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Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

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 Cruel Prince (from Goodreads):

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Top Pick 2018
Series: The Folk of the Air
Author: Holly Black
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 The Lost Sisters

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Queen of Nothing will be released January 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Faeries, Action, Politics, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I honestly thought I wrote a review for The Cruel Prince when I read it last year…but I guess not! The hype was so big for this book that I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve always heard great things about Holly Black but none of her stories in the past have interested me. But FAERIES?! They are my favourite fantasy creature of all time. I love their backstabbing and tricks and uniqueness. So this was a no brainer for me.

The Concept / The World:

I ADORE anything with faeries and this world certainly set the bar. I haven’t read such a rich faerie world since I finished Wicked Lovely years ago. I loved the Courts; I loved the different type of faeries; but most of all, I loved the deviousness of the faerie world. I love how you never know who to trust or what the deals truly mean. And even knowing that deception is around every corner, I still found myself shocked by the events that unfold.

The Plot:

I was fully enthralled by the plot from the very start of The Cruel Prince. It was a weird addiction though because I really didn’t think much was happening drama-wise for the longest time. But there is just something so compelling about Jude’s drive to make her mark in the Court.

But when it came to The Cruel King: non-stop developments from start to finish. If it wasn’t one thing brewing it was another and I couldn’t get enough! Jude’s story is exactly what I crave from a Faerie story.

The Characters:

I really love Jude as a lead. She is exactly what I want my human protagonist to be in a world of Faerie. She’s cunning and strong–definitely able to hold her own–but she also has this vulnerability to her that makes her endearing…and human, much to her dismay. At times, The Cruel Prince read like a coming of age story because she has some great character growth.

And Cardan! Le SIGH! He is the ideal faerie prince for me. I love how I can never get a read on him. He’s mysterious and swoon-worthy; endlessly frustrating but charming. I positively adored his scenes with Jude.

The Romance:

When I started The Cruel Prince, I really thought it was going to be more of a romance focus (I don’t know why but most faerie stories are) but I’m glad it’s only a small component of the story. It does a great job of enriching the story without distracting for the various dramatic plotlines.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 The Lost Sisters:

How cool is it that this is in an audiobook! I was going to read the eBook when I saw my library had the audio version. Rarely are novellas in audiobooks.

I read this after I finished Book #2–mostly because I forgot this existed. I’m glad I did though. Not that it gives away anything but I kinda liked having this person’s motives unknown to me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I LOVED the audiobooks. Caitlin Kelly does an amazing job bringing Jude to life and I think it definitely impacted my reading experience in a super positive way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I cannot wait to see how all of this wraps up!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Cruel Prince 4.5/5 | [The Lost Sisters 4/5] | The Cruel Prince 5/5 | The Queen of Nothing ?/5

overall

If you love the dark world of faeries (or want to dive in head first), there is a reason people can’t stop talking about this series!

Read if You Like: faeries, lots of twists, drama
Avoid if You: want more romance focused

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Series Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

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

Warcross Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Warcross (from Goodreads):

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 2 (Warcross, Wildcard)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – September 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After reading (and positively adoring) the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, I always make an effort to read her books when they come out. While I enjoyed The Young Elites Trilogy, I found that I enjoyed the concept behind it more than the actual story.

So I was a little apprehensive when it came to Warcross. As someone who has played a few Massive Multiplayer Games, I was definitely curious to see what this world was all about. But the synopsis didn’t give much away in terms of the type of story it would be and reviews from other bloggers had me going in with slightly lowered expectations.

But if anyone can surprise me, it’s Marie Lu.

What I Liked:

–Emika–

What a great heroine she is! I just loved her tech savvy-ness and drive. She thinks outside the box and gives everything her all and how can you not love that in a heroine?

–The Games in the Tournament–

I LOVED the actions scenes where Emika is in the game with her team. Perhaps it was just the fact that I could hear the enthusiasm and expressions of the narrator as she read the scenes in the audiobook, but they were enthralling to say the least. It was reminiscent of those scenes in some of my favourite books like Red Rising and The Hunger Games.

–The Romance–

I don’t want to give much away but I thought it was super cute and definitely impacts the plot in a way that not every romance does.

–Not Overly Predictable–

While I had the identity of  Zero figured out, I was definitely wrong about what was actually happening which was a great twist!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I always find it hard to tell when I listen to audiobooks to determine if it’s actually the narrator’s style/delivery that impacts the pacing of the book or the actual writing itself. (Some narrator’s talk at a slower speed plus reading something out-loud takes longer than reading it with your eyes.  So most audiobooks take twice as long to listen to as they would to read). I do know that I sped up the delivery to 1.5X because I found her cadence to be on the slower side (my default is usually 1.25X).

But I did find it took us a while to get into the thick of things. Not that we spend too much time following Emika’s life before the tournament but the first half definitely lacks the suspense of the latter half.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t WAIT to see how all of this is going to play out! This series went in a direction I didn’t anticipate so I’m really curious about what Marie Lu has up her sleeve.

updates

–November 25, 2018– Book #2: Wildcard

Given that ending, I thought Wildcard would hit the ground running at a much faster pace than its predecessor; but that didn’t seem to be the case. I found the first 75% of this book was just dialogue upon dialogue–which is fine because it helps establish and explain the various aspects of the plot–I just found that I would lose interest along the way. I missed those moments of gameplay and the like where I was thrown into the thick of things. We do get these pockets of excitement along the way; I just found they were few and far between.

I will give some bonus points though for originality. This series went in a direction I never anticipated and I thought this sequel was much less predictable. I was really into the story for the last quarter because I had no idea what was going to happen and I liked that a lot.

My Rating: 4/5

Warcross  4/5| Wildcard 3.5/5

overall

You don’t have to be a fan of video games to get hooked into this page turner!

Read if You Like: stories set in the future, video games, action
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Trilogy Termination: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

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Spring 2017

Trilogy Termination Blitz: I finally finish some trilogies I started years ago by reading the final book! But don’t let my delay in finishing them deter you from picking them up…or should it?

Miss the Introduction Post? Read it here!

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Angelfire (from Goodreads):

First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

breakdown

Series: Angelfire Trilogy
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
# of Books: 3 (Angelfire, Wings of the Wicked, Shadows in the Silence)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 A Dance With Darkness

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Angels, Paranormal, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2011 – January 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Angels were all the rage when I was a teen and I grabbed this book during the trend. This series is praised for its action scenes and I love books with a little physical confrontations along the way.

The Concept / The World:

This story is very rich in terms of its history and lexicon. There is a solid background and substance to create this world and is very unique compared to other angel YA reads. I wish I read the third one closer together because I did forget some of the history despite having notes on the first two novels.

The Plot:

Throughout this series, I struggled with its pacing. You have these pockets of mundane, everyday teenage problems pocketed with scenes of action and plot development. The problems with the everyday teenage stuff I’ll address below but the actions scenes are great. They are written in a way that is like watching a movie so it was super easy to visualize.

I also really enjoyed the overarching plot of this trilogy as a whole. While each book has its own main plot line, everything bridges together nicely. It just gives this series a consistency that keeps you invested in the story and characters.

The Characters:

I admit, I was hesitant to start Shadows in the Silence because I remember really not liking Ellie’s character. She started the series as a selfish and somewhat petty teenaged girl. But when I read Shadows in the Silence, I found she wasn’t as annoying as I remembered. She really does grow and I can appreciate that.

There are a lot of characters in this story and I think it provides a richer experience. Again, I probably should have read the finale closer to the previous installments just to keep everyone straight but it was easier to dive back in than I expected.

The Romance:

Once again, I picked the “wrong team” but I knew it was never going to work with my pick. I really wasn’t a fan of the romance here, it was a little cliche and I find Will is a little dull as a hero. Then again, I wasn’t reading this for the romance!

Series Rating: 4/5

Angelfire 4/5 | Wings of the Wicked 4/5 | Shadows in the Silence 3/5

overall

This series is pretty on par with the other paranormal YA reads of its time. However, this one excels in action and a rich world that will keep readers interested.

Read if You Like: angels, YA paranormal reads
Avoid if You: want more romance based

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)
  • Angel by L A Weatherly (Angel Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Hot Shots: Men of Fire by Bella Andre

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 Wild Heat (from Goodreads):
HE’S A HOTSHOT FIREFIGHTER ADDICTED TO RISK. SHE’S THE SULTRY BEAUTY HE NEVER SAW COMING.
Maya Jackson doesn’t sleep with strangers. Until the night grief sent her to the nearest bar and into the arms of the most explosive lover she’s ever had. Six months later, the dedicated arson investigator is coming face to face with him again. Gorgeous, grinning Logan Cain. Her biggest mistake. Now her number-one suspect in a string of deadly wildfires.
Risking his life on a daily basis is what gets Logan up in the morning. As leader of the elite Tahoe Pines Hotshot Crew, he won’t back down from a blaze-or from beautiful, lethal Maya Jackson. She may have seduced him with her tears and her passion, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before Logan lets down his guard again. Until Maya’s life is threatened. With his natural-born hero instincts kicking in, Logan vows to protect the woman sworn to bring him down. And as desire reignites, nothing-not the killer fire or the killer hot on their trail-can douse the flames…

breakdown

Series: Hot Shots: Men of Fire
Author: Bella Andre
# of Books: 3 (Wild Heat, Hot as Sin, Never too Hot)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense, Action
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2009 – May 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I read Wild Heat in July 2013 but did not pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first started blogging, my reading tastes weren’t what they are now. I hadn’t discovered the New Adult genre yet and so I mostly alternated between Adult Contemporaries and Young Adult reads. Bella Andre quickly became a go-to adult contemporary author for me since her books weren’t all that long and lean towards the lighter side of romance. And so I started to make my way through her collection of titles.

I picked up Wild Heat in the hopes it would be a light, quick read in between some other books I was reading.

What I Liked:

–It was a romance suspense–

This book is “darker” than the other Andre reads I have read. It is definitely more of a mystery suspense novel than a straight romance. Again, not necessarily a bad thing but not what I was looking for at the time. The book started really slow and then picked up after a few chapters in. I had a hard time putting it down once I reached the climax.
Bonus was that it wasn’t overly predictable either!

–Closure!!!–

In my mind, Bella Andre is notorious for rushed endings that leave me little to no closure. So I was really pleased that this story seemed to have a complete ending.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Just Didn’t Wow Me–

While it was an enjoyable way to pass the time, I wasn’t blown away by this book. It did start a little slower so I don’t think I got as invested into the story as I would have liked.

And despite the fact that the romantic suspense genre appeals greatly to me, this one just didn’t have me convinced this is the genre for me to explore more.

Will I Finish It?

Considering the fact that I read Wild Heat in the summer of 2013, drafted a review for it and never thought about the series again until I cleaned up my draft folder on my blog in October 2016—the short answer is no.

Series Rating: DNF

Wild Heat 3/5 | Hot as Sin N/A | Never too Hot N/A

overall

I’m sure fans of Bella Andre will enjoy this one. But I feel like there are better romantic suspense novels out there if that is what you are looking for.

Read if You Like: firefighters, light romance
Avoid if You: want a stronger romantic suspense

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Single Sundays: Vanquished by S E Green

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 Vanquished (from Goodreads):

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

**Warning: For mature audiences only**

breakdown

Author: S E Green (aka Shannon Greenland)
Genre: New Adult, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: cool **sexual situations mentioned**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Lola’s Blog Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty happy in my New Adult contemporary bubble. I love my romances but I’m always looking for those non-contemporary reads.

Vanquished appealed to me because it isn’t your everyday story. It has darker vibes to it thanks to the “secret society” and Valoria’s need to fight for her life. I was curious to see what her journey would take to get off the island.

(Also, I didn’t know this until I was writing the review but S E Green is a pen name for Shannon Greenland who wrote one of my favourite NA reads, Shadow of a Girl!)

The World & a Warning:

You can definitely expect a deviant world when you pick this novel up but thankfully, Green isn’t overly descriptive in the scenes. What I mean is you aren’t subjected to any scenes where sex acts are fully described nor are the scenes of violence particularly gory. They get to the point pretty quick.

However, if you are uncomfortable with abusive situations, especially ones involving teenagers and/or children, maybe stay away from this one! Like I said, the scenes don’t go on and on for pages but they are blunt in what is happening and it isn’t always the nicest image to have.

The Plot:

I really liked the action of this novel. Many times the “fight for your life” trope is overshadowed by the politics of the situation or the romance. That isn’t the case here. You get those fights scenes throughout the novel and it gives the story a faster pace.

That being said, the story lagged for me in the middle. While I liked all the developments, I kinda wish the final “putting it all together” ending started a little earlier. It just took a little too long to get there for me.

The Characters:

I really liked Valoria’s spirit. Her drive to save her sister is exactly what I wanted to see. I also liked that she never compromises herself to give in to the temptations of the island. Once she starts to win it would have been easy for her to live a life of relative comfort by being the victor. But she sticks to her morals (as much as she can given the circumstances) and I respected that. She’s one kick ass lady.

The Romance:

This didn’t play as much of a role as I expected (especially when the island has sex slaves–I thought there would be more sexual situations for Valoria). It’s definitely has a slow burn/will-they-won’t-they vibe to it. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure why this gets a romance label on Goodreads because it is such a small factor to the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a gritty, take no prisoners New Adult action story, this is a great one to read. But if you are uncomfortable with violence, depraved sexual acts and fighting to the death, best to avoid it.

Read if You Like: dark stories, action
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance
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Series Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

Series Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

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

Ruined Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined (from Goodreads):
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; Audiobook (#2 & #3)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

But this novel also promised to have a slightly darker edge to it; or at least, I hoped it would. Not that I like to have a lot of violence in my novels, but I do enjoy novels with action and the grittier scenes that happen from physical confrontations. It adds another layer of risk to the story.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this novel just after its release, but I still really wanted to read it. So I avoided reading too much into any other reviews so that I could go into this fresh…and I sure am glad I did!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

This book always kept moving! Whether it was romantic developments or character scenes or action scenes, I never had a dull moment while reading this.

Honestly, if I could have stayed in bed all day to read this, I totally would have!

–The Romance–

Like I said, I’m a sucker for this trope of characters falling in love with their enemies. So this was one of my favourite aspects. These two were a perfect match in my eyes and I like the character growth that is a result of their relationship.

A lot of people will probably struggle with this trope–especially with these two and all that happens between them–but I don’t think it overshadows the story too much. You still have a lot of great plot development outside of the romance even if it is often the main focus of the plot.

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

I like books that aren’t afraid to take risks. If that means killing off a character or two, that’s ok. It makes the story that touch more unpredictable and keeps me excited to see what will happen next because there are no restraints.

I also like that there seems to be true villains here. Evil characters are often water-downed but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s in store.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

I’m one of those readers who likes things spelled out for her, especially when I’m starting a new series.

When it comes to the term “ruined” I honestly had no idea what that meant when I first started reading. I knew these people had “powers” but it was never clearly explained. Or if it was, I totally missed it. Sure, it was easy to understand it once I got a grasp of their abilities but I hate when things are told as if you should already know what it all means. 

I also would have loved a map of the world! While it was pretty easy to orient it, I just think it would be neat to see.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There were so many interesting plot developments at the end of Ruined that I can’t wait to see what is in store. I’m hoping for a touch more world-building and maybe a dash more politics; but otherwise, if Avenged sticks to the same foundations as Ruined, it’ll be great!

updates

–June 12, 2019– Book #2: Avenged

What a solid sequel! It’s been years since I read the first book but it was so easy to re-imurse myself into this story and world (even if I was getting it mixed up with Frostblood when I started it 😅).

The story was always moving and I loved how we jumped from different characters to give us that 360° view of everything. Definitely some good twists/plot progressions along the way (my wish for more politics was definitely met) but nothing shocked or overly wowed me which is why I give it a 4/5 despite enjoying the ride.

Since it had been so long since I read the first book, I decided to try the audio version and am so happy I did! It almost makes me wish I read Ruined as an audiobook. Such an entertaining listen! Everyone has their own voices and it really brought the story to life!

–June 18, 2019– Book #3: Allied

Again, I listened to the audiobook here and it was a great listen. I finished it very quickly! This story is just so engrossing and I was eager to see how it would all wrap up. I’m not sure what ending I wanted/imagined but I don’t think it was necessarily what we got. It perhaps felt a little anticlimactic. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable end to an enjoyable series.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged 4/5 | Allied 4/5

overall

While this story does borrow characteristics and tropes common to the genre, (I think many readers will draw parallels to other novels) I still had a lot of fun with this story. It still felt fresh to me and it definitely has its own unique quirks to make it stand out on its own.

Read if You Like: in love with the enemy romances
Avoid if You: want stronger world-building

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Movie Mondays: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen (2009) | Movie: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Series: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Horror, Action, Zombies, Retelling
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Source & Format: Own–Paperback

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I had just finished Pride and Prejudice (PP) when I picked up this zombified version. I’ll admit, I was more interested in this horror version than the classic simply because I had heard really good things about it. But I wanted to be familiar with the original story (not just what I watched in movies) and so it served as good motivation to pick up the classic novel.

The two books are very, very similar. The best way I can think to describe Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) is PP with new scenes added to include the zombie aspect. Of course, certain things are reworked to account for the fact that all the Bennet girls are warriors but lots of scenes are word-for-word the Austen writings–which is why she is listed as an author on this novel.

As a girl who likes action in her stories, the zombie slaying battles were a lot of fun to read. It (ironically) adds a little life to the story and makes such a well known story fresh and exciting. Not that PP isn’t great on its own, it’s just cool to see a different spin on a story we know so well.

And dare I say, it actually made me really like the Elizabeth and Darcy pairing even more. Their love-hate relationship really works well for this zombie version. You could see why they liked each other so much and how great of a pair they were for each other.

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I think fans of the classic novel will enjoy this fun take if they don’t mind zombies. I also think it will appeal to people who want to read the classic but might find it on the drier side. It serves as a great introduction to the classics of Jane Austen and will hopefully ignite a love for her work.

Rating: 5/5

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First, it took me wayyyy too long to watch it! I wanted to see it opening weekend but it wasn’t playing in my local theatre on my Reading Week break and by the time I got back to a bigger city a week later, it was gone! So I had to wait forever to get my hands on a copy!

Were My Expectations Met?

I just wanted to have fun watching this movie and I definitely did! While I love the other PP movies, this one lacked the more sombre and seriousness of those presentations. This one exaggerated characters more (like Mr Collins) and had great action sequences so it moves at a fast and exciting pace.

All the Bennet girls kicked serious ass; especially Lizzie. She’s still that strong and stubborn heroine who doesn’t give up a fight–only in this case it is literally!

How Close is it to the Book?

I read the book ages ago so I’m not sure how close it truly was. While I know the PP classic story very well, I don’t really recall all the action and zombie scenes all that much. But everything seemed to be the same to me or if it was different, it was all in the same vein so I truly didn’t notice.

Did I Like the Cast?

I’m a huge Lily James fan. Don’t ask me why exactly; I think she just does a great job at playing strong heroines. I know that Natalie Portman was originally tapped to play Lizzie but I think Lily was the much better choice.

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Sam Riley will never be Collin Firth’s Darcy in my eyes (the standard for all Mr Darcy’s past and future), but he really did a fantastic job. He’s got the whole stiff and proper vibe going on and it works.

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But you know who really stole this one for me? Was Matt Smith as Mr Collins. He was just hilarious! His character adds a lot of humour to this story which can be pretty depressing at times (I mean, they are killing undead people they sometimes know). In other adaptations, I always feel sympathetic to Mr Collins and how he gets tossed aside as a husband; but here he is the Shakespearean fool and it makes it easy to see why he isn’t that much of a catch.

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I think we can all agree that the original novel by Austen is the real winner. I mean it’s a classic that is adored by generations and is one of the most well known romances in history.

But I think it depends on what you want when it comes to PPZ and its forms. The book rings more true to the classic novel simply because it shares a lot of the same passages. So if you want a retelling, perhaps the book is your pick. But if you want to be entertained with a loose adaptation, the movie is just a lot of fun. It has the action and it has the romance and it’s simply a joy to watch.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (from Goodreads):

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

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Series Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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

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Synopsis for Red Rising (from Goodreads):
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2016
Series: Red Rising Trilogy

There is a spin-off series in the works, the Iron Gold Trilogy.

Author: Pierce Brown
# of Books: 3 (The Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action, War, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2014 – February 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Red Rising caught my eye around the time it was released in 2014 but I didn’t think much else of it. The synopsis sounded intriguingly vague and so I decided to “wait and see” if I should pick up the series. As time passed, it seemed to be getting lots of positive reviews and I made the decision to wait until everything was released so I could binge read it all.

I admit, I was a little worried when I first saw the cover of Red Rising, touting it to be like “The Hunger Games”. Lots of series of have tried but nothing has ever lived up to the rush I got reading the first Hunger Games novel. But, the promise of a male protagonist and a dangerous, political game made me excited to dive into this series.

The Concept / The World:

This is one dark, dangerous world–and it sucks you in. I adore dystopian stories that are rich in politics and strategies and this series has it in spades. You don’t know who to trust; you don’t know what games are afoot and if the characters are aware; and you definitely don’t know who will live to see another day.

In that respect, it reminds me of Game of Thrones. You have all these players vying for power in a world that is simple but complexly layered. And no one seems to be safe from the violence. Sure, get attached to the characters but be prepared that some might not make it far.

I also see where the Hunger Games links occur. The idea is very Katniss Everdeen-esque. Darrow is picked to the be face of the rebellion (like Katniss) but unlike Katniss, he doesn’t hesitate to do so. The plot of Red Rising is also very similar to the Hunger Games themselves–and I think fans will embrace the concept with open arms even if it is more politically driven than the need to survive alone.

The Plot:

This series is one of those 5 star reads you give simply because it is beautifully crafted from start to finish. You don’t give it 5 stars simply because you couldn’t put it down–you give it 5 stars for its methodical execution. Simply put, I’ve never read a series like this before. Though I found these novels addicting, I really took my time with them–averaging 7 days to read them instead of my usual 2-3 days.

These books have so many layers; so many doorways for the plot to move down. The twists were amazing. I love stories that have so many games afoot you don’t know fact from fiction or who is in on the betrayal or not.

That being said, I can see why people wouldn’t enjoy them that much. They do start slow, each book rebuilding itself after the amazing ending of the last. I know the violence and murder will turn a lot of people off. People may have a hard time liking the characters. And if you don’t enjoy the mind-games of characters and the charades of politics, you might find this series dry as well.

All I can suggest is to try the sample or give the first book a shot because this whole series builds up beautifully. I feel like these books are ones you appreciate more in hindsight, when you can see how everything unfolded and how it all works together.

The Characters:

Most YA dystopian reads that I pick up have female protagonists. Honestly, I think Winston from 1984 is the only male dystopian lead I can think of off the top of my head if pressed. And while I love reading about strong female protagonists, I always enjoy seeing a male hero rise to the occasion.

Darrow is an interesting character. He easily garnered my sympathy early in the series and maintained it throughout. I loved the way his mind worked–it was endlessly fascinating. His plans, his manipulations, his compassion–they make him unique and a joy to watch. Seeing him grow over the course of these novels was a real treat.

I won’t say much about the other characters because it will lead to a lot of spoilers but I really grew attached to a lot of them. Some I didn’t even realize until something awful happened. I definitely loved and hated these characters and I love when a series brings that out in me!

The Romance:

This is such a minor part of the series but I love how it adds to the depth of the story. This isn’t a romance series by any stretch of the imagination.

My Expectations for the Spin-off Series:

I have my hypotheses for what will happen next but I can NOT wait to see what happens next!

Series Rating: 5/5

Red Rising 5/5 | Golden Son 5/5 | Morning Star 5/5

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If you love a good science fiction novel rich in action, political intrigue and many, many plot twists, you NEED to read this series!

Read if You Like: politcal dystopians, male protagonists, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance

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Series Review: The Prodigy Chronicles by C L Denault

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

The Prodigy Chronicles

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Synopsis for Gambit (from Goodreads):

In Earth’s battle-ridden future, humans have evolved. Those with extraordinary skills rise to power and fame. Those without live in poverty.

Sixteen-year-old Willow Kent believed she was normal. But when a genetically-advanced military officer shows up in her village and questions her identity, long-buried secrets begin to emerge. With remarkable skills and a shocking genetic code the Core and its enemies will do anything to obtain, Willow suddenly finds the freedom she craves slipping through her fingers. Greed, corruption, and genetic tampering threaten every aspect of her existence as she’s thrust, unwilling, into the sophisticated culture of the elite Core city. To ensure peace, she must leave the past behind, marry a man she’s never met, and submit to the authority of a relentless officer with a hidden agenda of his own.

Her life has become a dangerous game. How much will she sacrifice in order to win?

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Series: The Prodigy Chronicles
Author: C L Denault
# of Books: 1+ (Gambit, book 2, book 3, book 4)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 will be released
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC  |  Thanks REUTS Publications!

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**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Gambit had been on my NetGalley personal wishlist for a long time. It was always at the top of my “request” list because the synopsis sounded kick-ass. It sounded like a science fiction dystopian novel rich in political intrigue and danger. I LOVE stories like that and I really wanted Gambit to join that list of awesomeness.

What I Liked:

–The Genetics Aspect–

I thought the abilities of these characters were really intriguing. As someone who has studied biology for many years, I liked the approach this novel took. Society’s focus on making the human race stronger by selective breeding and other methods–ethics aside–is very interesting and gives this world a depth I really enjoyed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

I felt like this book moved at a slow pace. I thought more of it would take place in the Core, leading to more politics and the like, but it took a long time to get there. And once it did, I had lost interest.

It doesn’t help that Willow just lets things happen around her. She doesn’t push back too much–at least that’s the case earlier in the novel–so she was a bit of a lump on a log for the vast majority of this story.

But another reason the pacing seemed so was…

–Too Many Unanswered Questions–

I kinda felt like things were thrown out there but never really worked upon. Things were mentioned earlier and then randomly reappear later and I had a hard time keeping everything straight. Maybe part of the problem was I read this book sporadically over a week and with mild interest, thus dampening my memory but things just didn’t seem to add up for me.

–The Romance–

At first, I worried there was going to be a love triangle but that is not the case in the slightest. The arranged marriage trope takes a backseat for the longest time and the other potential triangle goes away quickly.

But with the potential love interest, I wasn’t feeling it. It seemed to appear out of nowhere and I didn’t like the unhealthy approach it had. Shame, because a good romance might have kept me interest.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There are a lot of things left unanswered that might make this story more interesting. However, in the long run, I didn’t enjoy this one all that much and my investment is pretty much zilch in continuing on to the next one.

My Rating: 2/5

Gambit 2/5 | Book 2 TBP

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This one just took too long to get anywhere. The potential was there but it just didn’t work it to its full advantage. I would seek a second opinion if you are interested in reading it because I know a lot of people did enjoy it.

Read if You Like: slower stories, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Book Review: 27 Days to Midnight by Kristine Kruppa

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Synopsis for 27 Days to Midnight (from Goodreads):
Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die. Except her.

Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died to protect…and the time research that could bring him back to life.

Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch.

In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren’s life, or her own. And time is running out.

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Author: Kristine Kruppa
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple (though mostly Alternating)
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If I see the word “steampunk” I almost always pick that book up or add it to my TBR. It’s one of my favourite genres because I love the fusion of historical fiction and science fiction. With it comes rebellious heroines and dashing heroes; action and adventure. It’s a combination of my favourite things and when I saw the blog tour opportunity for this standalone novel, I knew I had to try to be a part of it.

I was looking forward a fun and fast steampunk adventure with a little dash of romance. Plus, the whole idea of knowing when you die via a watch? That was pretty interesting!

The World:

What a love about steampunk novels is that there are staples in every book (like automatons and aircrafts), regardless of the author but there is always a really cool twist that makes each novel or series unique–and this is no exception.

The idea that everyone knows when they are going to die is super intriguing. It’s also really well done, giving this story its backbone and driving plotline. I thought everything was clearly explained or very easy to follow in that respect. It’s complex but not complicated and I loved that.

The Plot:

The plot definitely had its ups and downs but is pretty steady for the last 75 pages. I’m not the biggest adventure fan but this one kept me interested throughout. And this story was definitely more adventure than anything else. But along the way you get some great character and plot development that keeps everything moving. Plus, there is a lot of action–more so than I expected!

Where this story really succeeds is with its POVs from other characters that aren’t Dahlia and Farren. They don’t happen very often but when they do, they add a depth to the story and its plot. You get the fuller picture and you’re able to put things together before Dahlia or Farren would and so you begin to anticipate what will happen next. Those scenes really made me excited to keep reading.

The Characters:

I didn’t like Dahlia immediately but I quickly warmed up to her the more I read. Her character development was fantastic I think. She really grew from the young, spoiled girl we meet at the start to a stronger young woman who I really liked.

Farren charmed me right from the start. I think I have a soft spot for rakish young aviators but that is beside the point! He too had some great development and I think he was the perfect companion for Dahlia on this quest.

The Romance:

This was my only disappointed in the novel. I really wanted some more substance here. The romance really takes a backseat while I personally wanted it to be a bit more at the forefront. However, I really enjoyed the other plot aspects and there was enough action to keep me entertained but I wouldn’t have minded a few more romantic moments here and there 🙂

My Rating: 4/5

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If you are looking for a fun, action packed adventure novel set in a steampunk world, this is it! I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Kruppa’s future works.

Read if You Like: adventure stories, steampunk
Avoid if You: more focus on the romance

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kristinekruppaKristine Kruppa

Kristine Kruppa is a mechanical engineer, writer, and world traveler. Her days are spent designing cool new car parts, but her evenings are filled with writing and cats. She has traveled solo to seventeen countries on five continents. Her other hobbies include hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, exploring used book stores, and accidentally climbing mountains. To keep up with her adventures, follow Kristine on Twitter @kskruppa.

Author Links: TwitterGoodreads

 

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