Tag «Conclusion: end of the road»

End of the Road: This is for book series I have decided not to continue reading for one reason or another. Seek a second opinion.

Other Conclusions:
Downhill | Missed the Mark | New Favourite | Not for Everyone | Only Gets Better | Slow Start | Staying Tuned | Time will Tell | Worth a Read

Series Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Series Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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 Dread Nation (from Goodreads):

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

breakdown

Series: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Alternative History, Zombies, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2018 – February 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Dread Nation, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember if I learned about this series via other blogs or simply from browsing my library catelogue. I’m going to go with the latter because I didn’t mark it down as a blog find.

Anyways, I love horror/fantasy spins on historical events and this sounded like it would be a kick butt novel!

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

Like I said, any twist on a historical event automatically gets bonus points in my eyes. I loved the idea of zombies in the Civil War era. But what I loved even more was how it was used to highlight racial tensions throughout the novel. It just emphasized even more the ideals that brought about the war and why it was so divisive to the United States.

–Girl Power–

I always love it when girls can fend for themselves and Jane is a strong heroine to get behind. She doesn’t need anyone to save her yet she isn’t afraid to get help along the way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Start–

I think I wanted to jump right into the action and get to slaying the zombies sooner than later. I found the first third of the novel to be very slow. But once the plot went in a direction I wasn’t anticipating, my attention was piqued once again…until I felt like it mellowed out. There just didn’t seem to be a lot happening all the time and I could feel my attention waning.

–Some of the Twists Felt Like An Afterthought–

I don’t like when plot twists are purposely misleading. There are some great mysteries to uncover about Jane’s past and the like, and slowly we get to learn them. Until you get to the end and realize everything you’ve been told has been a flat out lie. I don’t like it when a narrator you believed to be reliable suddenly isn’t. I would have much preferred that Jane had played the oblivious card and just not have said anything about the situation in her inner monologue until it was the right time to spring the truth.

It just made certain twists seem like an afterthought. Like an editor reading the book went “hey, you know what would be great?” and instead of reworking the little bits earlier in the novel, it’s just thrown out there near the end and you just have to take it as a reader.

Spoiler

I’m talking about Jane killing her father. That whole twist just didn’t seem cohesive to me when she had told us earlier in the book one version of the story.

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My Audiobook Experience:

I love Bahni Turpin as a narrator for any novel. Her narration of The Hate U Give is award worthy. But having only really listened to her for modern/contemporary novels, her narration of Jane almost seemed too modern for my tastes. To be fair: that could simply be the actual writing of the novel and not necessarily her performance. But if I didn’t necessarily know the setting, I’d think it was a contemporary novel.

Will I Finish It?

While I’m curious to know what happens next, I also just don’t care. I felt like things ended in a way that I’m ok with stopping here and never knowing how this series wraps up.

Series Rating: DNF

Dread Nation 3/5 | Deathless Divide N/A | Book 3

overall

I think different readers will find different things to like about this series. I know that the concept itself will draw people in but I wonder if it acts as a bit of a blinder in the sense that you get so into the idea of what this novel means that you don’t realize it isn’t the strongest when it comes to actual plot since not much truly happens.

Read if You Like: fantasy spins on historic events
Avoid if You: want more action

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DNF Review: Unfixable by Tessa Bailey

DNF Review: Unfixable by Tessa Bailey

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 Unfixable (from Goodreads):

He’s the last thing she wants…but the only thing she needs.

Willa Peet isn’t interested in love. She’s been there, done that, and has the shattered heart to prove it. Ready to shake the breakup, she heads to Dublin, Ireland. But there’s a problem. A dark-haired, blue-eyed problem with a bad attitude that rivals her own. And he’s not doling out friendly Irish welcomes.

Shane Claymore just wants to race. The death of his father forced him off the Formula One circuit, but he’s only staying in Dublin long enough to sell the Claymore Inn and get things in order for his mother and younger sister. He never expected the sarcastic American girl staying at the inn to make him question everything.

But even as Willa and Shane’s fiery natures draw them together, their pasts threaten to rip them apart. Can Shane give up racing to be with the woman he loves, or will Willa’s quest to resurrect the tough-talking, no-shit-taking girl she used to be destroy any hope of a future together?

breakdown

Author: Tessa Bailey
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Unfixable at 37% (Start of Chapter 9). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought this book years ago, probably when the New Adult trend was just peaking…and I was into angsty leads. But I actually read Tessa Bailey’s Broke and Beautiful Series first and really enjoyed it for it’s lightness and fun. And while this book seemed like it would be a touch darker, I went in optimistically.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

When I picked this book up, I had just finished looking at a possible trip to Ireland…and this book totally made me wanderlust after the country. I really want to see Dublin one day so it was nice to live vicariously through Willa for a bit.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of Chemistry–

I was excited by the I-hate-you vibes Willa and Shane were throwing each other’s ways when they first meet. But that was about all the sparks I got from them. Seriously, I didn’t see the connection between them at all. And before I knew it, Shane was busting out some serious dirty talk and it just felt so out of place for me.

I had a similar experience with Bailey’s Broke and Beautiful Series:

So while I could see the basis of their relationships forming, they fall quick and hard solely based on a few interactions and not much else.

I let it slide a bit in that series because they were a lighter read. But I had hoped that things would be a little deeper here.

–Lack of Shane’s POV–

As I read more and more romances, I find I really prefer ones with dual POVs. Unless the hero needs to be kept a mystery for some reason, I much prefer that he have his own chapters so I can understand his motives a little more. Perhaps I would have felt the chemistry between these two more if Shane’s inner monologue was available.

Will I Finish It?

I was only 8 chapters in and Willa’s angst was becoming too much for me. I just wasn’t invested in this relationship at all, gorgeous setting aside.

My Rating: DNF

overall

I think if you like romances that happen quickly and don’t mind minimal development, you’ll enjoy this.

Read if You Like: angsty heroines, one POV romances
Avoid if You: want a deeper story

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DNF Series Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

DNF Series Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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 Girls of Paper and Fire (from Goodreads):

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

breakdown

Series: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book #3 will be published in 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Girls of Paper and Fire (#1) at 41% (middle of Chapter 15) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was definitely the cover that drew me to this book but the synopsis was intriguing. I was hesitant though because it is published by James Patterson’s publishing group and I’ve had both great success (Stalking Jack the Ripper) and great failure (Gunslinger Girl) with the YA titles in the past.

What I Liked:

–Reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha–

The story style here reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha. There isn’t a main drama driving the plot forward; rather we watch this young girl navigate this foreign world she never thought she’d be a part of.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Monumental Had Happened–

Honestly, I felt like we regurgitated the same things every other chapter. Lei learns something that she needs to do as a Paper Girl. She describes everything in sight in incredible detail. She gossips in her inner monologue about the other girls. Laments about her family/old life. Repeats it all again.

I wanted scenes with the King. I wanted petty pranks with the other girls. I wanted a forbidden angsty romance. I wanted court politics. I wanted Rebellion. I didn’t get that. And I know that those things take time, but even the promise of them seemed to be lacking despite how far into the novel I was.

I suppose you’d say this is more character driven but I was nearly halfway through the book and Lei was only starting to show signs of evolution.

–Romance Was Slow to Start–

I think the tag this book often gets for genres is a big giveaway about who Lei falls in love with. But if I hadn’t seen that tag, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you at all who this all consuming lover would be.

Here are some of the thoughts I wrote on Goodreads:

October 31, 2019 –

39.0% “I cheated and read some reviews about the forbidden romance because nothing seems to be happening (though my suspicion was right about who she will fall in love with).” (Audiobook Edition)

October 30, 2019 –

35.0% “I feel like I’ve dedicated too much time to this now give up…one more shot tomorrow” (Audiobook Edition)

October 29, 2019 –

27.0% “Something exciting better happen soon or else this might be the end of this book for me” (Audiobook Edition)

If you list a book with Forbidden Romance, you better drive that idea home for me. I wasn’t feeling it at all even if the idea in theory was something I loved.

Will I Finish It?

Not at all. I even read the synopsis for the sequel and I still couldn’t get excited for it.

My Audiobook Experience:

I have nothing critical to say about the audiobook. It was an easy listen.

Series Rating: DNF

Girls of Paper and Fire DNF | Girls of Storm and Shadow N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

If you like fantasy novels that are more character driven and take the everyday approach, this is a great series for you.

Read if You Like: character driven fantasies
Avoid if You: want more action
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Spin-off Saturdays: The Maddox Brothers by Jamie McGuire

Spin-off Saturdays: The Maddox Brothers by Jamie McGuire

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 Maddox Brothers Series is a spin-off of the Beautiful Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: The Maddox Brothers

This is a spinoff of the Beautiful Series.

Author: Jamie McGuire
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 2014 – August 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (Beautiful Oblivion)

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

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Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Beautiful Oblivion, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

My Expectations?

It had been a long time since I read Beautiful Disaster but I remembered being very excited for the spin-off series when it was announced. Given my review of that book, I went into this series expecting some slightly over the top drama but with a cute, swoon-worthy romance nonetheless.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Beautiful Oblivion kinda felt like the slightly more grown-up version of the original series (though I’m not necessarily talking about character maturity). They chemistry between Cami and Trenton is off the charts and I was totally in love with their love story.

And when I compare the dramatics here to the original series, they seem more convoluted and messier. The stakes just seem higher for our leads and I love the tension that brought about…until I didn’t.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Well, the love triangle in Beautiful Oblivion (Book #1) really killed that book for me. The whole situation was overly cryptic and though I can see why with some of the developments, it still was a little much for me. I guess I didn’t understand the struggle or what the big deal was.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really loved the audiobook so I was a little bummed that my library didn’t have the read of the books as audio.

Why I Won’t Be Continuing the Series:

I actually planned on reading the sequels once I finished Beautiful Oblivion. While certain things irked me, I felt like I knew what to expect for the sequels so I was willing to give them a chance. But as time passed, I really only remembered the things that drove me nuts about the book and so I’ve decided to just let this series go…well, into oblivion.

Series Rating: DNF

Beautiful Oblivion 3/5 | Beautiful Redemption N/A| Beautiful Sacrifice N/A | Beautiful Burn N/A |Beautiful Funeral N/A

overall

If you are into melodrama and have enjoyed McGuire’s other titles, this will be right up your alley.

Read if You Like: romances around family, melodramatics
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Oblivion (from Goodreads):

Fiercely independent Camille “Cami” Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

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DNF Series Review: The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden

DNF Series Review: The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden

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 A Touch of Death (from Goodreads):

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

breakdown

Series: Outlands Pentalogy
Author: Rebecca Crunden
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: February 2017 – July 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading A Touch of Death (#1) at 21%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Rebecca reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing her series, I was definitely interested. I love a good dystopian novel and after reading the synopsis, I was intrigued by the many layers it promised.

What I Liked:

–The Action Starts Immediately–

We literally hit the ground running with two characters and are thrust into the crux of issue: the need to escape to the Outlands.

And I think some readers with find it suspenseful that we get into the thick of things quickly without much preamble, but for me…

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Felt Like I Started 5 Chapters In–

The problem I had with the fast start is that I felt like I was immediately behind. In the prologue, we see Nate in jail and then at the start of the first “chapter” (there aren’t really chapters), he’s running with Catherine through the fields.

What? Why? Who are these people?!

It was almost like the synopsis served as the exposition for this series and that in order to understand the background, you need to read it first. And I don’t like that in my books. I want a little more foreplay before we get into the crux of the issues.

In some ways, it felt like the worldbuilding wasn’t there at all and then other times, I felt like I was getting dumped on with info. It was just overwhelming for me.

Will I Finish It?

Unfortunately, this just wasn’t for me so I will be finishing my time with this series here.

My Rating: DNF

overall

As a reader who needs that foundation and worldbuilding early on, this just didn’t work for me. But others who like long worded prose and the suspense of slowly putting the pieces together might enjoy this.

Read if You Like: dystopian, fast-paced plots
Avoid if You: need strong worldbuilding from the start

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Series Review: Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

Series Review: Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

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 This Savage Song (from Goodreads):

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

breakdown

Series: Monsters of Verity
Author: Victoria Schwab
# of Books: 2 (This Savage Song, Our Dark Duet)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2016 – June 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Disclaimer: I opted not to pick up the finale, Our Dark Duet. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I felt like you couldn’t escape this series when it first came out in 2016. Schwab is one of those highly toted authors in the blogging community and after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I understand why. She creates really cool worlds and intriguing stories. But I didn’t have a stellar experience with A Gathering of Shadows (I found it to be dreadfully slow until the last half of the book) so I wasn’t sure about this series.

When I saw my library had the audiobook copies of both books, I decided to make it the next series I read via audio. I was looking forward to it but I was also hesitant after reading some mediocre reviews from some trusted bloggers I follow. But I went in with an open mind and hoped the outcome would be positive.

The Concept / The World:

Alright, the concept here is super duper cool. The idea that these actual monsters have come to life because of people’s actions is really neat. It’s such a unique world and gives this series an interesting spin.

But I felt a little lost in it as well. I mean, I got the politics of the world. That was easy to figure out. What I struggled with was the various monster types. Now this might have been a result of listening to it via audio–I often struggle with remembering terms when I don’t physically see them–but it’s hard to say.

The Plot:

Given my experience with 2 other Schwab novels, I knew that this story was going to take a while to build up. I’ve always noted how slow it takes to get to whatever has been listed in the synopsis with her novels.

In this case, I was at the 56% (approximately) mark when the “failed assassination attempt” occurs. Now, perhaps I just read the synopsis wrong, emphasizing the wrong aspect. But for me, when something is listed in the synopsis, I expect it to happen well before the 50%–usually closer to the 20% because that’s what I expect the novel to be about. So to say I was a little disappointed in the plot for this story is a bit of an understatement.

As a result, the pacing for this just seemed off to me. When I was a quarter of the way through, I contemplated DNFing it because it wasn’t holding my attention. I felt like nothing was happening. But I stuck with it, figuring my crappy mood was to blame. And things did pick up a bit after that but never to the levels I was expecting.

Once the plot got to its climax, I did find everything to be interesting. However, I thought the twist was terribly predictable. I had figured out what was going to happen before we even reached the assassination attempt that sets everything into motion. It just seemed so obvious to me. So in that respect, I found it to be very disappointing.

The Characters:

I think the hype people give these two dampened my potential to love August and Kate. To me, they were almost cliche in their delivery. I get why they are presented as they are: it’s the whole dynamic of the story that’s listed in the first two lines of the synopsis. So it works for the story.

It’s just that I never fell in love with them. They never become real to me in the way that I expected them to after reading how people just adored everything they did. And it surprised me because I find when I listen to audiobooks, I find it much easier to empathize and connect with characters because I am hearing their voices and emotion aloud.

The Romance:

I did find it nice that the romance isn’t the focus of this story. It’s hard to find an urban fantasy or a YA paranormal story that doesn’t become consumed by the romance between the leads.

Why I Won’t Be Picking Up Our Dark Duet:

Because I wasn’t overly impressed with the first novel, I didn’t want to read the second. Things wrap-up enough here that I am satisfied with leaving the story as is and moving on to other novels.

My Audiobook Experience:

As I said above, perhaps the audiobook dampened my world-building experience. It’s hard to say. But I did enjoy the audiobook production. For only having one narrator and a female one at that for a dual POV, it’s great. I think it worked well that I listened to this instead of reading it because I probably would have lost interest in the text a lot earlier.

Series Rating: DNF

This Savage Song 2/5 | Our Dark Duet N/A

overall

Get a second opinion on this one. I think fans of Schwab’s writing style (slowly building, often wordy prose) will love this. But if you’re looking for a quick YA urban fantasy that doesn’t focus on romance, look elsewhere because it takes a while to reach its peak.

Read if You Like: long books, slow building
Avoid if You: dislike urban fantasy, want lots of action

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DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 14: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Heartless (from Goodreads):

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

breakdown

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Origin Story, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Heartless at 39%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I fell in love with Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I was eager to see what else she could write. While I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan, I’ve always been intrigued by the Queen of Hearts so I was more than curious to learn about her origins.

What I Liked:

–It Made Me Hungry–

Cath just wants to be a baker and I could see why: she comes up with some wonderful pastries. I have never felt so hungry reading a book before! Normally I wouldn’t want to eat anything in Wonderland but I’d make an exception for Cath’s baked goods!

–A Flawless Recreation of Wonderland–

Like I said above, Alice in Wonderland doesn’t do much for me as a story–it’s a little too weird for me. However, Meyer easily transports you back there as a reader. All those key elements (and I’m sure a few little details only true Wonderland fans could pick up) are there and it’s like having the story brought to life around you once again.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wonderland World-Building It’s Elaborated On–

However, in the same breath I want a little more explanation for why things are like they are in Wonderland. I know that this is an origin story about the Queen of Hearts so that’s what the focus will be on but why do lemon trees grow out of dreams? Why do certain foods shrink you? I’d have liked some logically background on the very illogical world of Wonderland.

–Aimless Plot–

One of the greatest weaknesses of an origin story (for me as a reader at least), is that they are rather mundane in the narration. You kinda go through the motions of the lead character’s everyday life and slowly you start to see how they transform into their iconic persona. But compared to their legend, the backstory can be a little undramatic and not as exciting as you want it to be.

I think about the story Blackhearts–the origin story of Blackbeard. Now I found that there wasn’t much to the plot there when it came to dramatics but I really loved the characters and their development so I didn’t mind as much. Here, I just found Cath to be a very boring character and the Queen of Hearts should be anything but.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook is a great production. I never got lost in the narration and I loved how everyone had a unique voice. It is a fabulous listen.

Will I Finish It?:

Nope. The only thing that could have kept me reading was the romance and it wasn’t really working for me either.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This was a miss for me. But I think if you enjoy the world of Wonderland and like origin stories, you’ll probably enjoy this!

Read if You Like: origin stories, longer stories, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike Alice in Wonderland

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DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 13: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (from Goodreads):

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

breakdown

Series: Rise of the Empress
Author: Julie C Dao
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (#1) at 52% (Chapter 22) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually tried to read this book earlier last year as an eBook but knew immediately that I wasn’t in the right mind frame to start it. That’s why I made it a selection for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge. I’m obsessed with Asian folklore and I find very few books seem to have it (though more and more do lately!) so when I do find it, I’m so on-board. This one I stumbled upon randomly at my library but I was looking forward to it once I read the synopsis!

What I Liked:

–The Idea of the Prophecy–

When I first started reading this story, I actually thought Xifeng was Snow White and her aunt was the Evil Queen. But that’s not the case at all. I really loved the idea of a prophecy as the driving motivation for Xifeng and the questions it stirs up. Are all these things really happening because it is her destiny? Or are they happening because she makes them happen in order to fulfill her destiny? It made me think about things in a grand scheme and I love when a book can do that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Character Driven–

Normally I wouldn’t complain about a Character Driven story. In fact, it was kinda nice to have a heroine who isn’t physically strong and who has to rely on her wit and cunning in order to accomplish things. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that isn’t plagued with battle scenes.

But I just didn’t like Xifeng at all and that makes it hard to follow a story that is just about her and her life.

It’s a tough line I think because she is going to become a villain. Now I don’t need a villain with redeemable qualities; I like them evil. But Xifeng is simply boring. I guess that’s part of her charm that she rises from nothing to be something but it was a dull journey to get there. I thought once she got to court the politics of the kingdom would draw me in but it was far too mundane (and cliche) for my enjoyment.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think I got further into this book because I listened to the audiobook. The narrator has a great voice that makes the minutes roll by, even if it is a third person narration. I had the same problem with Red Winter when I listened to it as an audiobook and that was the traditional names. To my untrained ear, a lot of the terms and names sound super similar so I sometimes got characters mixed up.

Will I Finish It?

If I wasn’t reading the audiobook, I probably would have toughed out the last half of the novel by skimming it. But since the audiobook had 5 hours left and I felt myself zoning out, I decided to leave it there.

I read the reviews for the read of the series and people who had a similar experience to me in book one had it repeated in the sequels. So I’m happy with my decision not to continue.

My Rating: DNF

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns DNF | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix N/A | Song of the Crimson Flower N/A

overall

If you are looking for a fantasy novel that isn’t brimming with battle scenes and you like watching the underdog achieve greatness, no matter the expense, you might enjoy this retelling.

Read if You Like: Asian folklore, fairy tale re imaginings, villains
Avoid if You: dislike character driven stories, want action

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DNF Series Review: Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway

DNF Series Review: Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 12: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tattoo Thief (from Goodreads):

22-year-old Beryl doesn’t know why Gavin Slater trashed his penthouse, abandoned his dog and fled the country. But as his house sitter, she must pick up the pieces for the front man of the white-hot rock band Tattoo Thief.

When ultra-responsible Beryl confronts the reckless rock star, she wants to know more than just what to do with his mess. Why is he running? What’s he searching for? And is he responsible for the death of his muse?

New York newbie Beryl must find her footing in Gavin’s crazy world of the ultra-wealthy to discover her own direction and what can bring him back.

Steamy, sassy and tender, Tattoo Thief is a story of breaking from a comfort zone to find a second chance.

breakdown

Series: Tattoo Thief
Author: Heidi Joy Tretheway
# of Books: 4  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected & Companion

Book #3, Revenge Bound, is a Companion to Book #1

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 to September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Tattoo Thief at 22% (start of Chapter 15) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar. All I know is that I picked up the first book as a freebie and I probably did that because I love rockstar romances. It was a pick for my Make Me Read It Readathon 2018 but it didn’t get that many votes, so I didn’t get to it right away.

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

There was something refreshing about the approach of this story. I didn’t really take the synopsis literally but Beryl is trying to bring back Gavin back home as he searches for whatever has him lost. That means they communicate through email and texts for the first introduction. So I kinda liked the slow burn approach to their romance and how it wasn’t necessarily based on some physical attraction from across the room.

And I liked the mystery of why Gavin has fled–it kept me interested.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Slow Burn–

I think we were only introduced to Gavin maybe two chapters before I stopped reading–which is a little too late I think for a romance novel. Perhaps if I came into this story expecting a coming of age story with a dash of romance (instead of a contemporary romance novel), I wouldn’t have minded so much.

But I kinda wanted the sexual tension to be there and give me some anticipation. But their texts back and forth did nothing for me.

–Plot was a Little Monotonous–

While I was cool with learning what Beryl’s new job was, I didn’t necessarily want to go to work with her every day and watch her be super judgy about all her clients. Beryl is quirky but he’s a little rude with some of her insights. She honestly makes it her mission to snoop and discover every clients tick…but I want to read a romance not learn useless info about some character who never makes an appearance.

–Beryl Forgiving Her Friend So Easily–

I also don’t understand how she so easily forgives her flaky friend at the start of the novel. I could see how you might rekindle the friendship (everyone makes mistakes) but I would have liked to have seen more conflict arise from that whole scenario.

Will I Finish the Series?:

No. Considering that flaky friend gets her own story later on, that’s a hard no.

Series Rating: DNF

Tattoo Thief DNF | Tyler & Stella N/A | Revenge Bound N/A | Say It Louder N/A

overall

Lots of reviews call this a fast-paced story but it certainly takes a while to go anywhere…

Read if You Like: slow burn stories, coming of age
Avoid if You: want romance from the start

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DNF Series Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty

DNF Series Review: The Daevabad Trilogy by S A Chakraborty

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 11: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for City of Brass (from Goodreads):

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

breakdown

Series: Daevabad Trilogy
Author: S A Chakraborty
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Empire of Gold, will be published in 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading City of Brass (#1) at 34% and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This title first caught my eye when browsing my library’s ebook catalogue but it was a review by Uma @ Books. Bags. Burgers that had me convinced to give the lengthy first novel a try. I loved the idea as a con-artist heroine who gets thrust into the deadly world of politics and magic. So I added it to my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge and opted to try the audiobook.

What I Liked:

–Nahri’s Day Job–

The opening scene with Nahri scamming a man out of his money was great! I loved watching her character scheme. I could have read many chapters about her cons and schemes.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Ali’s POV–

Sometimes I miss things when I listen to an audiobook and I definitely missed the POV change to Ali’s character the first time it happened. I didn’t even know his character existed let alone had a POV after reading the synopsis many times. It just threw me for a loop that I never really recovered from because I was lost in what was happening and why his POV was even relevant.

–Slow Moving Plot–

I was a third of the way through and I could count the significant number of events on one hand. It was just so boring to listen to in terms of content.

I think part of my problem was Nahri and Ali’s plots seemed to be mutual exclusive to each other and I couldn’t figure out how they would intersect at all. And I didn’t have the patience to see if they would.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read some other reviews from readers who experienced similar sentiments at the start who said it wasn’t worth it in the end for them to continue.

My Audiobook Experience:

At first, I was deterred from listening to this as an audiobook since it clocks in at 24 hours in length. In my experience, any audiobook close to 15 hours loses my interest. However, I wanted to give it a shot and since I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X, I figured it wouldn’t be quite as long.

While the narration was enjoyable, I think that having two different narrators for the main POVs would have helped distinguish the character voices. Because there were times when I would stop and forget who I was following. I also missed the first time we jumped POV because it’s just the same person reading.

Series Rating: DNF

The City of Brass DNF |The Kingdom of Copper N/A | The Empire of Gold N/A

overall

I think if you enjoy longer stories that take their time to build and you are super into the written prose, this is a series you will no doubt devour.

Read if You Like: long novels, slow building
Avoid if You: have a short attention span

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