next.

My Rating: 4/5

Little White Lies 4/5 | Deadly Little Scandals TBP

overall

This was just a fun, addicting read that kept me guessing and hooked from start to finish.

Read if You Like: Pretty Little Liars
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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 The Game of Love and Death (from Goodreads):

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

breakdown

Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (via Hoopla)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobook selections at my local library, the cover of this title immediately drew my attention in. I had never heard of the book before, but I liked the premise a lot when I read it. So, I added it to my TBR and actually added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2019 as a pick for the year 2015.

The Concept / The World:

I love the idea of fate or some greater beings controlling our everyday lives. It’s a cool premise to explore in a story and one that is done flawlessly here. Death and Love are compelling characters and their motives reflect that.

I love historical fiction set in this era; it’s so culturally rich and the issues people face are so basic and genuine. It adds this layer to the story that would be lost if it didn’t take place in this time-frame.

The Plot:

I think what I liked best about this story is that despite the larger premise (a game controlled by Love and Death), it’s a human story without all the over the top theatrics. It’s achingly real and heartfelt. The essence is a timeless story, though it is enhanced by the setting.

I’ll admit that the resolution of the game was a little lost on me. Well, one aspect was at least. The flashbacks (not that there are too many) also had me a little lost because I was listening to the audio and am not the best at remembering dates when they are said aloud.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed all the characters stories–Love, Death, Flora, Henry, Ethan–just intriguing characters and stories. They truly are the heart and soul of this story. I loved getting all the different POVs and I was never overwhelmed by them either.

The Romance:

You aren’t getting copious scenes of stolen moments or kisses but it’s a romance at its core. It’s like a slow burn romance with an edge of suspense with the “will they or won’t they” vibes the story entices.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production is beautiful. The choice to actually sing the songs just brings everything to life and perfectly captures the emotion of the songs.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

It’s not your everyday story or romance but there is something compelling about this story. I highly recommend the audiobook version!

Read if You Like: thought provoking novels, classic romances
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction, want a contemporary romance

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Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

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 Tiny Pretty Things (from Goodreads):

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Audiobook Read 2018, Cover Love
Series: Tiny Pretty Things
Author: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2016 – July 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover captured my attention when it was first released, it was actually a review by Cristina @ Girl in the Pages that convinced me to read this. Like many items on my TBR, I didn’t get to it until two years later but that worked out in my favour because I could binge the entire series as an audio one 😉

The Concept / The World:

When I think about ballet, my mind immediately goes to the movie The Black Swan and to Fame (more so the movie than the show). Fame highlights some of the stresses performing artists highlight but keeps its tone pretty light and basic. The Black Swan shows the grittier side of ballet but more so the psychological side? I’m not sure since I only watched the movie shortly after its theatre release…

Thanks to Cristina’s review, I knew that this series is much darker and not as petty as the YA label would have you fear. Yes, some of their issues are petty (they are in high school after all) but some of the pranks and thought processes aren’t. These girls and guys take it to that darker, intense level I wanted. The sabotage and intrigue in this series had me hooked from the start! It was so addicting!

The Plot:

I really loved the delivery of this series. Part of it is character driven–I’ll explain more about the cast below–as we watch these ballerinas carve their way in the company. But there is also this aura of mystery as well because there are many acts of sabotage. Sometimes we know the culprit; sometimes we don’t find out for a long time. But I’ll just say I had many theories about what was happening and I was proven wrong quite a few times. I loved that suspense and the drive to find out exactly who and what was happening.

The Characters:

This cast of characters is quite diverse and not just because of race or ethnicity (though there is that). Each of our three leads also has their personal struggles–and some that we don’t often see in books. At a glance, I wondered if these characters had too much going on; if they were perhaps too layered given the drama of this novel. You know, the idea that less is sometimes more. But I think all their “issues” really highlighted the setting and tone of the novel. What happens when characters are pushed to their breaking points? What happens to characters who’ve been kept inside this one bubble their whole lives and the real world comes crashing in? It was fascinating to watch.

The Romance:

There is a little dash of romance thrown in but I’d classify it as a small factor that contributes to the overall story. You aren’t getting chapters dedicated to romance unless it relates back to the characters.

Series Rating: 5/5

Tiny Pretty Things 5/5 | Shiny Broken Pieces 5/5

overall

This series had me hooked from start to end! I loved the diverse cast; I loved the intrigue and I loved the setting! It was every dark, addicting thing I wanted it to be.

Read if You Like: ballet, diverse casts, suspense
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV, dislike darker YA
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Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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 The Forbidden Wish (from Goodreads):

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

breakdown

Author: Jessica Khoury

There is a prequel novella on Wattpad: #0.5 The Jinni

Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My all time favourite Disney movie is Aladdin. The music is great, the animation is superb, the Genie is one of a kind, Jasmine is kickass and Aladdin is a street rat who grows up along the way. So I was very excited for a retellling where things were a little different than that.

The Concept / The World:

So before I start any retelling of a story that has been done by Disney I try my best to clear all my preconceived notions. It’s easy to forget that the Disney version isn’t always the “true” version because it usually the most well known. Disney has taken some artistic licence to great a story to appeal to its audience and that’s what authors do too.

I liked this world we get here a lot. It’s rich in politics and turmoil. You’ve got some villains and magic so that gives a bit of a darker edge to the story. Jessica Khoury’s writing prose is lush and has a great flow (honestly, if you like Renee Ahdied’s writing you’ll love hers!) so it’s a pleasure to read (or in my case, listen to).

I really enjoyed the rich history of the Jinni and the everyday people. And Zahra’s backstory was also great.

The Plot:

I’ll admit I probably wasn’t in the best headspace when I started this book so I might have just missed some key sentences while listening to the audiobook. BUT, some of the logic for the dramatic events escaped me so I had a hard time fully understanding what was happening and why.

I will say that all of the events that I thought would be “big deals” didn’t have as large of an impact as I expected but perhaps my focus was on the wrong devices.

The Characters:

While I enjoyed Zahra’s lush history as a Jinni, I found her to be kinda bland as a character. I know why–she’s been trapped in her lamp for centuries, lamenting over past mistakes–but I still wanted a larger than life character.

Aladdin was about as thrilling as a wet blanket and had the personality of one too. I found him to be super underdeveloped and shallow. Not the charming clever street rat I wanted him to be.

Caspida really stole the show for me. I could have easily read a whole book about her, she was fascinating!

The Romance:

People (other readers) rave about this but I was seriously underwhelmed. Besides a physical attraction and being within a certain radius of each other (seriously, while Aladdin had her lamp, Zahra couldn’t be a specific distance away from him) I didn’t get the love between these two at all! Not even the forbidden nature of a jinni and a human could get me interested.

When to Read The Novella?

I didn’t read the novella but it is noted that there are some minor spoilers in it if you do decide to read it first. So perhaps, read it second.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Leave your ideas at the door and go in with a fresh mind.

Read if You Like: retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance
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DNF Series Review: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R King

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Hundredth Queen (from Goodreads):

He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Cover Love
Series: The Hundredth Queen
Author: Emily R King
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 1, 2017 – August 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Hundredth Queen (#1) at 20% (start of Chapter 8). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

On the surface, this series checked a lot of my boxes. Canadian Author. Fantasy. Kick-butt Girls. That’s why it was one of my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 Selections for the year 2017. I couldn’t wait to dive into a new fantasy world that seemed like it would have a lot of layers and surprises!

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

While it is only briefly explained, I did love the idea of this book and the women competing to be the rajah’s bride. It’s a unique concept to be sure.

What I Didn’t Like:

–World Building Was Lacking–

As I said above, I thought the world building left something to be desired. Things are only briefly explained and then it’s assumed you remember or know. I could have used a little more or at least not all in one big info-dump session.

–Insta-Love–

I swear, Deven is the first guy she sees and she falls immediately into love with him. I wasn’t ‘shipping this relationship at all. I didn’t think they had very good chemistry (their banter was “meh”)  together so I found myself bored by the forbidden romance. I think it would have been stronger if it had happened a little later in the novel.

–Stiff Narration–

I thought Kalinda talked almost robotically when delivering her narration. It was choppy at times and I know that sometimes that is the style used to convey the dire circumstances but it just didn’t flow nicely for me.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I just couldn’t get myself into this story at all. It helps too that my library doesn’t have the sequels so I don’t feel obligated to keep reading.

My Rating: DNF

The Hundredth Queen DNF | The Fire Queen N/A | The Rogue Queen N/A | The Warrior Queen N/A

overall

I think those looking for a shorter fantasy novel that isn’t overly heavy on the world building will enjoy this.

Read if You Like: fantasy, action
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love

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Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stalking Jack the Ripper (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

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Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
# of Books: 4 (Full List Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be released September 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2016 – September 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw Stalking Jack the Ripper a few months before its release while visiting Stephanie @ In Wonderland’s Make Me Read It Readathon voting page. I loved the cover and so I checked out the synopsis and immediately added it to my TBR.

I love murder mystery crime shows though it’s a genre I don’t often explore in my books. I also have this somewhat inexplicable, never-ending interest in the Jack the Ripper case; so I was curious to see how it would be woven into a fictional story. But the biggest expectation I had was Audrey herself. As a scientist myself, I couldn’t wait to read about a heroine who seems to shatter every expectation society has for her by pursuing her scientific passions.

The Concept:

All these novels feature famous crime and/or folklore stories in one way or another. And it’s very obvious when you read them that Kerri Maniscalco has done her research. Everything is rich and seamlessly woven together; it makes it a pure joy to explore as a reader.

In particular, the use of scientific and forensic methods really impressed me. It’s very accurate to the time-frame and it makes you appreciate how far we have come in terms of scientific advancements when it comes to solving crimes. It reminded me a lot of the use of forensic sciences in Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Plot:

It’s hard to write a good mystery story but these ones are super well done. You get enough clues (and red herrings) along the way to keep you interested and engaged in the story. But there is also a good percentage of time dedicated to character development–which is always really important in a series that follows the same characters.

I will say though that I thought the mystery for Stalking Jack the Ripper was very obvious so that impacted my reading experience. However, the mystery of Hunting Prince Dracula was much stronger and had a solution I hadn’t guessed at right away. And the same could be said for Escaping From Houdini.

The Characters:

I really loved Audrey and Thomas in all the books. Audrey is a strong lead heroine. Not only is she very intelligent but she also has this passionate drive that keeps her pushing through even when times get tough. But she also has her flaws and I loved how she took those one and constantly challenged herself to be better.

Thomas–oh boy do I love Thomas! He is everything I love in a charming jerk of a genius. He’s got that Sherlock Holmes’ “I’m better than everyone” attitude that is so hard to resist.

But together, these two are unstoppable. They have this great banter–like every good partnership should have–and they really bring each other to the next level. All their scenes together truly amplifies this series.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge aspect of the story but you get just enough to keep you wanting more but not overly disappointed that you aren’t getting more because the plotline is so engaging. But I mean, I wouldn’t have been disappointed to get a few more scenes 😛

My Audiobook Experience:

I really went back and forth on whether of not to read the audiobook or the eBook but I’m really glad I opted for the audiobook in the end. I loved the posh accents–it really reminded me that we were in London or wherever else the adventure takes us. But, like I say with all audiobooks, I get a much better read on the emotions of it all and I love that. It truly brought the characters to life in a way that I might have missed out on if I read a printed version.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next adventure and to see how this series will wrap up!

updates

–October 14, 2019– Book #4: Capturing the Devil

Without a doubt: this was the best way to wrap up this series! I loved how the focus was on Audrey’s relationship for most of the book (though that is also why it’s a 4.5/5 because we almost spent too much time on that–though I hate to complain about that because I love those two together so much). Regardless, I love how this tied all the previous novels together and wrapped up every lose end you could imagine while being engaging.

Series Rating: 4/5

Stalking Jack the Ripper 3.5/5 | Hunting Prince Dracula 4/5 | Escaping from Houdini 4.5/5 | Capturing the Devil 5/5

overall

With a rich setting and utterly charming characters, this murder mystery series will hook you in!

Read if You Like: historical, mysteries, partnerships
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike murder mysteries

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