Tag «fav 2016»

Single Sundays: Shadow of a Girl by Shannon Greenland

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 Shadow of a Girl (from Goodreads):
Use cash and keep moving.

After I ran away from home, these were the two rules that dictated my life. Scoring a job as a roadie fit perfectly for what I needed. Traveling, cash, and life out of the spotlight. But when my path collides with West, the lead singer of Bus Stop, I can’t seem to stay out of his spotlight—especially since we’ll be touring together for an entire year.

West is determined to break down my walls. He won’t give up. And little by little they come crumbling. But if he knew what lurked behind them, he wouldn’t be so eager to get rid of them.

The more time we spend together, the more the lines of our friendship become blurred. He makes me dream of things I never thought possible. But while our friendship has been evolving into a romance, my secrets have been closing in. And just when I’ve decided to reveal my past to West, I’m confronted by it. The cost of my freedom could ruin the life of the guy I love…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary
Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rockstar
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 19, 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Teen!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Normally, I’m not one for YA contemporaries but I am a sucker for rockstar based stories and I LOVED The Heartbreakers last year. So when I came across Shadow of a Girl, I just had to request it! The runaway premise also had me curious and I couldn’t wait to uncover it.

The Plot:

This story had a great balance between the romance and the dramatic plot line.

I was hooked into Eve’s story from the get-go. We only get bits and pieces about her past, building the anticipating for the big reveal. Her story is unlike anything I’ve encountered before in a contemporary story so it was very refreshing to me as a reader.

I find rockstar romances can be a little unrealistic (it’s part of their charm) but this story was very natural to me. Everything progresses at an acceptable pace–not too fast or too slow–in terms of plot development and character growth. This story just builds itself up organically, making it a joy to read. (Especially great for someone who was on the verge of a reading slump–it made getting hooked into the story so easy)

The Characters:

Eve was great. She has some of the best character development I’ve ever encountered in a contemporary romance. I loved watching her grow and get comfortable in her own skin. I liked that she isn’t brash or someone who jumps to one conclusion or another. She thinks about things and knows her own limits but knows that she needs to do something to challenge those in a healthier way.

And West…swoon! While I love an arrogant rockstar as much as the next girl, it was nice to read about a guy who is just genuinely a good guy. He’s patient and kind and I just love how he treats Eve. I also liked that his story and character never overshadowed Eve’s story as well.

The Romance:

This was very sweet. I love how it was a romance that started as a strong friendship before it became something more. It was so easy to see why they would like each other and that’s what I love in a good romance.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This was just a great novel. It had a fantastic balance between the drama and the romance and everything just progressed so naturally. A must for fans of contemporary romance!

Read if You Like: rockstars, contemporary
Avoid if You: want a “spicier” 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:

booksynopsis

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

thoughts

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

overall

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: Memories by Harley Maye

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Memories Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Memories of a Broken Girl (from Goodreads):
What happens when a wedding planner no longer believes true love exists?

Laney McAdams is Austin’s rising star of wedding planners, and from the outside she looks like the perfect good girl. But when faced with the ultimate deception, her world comes crashing down around her, leaving her alone, afraid, and tormented by dark secrets and regrets.

Bodie Brooks is successful, dangerously good looking, and battling his own painful past. Having just returned to Austin, he’s hiding his own secret about the real reason for coming home. When their paths collide, he awakens her deepest longings, convincing Laney he is nothing but dangerous.

He’s always been unattainable and gorgeous.
She’s broken into a million pieces.

But after one afternoon of uncontainable passion, Laney is forced to decide if she will do what she promised she would never do again.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Debut 2016
Series: Memories
Author: Harley Maye
# of Books: 2 (Memories of a Broken Girl, Memories of a Guilty Girl)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 is yet to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Harley Maye!

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thoughts

**This post was originally published 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:

When Harley asked me if I wanted to read her debut novel, I just had to say yes! The promise of juicy secrets, flawed leads who could grow into fantastic characters and of course, some sweet romance. I was excited to start this one!

What I Liked:

–The Layers–

There was no shortage of secrets here and the best part was, I didn’t even know there were that many! Everything slowly gets unravelled as you read and things are revealed a little bit at a time. It’s so great!

Now don’t think that means the novel was slow. It was definitely not! The pacing is fantastic! And it is so great because these secrets and revelations are coming to light at just the right times to keep the story moving.

–The Sexual Tension–

Where can I find a Bodie? No, seriously. Where he at? Talk about swoon-worthy.

These two had phenomenal chemistry from start to finish. Anytime they were in the room, there was a sizzle. I loved any moment they had together.

–Flawed Characters–

What I really liked about Laney is that she is flawed. Laney is so real in how she reacts to what is happening in her life. She’s hurt, her confidence is gone and she’s understandably struggling to find her way back to happiness. It was great watching her grow as a character and essentially rebuild herself.

Bodie has his flaws too but his confidence and desire to go after what he wants is so, so appealing <3

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Insta-Love Romance–

I didn’t really like the basis of how these two get together. It seemed to be a physical attraction type of connection and not much else. But they did win me over the more they interacted and the story developed.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a fantastic debut and I am very excited to see what is going to happen in the next instalment. I had hoped that the character we would get is Addy and from the description of I’ve read, it’s going to have one of my favourite tropes!

updates

–October 8, 2019– Book #2: Untitled

As it has been a few years since the inaugural book release and there are currently no updates on when the sequel will be released, I have opted to mark this series as incomplete and pass on future sequels.

My Rating: DNF

Memories of a Broken Girl | Book 2 N/A

overall

A fantastic debut! This book really surprised me and is like nothing I’ve read this year!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, flawed characters, secrets
Avoid if You: contemporary romance
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Series Review: Season for Scandal by Kelly Bowen

A Duke To Remember blitz banner_

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 Duke of My Heart (from Goodreads):
Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl—quite inconveniently deceased—tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals.

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected—yet absolutely true.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author; Fave Historical Romance Series
Series: Season for Scandal Trilogy
Author: Kelly Bowen
# of Books: 3 (Duke of my Heart, A Duke to Remember, Between the Devil and the Duke)

There is one novella: #3.5 The Lady in Red

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Regency, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Duke of my Heart); Netgalley–eARC (all others)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Forever asked if I was interested in reading A Duke to Remember, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. While most of the series on my blog are YA or NA, I do LOVE a good historical romance; especially of the regency kind. So while I had never read Duke of my Heart (which was easily rectified thanks to my public library), the synopsis for both novels sounded great and I couldn’t wait to get started with them.

Oh, and Kelly Bowen is Canadian and I love supporting my fellow Canadian authors in any way that I can!

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of a connected romance series is an overarching plot or theme throughout all the novels, even though the leads change for each. Here, we get Victorian era “Olivia Popes” (Scandal TV series) who fix people’s messes like nobody’s business. It give these characters a unique flare that provides a fantastic entertainment base for the readers besides a corset busting romance (which it does have in the right amounts as well).

The Plot:

While these are romances at their core, you do have the mystery/suspense elements. These aspects gave each book a flare for entertaining dramatics that kept me interested and pressing forward. What I also loved was their twists–they weren’t easily predictable which was great. Because I have encountered some of these tropes before and I was worried they were going to be carbon copies—NOT THE CASE AT ALL!

These books were fun, fresh and equally sweet as they were sexy! Simply what I love in a good regency series.

The Characters:

These characters were a blast to read about! I loved their unique quirks and character history. I find in the historical romance genres, characters tend to be crafted from the same mold: a stoic or playboy duke who gets schooled in his ways and a rebellious heroine. And while those serve as the basis for these characters, there is so much more to them! Getting to know each one with their rich histories was fantastic. And you are left with enough teasers about the next set of leads to make you want more.

The Romance:

Sweet yet sexy! Gahhh the romance here is just so well done! While they seem a little insta-connection, these characters compliment each other so well and have such great sexual tension that you jut want them to get together faster! The couple from A Duke to Remember easily made my Fave Couple list.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Between the Devil and the Duke looks like its going to be the most dangerous one yet! I cannot wait to read it and am so sad I have to wait for January 🙁 I want it now!!!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #3: Between the Devil and the Duke

Kelly Bowen as the fantastic ability to make me fall in love with the leads by the end of the first chapter.

These two as leads had me swooning and rooting for them from the start. I loved Angelique right away and found her refreshing as a heroine. She has a big heart and an even bigger brain–and that was what stood out for me. Her intelligence in math and numbers is something you don’t often see in a romance of this genre. Yes, you have those heroines who read books and are smart in their own way; but her mathematics skills was a nice touch for her character.

And Alex…swoon! I was a big fan of his from the previous novels and he did not disappoint. He’s smart, protective (but not overly so) and just a great lead. His partnership with Angelique–both in the romantic and in the practical–is EXACTLY what I want for my couples. Perfection.

The plot itself was fantastic! The suspense never stopped building throughout this novel. And there were so many twists I didn’t see coming! I loved the unpredictability of this story.

Just a well crafted novel from start to finish and a fabulous way to end this AMAZING series!

–November 26, 2017– Book #3.5: The Lady in Red

I was super excited to return to this world when I saw that a new novella was going to be released!

While this story didn’t have the drama of the previous novels, it still had all the charm I love.

These two have a fabulous connection! It starts with a love of painting but grows into a mutual respect for each other’s artistry and attitude. Not only do they make each other better artists but they make each other stronger individuals and watching that develop was great. They make such a wonderful pair!

Having them establish that personal connection makes a solid foundation for a romance to blossom. It isn’t a shallow romance that grows between these two rather a soul-deep love that only makes them stronger. The romance definitely had a slow burn vibe to it which is hard to do in a novella but it’s achieved extremely well here.

I’m not sure what was missing from the book for me to only give it 4 stars. Perhaps it was the fact that it took me a few chapters to get fully emerged into the story? Otherwise, I really enjoyed it!

Series Rating: 5/5

Duke of My Heart 5/5 | A Duke to Remember 5/5 | Between the Devil and the Duke 5/5 | [The Lady in Red 4/5]

overall

Definitely a new favourite for me! I just loved the blend of fun, danger and romance!

Read if You Like: Tessa Dare novels; Suspenseful historical romance
Avoid if You: want a “sweeter” than sexier romance

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Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

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 Dark Artifices Series is a spin-off of the The Mortal Instruments Series

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Author, 2016 Fave
Series: The Dark Artifices Trilogy

This is a spinoff of the The Mortal Instruments Series.

Author: Cassandra Clare
# of Books: 3 (Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows, The Queen of Air and Darkness)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Queen of Air and Darkness will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural, Romance, Mystery
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 8, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’ve been awaiting Lady Midnight for years. Even before the final Mortal Instruments novel was published, I was excited that Cassandra Clare would be returning to the Shadowhunter world. It was great knowing that these characters and the world that I loved so much would have more to it–that City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess were not going to be the end of my favourite book series. Now, we have a TV show so that would have made me happy after the “flop” of the movie (though I can’t be the only person who actually liked the movie am I?) but a whole new book series, yeah, I was stoked!

I couldn’t wait to meet a new cast of characters and see whatever Clare has in store for them. I knew there would be heartbreak, great plot twists and characters I would love and hate; a new series I could totally invest in because it seems like a really, really long time since I read anything by Cassandra Clare who is one of my all time favourite authors.

How does it compare to the original?

Lady Midnight has all the charms of the original series but with a new and unique cast. I didn’t feel like I was reading a regurgitation of the original series nor did I feel like she recycled characters. While I can definitely draw parallels between the original cast (the Blackburns and Lightwoods have very similar family values I think), I felt like everything was fresh and exciting. You get the romance, the intriguing side characters and many plot twists you are accustom too with the previous instalments.

I also like that Clare doesn’t really on past characters to carry this series either. She could have easily filled the pages with Magnus, Alec, Clary and Jace and people would have gobbled it up and been happy. (Well, I would have for sure). Instead, you get brief mention of where they all are now (this series is 5 years after City of Heavenly Fire) and they aren’t integrated into the plot as necessities. I think that takes a lot of strength as an author to do, especially with a series as successful as The Mortal Instruments was/is, and Clare does a great job.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

That it’s over and I have to wait a whole year for Lord of Shadows?

Honestly, my review is a little biased. I came in with high expectations and every single one was met. It’s really hard for me to write this review without gushing like a rabid fan-girl.

I also hate that is made me cry a little. With The Mortal Instruments, it took me an entire book to really fall in love with the characters. In the Infernal Devices, I think Jem and Will made me cry in the first book but I don’t remember. But in Lady Midnight, my emotions were played like Jem’s violin (meaning very, very well) and I loved all these characters so much and so quickly I don’t really believe it myself.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited to see what happens next! Things are definitely getting twists and feelings are hurt, so I can’t wait to see how everything plays out in Lord of Shadows!

updates

–June 20, 2017– Book #2: Lord of Shadows

I can’t say much without simply fangirling about how much I adore this series.

This was an emotional roller coaster for me because I am so in love with all these characters. The Blackthorns are easily one of my most favourite fictional families ever and the rest of the cast is just sublime.

I will admit, this one lagged a bit in the middle but went full speed ahead at the end!

Series Rating: 5/5

Lady Midnight 5/5 | Lord of Shadows 5/5 | Queen of Air and Darkness TPB

overall

I came into this book with high expectations and every single one was met. It kept me interested and wanting to know more. There were great twists and characters and I will be in a book hangover for quite some time I think.

Read if You Like: like The Mortal Instruments, Urban Fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike long books, multiple POVs

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lady Midnight (from Goodreads):

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

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Series Review: Narrow Gate by Amyrn Cross

Synopsis for The Broken Crown (from Goodreads):
Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave 2016, Fave Heroine
Author: Amryn Cross
# of Books: 2+ (The Broken Crown, The Desolate Reign)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Desolate Reign , will be published in 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I will admit that I was first drawn to this title thanks to its cover. The colours, the title itself and the artwork seemed to promise me great things. And then I read the synopsis and was immediately sold. This story seemed to be what I wanted The Selection to be: a romantic yet politically intriguing novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Emilia seemed like she’d be a kick-ass heroine thanks to her military past and I couldn’t wait to see if she would be the next great heroine for me.

This book literally had everything I love about YA fantasy and I couldn’t wait to start it!

The World:

What I really loved about this world is the use of religion as the main political source for tension. Most High YA Fantasy novels use magic/powers or a caste system to entice conflict; but here, it all stems from religion. How realistic is that? Very if you ask me. I enjoyed reading about a world that wasn’t flowing with magic but instead looked at something we have in our own world and something everyone has had a brush with at one point or another.

Now, don’t let that scare you into thinking this book is all about religion. It doesn’t push some agenda other than the characters’ own motivations within the context of the story. I thought it was a great tool and really added depth to this story.

The Plot:


The balance between Emilia’s character development, romance and the political world was perfect. The plot moves at a fast, but constant pace throughout the story. I never got bored thanks to the various twists that happen and the way it shifted seamless from one plot aspect to the next. Amryn Cross has a great talent for writing and it shines in this novel.

The premise of Emilia competing amongst other princesses for the princes hand was very a la The Selection for me–but this was what I wanted the The Selection to be. Instead of a whinny girl who resists the opportunity to change the system, Emilia sees the opportunity for what it is and makes the best of it. Her trying to navigate this new world was such a thrill to watch. It made the story just as dangerous as it could be and that won major points with me.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Emilia as a character. I loved that she learned from her mistakes and that she wasn’t this flawless princess nor was she so flawed that she was jaded and hard to like. She’s strong and independent but knows that she can’t do this alone and she doesn’t resist change. She’s a fighter and a thinker and she easily makes my list of favourite heroines ever. Emilia seemed so real to me and I just really loved that.

As for the rest of the characters, they are fabulous. Well crafted and well developed even if Emilia takes centre focus. Everyone complimented the story so well that I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Romance:

While I feel like I predicted the romance situation pretty early on, I can’t say that I know how it is all going to end. I LOVED the romance here. I swooned, I sighed and I really got absorbed into it all. I liked that is shined when it needed to but took a step back to let the other parts of the story develop.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! I can’t wait! Honestly, I feel like everything is just getting started! There are so many promising story lines to work with in The Desolate Reign that I cannot wait to see what happens next!

My Rating: 5/5

overall
If you want a great fantasy novel that shies away from magic and instead focuses on the politics of a kingdom and how one princess tries to change it all, you NEED to read this book!

Read if You Like: stories dealing with politics, kingdoms, strong heroines
Avoid if You: want magic, more romance focused

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Amryn Cross
A tomboy with southern belle roots, Amryn Cross was born and raised in Tennessee where she learned the importance of God, family, Southern hospitality, and football. She’s loved the written word from the time she was a child, convinced the squiggly lines on top of the Hostess cupcake really spelled out a secret message.

Amryn is a proud momma to two adorable puppies–Argo and Luna–who provide lots of laughs and kisses. She is also an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and My Book Therapy (MBT) and answers writers’ forensic questions at Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Series Review: Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy

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 Deal (from Goodreads):
She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite New Adult 2016, Canadian Author
Series: Off-Campus

There is a spin-off series to come!

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 4 (The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, The Goal)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: hot (perhaps a mild kink in The Mistake and The Score)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m rather embarrassed that it took me so long to get around to reading this series despite the fact that I knew about The Deal shortly after it was released last year and that everyone seems to love it. Add to the fact that the author is a fellow Canadian and I shake my head in shame. So it was a no brainer to add The Deal to the priority list of my Rock the TBR challenge.

I love New Adult novels so I was really excited to read this series everyone praises so highly. In particular, I was really excited to read The Deal because it seems to have every New Adult trope I adore (fall in love with the tutor, lover arrangement, a bet/deal, nice guy player) AND it focuses on hockey players! While I love football, it gets a little tiring reading about the star quarterback with a heart of gold in most New Adult Sport titles.

And, I’m Canadian: hockey is a strong passion of mine 😉

The Concept / Reading Order:

I say this series is “Connected yet Chronological” because it does follow a particular order of events with some of the previous plot points reappearing in the next novel. It essentially follows 4 hockey teammates/roommate in their last 2 years of college together as they navigate life and find love. You definitely don’t have to read these books in order, but I feel like you will get a better experience if you do. 

Especially when it comes to The Goal. It overlaps with The Score in terms of chronological events, so you’ll get more out of it if you read it after the previous 3 novels.

The Plot:

All these novels had a great balance between everything that makes a fantastic New Adult novel. You have a passionate romance that is the main focus of the plot but not the only thing happening in the novel. You also have strong character development and some additional drama that keeps things interesting.

In other words: you never get bored.

I felt like all these books moved at a great pace and it was one that kept my full attention at all times. I easily could have finished The Deal in one sitting if I didn’t have school that day. It is sheer New Adult perfection in terms of its delivery if you ask me. And the other books do a great job of following that pattern but with their own unique twists.

The Characters:

I really liked all of these characters! They were so genuine and charming that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. At one point or another they had me laughing at something they said or did, making it so much fun to read their stories.

Garret and Hannah especially were great in The Deal. I just loved watching their interactions and appreciated who they were as people. They just seemed so real to me and they are easily one of my favourite new adult couples.

The cast as a whole has great, relatable stories the make each of their stories unique and so it was great to get to know each of them on a more personal level as the series progressed.

The Romance:

Again, I thought the romance in these novels was pretty damn-well near perfect. While some of the romances start off based on insta-attraction, you really come to see how these couples work the more you read. I’m one who likes to see the emotional connections and I got that in spades here. While these couples do share their “steamy” moments together, they also have those moments that remind you of what it’s like to fall in love with someone who just “gets you”.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:


I thought this series was only 3 books when I bought The Score but I am very excited to get Tucker’s story in The Goal. I honestly can’t wait! I wish I had it in my hands right.now.

updates

–February 12, 2017– Book #4: The Goal

There were two reasons why I didn’t read this right away: 1) I’m cheap and was waiting for a sale; and 2) I really didn’t want this series to be over. I just love this cast so much that I don’t want to part with them.

Honestly, this novel was perfect. I DEVOURED IT!

Tucker is such a sweet-heart. We didn’t get to see much of him in the previous novels, so unraveling his character was a joy. And his lucky leading lady was fabulous as well. I definitely fell in love with them the more I read.

Given the ending of The Score, I thought The Goal was going to pick up right from there. Instead, it takes the route of a companion novel and starts around the same time as The Score. This works to its benefit and gives you the story you wanted the moment you finished The Score. It’s a great way to wrap up this series.

I’m SO EXCITED that there is going to be a spin-off series! I already have some people in mind 😉

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Deal 5/5 | The Mistake 4/5 | The Score 4.5/5 | The Goal 5/5

overall

Fans of the New Adult genre as a whole will love this series but I also think it is a great starting point for those who are new to the genre or want to try it out. If you like romances with great characters and connections, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: New Adult, stories about athletes
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult, contemporary romance

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Single Sundays: Bossypants by Tina Fey

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 Bossypants (from Goodreads):
Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Audiobook 2016
Author: Tina Fey
Genre: Nonfiction, Humour, Memoir
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I probably should have started with Tina Fey’s Bossypants when I first wanted to get into celebrity memoirs. It seems to always grace the list of great nonfiction reads for women and one of my good friends totes her praises to everyone, especially this book.

I too, love Tina Fey. She is one of my favourite comedians and I am always impressed by her intelligence. I personally think she is one of the smartest and most talented female comedians in the entertainment industry and she never seems to get the credit she deserves if you ask me. And she also makes up one of my favourite comedic duos when she teams up with Amy Poehler:

Need I say more? I think it is fairly obvious that I had very high expectations for this one!

The Concept:

Like all celebrity memoirs, this book consists of Tina describing her road to frame and fortune through a series of personal essays but features her incredible wit and sarcasm. It’s nothing new really but the spin she puts on everything makes it very enjoyable.

The Writing/NARRATION:

Without a doubt, this is probably the funniest audiobook I have ever had the pleasure of listening to! Tina’s way of approaching things and the observations she makes are so smart and funny that this book was a lot of fun to listen to! Usually, it takes me awhile to get through an audiobook but I just couldn’t stop with this one.

Not only is it funny but it is also very smart. Tina’s intelligence really shines through in this book when she describes why she approaches situations that she finds herself in. She is such a strong woman and I think it really shows here.

Did it Impact My Life?

In a way it definitely did. I like the approach that Tina takes to women’s issues. Obviously, Tina is a feminist who strives for gender equality but she isn’t in your face about it nor is she one of those women who is “odd” because of it. She is extremely sensible and I think is an example of what the modern women should be when it comes to fighting for gender equality. She not only has broken a lot of the stereotypes about female comedians but she is so chill about it all that it really is amazing. She is definitely a personal hero of mine and this book really reaffirmed that fact for me.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book was everything I was expecting it to be: enlightening and hilarious! It was so much fun to listen to and I can only hope that she will be inspired to followup this book sometime in the future.

Read if You Like: Tina Fey, celebrity humorous memoirs
Avoid if You: memoirs

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Series Review: Witchlands by Susan Dennard

Series Review: Witchlands by Susan Dennard

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

Witchlands Series

book4 book5

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Truthwitch (from Goodreads):
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New YA Series 2016
Series: Witchlands
Author: Susan Dennard
# of Books:  5 (Truthwitch, Windwitch, Bloodwitch, Book 4, Book 5)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Sightwitch

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Bloodwitch, will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted 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:

This book had SERIOUS hype prior to its release. It was everywhere and everyone was singing its praises. Normally, I avoid anything with “witch” in the title but once I read the synopsis I realized this wasn’t going to be your everyday witch novel. It sounded a lot like Throne of Glass but not as dark and so I was excited to find another fantasy action series to read.

What I Liked:

–The Action Starts Right Away–

This novel literally hits the ground running. There is no waiting around for Safiya and Iseult to get into trouble: they are already in it as soon as you read the first sentence. I found this book was always moving, drawing me in and keeping me on my toes. I never got bored and part of that was because:

–Multiple Character Perspectives–

I like books that have a lot going on and that usually means multiple POVs are happening. Here, the use of multiple character perspectives helps to shape the story in a 360 sort of way. Everything circles back to each other in an intriguing way that allows you get to see the fuller picture much easier and without so much effort. I find there is just enough plot to keep you interested but not so much that you are confused as to what is happening or easily forget. Simply put, this story is well crafted in terms of plot movement.

–The Female Friendships–

It was so refreshing for me to see two girl BFFs working together so well. I don’t mind independently strong females who can do it all on their own, nor to I mind a female character who can hold her own with a male counterpart. But I rarely read about female friends who kick serious butt together and Safiya and Iseult are a fantastic example of that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World-Building Explanations–

For the most part, the Witchlands world is pretty easy to figure out. I mean a Truthwitch is one who can discern the truth from fiction; a Windwitch is someone who can control the wind and air; etc. But there are still some terms that even after finishing the book I am not totally clear about. What the heck is cleaving? What are threadstones? What are threads really? I felt like the descriptions and explanations were lacking when it comes to some of the various terms that are thrown around in this book. I’m not asking for a lot, just a simple sentence or two to help explain what those terms really mean instead of me making assumptions based on how the characters use the words and/items. It made me feel a little lost and that dampened my reading experience.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to see what happens next for these characters. I really loved all the characters we got to meet and they all had such interesting events happen to them near the end so I’m curious to know what will happen in Windwitch.

When to Read #2.5, Sightwitch:

Although it is listed as a prequel, I would recommend Sightwitch right after you read #2 Windwitch. And I mean, immediately after. While I could follow along with the story, I was a little lost on how this novella fits into the world since it had been so long since I read Windwitch.

It’s an illustrated novella but it is quite lengthy. The audiobook (that I listened to) was just over 7 hours…some novels are only that length! But I thoroughly enjoyed the audio production. I’ve only seen the eBook version of the illustrations but they are nice as well.

updates

–January 18, 2018– Book #2: Windwitch

Once again, this series throws us right back into the action…with mixed results for me. Having been away from this series for two years, I had a harder time reorienting myself with what was happening. It didn’t help that we start 2 weeks after the events of the previous book and major things have happened in the time since. Things that are only mentioned in passing with the details coming later. I felt like I was playing a little bit of catch-up.

I found the first half to be on the slower side as well. The synopsis describes the first 30% of the book perfectly so it felt like a drawn out exposition to me. Once we get past the halfway point, things definitely improve. The action picks-up and the plot points of where this series is likely going to go start to shine a little more so I’m curious to see how everything unfolds next!

My Rating: 4/5

Truthwitch 4.5/5 | Windwitch 3/5 | [Sightwitch 3/5] | Bloodwitch TBP | Book 4 TBP | Book 5 TBP

overall

This book was a solid fantasy adventure. It has a fast, building plot and great, interesting characters. While I found the world-building to be slightly lacking for certain things, I really did enjoy reading this one.

Read if You Like: fantasy stories, female duos, action, Throne of Glass
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs, want more romance

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Book Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Love, Lies and Spies (from Publisher):
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top PicksFav YA Standalone 2016, New Must Watch Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Mystery, Espionage, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via NetGalley

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book when I was browsing NetGalley and the cover piqued my interest. The concept sounded like a lot of fun but I was bogged down with other reviews so I didn’t put it on hold right away. Until, the opportunity came along to be a Blog Tour Host and I knew I had to sign-up!

Not only is Cindy Anstey a fellow Canadian ? (woot!) and I love supporting my fellow Canadians, but this book sounded like so much fun! It’s been a long time since I’ve read an historical YA novel so I was eager to dive into that world again. 

The Concept:

This book is a great homage to Jane Austen’s work. You can definitely see where Austen’s influence lies in the not-your-everyday-beau-monde heroine Juliana and the scheming of family members. It also has all the “season-drama” as well. But don’t think the writing reads like a classical novel. The writing has a great, fast and often quirky flow to it that makes it such a joy to read. So if you didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice (maybe read the Zombie version 😉 ), don’t think you won’t enjoy this one because you totally will (if you like historical espionage romances that is).

The Plot:

I found that there was never a dull moment with this book! If I wasn’t absorbed into the romance, I was trying to figure out the political espionage or enjoying the antics of the other characters during the season. I knew right from the start given the situation Juliana immediately finds herself in and how she meets Spencer that this was going to be a fabulous and fun read.

There are plenty of twists along the way and there is always something to keep your attention. The best way I can describe this book is as the perfect hybrid between Meg Cabot’s YA historical reads and Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove Series. You have the stronger, independent heroines, the dashing but intriguing heroes and a splash of humour that makes reading the story so entertaining!

The Characters:

I loved Juliana from the start. I thought she was a quirky character and I like how she handled herself throughout the novel. Maybe it’s just the novels I read that are historical romances but most of the time, the heroine is one that breaks all of societies rules so it can get a little monotonous. However, I never really felt that way with Juliana. She was very unique and had a great aura about her that drew me to love her.

Spencer was also completely swoon-worthy. He was just as entertaining as Juliana so when they were together, it was magical. He was everything I wanted a cute dashing spy to be and perhaps a little more <3

The Romance:

While I normally read romances that are a little spicier than this, there was something so sweet and completely addicting about the romance here. I think it was because I knew what a great match these two were for each other right from the get-go. Their interactions together were a blast to read and I know I giggled like a little school-girl at some of the things they said. Definitely my favourite aspect of the novel for sure.

My Rating: 5/5

overall
This is definitely at new personal favourite for me! I don’t reread books often simply for the sake of rereading them but this one I will be picking up again. I just loved the plot, the antics and the romance. It has a comforting feel about it, like Victoria and The Rogue (one of the only books I have reread multiple times).  I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and I cannot wait to read Cindy Anstey’s next novel!
Read if You Like: historical YA, witty characters, historical espionage
Avoid if You: want a steamier read, dislike historical stories

similarreads

  • Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
  • A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (Spindle Cove Series #2)

Cindy Anstey
She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:
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