Series Review: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

Series Review: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

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

Synopsis for Children of Blood and Bone (from Goodreads):

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Series: Legacy of Orïsha
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I feel like you couldn’t escape Children of Blood and Bone (#1) in 2018. It seemed to be everywhere and talked about by everyone. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick it up right away. I think it was the mention of magic — books with magic (particularly witch and wizard books) can be a little hit or miss for me.

When I was looking for a new audiobook series to start, I happened to see that both Children of Blood and Bone (#1) AND Children of Virtue and Vengeance (#2) were available for instant download at my library so I thought was a great time to start this series (I thought it was a duology, I didn’t realize the 3rd book was still in the works).

The Concept / The World:

At the end of Children of Blood and Bone (#1), Tomi has left an author’s note detailing how the deaths of young black people at the hands of police motivated her to publish this series. You can definitely see the parallels between the maji of the novels being persecuted for their perceived differences (physical and ability) and the events of our current world when it comes to racial prejudices. The English minor in me would love to explore those parallels in an essay because it is very well done throughout the series.

This world is also heavily inspired by various African cultures, particularly Nigeria, with the language used for casting spells to character names and so forth. It was a refreshing approach for me because I find a lot of high fantasy novels I’ve read lately are Asian or Northern European inspired.

The Plot:

I struggled with the pacing of Children of Blood and Bone (#1). The first half of this book was very adventure based–a genre I don’t tend to enjoy for its slower pace. So I had a hard time keeping focused for the first little while. Things really picked up by the middle when all the players start setting up for the finale but then it tapered off until the last quarter. I loved the last quarter of the book though. Lots of action and plot twists! Overall, it was very up and down for me and my interest.

I felt like Children of Virtue and Vengeance (#2) suffers heavily from middle book syndrome. It’s very character driven as our leads try to navigate the world they find themselves in. I can appreciate the struggle they are going through but I needed a little more excitement to keep my interest.

The Characters:

Zélie falls into the common heroine category of high fantasy worlds where they are thrust into the position to be the savior of the world, much to their chagrin. She also very emotionally driven in her actions, which is understandable given everything that happens. I just have a personal preference for heroines who are more logical than emotional when it comes to actions in my fantasy novels (like Kestrel from The Winner’s Trilogy or Helena from An Ember in the Ashes). But I find her storylines to be boring and her romance forced.

Which is maybe why I leaned more towards Amari. Again, her character arc of rebellion isn’t anything new but I appreciated how her eyes were opened to the real world. If you go back to the metaphor of what this novel stands for (violence based on race), Amari is that person who doesn’t think it’s their “problem” until they are directly impacted by the situation. However, do I think she could have had some more character development? Absolutely.

My favourite POV was Inan. I appreciated reading his struggles. Yes, he is all over the place with his feelings and actions, but who wouldn’t be when you become the thing you’ve been taught to hate? I just thought his whole character arc was fascinating and I found myself looking forward to his POV chapters.

The Romance:

So, I adore forbidden romances and the synopsis made me think we were going to get a good one with the line:

Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.”

I guess it isn’t a good sign when you start shipping a relationship that isn’t really isn’t there. I can appreciate that the romance was subtle but I’d almost argue that it is insta-love at its worst because it appears out of nowhere. Growing attraction or lust? Sure, I’d see that but I struggled to see why these two characters fall for each other in Children of Blood and Bone (#1).

So the romantic in me was disappointed by the somewhat forced romances that appear throughout the series.

My Audiobook Experience:

Bahni Turpin narrates the audiobooks and if you haven’t read an audiobook by Bahni Turpin, you’ve been living under a rock and are seriously missing out. She is a fantastic narrator (read the audio version of The Hate U Give and you’ll understand) and she does do a great job here as well. I could have used a little more distinction between Zélie and Amari’s chapters but she did a great job overall.

There are a lot of terms to know in this book because of the magic elements (like the different skills maji have) and all of those are thrown out at the start of the audiobook. Reading an audiobook isn’t like a physical book where you can turn back to the glossary to refresh yourself on the terms. So, I did struggle with that a bit and perhaps that was why it took me a long time to get into it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Much like the inaugural book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance (#2) ends with a bang and I’m really curious to see where it will go! I’m not counting down the days by any means but I am interested in finding out how this ends.

Series Rating: 3/5

Children of Blood and Bone 3/5 | Children of Virtue and Vengeance 3/5 | Book 3 TBP

Fresh Fridays: King of Wrath (Kings of Sin #1) by Ana Huang

Fresh Fridays: King of Wrath (Kings of Sin #1) by Ana Huang

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:

Kings of Sin Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

Synopsis for King of Wrath (from Goodreads):

She’s the wife he never wanted…and the weakness he never saw coming.

Ruthless. Meticulous. Arrogant.

Dante Russo thrives on control, both personally and professionally.

The billionaire CEO never planned to marry—
until the threat of blackmail forces him into an engagement with a woman he barely knows.

Vivian Lau, jewelry heiress and daughter of his newest enemy.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful or charming she is. He’ll do everything in his power to destroy the evidence and their betrothal.

There’s only one problem: now that he has her…he can’t bring himself to let her go.

***
Elegant. Ambitious. Well-mannered.

Vivian Lau is the perfect daughter and her family’s ticket into the highest echelons of high society.

Marrying a blue-blooded Russo means opening doors that would otherwise remain closed to her new-money family.

While the rude, elusive Dante isn’t her idea of a dream partner, she agrees to their arranged marriage out of duty.

Craving his touch was never part of the plan.

Neither was the worst thing she could possibly do: fall in love with her future husband.

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Kings of Sin

Crosses over with Twisted Lies (Twisted #4)

Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 20, 2022 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had been looking forward to Vivian and Dante’s story since the Twisted Series. I love a good fake marriage trope! And while you definitely don’t need to read that series to dive into this one, fans will be excited to see how the plot here weaves together with the plot in.

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn Romance–

Vivian and Dante are a perfect match in every way–though they definitely don’t see it! Their slow burn romance had plenty of sparks along the way and I easily fell in love with their story. I love when couples slowly break down their walls and get to know (and subsequently fall for) each other.

–Vivian–

While the billionaire arranged marriage trope is one that is tried and true, I found Vivian to be a refreshing heroine for this story. Her cultural influences when it comes to her relationship with her parents is a dynamic that you don’t often see in romance novels. I also liked that she could put Dante in his place with a quick witty retort.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Underutilization of the Valhalla Club–

I am slightly disappointed that the Valhalla Club wasn’t a bigger aspect to the plot. When I first read about this series, it seemed like the club would be the centralizing factor of this series. While we definitely met some future series leads in this one, I would have liked to have seen it utilized a little more as this is the series opener.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got little inklings of what is to come and I can’t wait! Especially when Ana has said that some future couples aren’t exactly what they seem!

My Rating: 4/5

King of Wrath 4/5 | King of Pride TBP | Book 3 TBP | Book 4 TBP | Book 5 TBP | Book 6 TBP | Book 7 TBP

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene 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 Love and Kerosene (from Goodreads):

For me, family is a curse. My father and brother made my life hell. My mother’s untimely death still keeps me up at night. Now that my brother, Donovan, has been killed in an accident, I can forget the past.

The last remnant is the childhood home I’ve inherited—and which I intend to burn to the ground. The only obstacle? Anneliese Nielsen, Donovan’s fiancée.

Donovan left her destitute, and selling this run-down house is her only chance to recoup her losses. I shouldn’t care, but…maybe it’s her eyes when she sees me. I look strikingly like my brother, a man she loved despite everything.

So we strike a deal. We’ll renovate the house together, but she’ll have to convince me to sell—or up in flames it goes.

But the more time we spend in the house, the more its terrible history threatens to come out.

And even more dangerous, the harder I start to fall for Anneliese.

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good slow burn romance, especially when it is between two people who are love-broken. This premise was super unique and I couldn’t wait to see what twists Winter Renshaw had in store.

The Plot:

This book had the right balance between character growth and romance. I loved that we saw both characters learn from their past and face their “demons” so to speak.

The Characters:

Annaliese is hurt by the betrayal of her fiancé and is left in the mess he created. Lachlan is also trying to come to grips with the relationship he had with his estranged brother. Donovan is dead and so these two will never get that big, all will be revealed moment for him and so it brings an interesting dynamic to their individual character stories but also to their budding relationship as they navigate how to reconcile the past but build a new future without getting those answers from Donovan himself.

The Romance:

I thought these two had a lot of chemistry once they started to get to know each other. The romance is sweeter than it is outright passionate but I think that makes the connection seem stronger. It isn’t something that burns hot right away but slowly catches heat as it builds.

My Rating: 4/5

Overall, while the premise seems like an outright soap opera, Winter Renshaw finds a way to ground the story with strong, likeable characters as she shows the power of reconciling the past to create a great future.

Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

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

Synopsis for Exposure (from Goodreads):

My friends know me as Evan Cosette, a biochemistry major with a flawless GPA.

Everyone else? Well, they know me as Rylan Willow, erotic model for East Park Exposed.

The magazine has kept my tuition paid at East Park University. I just had to keep up the naive school-girl disguise on campus and my secret was safe, my two worlds separate.

Until Dallas. The gorgeous, disgustingly brilliant grad student who’s teaching my bio class this semester.

Oh, yeah… he’s also my new modeling partner.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get distracted. Dallas has a girlfriend, and I have to get into grad school.

That was before sales went through the roof.

Before the photographer decided to crank up the heat.

Before every photo shoot left me gasping for breath.

So, who gets Dallas? Me… or Rylan?

Series: East Park
Author: Iris Blaire
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Direct (#1-2; #2-#3); Connected (#4)
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, College, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – May 2020
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–eBook (#2); KoboPlus–eBook (#3-#4)

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Exposure(#1) as a freebie for my Kindle in November 2013 but didn’t actually read it until 2020 when I was looking for a shorter read to get me out of a reading funk. I was drawn to this title for its unique concept (college erotica magazine) and was intrigued by the fact that our “hero” already had a girlfriend.

The Concept / The World:

I didn’t know erotic college magazines were a thing. Amateur video porn, sure, but not photo spreads. You have to be a little more open to read this book because of that aspect (and the fact that Dallas does have a girlfriend already) or else you won’t get into the crux of it all.

The Plot:

The overall theme of these novels is the trials and tribulations of running and/or starring in an erotica magazine in college. There are a lot of pre-conceptions about the type of person who would pose nude or start a magazine like this. It’s not just people who want to have sex all the time (though there is plenty of steam along the way) but it’s people who are comfortable with their bodies (or want to learn to be); who view it as an art form; who need the money or just want to flaunt what they have. I found all the dynamics to be extremely intriguing to read about.

Aside from the magazine, there is the balancing of friendships, planning for the future after college and some complicated romantic entanglements to keep things dramatic.

The Characters:

I found that our lead characters in Exposure (#1) were a little all over the place. Perhaps it is because we see them as their “personas” when they are modeling and then as their everyday selves, but I struggled getting a read on our leads. Dallas in particular was hard to get a grasp on. He was confident one minute than docile the next. Evan was a little self-centered and in her own world but I understand why given the stage she is in at her life. Though I think it is a little naïve of her to think no one will recognize her in person because of the magazine.

I really enjoyed Britain’s character and was glad to see she gets more focus in Call Backs (#2) and Voyeur (#3).

Shiver (#4) sees the return of some of the characters from the first 3 books but focuses on the “next generation” of the East Park Exposed crew. You could definitely read it as a standalone or just not read it if you are satisfied with the way the first 3 books wrap up.

The Romance:

The romance theme of all the books is falling for the slightly forbidden romantic interest. I enjoyed the tension that brings but it was done better in some books than others.

I wasn’t entirely sold on the romance in Exposure (#1). I don’t enjoy books about cheating but I went in with an objective mind-frame. But because I struggled with the characters, I struggled with their romance. So I was glad when I learned that Call Backs (#2) would also focus on another character’s romance.

The best way to describe Call Backs (#2) is as a bridging novel. It ties up the loose ends of Exposure (#1) but gets you ready for the new romance that takes center stage in Voyeur (#3). It also amped up the sexuality in a way I’ve never really read in a romance book before which was intriguing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Given the mentions of “this is a story for another time” in the epilogue of Shiver (#4), I suspect that more books may be planned in the future for this series. I’d definitely be interested in reading them depending on the characters.

Series Rating: 3/5

Exposure 3/5 | Call Backs 3/5 | Voyeur 4/5 | Shiver 3/5

If you enjoy unique New Adult stories or characters who are comfortable discussing sex and sexuality, check this quick series out!

Series Review: The Collector by Amelia Wilde

Series Review: The Collector by Amelia Wilde

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

Synopsis for Dark Reign (from Goodreads):

Wealthy. Reclusive. Dangerous. Emerson LeBlanc doesn’t enter society much. He only ventures out in pursuit of new art for his collection. It starts with a haunting painting. Then he meets the artist…

Innocent Daphne Morelli is more exquisite than anything he’s ever seen. He becomes obsessed with her. It doesn’t matter that she’s a living, breathing person with her own hopes and dreams.

​​​​​​​She’ll be the perfect addition to his collection.

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2022 Fave
Series: The Collector Trilogy | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Amelia Wilde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: minor (#1,#3) & major (#2))
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2021 – March 2022
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I went into this book with mixed expectations. For one thing, I was really excited to read Daphne Morelli’s story. It’s alluded to in Secret Beast (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) and I have been curious about it ever since. HOWEVER, I did not enjoy the Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series which is also written by Amelia Wilde so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel but I went in with an open mind…

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The first book in this series, Dark Reign, basically takes place over the span of the entire Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series so I highly recommend that you read that series first if you are trying to read the Midnight Dynasty Universe novels in the chronological order of events and don’t want to have that series be spoiled for you.

The Plot:

There was something so addicting about this series! There’s this edge of danger and suspense that just keeps building and building as the story progresses that I found to be so captivating.

Add to it the character evolution and I was sucked right into this series! I love dark, unconventional romance novels and this really fit that bill to a T.

I also liked that it showed a softer side to the Morelli family and in particular, Leo Morelli who is the hero in The Beast of Bishop’s Landing. While I didn’t love that series, I appreciated the weaving of that story–and Daphne’s perspective of the events–into Dark Reign (#1).

The Characters:

Emerson is a character unlike any other I’ve encountered before. Sure, he has a lot of tendencies of alpha billionaire heroes with tragic pasts you’ve read before, but there is also this unique vulnerability to him that slowly gets revealed to the reader. I could totally see why Daphne would become enthralled by him.

Daphne is the perfect character to compliment and drive Emerson’s character development. But she also has great character development throughout this series. I was captivated by their respective stories.

The Romance:

This isn’t a conventional love story by any means but I’m a sucker for a good dark romance and this is definitely a great one! The connection these two share just blew me away.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 5/5

Dark Reign 5/5 | Sweet Mercy 4.5/5 | Last Resort 5/5

One of my favourite installments in the Midnight Dynasty Universe so far! I think some people won’t like the darker, unconventional romance but fans of romantic suspense will enjoy.

Series Review: Hellfire Club by Becker Gray

Series Review: Hellfire Club by Becker Gray

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

Synopsis for Wicked Idol (from Goodreads):

The new girl doesn’t belong here.
So why can’t I stop thinking about her?

The daughter of the headmaster wants to ruin my school year before it’s even begun. Iris Briggs gets under my skin. With her demure skirts and braided hair, she flits around the periphery until she runs right into me, hot coffee soaking me as she looks up with wide, innocent eyes.

We start off scalding.
In the library, we reach lava levels.
And then in the city? She burns me to the ground.

I’m Keaton Constantine. My duty is to my family. At least, it was until I started unbraiding the good girl and realizing there’s more to life than duty.

Series: Hellfire Club or Pembroke Prep | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Becker Gray
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2020 – December 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My intention with this series was just to read Wicked Idol (#1), since it featured a Constantine I had met earlier when reading various books in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, then return to read the rest of the series later. But I absolutely fell in love with this cast of characters and binged the rest of the series shortly after I finished the first book and never looked back.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

This series only briefly crosses into the Constantine vs Morelli battle in the first book, Wicked Idol. From then on, I’d say this series stands on its own though references to the power families are made throughout the series.

The Concept / The World:

This is one of the Young Adult/New Adult hybrid series where 18 year olds get in some heated (sexual) situations. I’d label it as New Adult based on the content even though it takes place at a high school aged boarding school.

The Plot:

This series reminded me of Gossip Girl (more so the TV series) where you follow the drama of the social elite, only its set entirely in a boarding school. The family drama you expect from wealthy families is there but so is the die-hard friendships that form between the youth of that echelon…and their enemies. You’ve got rich boys who can catch any girl but there is just that one girl that they truly want and so ensues a swoon-worthy hate-to-love-you romance.

Most of these books are labeled as the “high school bully trope” and I’d agree for the most part that it fits. It’s basically that idea that if someone pulls your pigtails they like you. I’ve read a lot more intense high school bully romances where the “heroes” do terrible things to there heroines but I’d say that intensity isn’t here. More like disagreements and misunderstandings than actual torture.

The Characters:

I honestly fell in love with this entire crew by the end of Wicked Idol (#1) and truthfully, they played a very small part in that book. But the little tidbits we got about the relationships and pasts intrigued me enough that I had to keep going. The comradery of true friendship was great to read about.

I liked that each character had layers to them and that they evolved as the story progressed. I thought between the romantic pairs that there was a great balance in allowing both characters to grow as the relationship grew. It never felt one-sided which I appreciated.

The Romance:

Normally, I’m not a fan of the alpha male and most of our male characters lean that way. However, I am a sucker for a boy who completely loves a girl, even if he doesn’t know (or show) it yet. Watching those guards fall down had my heart melting!

I also loved that the pairs were all great matches for each other and it was really reflected in their stories. The romances were very well developed and all worked well for me.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

Wicked Idol 5/5 | Callous Prince 4/5 | Brutal Blueblood 4/5 | Ruined Sinner 3/5 | Sweet Devil 5/5

I couldn’t put these books down! I loved the friendships, the drama and the romance!