Year archives: 2019

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

Book Tour Organised by:

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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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Spin-Off Saturdays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Sinful Truths Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book3 book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Sinful Truths

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Ongoing
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

Without a doubt, Truth or Lies is my favourite Ella Miles series. So I was ECSTATIC that she was planning two spin-off series focusing on characters that I would love to spend more time with. Sinful Truths is the first series to come about and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Compared to its predecessor, I thought this book started a little slower. There were quite a few unanswered questions at the beginning that had me a little hung-up but as things fall into place, the picture becomes clearer and it captivates your attention. The stakes are just as high here and that adds some depth to the plot that I love in Ella Miles’ novels.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Some of those unanswered questions bothered me because it made things seem a little sloppy in terms of the plot. But I should always know that Ella has something mind-blowing in store…

It also took me a lot longer to warm up to the romance. These two have great physical chemistry and they have this whole forbidden love attraction happening, but I didn’t find it as alluring as the original series. I’m hoping the depth I’m looking for comes out in the future novels as we get to uncover more about these characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea where this series is going or how it will relate further to the original series. But this is a trip I cannot wait to take!

updates

–February 19, 2020– Book #3: Reckless Fall

This installment was a little on the slower side for me. Our leads are at a defining moment and that means we get quite a bit of self reflection. I wanted a little more drama and excitement.

With the original series, Truth or Lies, our leads have the on-going competition lingering in the background. I find this series so far lacks that overarching subplot. Yes, there are inklings that something larger is afoot but I find each novel is a more episodic, ending on a cliffhanger to keep you invested for the next installment. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, I just miss that white-knuckle tension Ella Miles can add to her novels.

–February 27, 2020– Book #4: Tangled Promise

I think this was a pretty crucial book in the series. Our leads have to start making big decisions for themselves and each other and I like how that test their relationship. I haven’t been entirely sold on their bond but this book helped me to see why they are such a great pair together.

My other complaint with the series so far is that there hadn’t seemed to be an overarching plotline but I think that it is starting to take shape here. I’m really excited for the trajectory of the last two books!

–April 9, 2020– Book #5: Fallen Love

Compared to others in the series so far, this was all about the relationships and testing loyalty. And that puts are characters in quite the bind. Overall though, I thought it was dry until the massive twist at the end!

–April 18, 2020– Book #6: Broken Anchor

This was super action packed. Never a dull moment in terms of the plot. It was perhaps a touch over the top but this whole series has been so I expect nothing less. Lots of twists and turns so I liked that I didn’t know how it would end.

Overall: I’m still not the biggest fan of Zeke and Siren’s romance but I can appreciate their loyalty to each other and how far they are willing to go to save the other. Plus, it was great to see returning characters from the original series and have the build up for the next spin-off!

My Rating: 3/5

Sinful Truths 4/5 | Twisted Vow 3/5 | Reckless Fall 3/5 | Tangled Promise 4/5 | Fallen Love 3/5 | Broken Anchor 3.5/5

overall

A promising start to a great spin-off series that will captivate new fans as well as satisfy the returning.

Read if You Like: dark romances,
Avoid if You: dislike mentions of sex crimes and the like

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sinful Truths (from Goodreads):

She saved me.
Pulled me from the depths of the ocean.
Siren—her name fits. She is beauty; her voice heavenly.
But unlike the mythical version, Siren didn’t lure me to my death.
She saved me.
And now, seeing her about to be sold to the highest bidder, I know it’s my turn to save her.

——

I was raised to always tell the truth, no matter what.
And it’s served me well.
Until today.
Today, I wish I could lie.
Because my truth put me here—about to be sold.
A lie could set me free.
But I always tell the truth, even when I lie.

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Movie Mondays: The Darkest Minds

Movie Mondays: The Darkest Minds

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

Book Cover | Movie Poster
  Movie Mondays: The Darkest Minds

Book: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (2012) | Movie: The Darkest Minds (2018)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Series: The Darkest Minds Trilogy
Author: Alexandra Bracken
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)

There are 3 novellas. See their reading order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2012 – July 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

I was very excited to read The Darkest Minds because its one of those series that bloggers rave about and it seemed like my kind of story based on the synopsis. I love dystopian fiction and the premise for this story seemed like something I would no doubt enjoy.

However, it took me a very long time to get into this story. My attention would wane thanks to the somewhat overly descriptive writing and the extended exposition. The romance didn’t wow me but it didn’t annoy me either. And Ruby as a lead didn’t overly impress me though I appreciated her character evolution throughout the novel. I was drawn more to some of the side characters.

The last 100 pages or so is when things got exciting and I finished The Darkest Minds on a high note, eagerly anticipating the sequel.

overall

While it wasn’t as exciting as other first novels in some other YA dystopian novels, it laid down an intriguing foundation that I hoped would be carried out throughout the rest of the series.

Rating: 3.5/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

similarreads


Were My Expectations Met?

The Darkest Minds was one of those novels where I thought “this would be a great movie” as I read it. I found the novel to be a little dragged out and I figured the condensing that comes with a movie would create a more exciting plotline.

And that happens in a so-so kind of way. We moved from A to B quickly but along the way, I think we lost some of the charm the novel had. The romance felt rushed and superficial. And I think the side characters weren’t as strong as they were in the book.

How Close is it to the Book?

I had to look up a detailed synopsis to see if the events happened like they did since it has been so long since I read the novels. From what I can see, it’s pretty spot on…though feel free to correct me!

Did I Like the Cast?

I think Amandla Stenberg has been in every major YA adaption in the last few years…and that isn’t a bad thing. She’s a great actress! She didn’t wow me here though but I can’ tell if that is a result of a bad script or the fact that Ruby didn’t impress me in the novels either.

I think the rest of the cast looked like what I pictured. Nobody really impressed me though–perhaps that is the script’s fault?

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Given the box office numbers, I doubt we will get a sequel. That’s a little disappointing because I think there is more visually captivating stuff to come in the sequels. But given the fact that I was bored throughout most of the movie, it probably isn’t a bad thing.

thewinneris winbook

I really thought the movie would pull out the win before I watched it but here I am corrected! I think the movie suffered from a stiff, condensed script and that didn’t bring out the best in the characters.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!


Synopsis for The Darkest Minds (from Goodreads):
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

Trailer:

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Monthly Inventory: October 2019

October 2019

For me, October was all about catching-up on books I’ve put off for too long. The first half of the month was dedicated to finishing up my last remaining ARCs; while the latter half was about finishing some sequels I had started in September (or had taken out from the library forever ago). Overall, It felt like a really productive month for me and it’s been a long time since I felt that way about my reading.

Clearly, I’m still really behind on my Goodreads Challenge for the year. I looked at my Monthly Inventory for October 2018 and in it, I had mentioned that I just completed my Goodreads Challenge for 2018. Right now, I’m about 23 books behind schedule (or ~60 books missing). I really don’t have high hopes that I will complete my goal this year, but I always knew that would be a possibility when I set it. (Hence the target; it was giving me something to aim for). Obviously, I’m going to try and pack in as many novels as I can by the year’s end, but with a larger focus on sequels and my Reading Challenge titles.

On a positive note, I officially crossed the 2000 total books read mark on Goodreads this past month!

thoughts

Total for October 2019: 16 Books Read + 4 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 3

Last October: 11 Books Read + 4 Novellas Read + 4 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)


I think I renewed this book about 3 times from the library before I finally found the time to read it. And I’m so glad I got around to it! This series is just getting better and better and I was totally captivated by this mystery.

Biggest Let Down (DNF)


Some mixed reviews had me going in cautiously but I was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt. But the first sign of trouble should have been when my Kindle informed me that it would take 18 hours to read an ~250 page book (something that should take me 4-5 hours). After I did some research and learned about why this author isn’t able to sell books on Amazon anymore, it was pretty easy to come to the decision to DNF this uber boring novel.

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

thoughts

You can always get the full details on all my challenges on my dedicated page but here is a quick update:

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 4 books added | 20 of 25 Titles Read – On track!
Goodreads Challenge: 20 books added | 144/200 Books – 23 Books Behind
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 4 books added | 26/24 Books – Challenge completed!

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I used to do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time and had great success last year doing this on a monthly basis. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. My 10 titles consist of 7 “new to me” titles and 3 “previously started series” titles.

This month:

A Long Goodbye (Southern Comfort, #1)
Pass

You Loved Me At My Darkest (You Loved Me, #1)
Pass

The Line Between (The Line Between, #1)
Pass

Fighting Hard (Fighting For Love, #1)
Pass

His  (Dark Romance, #1)
Keep

Never Never (Never Never, #1)
Keep

Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy, #1)
Keep

Renegade Red (The Light, #2)
Keep

The Fates Divide (Carve the Mark, #2)
Keep

Beyond What is Given (Flight & Glory, #3)
Keep

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

Grand Total YTD: Pass: 22 | Keep: 48

Did I give up on any too soon? Let me know in the comments below!

Because I dedicate December to my last minute Reading Challenge reads, November will be my final “sequel” month of the year. I’m really looking forward to improving upon my previous progress and finishing up some long overdue series. I haven’t decided what series those will be–it’s up to the library availability and my mood–but I’m looking forward to returning to some great worlds!

What were your biggest reading or personal accomplishments of the past month?
Leave a comment below!

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DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

DNF Series Review: Insignia by S J Kincaid

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 Insignia (from Goodreads):

The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . .

breakdown

Series: Insignia
Author: S J Kincaid
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella, #1.5, Allies

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Teen, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – October 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Insignia (#1) at 51% (middle of Chapter 14). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read (and simply ADORED) Kincaid’s The Diabolic in the summer of 2018, I was eager to check out her other works. This was the other series my library had and they had it available in audio (which is how I read The Diabolic) so it seemed like a good sign!

The synopsis doesn’t give much away but it sounded interesting enough and so I dove in immediately after DNFing another SciFi novel that just wasn’t working for me.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I really loved the entire concept of this story. Society is so advanced that we don’t use humans to physically fight wars; instead, they use machines to do it remotely. When I went through my anime phase in high school, Gundam SEED was my first and favourite show and they used mechas to fight; so the concept here gave me some great nostalgia.

And the simulations the kids do for training were creative and entertaining to read about.

–Despite the War and Premise, It Had a Lighter Tone–

I find most of my YA novels have a darker tone to them lately. I think part of that goes hand in hand with me growing up and where my interests lie when it comes to book. However, I enjoyed the lighter tone this novel had. Sure, Tom’s life isn’t easy and he is being recruited to fight in a war. But there isn’t murder behind every chapter or villains who will do anything at any cost. (I hope that makes sense). It’s got a more upbeat tone to it as Tom tries to navigate his new life and undergoes most challenges a 14 year old boy does in a futuristic setting.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of an Overarching Plot–

I should clarify that there are some overarching plots in this story. You’ve got Tom’s rivalry with Medusa and breached files for example. But I just kept waiting for this “big” reveal to get the plot really started. See I was halfway through and in some ways I felt like we just kept rehashing the same things over and over. I needed a little more to the plot besides Tom navigating school.

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the first Divergent book where you watch Tris train and find her way in her new faction. But where that book succeeds is in the inklings letting you know that something bigger is happening and as that gets revealed, you get more invested in the story. I didn’t get that sense that that would be the case here.

–I Felt a Little Old Reading This–

I’m a firm believer that you can read any book of any genre at any age; that YA and middle grade novels are not just for the targeted marketing audience. However, I do believe that there are some books you just might not enjoy if you read them when you are not  a part of the intended audience. That’s the case here.

I firmly believe if I read this book when I was in high school (ie when it first came out), this review would be completely different (namely, I would have finished the book). But as it stands now in my life, I didn’t really care for (what is petty to me now) issues that were plaguing Tom’s life like popularity and physical appearance. I crave something a little more cerebral than that when reading.

My Audiobook Experience:

Other than the wickedly long length of the audio version (it’s like 15.5 hours!) it’s a very well done production. I thought the narrator did a great job with the story.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. Perhaps the text version would be quicker for me to read but the sequel’s synopsis didn’t really interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Insignia  DNF | [Allies N/A] | Vortex N/A | Catalyst N/A

overall

Perfect for fans of books in the Teen or younger YA genres! I’ve never read the Ender’s Game but what I do know makes me think this recommendation holds true.

Read if You Like: science fiction, dystopian
Avoid if You: like older (age-wise) YA titles

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Single Sundays: The Marriage Pact by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Marriage Pact by Winter Renshaw

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 Marriage Pact (from Goodreads):

I was sixteen when I vowed I would never marry him.

We shook on it. Pinky swore. Even put it in writing and all but signed our names in blood.

It was the one and only thing we ever agreed on.

To the world, he’s Prince Julian, Duke of Montcroix, second in line to the Chamont throne. Panty-melting accent. Royal charm. Hypnotic presence. Blindingly gorgeous. Laundry list of women all over the world who would give their first born for the chance to marry him. Most eligible bachelor in the free world …

But to me, he’s nothing more than the son of my father’s best friend—the pesky blue-eyed boy who made it his mission to annoy the ever-loving hell out of me summer after summer as our families vacationed together, our parents oblivious to our mutual disdain as they joked about our “betrothal.”

He was also my first kiss.

And my first taste of heartbreak so cataclysmic it almost broke me.

I meant it with every fiber of my soul when I swore I’d never marry him.

But on the eve of my 24th birthday, His Royal Highness has the audacity to show up at my door after years of silence and make a demand will forever change the trajectory of our lives: “We have to break our pact.”

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 23, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gems–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in a bit of a reading slump (3 2-star reads in a row) when I picked up this book. I can always count on Winter Renshaw to write a story that I will devour in one sitting; one that will get me into the excitement of reading again.

Despite a “no-ARC” sign up policy, I had to sign up for this one. I’m obsessed with anything Royal (and I’ve had great success with other modern royal contemporary romances lately) so that immediately had my attention. Then add to the fact that there might be an arranged marriage or something along those lines? So there!

The Concept:

While Julian is from a fictitious kingdom, there are enough allusions to current monarchies that you understand his motivations and such. Some people may not like current popular culture references in their novels but I thought it was really fitting here. 

The Plot:

If you are looking for a lighter, quick read that isn’t plagued by copious sex scenes this is a great book for you to pick up. If you get a little hung up on logistics or want something deeper character-wise? Maybe don’t pick this up (or go in with different expectations).

One of the things that really hooked me in was the allusion to their shared past and some “event” that transpired to stop their budding romance. I liked the suspense of the mystery–I was eager to figure out what caused these two to not speak for years. And while the actual reason was something I didn’t expect at all, I’m not really sure if it is feasible. That’s why I say you should go in and leave some logic behind because it’s one of those things that the more you think about it, the less likely it seems. 

The Characters:

I liked both of our leads a lot. The depth with go to with them works for the story and keeps things light. I always appreciate dual POV in romances and that’s what we get here. I liked Julian’s POV were a little shorter and more abrupt (in some ways). It added some mystery to his character and motivations but still gave you a taste of what he was thinking/feelings.

The Romance:

I thought these two were super cute together. I loved their “hate to love you” past but I wish we got to see more of it. Some flashbacks to show those moments when things changed when they were teenagers would have gone a long way in making their relationship stronger. Things move very quickly in their second chance romance and I think seeing that past would help satisfy the somewhat skeptic in me.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you want a lighter book that you can devour in one sitting that is entertaining and charming, this is a great read.

Read if You Like: royals, lighter romances
Avoid if You: get caught up in logistics/realistic plots
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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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Spin-off Saturdays: Rush by Shae Ross

Single Sundays: Rush by Shae Ross

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Rush is a spin-off of the Pretty Smart Girls Series

Synopsis for Rush (from Goodreads):

Priscilla Winslow has a mouth that spits fiery sarcasm faster than I can throw a touchdown. But I’ve wanted her ever since I saw her in that Bo Peep outfit on Halloween. Yep, I’m a sheep who will follow that little hottie anywhere. There’s one problem…she hates me. Just because we ended up in jail and quite possibly ruined both our futures…

They’re changing the rules…

College Quarterback, Preston Rush is living the dream. He’s leading his team to the National Championship and days away from earning a ‘first round draft pick’ label. When he meets Little Bo Peep at a Halloween party, he thinks he’s scored big. Instead, he wakes up in a jail cell with the corseted beauty. Because of him, she’s in trouble and when he discovers her true identity, he realizes, his nightmare is just beginning.

The always shooting for perfection Priscilla Winslow can’t believe her good deed has cost her soccer career. Even though she knows it isn’t Preston’s fault, she can’t forgive him for the disaster that is her life. She just wishes her damn body would get the message. Every time she sees him, it’s all she can do not to kiss him.

When everything crashes down around him, Preston will have to decide if doing the right thing is worth losing it all.;

breakdown

Author: Shae Ross
Series: This is a spin-off of the Pretty Smart Girls Series
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I’ll be honest and admit that the cover is what grabbed my attention. But then, when I saw the other I was really intrigued. I really enjoyed the first book in Shae Ross’ Pretty Smart Girls series so I knew that I would find this sport romance entertaining and snagged myself a copy. Little did I know that this was a spin-off of sorts–Priscilla is the sister of the lead of Book #2 in that series, Fearless.

The Concept:

Priscilla and Preston’s paths cross unexpectedly at a Halloween party off-campus in one of the more unique meet-cutes I’ve encountered.

But what I really liked about this book was that it tackled the gender inequality in sports teams at a college level. Priscilla is  soccer star in her own right but outside forces deem that as the quarterback for a number one ranked team, Preston’s resolution is more important than her own. And I liked how those external forces impacted their relationship and tested them.

The Plot:

I liked that there were quite a few layers to this plot. You’ve got the sexual tension between Preston and Priscilla that they are both fighting because they want to concentrate on their sporting careers. You’ve got the legal ramifications of their meet-cute. You’ve got the secretive reason why that event even happened in the first place. Basically: there is more to this story than two sports stars falling in love.

I will say though that the start was a little slower for me. I dunno if it was the writing style or just the way the characters interact for the first few chapters, but I was little off at the start of this book. But once I got into it a little more and saw the bigger picture, it was more enjoyable.

The Characters:

I really liked all the characters we meet, including our leads. Everyone has their own unique personality to them so that made it fun to read about.

The Romance:

Personally, I wanted  a little more “get to know you” from these two. While I saw why there were a good match on paper given their individual monologues, I didn’t see them interact that much besides unexpected kisses. I wanted to watch them get to know each other on a slightly deeper level because they are two interesting characters but I don’t know if they knew that…

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of unique meet-cutes and sports romances!

Read if You Like: college sports, romances, original plot lines
Avoid if You: want more erotica, dislike New Adult
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