Category «Series Reviews»

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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:

King of Scars Series is a spin-off of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

This is a spinoff of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2019 – March 2021
Source & Format: Public Library—eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I adored Nikolai in the original Shadow and Bone Trilogy. He was one of my favourite characters so I was definitely ready to get a book dedicated solely to him. Nina was also a character I really grew to love in the Six of Crows Series (a series I enjoyed wayyy more than the Shadow and Bone Trilogy) and I couldn’t wait to see what was next in her story after a heart-wrenching conclusion in that series. So I was super excited to see what the blending of these two worlds would bring!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

Shadow and Bone is very much focused on Alina and how she fits into the world. Whereas I felt like the approach here was how the world fits these characters. You get a lot of POVs along the way to give that bigger picture. And while that bigger picture and how it is all interconnected isn’t super obvious at the start, by the end the weaving of it all is intricate to say the least.

–More Politics–

I love books with complicated political strategies so I enjoyed watching all that come together. I felt like the focus was more on keeping the world afloat than keeping Alina afloat like the original trilogy did.
Whereas Six of Crows was more suspenseful with the heist aspect, I think the politics of the world here kept that tone going to a certain extent.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

So I stopped and restarted King of Scars (#1) numerous times. Some of the time, life got in the way, other times, I got bored. I got especially bored in Rule of Wolves (#2). I felt like you could have cut out a lot of both books and made one solid book that kept the pace going.

–Nina’s Story–

I’m not sure what I wanted out of Nina in this series. She went through so much at the end of Six of Crows (it was hard to read the first few chapters here because her grief broke my heart). But a haphazard romance I didn’t even see coming because it happened with the snap of the fingers isn’t what I wanted for her. It seemed forced like it was trying to prove a point–and I’m not even sure what that point is. I’m not saying that Nina shouldn’t find love again or that I don’t like the idea of who her future partner could be; I just didn’t see how something that came across as maternal to me was romantic.

–Too Much Fan Service–

I kinda felt like things were included in here just to appease fans and it made the plot messy. So messy that it almost makes you wonder why we even bothered with the Shadow and Bone Trilogy with some of the events that happen.

And while I can appreciate the idea that not everything was perfect in the Grishaverse after Shadow and Bone Trilogy was completed (ie not a perfect utopia of a HEA), I think a different adversary would have helped to show that the world is far from being healed.

Series Rating: 3/5

King of Scars 3.5/5 | Rule of Wolves 3/5

overall

I think diehard Grishaverse fans will soak up every page of this series as they return to this rich world. But those looking for a solid plot, consistency amongst character development might be left wanting more.

Read if You Like: the Grishaverse, multiple POV
Avoid if You: dislike long books
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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Series Review: Angel by L A Weatherly

Trilogy Termination: Angel by L A Weatherly

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 Angel Burn(from Goodreads):

They’re out for your soul.
And they don’t have heaven in mind…

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from.
But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems; least of all good and evil.

breakdown

Series: Angel Trilogy
Author: L A Weatherly
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Angels, Paranormal, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person + Third Person
Publication Dates: January 2010 – August 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like many series I started in university many years ago, I don’t really remember how I discovered it. I assume it had something to do with the Angel Trend that was huge around that time (2010). Either way, I really enjoyed the first novel in the series and that enjoyment is what kept this series on my TBR for over 5 years after the finale was published.

The Concept / The World:

I always think back fondly on this series because it was one of the more unique Angel concepts I had come across. Angel stories are always about good angels vs bad angels (or one faction vs another) but here, nearly all angels are evil and humans are fighting for themselves. It’s a fresh take on the world.

Unfortunately, that cool premise gets overshadowed by your typical YA paranormal cliches and the like but at its core, this is a cool story.

The Plot:

I remember being totally engrossed in the first novel. I loved watching Alex and Willow navigate this new world and their budding feelings. It was a fun adventure that kept me on my toes.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember much about the second novel (Angel Fire) other than the fact that it introduces a love triangle that seems to take over the entire novel. Ugh.

But despite a “meh” experience with the second book, I was eager to see this series completed and was determined to pick up the finale (Angel Fever) 5 years later. Only I was thrust back into a mundane plotline that seemed to be taking its sweet-ass time and a seemingly resolved love triangle that would resolve every chapter with new ire.

Which is why I DNF’d it at 25% and skipped to the last chapter to give myself some closure.

The Characters:

Willow is one of those “special snowflakes” combined with a “Mary Sue”. It wasn’t really apparent to me in the first novel but I definitely saw it in the third. She’s just becomes so wish-washy in her convictions and morphs into your stereotypical heroine of a paranormal YA series.

The rest of the cast fits into their typical roles with ease.

The Romance:

This started strong for me but the introduction of a useless love triangle really killed any positive feelings I had towards this.

Series Rating: 3/5

Angel Burn 4/5 | Angel Fire 3/5 | Angel Fever DNF

overall

Like many of the angel romances released around the same time, this series takes your typical cookie cutter pieces and assembles them for your average angel read.

Read if You Like: angels, YA paranormal reads
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, want more action

similarreads

  • Newsoul by Jodi Meadows (Newsoul Trilogy #1)
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush Saga #1)
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (A Touch Trilogy #1)
  • Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Final 4 Blitz: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

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 Girl in the Steel Corset (from Goodreads):
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles
Author: Kady Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)
# of Books: 4 (View Full Reading Order here.)

There are 3 novellas: View Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2011 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first saw the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, in 2011 I was intrigued. By this point, my only exposure to Steampunk had been through the Infernal Devices Trilogy but it was a genre I was eager to explore deeper. So when I saw that The Girl in the Steel Corset was another YA Steampunk novel–I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Steampunk is the unique world the books are set in. I adore the mix of science fiction and history. It’s so much fun to read about! And this series is no different.

The very cool part of this series is the paranormal abilities of its lead characters. They remind me a bit of the X-men where you have this group of ragtime, unique characters who somehow create a family and a support system while kicking serious ass. It’s a blast watching them on their adventures to make London a safer place.

The Plot:

While each book has its own plot and focuses on a particular character or two, there is an overarching plot that links all the books together. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the series because it always feels like it is moving forward.

There’s romance, there’s action and there are many, many plot twists. I just love the unpredictable nature of these novels and they were a joy to read from start to finish…and super addicting!

The Characters:

This cast is awesome! Probably some of my favourite characters ever!

Not only are they all unique when it comes to their abilities but they are also unique in their personalities. It was a blast reading about them and uncovering more about each of them as the series progressed.

Finely is particularly noteworthy. As the series progressed, I worried she would lose herself in the typical female protagonist role when they meet a guy they like, but she never did. She was strong, kick-ass, independent but knew when to work together. Love her and the rest of her friends, particularly the females!

The Romance:

The romances in this series are great additions! While they aren’t a major focus of the plot, they add to it in a fabulous way that makes you want more!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Girl in the Steel Corset 4/5 | The Girl in the Clockwork Collar 4/5 | The Girl with the Iron Touch 4/5 | The Girl with the Wind-up Heart 5/5

overall

Might seem bizarre that a series I essentially gave 4 stars to is one of my favourites but I LOVE this world and I LOVE these characters. I think the only reason I gave these books 4/5 was the fact that they ended! I had to wait a long time for the next installment and I know if I read them in one go, they would all be 5/5!

Read if You Like: steampunk, action, friends who act like family
Avoid if You: dislike steampunk

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

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:

The Forbidden Series is a spin-off of the Broken Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: To Watch Author
Series: Forbidden, The Bellantis

This is a spinoff of the Broken Series.

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2022 – August 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

There were still a few lingering plotlines from the Broken Series that I wanted to see resolved so I was really excited to spend more time with the Bellanti family. While I really thought Armani’s story would be next, I was excited to see what was in store for Marco, the brother who kinda took a backseat in the first series but was still a captivating character to read about.

Can you Read the Forbidden Trilogy Without Reading the Broken Trilogy?:

Yes, you could but I really think you get more out of it by reading the Broken Series first. There are a lot of overarching dramatic plotlines from that first series that become the main focus of this series so it helps to know what is going on and why. Plus: I feel like you really need that context (why the families hate each other) to amplify the forbidden romance as well.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Great Character Growth–

I’m uber impressed with the character depth Stella Gray packs into her stories! I really enjoyed watching both Marco and Karina grow and evolve as characters. Marco was one heck of a playboy in the previous series and seemed a little one-dimensional as a result. So I loved getting deeper into his character.

When I first started this series, I really worried that Karina would fall into the stereotypical sheltered virgin trope; but she also has a fantastic character story! To me, she is the star of this series. Her character development was one of my favourite aspects of this series.

–Romeo & Juliet Inspiration–

I’m a Shakespeare nerd so anything to do with the Bard gets bonus points. I loved all the allusions to the classic play but with a modern flare. It highlighted the forbidden element perfectly and pumped up the family drama perfectly!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not really. I always found myself compelled to read more. I can’t really pinpoint what is missing for me to make it a 5 star read. Maybe the pacing could have been a little better at the start of each novel? But I never struggled to finish these books.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While this trilogy is somewhat self-contained, I am really excited for Marco’s brother, Armani’s story!

Series Rating: 4/5

Forbidden Bride 4/5 | Forbidden War 4/5 | Forbidden Love 4/5

overall

These star-crossed lovers have me rooting for them all the way! Who doesn’t love a suspenseful family saga filled with love and danger?

Read if You Like: Romeo & Juliet inspired; forbidden love
Avoid if You: darker romances
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forbidden Bride (from Goodreads):

I was promised to a man my uncle chose… but I ran away with the enemy.

In this valley, my family name means something.
To some, protection. To others, destruction.
When a Bellanti stole my heart, he started a war.

A ring on my finger put a target on his back.

I hardly know the man I threw my life away for.
He looked like I imagined Mr. Darcy would.
He wrote me poetry.

But he’s locked me away exactly the way my uncle had.
Choosing him was my last taste of freedom.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

He will burn me alive either way.

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Series Review: Broken by Stella Gray

Series Review: Broken by Stella 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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Broken Bride (from Goodreads):

I was sold to him to settle a debt… but Dante Bellanti never settles.

My father was always a gambling man.
Unfortunately, he never could pick winners.
When the wolves closed in, he chose himself, like always.

He traded his freedom… for mine.

He forced me to marry.
Now Dante Bellanti owns my body.
I’m just another possession for a man who already has too much.
So I won’t let him have my heart.

But you know what they say about gambling.

The house always wins.

And I’m at the mercy of the Bellantis…

breakdown

Series: Broken, The Bellantis

There is a Spin-off Series: Forbidden

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2021 – November 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After bingeing what I could get my hands on in the Midnight Dynasty Series, I was craving my next big romance world and this series stumbled into my inbox. I love a good family drama saga and this one promised to be a great one as each Bellanti brother got their own series.

First Up is Dante – the heir of the empire.

The Concept / The World:

I thought this might be more Mafia romance in its approach. Lots of action and violence but that is not what this series is. Yes, there are some shady business deals and violence but it doesn’t litter every page. It’s very sophisticated and more a romance than anything else.

The Plot:

I love a good family drama with lingering family secrets and an edge of danger to it. And it’s not just Dante’s family who has the complicated family business. Frankie’s family and even Frankie herself has this mysterious aura about her that kept me hooked.

In Broken Bride (#1), I thought we were going to get alternating chapters between Dante and Frankie, but I liked that Frankie told the bulk of the story, leaving Dante as this mysterious enigma. It added to the suspense of the story and kept you from fully trusting Dante. Dante’s character gets more chapters in the later books which helps his character grow.

The rest of the series keeps adding layers to the story and I really love how some aspects carry over into the next Bellanti brother’s trilogy!

The Characters:

I really loved Frankie and Dante and the rest of their families. It was crazy how quickly I got attached to everyone! I love a good family saga and this has that!

The Romance:

I loved their banter and the slow burn, do they love or hate each other vibes. Lots of tension!

Series Rating: 4/5

Broken Bride 4/5 | Broken Vow 4/5 | Broken Trust 4/5

overall

Great for people who want a whole romantic universe to get invested in!

Read if You Like: overarching plotlines, family sagas, dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances

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Spin-off Saturdays: Once Upon a Broken Heart (#1) by Stephanie Garber

Spin-off Saturdays: Once Upon a Broken Heart (#1) by Stephanie Garber

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:

Once Upon a Broken Heart Series is a spin-off of the Caraval Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: To-Watch Author
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart

This is a spinoff of the Caraval Series.

Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library—Audiobook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, I knew that there was going to be a spin-off of Caraval eventually but I kinda forgot that fact when I picked up this book. It didn’t take long for me to clue in and I was excited to dive back into this fascinating world Stephanie Garber has created…and see a few old friends along the way!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Twisty Though Not as Suspenseful–

I had a hard time putting down Caraval when I read it and while this story was engaging, it didn’t have the same thrill level for me. There are plenty of twists along the way to be sure but I felt like everything moved at a gradual incline to the big finale. That made the last third of the book super engaging but I wasn’t as WOWed as I could have been.

–Sister Dynamic–

At the core of Caraval is the love between two sisters and the lengths they will go to save each other. Here, we see a different side to the sister dynamic and I really enjoyed watching that play out. It was very reminiscent of the original series but entirely unique at the same time.

–Jacks–

I’ll admit that the finer details of the Prince of Hearts is lost to me but I do know that I enjoyed his character immensely in both series. He’s still the enigma of a Fate but I feel like we might be seeing his true side come to the surface.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slow Start–

As I said above, it took me a will to get into this. I think in Caraval we get thrown into the game right away but Evie is still trying to figure out her role so it takes her a bit to realize she is a player.

–Craved More Romance–

Perhaps I read too much into the gift of “three kisses” but for a story with the title “broken heart” I did crave more romance and sexual tension.

My Audiobook Experience:

I read the original series but decided to try the audiobook this time around and I really enjoyed it. It was easy to follow along and, as I often do with audiobooks, enjoyed the hearing the emotions of the characters brought to life. Even with it being a third person POV, I easily connected with Evie’s emotions.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very, very curious to see how this all plays out now that the players are making their moves!

Series Rating: 4/5

Once Upon a Broken Heart 4/5 | The Ballad of Never Ever TBP

overall

With a gradual crescendo, fans of the Caraval Series will appreciate the return to the magical world; and those new to the world will enjoy this story of devious Fates.

Read if You Like: high fantasy, omnipresent beings, riddles
Avoid if You: want more romance

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Once Upon a Broken Heart (from Goodreads):

How far would you go for happily ever after?

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy….

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Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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 These Violent Delights (from Goodreads):

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

breakdown

Series: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Historical Fiction, Romance, Drama, Action, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: November 2020 – November 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this series for a few reasons: the cover never failed to catch my eye when I was browsing library titles and I love the title. I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything Shakespeare related and I am so there. But when I read that this book would be set in the 1920s in Shanghai–I was completely sold!

The Concept / The World:

I think Romeo and Juliet gets a bad rap when it comes to the general public. Everyone knows about the doomed, naïve lovers and I think they get a lot of flack for that in popular culture. But when you study the play or even see it acted out, it really is a much richer story than people give it credit for. Which makes it the perfect foundation for this particular series and the world it takes place in.

I thought the setting of 1926 Shanghai was so great! You’ve got the gang wars and the lack of our modern conveniences. But more importantly, you have the cultural inspiration of China and what it means to be loyal to your family and country. It just adds another rich layer to this retelling that stays true to the original work but shows how the play could have very easily taken place somewhere other than Italy.

The Plot:

I will admit to being a little disappointed in the first book because it wasn’t what I totally expected. There’s a lot of information to take in from the rival gangs, to the politics of the city to the various characters we meet. And perhaps listening to the audio version wasn’t the best choice because I might have missed some important details and not have noticed. However, I did find it suspenseful with the Science Fiction aspect of the “madness” and overall, it does do a great job of setting up the foundation for the sequel.

The sequel was great! I found it was nonstop in the action and plot twists. I also think the allusions to Romeo and Juliet are a little more obvious; though I like the unique takes we get on those elements. It isn’t a carbon copy of the original text by any means.

The Characters:

Juliette isn’t the naïve girl from the play. Sure, she has her weaknesses, but she can hold her own in a fight if she needed to with her cunning wit and her fighting skills. I enjoyed watching her character overcoming obstacles and growing from the past.

Roma is a little more of an enigma but again, another strong character who had some great growth.

I really enjoyed the side characters we met as well. I had a hard time in the first book keeping everyone straight but everyone was well developed.

The Romance:

I felt like the passionate romance was missing a bit in the first book. Perhaps that’s because Juliette and Roma spend more time apart then together. Other than the passing mentions of their previous love affair, I wasn’t entirely sold that their connection was this amazing thing that would have them contemplating betraying their families.

Things definitely improved in the final book though in that respect and I was very happy to see how it comes together there.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audio production. While I think it might have stopped me from fully grasping what was happening all the time, it is well done. My only complaint is that when the narrator does Roma’s voice, the pitch can be super hard to hear so I found I was constantly adjusting the volume as I listened.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

These Violent Delights 3/5 | Our Violent Ends 4/5

overall

Overall, an original take on the classic Romeo and Juliet trope that will keep readers on their toes with its blending of Science Fiction and Historical Fiction.

Read if You Like: Romeo and Juliet retellings, forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike Shakespeare retellings

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Fresh Fridays: Defy the Night (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer

Fresh Fridays: Defy the Night (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer

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:

Defy the Night Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Defy the Night (from Goodreads):

A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

breakdown

Series: Defy the Night
Author: Brigid Kremmerer
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A few years ago now, I read Kemmerer’s Elemental Series and really enjoyed it. Despite that, I never picked up another title by her and I honestly have no good reason to explain why I haven’t. But when I read Kait @ Katie’s Book Blog‘s review, I decided to get my hands on my library’s audiobook.

I love a good fantasy novel and this one sounded great! I definitely forgot about the Robin Hood inspiration when I read this book, but that was one of the reasons I decided to add it to my TBR.

I had just finished reading the audio version of Realm Breaker–which I didn’t enjoy–so I wasn’t sure if reading another fantasy audiobook immediately after that flop was a good idea. But, my library loan was going to expire and I was optimistic I would enjoy this one!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

I felt like this story was always moving. Yes, it definitely helps that we have two POVs that we flip between but I found both Corrick’s and Tessa’s stories to be equally intriguing. Plus, I couldn’t wait to see how they would cross paths.

–Kept Me Guessing–

I liked that nothing was overly predictable with the plot. While I certainly had some theories that turned out to be true, they certainly got tested along the way and had me second guessing.

–Tessa–

While Corrick has great character development and layers, I really enjoyed Tessa’s character. She’s passionate and compassionate. She’s certainly stubborn but I appreciated that she could see when she was wrong. There’s three sides to every story (yours, mine and the truth) and as Tessa starts to learn more about the kingdom, she discovers that maybe her views aren’t necessarily the right or the only ones.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Was Just Missing that Next Level–

While I really enjoyed this book, there was just something missing here to take it to that next level. Perhaps it was the fact that I was reading about a medical epidemic in a kingdom during the global COVID-19 pandemic that stopped me from getting totally into it. I also think that some of the other side characters could have been developed a little more, like King Harristan.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the audiobook production was great. I was very happy with my decision to listen to this story. It’s easy to follow along and the narrators were fabulous.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Now that there have been some great character and plot developments, I’m excited to see where this will go next!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Defy the Night 4.5/5 | Defend the Dawn TBP

overall

With a dash of romance and a dash of Robin Hood inspiration thrown in, this fantasy book makes for an engaging read.

Read if You Like: Robin Hood, fantasy, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy
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Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

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 Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

In a single moment, she becomes my obsession…

Elaine Constantine will be mine.
And her destruction is only my beginning.

I’ve known all my life that the Constantines deserved to be wiped from the face of the earth, only a smoking crater left where their mansion once stood. That’s my plan until I see her, the woman in gold with the sinful curves and the blonde curls. My will to dominate her runs as deep as the hate I have for her last name.

No matter how beautifully she bends beneath my hands, I’ll leave her shattered, a broken toy for her cruel family.

I’m a sadist, and she’s the object of my obsession.

breakdown

Series: Starcrossed Lovers | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Jade West
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2020 – March 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I mentioned in my review of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing review, I deviated from the readers’ recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe and read Leo’s book before Lucian’s.

Lucian was such a blip in the Cinderella Trilogy compared to Leo–who had a bigger role as a villain–that I wasn’t interested Lucian’s story as much. But in Book #3 of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing, Fallen Rose, Lucian’s heroine is revealed and I became obsessed with reading their story!

Needless to say, I immediately picked up this Romeo and Juliet inspired tale when I finished the other series!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) 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 characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy is inspired by Romeo and Juliet but I’d say it is loosely so. Lucian and Elaine are from feuding families; have lots of cousins and there is quite a bit of death that follows in their wake. It isn’t a straight up modern retelling by any means but if you know the classic play, I’m sure you will see some similarities.

This story is super dark though and I think a lot of people will be uncomfortable with the subject matter. There’s a lot of sex (and high BDSM sex at that as Lucian is a sadist lover), lots of violence and some content that might be triggering to readers (abuse, self-harm). I think you really have to be a fan of darker romances to enjoy this and I wouldn’t recommend this book as the series to start with if you want to get into the dark romance genre.

I am a fan of dark contemporary romances and it took even me a while to get used to the obsessive nature of our two leads. However, I quickly became consumed with their story. I enjoyed the pursuit of the first book and watching them slowly realize how they were perfect for each other in the subsequent novel.

I really enjoyed Soulless (#2) which is why Relentless (#3) was such a letdown. It was really great until (I felt) it abruptly ended. It didn’t really resolve any of the major dramatic plotlines with the exception of their final relationship status. I kinda thought there would be a fourth book with the way it ended but there isn’t which makes its ending super open-ended. Having read the next recommended series (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) in the Midnight Dynasty Universe series, I know that there really isn’t much of a resolution there either. So I ended the series on a bitter note after enjoying it so much.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series, yet all share the same characters as each other.

Lucian makes a brief appearance in the Cinderella Trilogy but he takes a backseat to his brother Leo (Beast of Bishop’s Landing). He’s a super intense person and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Normally, I don’t enjoy super alpha male heroes and Lucian is definitely an alpha–and a sadist at that. However, I feel like he is the first one to break when it comes to his feelings for Elaine and I love when the hero is the first to crack. As you start to know him and his past, you start to understand his character and appreciate why he is the way he is.

Elaine is also a complicated character and one that you don’t really see the true side of until you keep reading and start to peel back those layers. She’s feisty and strong in her own way which I always like in my heroines.

The Romance:

The tension between these two is down-right palpable the minute they set eyes on each other! They’ve got the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet fueling that flame which is always great. But they also have this great connection of understanding between them. They’re the perfect match for each other–even if they don’t realize that right away. They balance each other out and I could see why they are “starcrossed lovers”.

That being said, the romance is definitely dark and twisted. If you don’t enjoy high level BDSM–heavy emphasis on the SM part of that–then don’t pick this up!

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

Heartless 4/5 | Soulless 5/5 | Relentless 3/5

overall

Those who enjoy dark and twisted romances will devour this. But those who don’t enjoy BDSM in their novels or violence should stay away. Out of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I’d say this is the darkest.

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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Fresh Fridays: This Woven Kingdom (#1) by Tahereh Mafi

Fresh Fridays: This Woven Kingdom (#1) by Tahereh Mafi

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:

This Woven Kingdom Trilogy

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for This Woven Kingdom (from Goodreads):

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: This Woven Kingdom
Author: Tahereh Mafi
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2022 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I promised myself I wouldn’t start a new series by an author if I already had one started but I couldn’t resist trying Tahereh Mafi’s newest series despite not finishing the newest books in the Shatter Me Series. I was on a high fantasy kick when my audiobook came in for this one and I was eager to dive in!

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

We take some quality time to set up this world and its characters. I became so captivated by their stories as we progressed through the novel. So while not a lot was happening drama wise, I was still motivated to keep reading to learn more.

–Alizeh–

I love a strong heroine, especially one that grows into her independence and abilities. I really enjoyed watching her character’s story unfold.

–Alizeh & Kamran Banter–

GIVE IT ALL TO ME! I loved any scene these two shared. I think I listened with a small smile on my face anytime these two start their verbal sparring.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the slower start. Great world and character building helps you interested in reading but I could have used some more action a little earlier on.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am so excited to see where this series will go next!

My Audiobook Experience:

This was super easy to listen to and follow along with as an audiobook.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

This Woven Kingdom 4/5 | These Infinite Threads TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

It takes its time to set up the world and its characters but it is well worth the investment!
Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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