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Series Review: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

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

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Synopsis for The Conspiracy of Us (from Goodreads):

A fast-paced international escapade, laced with adrenaline, glamour, and romance–perfect for fans of Ally Carter

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

breakdown

Series: The Conspiracy of Us Trilogy
Author: Maggie Hall
# of Books: 3 (The Conspiracy of Us, Maps of Fate, The Ends of the World)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Adventure, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2015 -July 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (#1); Audiobook (#2 & #3)

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

Why I Picked The Conspiracy of Us Up:

What drew me to this book was the cover, but what made me want to read it was the hook that it was “perfect for fans of Ally Carter”. It’s no secret that I fall prey to these every-time; especially when they are for Ally Carter. Let me explain why: Ally Carter is one of my favourite authors because I love her strong heroines and the suspense of her novels. While Gallagher Girls started off more light-hearted and fun, it definitely became more intricate in the plot later on; whereas Heist Society always seemed more tense and serious to me right from the start. Most of the time when books say they are perfect for Ally Carter fans they are referring more to the style of Heist Society–which I liked but didn’t really love–and how it is intricate right form the get-go. Which is fine because I’m still looking for that perfect heist novel, but I can’t wait until I find a book with the same flare as the Gallagher Girls Series.

The Concept:

Regardless, The Conspiracy of Us is its own novel. The premise reminded me a bit of the slightly darker novel The Book of Blood and Shadow–a book I thought had a great premise but a poor execution.

For the most part The Conspiracy of Us had a good execution. However, it was difficult for me to get past the idea that Avery literally jumps on a plane to travel across the world with two boys she barely knows without any hesitation. I understand that this event had to happen to get the story in motion; and to a certain degree I could see why she would jump at the first chance she gets to any information about her unknown family past. But, I just wanted to see a few lines about her concerns or why it could potentially be a bad idea. It just frustrated me because, for the most part, I felt like she was a rational character with everything else that happens in the book.

The Plot:

The book is pretty slow until you get about half-way through. That’s when the clues start to come into play and the pace of the book picks up exponentially. Which is why I am giving the book a 3.5 instead of a solid 4 because that first half of the book really didn’t do much story-wise and felt a little unnecessary.

While some of the events are cliche to a mystery novel, I thought the whole prophecy/mystery bit was a lot of fun. There were a lot of little unexpected twists that accompanied it and that made me excited to continue reading. It actually reminded me a lot of a Young Adult version of Juliet by Anne Fortier in terms of its execution (though the plots are completely different!).

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to the sequel but I am not dying to pick it up.

updates

–May 9, 2018– Book #2: Map of Fates

Yikes! This book was a complete miss for me. I probably should have DNF’d it but the whole prophecy thing has got me invested (even though I knew the solution very early on). I felt like this book spend far too much time on the mundane. The constant back and forth for Avery’s love life was exhausting and not enjoyable in the slightest. I will say that there were some good twists along the way but they don’t get a ton of screen time in the long run so this made for a duller read.

At first I thought it was the fact that I was listening to the audio version and the narrator is one of my least favourite to listen to. However, I actually thought she did a great job so I can’t really complain about that aspect.

–May 23, 2018– Book #3: The Ends of the World

My reading experience here was much more positive than the previous. I thought this book started with a “bang” and had great momentum…up until the halfway point when we seem to reiterate the same romance themes again and again. By this point, I had warmed up to the romance a little more but I did find the scenes to be tiresome as they distracted from the thrilling plot line.

There were some good twists along the way and I did like how everything wrapped up so it’s a solid finale when all is said and done.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Conspiracy of Us 3.5/5 | Map of Fates 2/5 | The Ends of the World 3/5

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A unique premise to be sure but this series just gets too caught up in its other factors, dampening the reading experience.

Read if You Like: more romance focused, love triangles, conspiracy theories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more suspense

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Series Review: Beau Rivage by Sarah Cross

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

Series: Beau Rivage
Author: Sarah Cross
# of Books: 2 (Kill Me Softly, Tear Me Apart)

There are two novellas: After the Ball and Twin Roses

Book Order: Connected but follow chronological events
Complete?: So far–but more books could be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retellings, Romance, Drama, Fantasy, Dark
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple

Thoughts:

I read Kill Me Softly a long time ago (before a sequel was ever announced) and I really don’t remember all that much about it. I know I didn’t love it but I enjoyed the world Sarah Cross created and was open to the idea of read its sequels.

I think it should be a big disclaimer that these fairy-tale retellings are true to the original tales: meaning they are gory and not always that happy as they primarily focus on the curses. Don’t go into these books thinking you are reading some light-hearted, Disney-esque fairy tale retellings (like any of Alex Finn’s novels) because you will be sorely disappointed! The best way to describe it is like a darker Into the Woods (the movie/play) as a book featuring teenaged characters.

So I went into Tear You Apart not really remembering anything about Kill Me Softly.You really definitely don’t have to read Kill Me Softly to enjoy Tear You Apart but it does help you to be more familiar with the world of Beau Rivage. but I found that Tear me Apart brought me up to speed quickly enough…it just wasn’t enough to keep my attention for long.

I actually read Tear You Apart in two installments. The first time I read it I was away on vacation and I found that the book couldn’t keep my attention. To be fair, I was reading it when I was tired and had found a spare moment to pick it up. However, I really did feel like the story moved too slowly for me to actually enjoy it. I loved the premise and I really didn’t mind all the angst but it just took too long to get somewhere. So I stopped reading it when I was about a third of the way through and decided to try it again later when I could give it a fair shot.

When I picked it up the second time, I found it much easier to read and I think that was the case because the plot actually starts to move somewhere. Instead of focusing on one girl’s curse we get multiple curses at play and that just made things much more interesting to me. It gets a little darker as well and I really had no idea how it was all going to end.

While there are no immediate plans for more novels in this series I would be open to reading them if they ever do get published. The biggest reason I rate this series on the lower end of the spectrum is because I haven’t found any characters that I truly like. I love the world and I love the incorporation of multiple fairy tales but I just have a hard time finding characters I want to root for. And perhaps that is part of the charm or goal for this series–who knows?–but I just haven’t made that strong enough connection to bump up my rating.

I do want to read the novellas since I think I might like those characters more and they sound interesting. My library has yet to get them so I have no immediate plans to read them. But if given the chance, I would read them.

Conclusion:

For those who like darker stories, especially fairy tales, this is a great series for you!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No.

Similar Reads: Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Synopsis for Kill Me Softly (from Goodreads):
Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

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Series Review: Most Wanted by J. Kenner

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

Series: Most Wanted Trilogy
Author: J. Kenner
# of Books: 3 (Wanted, Heated, Ignited)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: hot (BDSM: Mild) (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

While I didn’t love how the Stark Trilogy ended, I still really loved the world and writing J. Kenner created–so I wasn’t giving up hope yet on her works. Hopefully the plan for this series to keep each couple contained within their own individual book would eliminate the problem of over-extended characters and storylines that wrecked the Stark Trilogy. Believe it or not: not every erotica romance about a billionaire and his girl needs to be a solo trilogy 😉

First up in this line up is Evan and Angie. Evan is briefly (and I mean very briefly) introduced to us in the Stark novella, Take Me. It wasn’t enough to peak my interest but I admit I was interested in how things where going to unfold about two chapters into Wanted once I started reading it. Evan and Angie have a cool spin on how they know each other: he’s quite a bit older than her (maybe 5 or 6 years) and is very close to her favourite uncle so she is completely off-limits. I’ve read about the heroine being in love with her older brother’s BFF but never this particular case. Needless to say, the sexual tension is there and it isn’t this “I just saw you now I need to have you” tension either. You can tell that they have a connection that isn’t just conjugated from thin air in the span of a minute.

However, I didn’t appreciate being reminded of this connection and her “want” of him constantly (it would be a fun game to count how many times “want” is used throughout the book because it is a lot!). Even worse was that it was reiterated using different words within a few sentences of each other. I found the first half of the book was a lot of regurgitation on Angie’s unrequited feelings towards him so nothing really happened. It’s a shame because I think the side plot that happens more in the last third would have been a lot more fun to play with earlier in the story.

Heated focused more on the plot right from the get-go. I loved how it started with the mystery and how Sloane described everything. It made things seem more suspenseful and gave the book a different feel from the previous novel. Unlike Wanted, these two characters don’t know each other so the relationship is one of those insta-connection ones; though it wasn’t too over the top. The middle of the novel diverts away from the mystery plot-line and focuses more on their relationship so I liked seeing them connect on that level. I definitely enjoyed it more than Wanted.

I’ve been waiting to read Ignited since Wanted when we got introduced to the two leads. Unfortunately though, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. The BDSM element is much stronger in this novel as it deals with a dominate-submission relationship: which I don’t like reading. I also wanted to see their relationship expanded a bit–they both sort of jumped into bed with each other and I wanted more sexual tension between them leading up to that moment. I just didn’t like the execution of this novel which means I gave it a lower individual rating (3/5 stars).

One thing I really love about Kenner’s work is that it isn’t totally sex-based and it isn’t overly descriptive or flowery in language. There actually is a story and not every other page is a sex scene. As for the BDSM, it is really quite tame. If you want a series that has more extreme BDSM and lots of sex, read Maya Banks’ Breathless Trilogy instead of this one.

Conclusion:

I didn’t love this series but I enjoyed reading it. It’s lighter on the BDSM stuff which I appreciate but I wish it had more plot to it. I guess I just missed the drama that I expect from contemporary romance novels; and while this book had it (and I loved the criminal, darker edge to it), it just wasn’t enough to satisfy me. So if you want a book with more sex scenes and a dash of plot on the side, this is probably a good one for you to read!

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Rush by Maya Banks (Breathless Trilogy #1) and Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard Series #1)

Synopsis for Wanted (from Goodreads):
He is everything I crave, all I desperately want—and he is everything I can’t have.

Evan Black embodies my every fantasy. He is brilliant, fierce, and devastatingly handsome. But he is also headstrong, dangerous, and burdened with secrets.

My family warned me to stay away, that I could never handle Evan’s dark dealings or scarred past. Maybe I should have listened. Maybe I should have run. But our desire is undeniable, and some temptations you just can’t fight.

And from the moment we touch—the passion between us consuming us both—I know that I will never be the same.

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Book Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Standalone Review: Catch my thoughts on this book!

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Series: The Ring and the Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 1 2 (The Ring and the Crown, The Lily and the Cross)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: YES

This was originally going to be a trilogy but Melissa announced on her blog in March 2016 that it would be a standalone novel. The sequel was written as a draft and it is available for purchase though no further work will be done on the series.

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance, Drama, Alternate History
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple

Thoughts:

I’ve read most of Cruz’s Blue Bloods saga (one book to go!) and enjoyed it for the most part. It was a cool spin on vampires and angels and I loved the more mature young adult feel to it. While the series went on longer than I would have liked (it felt like it dragged at times), I really liked her writing style and her ability to write interesting characters and plots. So when I saw this book, my interest was peaked.

What really sucks is that the Goodreads synopsis (read it here) really gives the reader the wrong first impression about this book. When you read the synopsis, you think this book will focus on two best friends stuck in political and royal turmoil–but that is only half of the case. If you get the actual physical copy of the book like I did and read the synopsis there, you get a completely different plot summary–and one that is much more accurate to what the novel is about. That synopsis is the one I have decided to use for my review and you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Long story short: if you are expecting a novel about two girls fighting for the crown complete with lots of offensive magic spells and evil politics abounds–you will be severely disappointed. This book is mostly about 4 girls trying to find their place in a world where they are restricted by society, politics and simply for being females.

Once I figured out what the plot actually was, I started to enjoy the novel. Like her other series, this book focuses on multiple main characters that all interweave in the plot–which makes it that much more interesting if you ask me because there was a lot going on plot-wise. It’s fun to see how everything links together and it keeps the pace of the book on the faster side because multiple things are happening at once.

I was a little lost trying to keep everyone’s lineages straight but once I got more into the story, things started making more sense and I really started to get wrapped up in everything. The plot synopsis is really deceiving again because you think the story will mostly focus on Aelywn and Marie but Aelywn really doesn’t do much for the entire book. I found the book mostly focused on Ronan and Marie with little spurts of Aelywn and Isabelle thrown in. I actually didn’t mind so much because I was really interested in Ronan’s story but I really think Aelywn really could have been developed more and made a really awesome character.

When I was reading, it was really unclear to me if this book was a part of a series because it ended really suddenly yet it seemed to wrap everything up–and I really disliked the ending because of that. Suddenly things that happened “off-stage” are brought to light and it ruined what would have been an awesome ending if they had been more developed instead of simply stated as fact. Looking back at the novel as a whole, it took too long to reach its climax but I still enjoyed reading it.

So if there is a sequel, I’m really interested to see where it is going–because up until the last chapter I was totally on board with what was going to happen in the sequel but the ending really threw me for a loop. Turns out that there is a sequel and based on the synopsis I read it sounds like it is the same cast of characters but with new games afoot. I will probably check it out just for curiosities’ sake but I won’t be counting down the days.

**NOTE: This was going to be a series but the author has decided to keep it as a standalone!

Conclusion:

I think if you go in to this book understanding what is really going to happen with the plot, people would enjoy it more. But frankly the plot descriptions provided to the reader don’t fully explain what is happening. If you are looking for a young adult read filled with magically and politically suspense–look elsewhere because this isn’t it. There is no other way to describe this book other than “chick lit” because the book mostly focuses on the romances of the girls and them trying to find their place in the world. There is a dash of suspense, but it really isn’t present until the last 40 pages. I enjoyed it once I got a grasp of what was happening, but I wish the ending was better. I think de la Cruz missed the mark a bit with this book which is a shame because it would have been really great.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Synopsis for The Ring and the Crown (from Chapters/Indigo):
Magic is power, and power is magic…

Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a formidable castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures.

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire.

As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d’Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth.

But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family’s position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires.

Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers. But Marie doesn”t even want Leopold-she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry.

When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy.

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Series Review: Three Irish Brothers by Joanna Mazurkiewicz

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

Other Books in the Series:
book2 book3

Series: Three Irish Brothers
Author: Joanna Mazurkiewicz
# of Books: 3 (Beautiful Pain, book 2, book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: New Adult, Mature, Emotional, British
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts on Beautiful Pain:

I actually got this book for free one day for both my Kobo and Kindle. Since then it has gone up in price but I wouldn’t have been overly upset if I had paid the two dollars for it.

I think it is important to highlight the fact that this book is British. It’s written by a British author so it has that style of writing we aren’t completely used to this side of the pond. It tends to be very proper, not as many contractions in the sentences and not much slang–it almost comes across as mechanical to readers who typically read North American literature. Because I read a lot more North American books than British, it always throws me for a bit of a loop but I do read quite a few British novels so I easily get accustomed to that.

So it could easily be a product of the book being British in origin or maybe people in British are super mature: but I just found the dialogue to be a little awkward and overly mature for the age of the characters. I’m the same age as Sophia and no one I know talks like she does so I found that hard to accept at times. But given her past I wouldn’t be surprised if she is just that next level of maturity.

Out of all the freebie books that I have, I choose to read this one because the concept it really cool and different from other books out there. I mean, Harry is the ultimate bad boy and the element of Sophia being his probation officer is something I have never encountered before. It’s an interesting spin on things I think it is executed fairly well all things considered.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand Sophia and Harry’s relationship and how it worked between them. Their relationship is essentially built on lust and the “unspoken” connection between them. I don’t particularly care for these “unspoken”/love-at-first-sight-deal stories so I really didn’t get how they worked together or why they liked each other. I supposed it improved as we went but I never really got it to be honest–which is a shame because I really wanted to love them together.

I want to really stress that this book can be very dark at times. Although it is told through a 3rd person narration, there are times when we get a first person POV from Sophia when she describes her past. Nothing is really held back which I both appreciate and find uncomfortable at the same time. I find it’s hard to read in the mind of someone who has an abusive or depression filled past because it can be very dark and very emotional. On this regard, the book really excelled at conveying those feelings. It made Sophia seem very real and more than just a character in the book.

Conclusion:

Overall, this book didn’t really float my boat. I liked it and can appreciate it; but not enough to watch out for the rest of the series. I’m not particularly interested in the next set of characters but I’m not so turned off of the idea of picking the sequel up if it happens to be free on Amazon again. For those who want a darker New Adult read, this is a solid choice; especially if you like Ireland 😉

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: Release Me by J. Kenner (Stark Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Beautiful Pain (from Goodreads):

My decisions were always wrong. I needed to get away from London, I wanted to start from scratch in Belfast, escape from the life that I didn’t want.

Working for Probation Service for the whole summer was going to give me the experience that I needed. I always felt much better when I could help people whose lives were shattered.

My parents told me that I wasn’t ready and I wouldn’t make it through but I was determined to show them that the past was behind me.

I had three months to forget about my bad memories, about the pain and my scars. Then I run straight into him, throwing it all to the wind, falling into a trap of love and lust.

Harry O’Donaghue was a local offender. At our first meeting he gave me the impression that he didn’t care about what I had to say and didn’t want to be evaluated by a stupid young girl like me.

Harry wasn’t an easy subject, either when it came to straight forward conversation about his future or about the crimes that he had committed.

Harry had a secret and everything suddenly became complicated. He was bad to be around, bad for me in every respect, but I still allowed him take me to paradise…

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Series Review: Gemma Doyle by Libby Bray

Series: Gemma Doyle Trilogy; Great and Terrible Beauty Series
Author: Libby Bray
# of Books: 3 (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historic, Romance, Fantasy, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool

Thoughts:

I picked up this book based on the recommendations of the girls that shared the same spare period-class as me in high school. They loved this series and when they were describing it to me it seemed right up my alley. Victorian setting–check. Suspenseful plot–check. Romance–check. A series that had all the books released and in our high school library–double check. And so, I picked up A Great and Terrible Beauty and dove in.

While it took me a while to get accustomed to a “Victorian” setting, I easily jumped into the story and its plot. The first book especially was so refreshing for me to read. It was like nothing I had ever read and I enjoyed Gemma’s adventure to her new boarding school. Sure, there are a few “cliché” things for the time but the fantasy aspects of the plot were what really captured my attention. Add to it an interesting romantic lead for Gemma and I was hooked.

Hot off the heels of A Great and Terrible Beauty, I picked up Rebel Angels. For some reason I just really loved it–while my friends did not like it as much as me. I think it had mostly to do with the introduction of a second love interest for Gemma who I seemed to really like and no one else did. And if you asked me now why I felt that way, I won’t be able to answer. I honestly can’t remember what happened plot-wise but I liked the darker feel this book had to it and the revealing of the mystery.

I borrowed a copy of A Far Sweet Thing from a friend and it took me a few weeks to return it–unfinished. I just couldn’t get into the story for the life of me. I found it hard to keep the fantasy aspects all in check and I was getting frustrated with the characters. Talk about the prime example for annoying, selfish, whinny little teen girls. They were the poster children for annoying female leads. I also didn’t like the direction the plot and the rest of the story were going in. My friends told me what happened in the rest of the book and I think it’s a good thing I quit reading because I wouldn’t have enjoyed how everything went down. Wikipedia filled in some of the other blanks as well and I am still of the opinion I wouldn’t have liked the ending if I had finished it.

Conclusion:

I probably will never finish the series by reading the last book. I’ve definitely moved past that type of Young Adult novel in my current reading preferences (this book is probably the reason why when I think back on it) and I would get even more frustrated with the whole thing now. It was a strong series–at the start–and it is definitely unique; but I’m not going out of my way to recommend it to anyone when someone asks me a good trilogy series to read.

Rating: 3.5/5 (and it’s really only that high because I enjoyed the first two books)

Similar Reads: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (The Luxe #1) and Evermore by Alyson Noel (Immortals #1)

Synopsis for A Great and Terrible Beauty (from Goodreads):
A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order.

Series Review: Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin

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

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Synopsis for Out of Line (from Goodreads):
Desperate to break free…

I’ve spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I’m finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules…

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She’s a rule I know I shouldn’t break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Reads of 2014, Author to Watch For
Series: Out of Line
Author: Jen McLaughlin
# of Books: 5 (Out of Line, Out of Time, Out of Mind, Fractured Line, Blurred Lines)
Book Order: Chronological; Connected (Blurred Lines)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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**This post was originally posted as a Toonie Tuesday review of the first two books of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance! I think Kobo suggested I read this one but I can’t honestly recall how it crossed my radar. I just knew I had to read it because it sounded right up my alley!

The Plot:

This story probably seems predictable and formulated based on the description but I found that there were enough little surprises along the way that it didn’t bore me.

I also like that this series really becomes character driven along the way. You really get to watch these characters grow and go through some rough things; it brings a realism to this series that I really enjoy.

Of course, it does have its flares for dramatics but I find those additions just add some entertainment to the story and don’t distract too much from the story at hand.

The Characters:

I will admit, I was worried about Cassie being a prima donna going into the book based on the synopsis. One thing I hate about heroines who are cast as “overprotected” is that they rebel just for the sake of rebelling which in turn leads them to do stupid things which leads to me being annoyed.

I’m happy to say that I loved Cassie! I truly respected her character because I never felt like she was rebelling just for the sake of rebelling. This book is just as much about her relationship with Finn as it is with her finding herself and becoming independent.

That isn’t to say Finn isn’t important–because he is–he is one of the best aspects of this series! I simply adored him. There isn’t much to say other than he is the total book boyfriend package 😛

The Romance:

This is probably the main selling point for me. I just loved these two together!

When characters bring out the best in each other, you can’t help but love them. The sexual tension is fantastic! Exactly what I want in a “forbidden” romance.

 

updates

–January 12, 2014– Book #2: Out of Time

I did buy Out of Time right away and I’m both happy and mad at myself that I did it. I’m happy because I really loved it! Hate it because I have to wait for the next one!

I liked how this one focused on the establishment of a relationship and not stupid “break-up” drama. (You know how most books in a romance trilogy have the characters separated or apart for most of the story for some drama).

I didn’t think the story could get any cuter but it did! I also cried during this book–which is why I am mad at myself because now I have to wait until April to read what happens next!

–July 1, 2014– Book #3: Out of Mind

Although I bought Out of Mind as soon as it came out, I wasn’t able to actually sit down and read it until now. The book follows the same direction as the second book where it focuses more on the relationship and less on the other drama. That made for a pretty tame read but I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I also loved the realistic edge it had to it at times. It is a great conclusion to the series and fans will not be disappointed.

I can’t wait to see if spin-off books are in the works because I can’t wait to see what is in store for the other characters of these books.

–November 21, 2016– Book #4: Fractured Lines

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointment in the idea of this novel being a continuation of Finn and Carrie’s story. Everything wraps up so nicely in Out of Time so I was quite happy with how everything ended and wanted this “spin-off” to focus on a particular side character instead… (who gets his own book in Blurred Lines FYI).

But when I started to read this, I began to appreciate it more. I like how it challenged the previous books’ stories. It brought a touch of realism to this story that I really admired. It’s naive to think that everything these two go through can be solved so easily; that there won’t be any repercussions. And I feel like this was handled beautifully.

–November 23, 2016– Book #4: Blurred Lines

I was really looking forward to this book. I couldn’t wait to see how Riley would get his happy ending.

But I have have some mixed feelings on it.

I’m not a fan of love-at-first-sight romances; I don’t like how everything progresses because of some unexplained “feeling”/”connection”. As a reader, I like my relationships to be spelled out for me; show me why these two belong together.

However, I get why this trope was used in this particular novel. It actually really works well for Riley’s character as a whole. He’s a by the book type of guy and he’s drowning in those expectations. So I enjoyed the side of his character we get to see thanks to this storyline.

Nevertheless, things happen way too fast here. I’m sure the short page count contributes to it but I felt like the plot (not just the romance) was rushed. I wanted things to be teased out a little more and worked on. See how these characters deal with the challenges they’ve created.

So while it wasn’t what I particularly wanted, I can appreciate what the attempt was for this particular novel. I’m just glad to have that closure on Riley’s character as a whole.

Series Rating: 4/5

Out of Line 4/5 | Out of Mind 4/5 | Out of Time 4/5 | Fractured Lines 4/5 | Blurred Lines TBA

overall

If you want a series that will make you laugh, swoon, cry and freak out: this is it! It has such strong character development that you can’t help but root for these two. Add to it a touch of realism and a slight flare for dramatics and you’ve got yourself an entertaining series from start to finish!

Read if You Like: military heroes, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: don’t like romance trilogies following the same character leads

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Spin-off Saturdays: Damaged by H. M. Ward (Ferro Family #2)

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:

Damaged Series is a spin-off of the The Arrangement Series

Series: Damaged, Part of the Ferro Family (Full List Here)
Author: H.M. Ward
# of Books: 2 (Damaged, Damaged 2)

This is a spinoff of the The Arrangement and Ferro Family Series. It intersects The Arrangement Series at Part 7

Book Order: Chronological; Connected to the Ferro Family, specifically the Arrangement Series
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Serial, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (Damaged), Really Warm (Damaged 2)
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

My previous exposure to H.M. Ward’s work when I picked up Damaged was Collide, the first part of the Secret Life of Trystan Scott Series. While I had enjoyed that book, I found it riddled with typos and it significantly lowered my expectations for all future books by this author. I mean, the book boasts that the author is a New York Times Bestseller and yet the writing was very unprofessional! For example: the POV would shift from first person to third person within a paragraph when it was in a particular characters POV section. Because I was on a kick to read a majority of my books on my Kobo over Christmas break, I decided to get Damaged over with.

I’m glad that I did because this book was much more than I expected. First off, the typos and the shifty POVs didn’t exist so that immediately restored my hope in these books. I also liked the maturity of the characters and how they handled the situations. I didn’t find Sydney annoying when she easily could have been given the type of story that this is. What really won me over was the fact that Sydney could get a laugh out of me every once and a while. While not as much as a humor book as Losing It (which features a similar plot line), I enjoyed Sydney’s wit and spunk while I was reading.

I also liked the relationship between Peter and Sydney. It wasn’t just an attraction thing between them. They had a lot in common and they built the emotional side of their relationship very well–so it didn’t seem like a shallow relationship.

I didn’t know that this was a part of the Ferro Family until the 2nd book. If I had known that going in, I probably would have read it after reading the Arrangement but I don’t think it gives too much–if anything–away about what happens with those characters in that series. It actually made me really excited to read that series and its follow-up. I am actually going to rescind that previous statement. I originally wrote this review before I started The Arrangement series. After reading the Arrangement, I think I should have read these two books after–it did reveal a few major plot details that I would have enjoyed more if I didn’t know about going into the first story. In other words, they give some spoilers about the series (though to be fair a good chunk I had already assumed would happen in the series) as specific character pasts were ruined by reading this series first.

Overall, Damaged 2 was more drama based than romance. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any romance, I just felt like Peter and Sydney’s relationship takes a back seat to the events that unfold around them. I felt like it was a good place to end their story but I’m hoping that they will appear in the other series as well.

Conclusion:

If you like strong characters who find themselves in a bit of a forbidden love situation that is more on the dramatic side, these two books are for you! A great way to get introduced to the Ferro Family, but I have a feeling it would be more worthwhile if you have read the previous series prior to this. You should definitely read the Arrangement prior to reading this series!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Losing It by Cora Carmack (Losing It #1)

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED The Arrangement SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS MAY HAVE SPOILERS!

Synopsis for Damaged (from Goodreads):
Life sucks. And, as soon as Sidney picks up the pieces something always knocks her back onto her butt. It’s never pretty, but this time is different. This time pretty isn’t even the right word.

Peter is the personification of perfection. It’s like he fell off his angel perch in purgatory, because let’s face it–any guy that hot has got to be naughty. He was probably sent here to ruin her life.

Peter is beyond beautiful with his sexy blue eyes, dark hair, and toned body. Add in his charming wit and Peter is everything Sidney ever wanted in a man, but when things get hot and heavy Peter shows her the door. Sidney takes the walk of shame and leaves. It’s the end of the worst blind date ever. Her life couldn’t possibly reach higher levels of suckage, but it does.

The next morning everything comes crashing down. The insanely hot guy from last night, the one that saw her half naked, is teaching at the front of the class room.

DNF Series Review: The Raven Chronicles by Stephanie Thomas

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:

Luminosity by Stephanie Thomas | The Raven Chronicles


Other books in the series:

Series: The Raven Chronicles
Author: Stephanie Thomas
# of Books: 2 (Luminosity, Lucidity)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cold

Thoughts:

***PLEASE NOTE: I did not finish this book (I got to chapter 6). I really tried to get into but it just wasn’t happening.

I decided to read this book because the concept sounded really interesting but I did go into it with some hesitations. I’m reaching that point in my life where young adult novels are truly hit or miss and this is one of those occasions where it is a miss.

I found it started off very slow and while I can appreciate the descriptions of what various terms mean, it just did not grasp my attention. Nothing felt overly fresh to me when I was reading so I felt bored.

One of the main reasons I find it hard to like young adult novels lately is the teenage heroines. Basically, it comes down to a question of whether or not I can tolerate them. Beatrice wasn’t anything overly annoying–she just didn’t interest me. She is your typical teenage heroine who has that special “something” and–of course–has (the seemingly required for any young adult novel lately) two love interests. Like I said before this was nothing refreshing to me: just another young adult formula novel.

Conclusion:

There are much more interesting books out there that I would rather be reading (and I readily did). I may give this book another chance at a later date. The concept is intriguing but I feel it is geared to a younger reader audience.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Black City by Elizabeth Richards (Black City Trilogy #1) and Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (Mystic City #1)

Synopsis for Luminosity (from Goodreads):

My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings. And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t been the same since.

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me.

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I think I’ve already helped them win