Tag «High Fantasy»

Series Review: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

Series Review: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

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 Children of Blood and Bone (from Goodreads):

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

breakdown

Series: Legacy of Orïsha
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I feel like you couldn’t escape Children of Blood and Bone (#1) in 2018. It seemed to be everywhere and talked about by everyone. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick it up right away. I think it was the mention of magic — books with magic (particularly witch and wizard books) can be a little hit or miss for me.

When I was looking for a new audiobook series to start, I happened to see that both Children of Blood and Bone (#1) AND Children of Virtue and Vengeance (#2) were available for instant download at my library so I thought was a great time to start this series (I thought it was a duology, I didn’t realize the 3rd book was still in the works).

The Concept / The World:

At the end of Children of Blood and Bone (#1), Tomi has left an author’s note detailing how the deaths of young black people at the hands of police motivated her to publish this series. You can definitely see the parallels between the maji of the novels being persecuted for their perceived differences (physical and ability) and the events of our current world when it comes to racial prejudices. The English minor in me would love to explore those parallels in an essay because it is very well done throughout the series.

This world is also heavily inspired by various African cultures, particularly Nigeria, with the language used for casting spells to character names and so forth. It was a refreshing approach for me because I find a lot of high fantasy novels I’ve read lately are Asian or Northern European inspired.

The Plot:

I struggled with the pacing of Children of Blood and Bone (#1). The first half of this book was very adventure based–a genre I don’t tend to enjoy for its slower pace. So I had a hard time keeping focused for the first little while. Things really picked up by the middle when all the players start setting up for the finale but then it tapered off until the last quarter. I loved the last quarter of the book though. Lots of action and plot twists! Overall, it was very up and down for me and my interest.

I felt like Children of Virtue and Vengeance (#2) suffers heavily from middle book syndrome. It’s very character driven as our leads try to navigate the world they find themselves in. I can appreciate the struggle they are going through but I needed a little more excitement to keep my interest.

The Characters:

Zélie falls into the common heroine category of high fantasy worlds where they are thrust into the position to be the savior of the world, much to their chagrin. She also very emotionally driven in her actions, which is understandable given everything that happens. I just have a personal preference for heroines who are more logical than emotional when it comes to actions in my fantasy novels (like Kestrel from The Winner’s Trilogy or Helena from An Ember in the Ashes). But I find her storylines to be boring and her romance forced.

Which is maybe why I leaned more towards Amari. Again, her character arc of rebellion isn’t anything new but I appreciated how her eyes were opened to the real world. If you go back to the metaphor of what this novel stands for (violence based on race), Amari is that person who doesn’t think it’s their “problem” until they are directly impacted by the situation. However, do I think she could have had some more character development? Absolutely.

My favourite POV was Inan. I appreciated reading his struggles. Yes, he is all over the place with his feelings and actions, but who wouldn’t be when you become the thing you’ve been taught to hate? I just thought his whole character arc was fascinating and I found myself looking forward to his POV chapters.

The Romance:

So, I adore forbidden romances and the synopsis made me think we were going to get a good one with the line:

Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.”

I guess it isn’t a good sign when you start shipping a relationship that isn’t really isn’t there. I can appreciate that the romance was subtle but I’d almost argue that it is insta-love at its worst because it appears out of nowhere. Growing attraction or lust? Sure, I’d see that but I struggled to see why these two characters fall for each other in Children of Blood and Bone (#1).

So the romantic in me was disappointed by the somewhat forced romances that appear throughout the series.

My Audiobook Experience:

Bahni Turpin narrates the audiobooks and if you haven’t read an audiobook by Bahni Turpin, you’ve been living under a rock and are seriously missing out. She is a fantastic narrator (read the audio version of The Hate U Give and you’ll understand) and she does do a great job here as well. I could have used a little more distinction between Zélie and Amari’s chapters but she did a great job overall.

There are a lot of terms to know in this book because of the magic elements (like the different skills maji have) and all of those are thrown out at the start of the audiobook. Reading an audiobook isn’t like a physical book where you can turn back to the glossary to refresh yourself on the terms. So, I did struggle with that a bit and perhaps that was why it took me a long time to get into it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Much like the inaugural book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance (#2) ends with a bang and I’m really curious to see where it will go! I’m not counting down the days by any means but I am interested in finding out how this ends.

Series Rating: 3/5

Children of Blood and Bone 3/5 | Children of Virtue and Vengeance 3/5 | Book 3 TBP

overall

I can see why people adore these books. The world and its focus on Nigerian culture is great as is the metaphor of racial injustice in current society. However, for me, I find I lose interest in the middle of the books due to their long page length (I feel like you could cut some stuff out but still get the same idea) and I start to get bored repeating the same sentiments with the characters. I’m curious to see where the third book will go.

Read if You Like: high fantasy, magic
Avoid if You: dislike long novels, dislike magic

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Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

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

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

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

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

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

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

–More Politics–

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

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

–Nina’s Story–

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

–Too Much Fan Service–

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

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

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

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

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Spin-off Saturdays: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

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

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

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

book3

breakdown

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

This is a spinoff of the Caraval Series.

Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library—Audiobook

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

thoughts

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

My Expectations?

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Twisty Though Not as Suspenseful–

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

–Sister Dynamic–

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

–Jacks–

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slow Start–

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

–Craved More Romance–

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

–December 22, 2022– Book #2: The Ballad of Never Ever

I’m not sure how I feel about this installment. The last quarter is great but I think that’s because we actually accomplish something with the story. Things start to fall into place as we build up for the finale. I wanted a little more from Evangeline in this one. Plus, I think it’s a me thing, but I see ZERO chemistry between her and her love interests. Maybe that’s the point? I feel like there is supposed to be this lingering tension but it just feels forced to me.

Series Rating: 4/5

Once Upon a Broken Heart 4/5 | The Ballad of Never Ever 3/5 | A Curse for True Love TBP

overall

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

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

similarreads

booksynopsis

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

How far would you go for happily ever after?

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Woven Kingdom Trilogy

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for This Woven Kingdom (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

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

–Alizeh–

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

–Alizeh & Kamran Banter–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

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

overall

It takes its time to set up the world and its characters but it is well worth the investment!
Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: Realm Breaker (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

Fresh Fridays: Realm Breaker (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

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:

Realm Breaker Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Realm Breaker (from Goodreads):

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

breakdown

Series: Realm Breaker
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVED The Red Queen when I read it…and was completely disappointed in its sequel. I couldn’t finish it for the life of me. I might try it as an audiobook sometime in the near future though.

I wanted to go into this series with some optimism. I did like The Red Queen after all and the politics of the world. This world sounded super cool (pirates, assassins, immortals) and it had multiple POVs which I love so I was excited when my hold came in for the audiobook.

What I Liked:

–Lack of Romance–

This is a double-edged sword for me because I LOVE a good romance in my books. I will be the first to say that often times it can distract from the plot but sometimes I need that in a book to keep me interested (which you will see is the case here).

However, I can appreciate that there really isn’t any romance at all in the book. There are definitely sparks and some inklings that maybe in future books love will be in the air. So a possible slow burn keeps things going a bit.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of Romance–

As I said above, I can appreciate that it didn’t distract from the plot but the fact of the matter is: I needed something to distract me from the plot!

–Long Prologue–

I struggled to get through the prologue. Like, at one point I went, “it’s still going?” I should have taken that as a sign to stop reading but I wanted to give this book a fair shot because I really wanted to enjoy this book.

I think the prologue really helps explain how Spindles work and how the world operates a little more. And because I zoned out during the prologue, I spent the rest of the book a little lost in what was actually happening.

–Bland Characters–

Normally I love multiple POV books because I can usually find a character or two whose plotlines I enjoy and that motivates me to keep going. Here, I thought everyone was as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall. Even our villain was lackluster to me. They just seemed like every other character from every other high fantasy novel I’ve read. Perhaps it was due to the fact the chapters are excessively long so you get tired of the monotony of the person after a while.

My Audiobook Experience:

Perhaps I should have read an actual text copy so I could flip back to refresh the world-building when needed. But I usually have great success with fantasy books as audio series. The production itself is fine though there is only one narrator. (Which works for a third person POV title but it does add to the monotony).

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t even remember how this ends and I just finished it the other day. That’s how not into it I was. I don’t have any expectations really because I won’t be continuing.

My Rating: 2/5

Realm Breaker 2/5 | Blade Breaker TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This was just a miss for me. With its promising elements I ended up feeling disconnected and disinterested in this new series and I won’t be continuing on.

Read if You Like: slower stories, fantasy, dislike long & wordy books
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A Nielsen

Series Review: The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A Nielsen

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 Traitor’s Game (from Goodreads):

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip.

A group of rebels knows this all too well – and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home. The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected.

Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what – and who – it is they’re fighting for.

breakdown

Series: The Traitor’s Game
Author: Jennifer A Nielson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2018 – March 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This was a series I stumbled upon at the library when browsing audiobook titles. I loved the cover and once I read the synopsis (and saw that my library had all the audiobooks in the series), I put myself on the holds list. I love a good fantasy novel and this one seemed to be a solid blend of stories I had liked in the past yet had its own flare to it.

The Concept / The World:

The idea of magic is a touchy thing for me because it isn’t always the most logical (or can quickly have “exceptions” when it needs to) but I didn’t mind it here. There was a system to the magic and how it was used that I appreciated.

I also enjoyed how rich this was in the politics. I think there might have been a few too many groups involved to keep it all straight (it was hard as I was listening to the audiobook, trying to remember all the details as I read the books a few weeks apart).

The Plot:

Book 1, The Traitor’s Game, started like any other book in the genre. It seemed to follow the same generic formula and I found my mind starting to wander and not absorb as many details as I should have. And that is a real shame because there are some great twists near the end of that first book that were exciting and fresh.

That freshness continues on throughout the rest of the series. I loved the evolution of the plot. There are a lot of players involved and lots of aspects that contribute to the narrative. One thing that really impressed me was that nothing ever felt like “filler” content in the 2nd and 3rd books.

However, I do think the romance overshadowed a lot of stuff and because it was lacklustre for me, it dampened the reading experience quite a bit.

The Characters:

I’m going to admit that people started to blend together a bit for me. I blame the audiobook on that one and my crappy memory at trying to keep characters straight.

There are a lot of players in this game and they all do their job well.

The Romance:

I didn’t really feel Simon and Kestra as a romantic pair. I’m not really sure why because they have all the makings of a cute couple. I think it was just that there was a massive focus on their romance and how it drove so many of their decisions that just irritated me a bit. I never really felt invested in it like I should have been.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production itself is great. I just think as someone who has a crappy memory that this wasn’t the best format for trying to keep everything/one straight and clear.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3/5

The Traitor’s Game 3/5 | The Deceiver’s Heart 3/5 | The Warrior’s Curse 3/5

overall

I think those who are on a high fantasy kick who will enjoy this. You have to give it some time to find its own footing but once it does, I think you’ll be impressed with its trajectory.

Read if You Like: high fantasy, politics, slow building stories
Avoid if You: dislike romance-focused stories

similarreads

  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Snow Like Ashes Series #1)
  • The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty (The Traitor’s Circle Series #1)
  • Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson (Dance of Thieves Series #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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:

Rule Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

breakdown

Series: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlet
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Rise, to be released June 2019
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into this read. I was browsing my library’s new additions when I scrolled across this one. I actually checked out the hardcover from my library but never got around to it. But the premise was promising. I love the drama and secrets of Pretty Little Liars (well, the TV show at least; I never read the books) and Three Dark Crowns won me over with its sequel so I was optomistic I would enjoy this one.

What I Liked:

–Multiple POVs–

I love books that follow multiple characters. I find it gives the novel a 360-degree view of everything that is happening and keeps the story moving. Even if you don’t enjoy one POV, at least you have some others to look forward to.

–Diverse Cast–

When books mimic real life (especially by highlighting prejudices and the like) I’m always invested. This book has quite the group of characters. All the girls come from different family styles, races and castes (travelers, maids, etc). You’ve also got characters that are LGBTQ (in a very normalised, not token kind of way). So in that respect, I truly found this book to deliever on diversity without it feeling like it was simply checking all the marks off.

–The Magic–

I liked how straight-forward the tithe system seemed to be. Not only is everything magic-wise easily explained but it also has limitations. One of my biggest peeves about magic is the almost unlimited power it can have but the magic here makes sense.

–The Blackmail–

I think this is where the Pretty Little Liars comparisons come in because there is someone taunting these girls with their secrets. And the secrets are pretty juicy–and contribute to the plot in a rather strong way. These aren’t petty “I know about your secret relationship” type of secrets; they run much deeper (and more complex) than that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Seems Needlessly Drawn Out–

Perhaps starting this book the week I was working nights wasn’t the best idea–my concentration is pretty crappy. However, I found the chapters used a lot of words to deliver very little in the grand scheme of things. I would get lost in text at times. But I will say that each chapter ended in a way that had me eager for the next one so I was a fan of that.

–Blending of the Characters–

While I praised this book for its diversity earlier on, sometimes I couldn’t tell Zofi apart from Ren from Akeylah. The “problem” is the third person narration. It isn’t very personal as it lacks the depths a first person POV can provide (ie the inner character monologue). As a result, I often had to reread the synopsis just to remember that Zofi was from “A” and her secret was “B” so I wouldn’t get the girls mixed up.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really started to enjoy how the various plots were starting to weave together so I am very curious to see how everything with wrap up (or unravel) in the finale.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Rule 3.5/5 | Rise TBP

overall

While nothing immediately stands out about this fantasy novel, fans of the genre will enjoy this solid and diverse story.

Read if You Like: multiple POV, wordy stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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 Falling Kingdoms (from Goodreads):

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Series 2018, Canadian Author
Series: Falling Kingdoms

There is a spin-off series titled Spirits and Thieves

Author: Morgan Rhodes
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: December 2012 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve seen this series floating around over the years but for some reason, I’ve never looked further into it. But when I saw that my library had the audiobooks, I decided to read the synopsis and see if it was something I would like (and possibly enjoy as an audio series)

Clearly it was! I mean it’s a high fantasy–one of my favourite YA genres–, rich with lots of politics and it features multiple character POVs. It’s almost like it was written for me! And that’s not even including the fact that the author is CANADIAN! So I couldn’t wait to dive in and get myself invested in a longer series once again.

The Concept / The World:

In a lot of ways the world here reminded me of Game of Thrones. You’ve got lots of main characters in various kingdoms all vying for dominance. Each kingdom is unique in its lifestyle, rule and religion so it just enriches the world in a way that sucks you in. It’s easy to follow despite the many attributes because it is so well thought out and Rhodes writing style reminds you in case you forget. It’s been a long time since I’ve read and enjoyed a world as much as I did with this!

The Plot:

I will be the first to say that I found the plot in Falling Kingdoms (Book #1) to be pretty weak–especially when you compare it to the sequels which are very strong. Weak in the sense that you don’t have a lot necessarily going on and there aren’t too many big twists. However, where this book succeeded was setting up the incredibly solid foundation for the rest of the series.

The rest of the series is just thrilling to read! Thanks to the multiple character POVs you are always getting a 360-degree view of the world and a plot that just keeps building and building. Twists and new plot developments come out of nowhere and you are stuck to the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. Honestly, these books never have a dull moment.

The Characters:

The development of the characters in this series is also super impressive. I think Cleo is the best example of a character that grows tremendously from book to book. She is by no means the same princess we started the series with by the middle of the series; she went from being a character POV I enjoyed to one I LOVED by book 3.

Magus though is the real star of this series for me. I just loved him and his journey right from the start. I would fangirl so hard anytime the new chapter POV was his. He’s got that bad-boy brooding thing going on and you constantly toy with the idea that he does have a heart and morals. He was just so endearing to me.

But all the characters are fabulous here. Of course, certain storylines appealed to me more than others but I found that always changed from book to book given the various twists. What I really enjoyed is the unpredictability of all the characters. They are constantly evolving and you never know who you can trust given the plot so it adds the suspense of it all.

The Romance:

I would never say this series is a romance at the core of it, but the romances do contribute to the story in a positive way. Like many things in this series, they are constantly evolving and changing so I liked that nothing was cut and dry. There were many “ships” I jumped aboard but I definitely had my favourites 😉 (ie anything involving Magnus <3)

My Audiobook Experience:

I will admit I was worried to take on a series of this length (and genre) as an audiobook but I’m so glad I did! Fred Berman is the narrator and he is absolutely fabulous! Every character has their own unique voice; different regions have their own accents. It’s just very well done. I felt like I was watching a TV show instead of just listening to the words. I highly recommend the audio version!

Series Rating: 5/5

Falling Kingdoms 4.5/5 | Rebel Springs | Gathering Darkness 5/5 | Frozen Tides 5/5 | Crystal Storm 4.5/5 | Immortal Reign 5/5

overall

This series is a must for YA fantasy fans (I also think it is perfect for Cassandra Clare fans as well!) or anyone looking for a rich, multiple POV series.

Read if You Like: multiple POVs, fantasy, Game of Thrones
Avoid if You: dislike long series, dislike fantasy, want more fantasy

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Series Review: Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake

Series Review: Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake

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

Frostblood Saga

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Frosblood (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: Frostblood Saga
Author: Elly Blake
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 – August 21, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC (#1); Library–Audio (#2); Library–eBook (#3)

A review copy was only provided for Book #1, Frostblood

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Since 2015, I’ve been devouring any YA fantasy novels that I can get my hands on. They’ve replaced my dystopian obsession (which had replaced my paranormal YA obsession). So, I think it goes without saying that I am a little picky about my fantasies and what I want to see in them.

World-building is a big one. Recently, I’ve found newer series to be lacking that in particular. I don’t want to be thrown into a world and having to figure it out on my own. I also want a heroine or hero I can root for. I don’t need them to be perfect or all powerful, I just want them win me over to their side. And of course, a little romance never hurt anyone. Unless it becomes an unnecessary love triangle: nobody wins with those.

What I Liked:

–The Worldbuilding!–

I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels lately that have something to be desired when it comes to the worldbuilding–but that isn’t the case with Frostblood. I loved that the world was straight-forward but complex all at the same time. Ice vs fire is a battle that is so simple but has a lot of play with it, and that’s what Blake does here.

It takes the time to explain the history of the world and how the magic/powers work, which I greatly appreciate. It also adds a unique flare to the world as well. While readers will probably see parallels to other YA fantasies, this one still had its own refreshing take on the genre that made it so much fun to read.

–Ruby–

I really, really liked her as a heroine. She’s got this sassy, independent side to her that you can’t help but love and root for. Her passion and drive to control her own destiny is exactly what I want to read about in a heroine.

But she also has her flaws and her weaknesses and that makes her a well-rounded heroine who can only grow as this series continues.

–The Pacing–

This novel always felt like it was building. While some of the events might be seen as minor, they all contribute to the plot overall. Whether that was establishing character relationships, giving background on the world or leading to the ultimate plot climax, this story kept me on my toes.

–The Romance–

While not a huge aspect of the novel, it was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The banter between Ruby and Arcus was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

It really isn’t that big of a deal but I did think the story was going to focus more on this “king’s tournament”. So I was expecting a lot of physical action. But truthfully, that particular aspect doesn’t start until past the halfway point.

And in the end, I much preferred the story we get instead building up to that point. There was plenty of action even if it wasn’t of the variety I was necessarily expecting.

In short: don’t expect this book to be about a heroine fighting her way to the top in a tournament, there is so much more at play!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a solid start to a series! I’m not sure what exactly the future will hold but I’m excited to see more of these characters!

updates

–June 22, 2019– Book #2: Fireblood

I’ve been super excited to finish the series, even if it has taken me awhile to get back to it.

Despite that, it took me a few chapters to get into this sequel. Part of the reason is that I needed to reorient myself into it since it had been awhile. But the other part is that this is one of those sequels where our heroine has to find herself and so we take a bit of a break from the action that captured my full attention in the first novel. Like I mentioned about the first book, I really love Ruby as a character and her development is something I adore about this series so I liked getting to know her deeper.

The last quarter of the book is when things pick up and WHOA, do they ever! I thought I had things figured out but I was wrong (bonus!). Looking forward to the finale.

My library had an audio version for this installment (and only this one) so I thought I would try it out. I really loved the production and I really wanted to read the last book as an audio as well but I couldn’t find a copy.

–October 21, 2019– Book #3: Nightblood

It’s truly unfortunate that I wasn’t able to give this book my full attention for a long time. I do think that impacted my enjoyment of this finale.

But there is a lot to like about this final book. That great character chemistry is still here and I loved the scenes we got along the way. The plot was always building and while I think some of the finer details were lost on me, I was very satisfied by how everything wrapped up.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Frostblood 5/5 | Fireblood 4/5 | Nightblood 4/5

overall

From the sassy lead to the rich world, this is a fantasy series that will surely entertain!

Read if You Like: fantasy, sassy leads
Avoid if You: dislike action/violence, want more romance

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Series Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Series Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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

Six of Crows Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Six of Crows (from Goodreads):
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Series: Six of Crows

This is a spinoff of the The Grisha Trilogy.

Has its own spin-off: King of Scars

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Heist, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s not a secret that I didn’t really enjoy the Grisha Trilogy. The pacing was off, I couldn’t stand the lead character and I felt like nothing ever happened. And that was a shame, because I loved the Grisha universe and liked a lot of the secondary characters–it had a lot of potential but just didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it for me. So the idea of reading a spin-off, with a completely new cast of characters but set in the exact same universe was appealing to me.

When I read that this was going to be a heist novel, I was stoked! I’ve been looking for a great heist novel since I read the Heist Society novels years ago and have come up disappointed every time. But this one sounded like it could be the next fantastic heist novel for me.

What I Liked:

–Multiple Character Perspectives–

I like my books to have a lot going on in them so that I am never bored. I found the Grisha Trilogy really didn’t have that much else going on other than the main plot line and the romance, so it was a little dull at times. It was especially difficult for me because I didn’t like the lead heroine who was also the sole narrator. I didn’t particularly care for her story but I did like a lot of the side characters and wished their story was told.

My wish was granted here…in a sense.

I really enjoyed reading about multiple characters. It kept things interesting and kept the pace faster. I also liked that each character had a bit of a mystery surrounding them that we got to uncover more as we read. Plus, these characters were infinitely more interesting than Alina ever was and that helped immensely.

–The Heist–

A good heist is hard to write and I think this one was done exceptionally well. I loved the many twists and turns and I liked that it kept me on my toes.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Still Feel like I’m Missing Something

Naturally, heist novels leave stuff out. You always learn about things after the fact because it is more suspenseful that way–and I really enjoyed that about heist novels. It’s also the reason why I understand that they are more often than not third person POV (it just makes things easier).

But at the same time, there were a few things about the characters that I wish were made clearer earlier on in terms of personality. As I said before, one of the things I liked was that their past was slowly revealed and that is completely true. But there were some things about some characters that I felt should have been elaborated on earlier (it’s hard to give an example without giving a spoiler). Because when it was revealed, it was like getting kicked in the face–it just seemed to come out of nowhere and it made me feel like I was missing something.

I still feel like I don’t have a full grasp on what really happened. And to be honest, I had the same problem with the Grisha Trilogy where I felt like things weren’t properly explained. Whether that is a fault in the writing or a fault in my reading abilities–which I tend to lean towards because I am a fast reader–I’m not sure. It could have also been the result of a residual assumption from reading the first series and not really enjoying it. Regardless, it prevented me from getting fully immersed in the story and really made it hard to rate this book overall.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to see what happens next! I became really invested these characters and their stories and I’m looking forward to learning more about them all. With the way everything ended, I’m not sure what is in store, but it if can keep building the momentum I think the sequel will be fantastic!

updates

–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Crooked Kingdom

I picked this book up earlier than I intended just because everyone was so “wowed” by it on Twitter. But I also really wanted to see how everything was going to wrap up and I didn’t want anything to be spoiled for me.

This book was a little up and down for me.

I thought there was wayyyy too much detail at times. Bardugo goes off on these tangents throughout the novel and while some are beneficial for character development, others just threw me off course and made me forget what was happening. You could have easily cut out a few pages and had a totally solid novel. So I found myself getting bored at times simply because we weren’t moving the plot forward because of this excess detail.

What I loved about this book was discovering how attached to these characters I was. One of my biggest problems with the Grisha Trilogy was not loving the leads (minus the Darkling and Nikolai of course) and I really didn’t have that problem here. There were romances I was rooting for; characters I wanted to see come to their full potential; scenes that made my heart stop. This is quite the crew assembled here and they were fabulous!

So overall, it was a solid novel to wrap up this series. Maybe we will get to see this crew in another adventure somewhere down the line but I think everyone will be satisfied with this finale.

Grishaverse Series Reading Order:

(1) Shadow and Bone Trilogy, (2) Six of Crows, (3) King of Scars

See my review of the spin-off series King of Scars here!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Six of Crows 4.5/5  |  Crooked Kingdom 4/5

overall

This series is very different from the Grisha Trilogy. Fans of the Grisha Trilogy will enjoy this alternate look at the world but it is much darker and almost a more grown-up version of the previous series. And even if you didn’t enjoy the Grisha Trilogy but enjoyed the world, this is a great read and definitely not as generic as the inaugural series.

Read if You Like: heist stories, multiple character perspectives
Avoid if You: dislike long books, third person narration

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