Tag «love triangle»

Single Sundays: Blind Trust by Peiri Ann

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Blind Trust (from Goodreads):
*For mature readers 18+*
Loving someone has never been so deadly.

Valerie Harper has one assignment, one mission. Assassinate her mark and everyone he loves. But what happens when she finds that she loves him too?

Her instructions are simple; do not fraternize with your target, observe at a distance, and never engage with the enemy. However, as things take an unexpected turn in Val’s world, these simple instructions begin to change.

Refusing to be a puppet, Kyle Shultz walks away from his old life and settles into the college routine. But the life of a student is more difficult than he imagined. Making friends and attending parties are as foreign a concept as showing a target mercy.

The lines between the state of the job and the affairs of the heart are blurred as Valerie and Kyle’s worlds collide.
With a maze of enemies and hit lists to navigate, will these two young adversaries proceed wide-eyed and alone into the fray? Or will they blindly trust the feelings they can no longer ignore?

breakdown

Author: Peiri Ann
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Suspense, Dark
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 24, 2015
Source & Format: New Adult Book Club RIRI provided by author–eBook  |  Thank you Peiri Ann!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I like reading romances that don’t follow the traditional path. Sure, it’s great to read about a boy and girl who fall in love while away at university but what if their situation was a little more...extreme? And I’m not talking crazy ex-partners who just can’t seem to let go. I mean, what if one of these people has been sent to kill the other?

Intriguing right? Though definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

I love stories where enemies fall in love and having an assassin fall in love with her mark is a perfect example of this. Sure, it’s a tad cliché but it is entertaining. So, I when presented the opportunity to read this book I snatched it up! I couldn’t wait for the fun and danger to begin.

The Concept:

If you are expecting some light hearted novel, I would look elsewhere. These are assassins who don’t mind killing people for money or for a purpose. If anyone has watched Kingsmen (or read the graphic novel) I find the tone is similar (in terms that it is normal for these characters to pursue this path) in the sense that these people are pretty nonchalant about killing other people. However, it isn’t at all espionage based or witty in its humour.

The Plot:

This book didn’t start off where I thought it was going to. When I first started, I had assumed it would be told solely from Val’s POV and Kyle’s past would be a bit of a mystery. I also thought we would be joining Val at the start of her mission. Turns out, we get both Kyle and Val’s POV which is A-ok and honestly, removes the predictability of the book regarding Kyle’s past.

We are also thrust into the end of Val’s mission when everything starts to fall apart. Which kind-of sucks because it takes away from the character and plot development I was expecting to see. Val’s opinion of Kyle has been well established before the reader even enters the scene, taking away from the romantic development that I wanted to see unfold.

The shit has also hit the fan and that accelerates everything at a pace that doesn’t really work for me. I like books that hit the ground running but I just felt lost trying to understand these characters AND what was happening plot wise. I still really don’t understand what did actually happen even after finishing the book…

That does have its positives though. What I thought was going to be a predictable novel turned out to be rather unpredictable, keeping me glued to my Kobo to find out what was going to happen next. So even if I didn’t understand what happened, it kept my attention in the hopes that I would eventually understand.

The Characters:

Regardless of what these characters may or may not do for a living, I had a hard time totally connecting with them. Part of the issue was simply trying to understand their thought process and coming up empty every time.

I’ll start with Kyle. I personally have a soft-spot for the suave jackass character but he was just a little too much for me. He seemed to be two extremes. One minute he would be a nice guy and then in the next he was a complete ass who was crude and heartless. And I suppose to a certain extent it worked for his character and made sense the more I read but my initial impression of him didn’t really seem to improve as I read.

As for Val, I wanted a little more from her. I feel like a lot more could have been done with her character but she just felt very underdeveloped to me–especially given all that happens to her. It felt all over the place to me and I didn’t like that. And when we did get some of that vulnerability, it arrived way past the point of me really caring.

The Romance:

I really struggled to see how these romance worked.  I understood why these two were drawn together in theory but in practice, there was more to be desired. Part of the issue is that Val’s feelings are already developed before the book starts. I just didn’t see what she saw in Kyle and that caused me not to see how their relationship would evolve. Kyle’s feelings were a little more obvious because the reader gets to see him establish a relationship with Val. But then again, my jackass impression of him stopped me from totally getting on board with the romance and he was all over the place emotionally as well. So overall, the romance fell flat for me.

The Spin-off:

There is going to be a spin-off with one of the side characters but that is going to be a pass for me. I didn’t particularly like him and I’m really not sure what to expect from his story.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This book just needed some polish because I think all the right ideas were there. It just flopped all over the place and never seemed to be consistent. Cool premise but poor execution (and that pun was totally intended).

Read if You Like: unconventional romances, unconventional characters
Avoid if You: don’t like assassins, want a more straight-forward read

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Series Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch

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 Snow Like Ashes (from Goodreads):
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2015 (Snow Like Ashes)
Series: The Snow Like Ashes Trilogy
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 3 (Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire, Frost Like Night)

You can read the deleted prologue (Icicles like Kindling) here! Flames Like Vines is a companion story to Ice Like Fire, read it here!

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; First & Third Person (Ice Like Fire onwards)
Source & Format: Public Library, eBook

thoughts

Snow Like Ashes caught my eye after I saw the cover on a few blogs. I had seen it before when browsing various book sites but I never bothered to read the synopsis. I’m SO glad that I decided to read it–because I absolutely loved it!

When I started reading Snow Like Ashes, I wasn’t totally in the right mindset and the slightly slower pace of the first two chapters didn’t keep my attention where it should be. But, that QUICKLY changed when Meira leaves for her mission.

I was initially worried that Meira would be like Celaena from the Throne of Glass Series: a jaded, take-no-prisoners kind of girl. And while I do love Celaena’s character (and other kick ass heroines like her) it was refreshing to actually watch a character develop into that strong female heroine role like we do with Meira.

Unlike Celaena, Meira isn’t so great at the  hand-to-hand combat aspect, but what she lacks she makes up for in passion and intelligence. Her passion to save her kingdom is there right from the get-go and she doesn’t let it jade her in anyway–she keeps pushing forward and I loved that tenacity. I find a lot of heroines–especially in more dystopian novels–are reluctantly thrust into a rebellion situation and their dislike of being in the “leader” position shows, giving the books a sad, more negative feel. With Meira, I never felt that because she is so optimistic about everything and that was so refreshing to me.

What is even better is that she actually thinks about the consequences of her actions before she gives in to her impulses which wins her major points in my books. I also love her narration: she was sarcastic, witty and just a lot of fun to read about which made this book so addicting to read!

I could probably go on for days about why I loved Meira but I’ll touch on some of the other great aspects of this book.

The “dangerous politics” portion of the synopsis is probably overlooked by most potential readers–I know I sure overlooked it! While this book does have some great action sequences in it, the real focus (at least it seemed to me) was the politics of the world these characters find themselves in. It’s been a long time since I read kingdom focused book a la The Girl of Fire and Thorns or The Iron King and while I did initially have issues sorting out all the places/people (use the map in the books my friends!) it was easier to pick up on as you went.

updates

–November 6, 2015– Book 2: Ice Like Fire

I was super excited to start this one but my excitement died a little once I actually started to read it. Compared to Snow Like Ashes, this book has a more melancholy feel to it and less action…at the start. Given the ending of Snow Like Ashes, I should have expected that and I did to a certain extent. I just kept waiting for it to amp up a bit and get to the good stuff.

Even though most of this story is the politics of the world (something I LOVE in my High Fantasy stories), I did get bored with it. It was just so expected and ordinary that it made me worry that this book wasn’t going to deliver.

Patience is a virtue and in this case, it is your best friend. The last 100 pages were intense, oh so very twisted and action packed. Suddenly the very dry, level story reaches an amazing climax that makes you connect the dots to everything you previously read. In hindsight, it is a beautifully crafted story but it isn’t until the end that you appreciate that. 

–November 6, 2016– Book 3: Ice Like Night

I’ll admit, I went into this book wrong. Despite my excitement to start this, I had briefly read someone’s observations that this wasn’t that great of an ending and so I lowered my expectations.

I could see why someone would be disappointed. I thought the first half of the book was terribly slow. A lot of talking and not enough action–which sucks because I associate this series as the perfect blend of action and political intrigue. It was boring at times and I was thankful we had two other POVs to counteract the somewhat dull Meira POV.

Once I got to the halfway point, there were little blimps of excitement. But it did start to build and I really did enjoy the last 75 pages of so.

Overall, a satisfying ending but not as strong as I had wanted.

My Rating: 4/5

Snow Like Ashes 5/5 | Ice Like Fire 4/5 | Frost Like Night 3.5/5

I hesitated for a long time between giving Snow Like Ashes a 4/5 and a 5/5 (on GoodReads–man I wish they did half stars!). I found that it did lag in places but the slower bits were necessary to the story. I think if I didn’t have to study for exams–which caused my reading to be broken up into large and small chunks–I would have finished this book in one sitting guilt-free. So I opted to give it a 5 on GoodReads and I’ll do the same here.

overall

It’s a solid series that starts to move away from the action into the political sphere of things, slowing the momentum down at times. But even when I thought I had things figured out, I was quickly turned in another direction–so I loved that it kept me on my toes!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, world-building, political intrigue, kick-ass heroines
Avoid if You: dislike action, dislike magic

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Series Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

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

Synopsis for 99 Days (from Goodreads):
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

breakdown

Author: Katie Cotugno
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Coming of Age, Drama, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (9 Days)

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Standalone 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:

Normally, I would stay FAR FAR away from any YA/NA/Adult contemporary romance that primarily deals with a love triangle. I don’t like reading about someone who is torn between two people she loves equally simultaneously. And I LOVE romance stories. There is just something about love triangles that gets on my last nerve and frustrate me to no end. Especially if there is cheating involved.

So it’s still a little shocking to me that I even picked up 99 Days because it is the very definition of an annoying love triangle. One girl. Two brothers. Cheating. Need I say more?

However, the concept of the story being told as “days” instead of chapters interested me and I loved the cover. The reviews I had read were so-so but I was willing to give it a shot and entered into it with an open mind and unsure expectations.

The Concept:

I really loved the execution of using each day as a chapter. I found it cut of the unnecessary prattle and got to the gritty part of each day. It made things seem so much faster as I was reading because I wasn’t getting bored by mundane details.

The Plot:

You know, I got really into the plot of this book! I won’t lie: I really wanted to know what happened that caused Molly to sleep with Patrick’s brother when it seems like she really, truly loved him. Patrick and Molly’s past relationship was shown bit by bit and I found myself addicted to those presented moments. I could have easily read this book in a sitting if I had the time because it flows really nicely.

I would say that the book is split 50/50 between the romance and the coming of age aspect. Molly (and the rest of the characters) have a lot of growing up to do (understatement) and that focus was split equally on which brother she would end up with.

This book was also more realistic than I expected. A lot of the situations Molly finds herself in I could easily say happen at most high schools to a certain degree. I think as teens a lot of us struggled finding the direction we wanted our life to go in; had a hard time balancing our romantic and social lives; and maintaining our relationship with our parents. I also thought the talks about sex and drinking were really realistic as well. And the whole “slut-shaming” bit was super frustrating to read because HELLO, it takes two to tango and Gabe is just as much at fault! Ugh, I hate double standards and I’m glad it’s addressed (though not as much as I would have liked personally) in this book.

The Characters:

Molly is really a make-or-break character. If you don’t like cheating protagonists or characters who aren’t strong in their convictions–stay AWAY from this one! You will really find Molly to be a frustrating character and not enjoy this novel whatsoever.

Which is a shame because I think Molly gets a bad rap in both the book and with readers. She is a young and a confused girl–watching her work out these issues is the whole point of a coming of age story! You can’t expected her to be flawless and selfless or else you wouldn’t have a story!

Does that mean I support the decisions she makes throughout this book? HELL NO! But at the same time I cut her some slack (at least with the stuff in the past) because that’s some tough shit to go through emotionally and I can’t entirely blame her for thinking that she only had those options. And again, DOUBLE STANDARD! It takes two people to do what she did and I wish everyone else would remember that!

So is Molly my favourite heroine ever? Definitely not. Was she selfish? To a certain extent regarding certain things, yes. Did I find her frustrating to read about? Sometimes. But I tried my best to reserve judgement as I watched her try to work on her issues. She’s in a tough spot and doing the best she can, even if I don’t agree with how she handles things.

The rest of the characters were your typical contemporary fodder. I wouldn’t say that I loved any characters in particular but they suited the story.

The Romance:

If I put the cheating aside, I really didn’t mind how the romance was done in this book. If I put the cheating back in, I feel a little icky but I’ll live.

One of the reasons I find love triangles to be so frustrating is that sometimes my “team” (aka the guy I am rooting for) doesn’t have a shot in hell at being with the girl in the end when I really want him to be. But with this one, I flopped between who I wanted to see with Molly at the end.

So I guess that I can’t entirely blame Molly for being stuck between the two brothers because they sure don’t make it easy! They both know how to manipulate her by saying and doing the right thing at the right time. However, I really didn’t fall for any of their charms and by the end, I was just hoping she would kick both of them to the curb–girl power!

But like I said earlier in my review, I thought the romance balanced nicely with Molly coming to grips about who she is as a person and how much she needs to grow up.

updates

–September 8, 2018– Book #2: 9 Days and 9 Nights

I never thought this story would get a sequel–and I’ll admit that I was ok with how things wrapped up at the end of 99 Days. But of course, my curiosity would not be sated until I found out what was next for Molly.

I enjoyed the one a lot when I listened to the audio. I think listening to the audio version and hearing Molly’s conflict and emotions through her voice helped me understand her dilemmas a lot and perhaps be more patient or empathetic to her situation.

I’m not sure if the character development was good or bad. I feel like we did see Molly grow up a bit by the end so I suppose that means it is there. But I thought the content in the middle seemed overly repetitive.

Overall: for a sequel I never thought I needed, I enjoyed this little bit of closure on Molly’s life for what it was.

My Rating: 3.5/5

99 Days 3.5/5 | 9 Days and 9 Nights 3.5/5

overall

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It had a great reading flow to it and I found myself hooked into the simple story. However, if you don’t think you can read this book with an open mind (especially with cheating) or really can’t stand indecisive heroines, stay away!

Read if You Like: love triangles, coming of age romances, teenaged drama
Avoid if You: don’t like cheating characters, love triangles

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Series Review: College of Charleston by Kate L. Mary

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

College of Charleston

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The List (from Goodreads):
The List. Twenty things every girl must do before she turns twenty. . .

Body piercing
Get drunk
First kiss

But thanks to her crazy, over-protective father, Annie Roth is way behind schedule. Good thing it’s her first semester of college, because Annie is more than ready to start checking off items. . .

Fake ID
Skinny dipping
Road trip!!!

Where it gets complicated? Ryan and Chris. Best friends. Both sweet, funny, totally hot, and totally into Annie.

But there are some things on The List that Annie only wants to do with Ryan. . .

Lose it
Get Heart Broken
Fall in love

breakdown

Series: College of Charleston
Author: Kate L. Mary
# of Books: 4 (The List, No Regrets, Moving On, Letting Go)
Book Order: Companion (No Regrets); Connected (Moving On, Letting Go)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Toasty; warm (No RegretsMoving On)
Point of View: First Person, Single; First Person Alternating (Moving On)
Publication Date: May 26 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley & Author–eBook  Thank you Kensington Books & Kate L Mary for the opportunity!

thoughts

Note: This was originally published as a Fresh Friday Post on May 29, 2015 where only The List was reviewed. As of March 18, 2016 it is now the Series Review Post.

Why I Picked Up The List / My Expectations:

I love making lists–I make them for everything! Whether it’s books to read to tasks I need to do in a day, I constantly make them. So when I saw this book was about a girl making a list of things to do for college–yeah, I was so there!

My only hesitation was the promise of a love triangle–I really hate those! But, the synopsis lead me to believe that it really was going to be one sided so I went in hoping for the best!

The Plot (The List):

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much going on besides Annie flip-flopping between the two guys–more on that particular situation later. It’s a shame because I think if the focus was on Annie finding herself as a person WITHOUT a man, it would have been a great story. More of a coming of age instead of a “why doesn’t he love me” type of situation.

There is also the mystery of Annie’s mother’s death and why it had such a huge impact on her upbringing. Again, I wish it was elaborated more because it really would have helped develop Annie’s character and maybe garner some sympathy from me as a reader because Annie sure wasn’t getting any from me!

The Characters (The List):

I didn’t really like Annie; she irritated me for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t understand her. I’ll touch on it in a bit in my romance section, but I really didn’t like how she treated one of the guys. It was like he would say one thing honestly and she would just snap at him; but if the other guy said it to her she was like “oh, ok”. It just rubbed me the wrong way as did some of her other actions. She is a very selfish, reckless character who really didn’t think about the consequences of her actions and did things simply because she could. Which, I get given her home life and all but these were just poor decisions.

The two love interests, Ryan and Chris, weren’t anything special either. They were your typical love interests: the super nice guy and the off-limits sensitive boy. And I really didn’t understand why they instantly loved Annie besides her looks because she wasn’t any prize in my eyes and they really didn’t talk to each other much either.

As for the rest of the cast, I was far more interested in Annie’s BFFs situation than Annie’s which isn’t really a good sign…

The Romance (The List):

My only hesitation picking this book up was the vibe of a love triangle in the synopsis. But I also got the impression that this wasn’t going to be a full blown love triangle; rather, it was more of a situation where two love interests are present but really only one is in contention. And this story definitely leaned more that way well sorta kinda maybe…

Because you knew that she really didn’t like the other guy and the worst part is that SHE knew she didn’t like him the same way but she kept toying with his emotions anyways and didn’t truly feel guilty about it! UGH! So FrUsTrAtInG! (Thus why I dislike Annie so much!)

And so begins the saga of Annie flopping like a fish between the two guys (the worst part of a love triangle ever!). Whining that the guy she likes, and who likes her back, is too “honourable”/weak to tell his BFF that he likes the same girl he likes because he is sexually attracted to her.

The whole situation I found to be extremely immature and annoying. I also didn’t know why the boys liked her so much because they really didn’t interact all that much or really spend that much time together to warrant such strong feelings. It just didn’t add up for me which is very disappointing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Despite not liking this book, I do want to read No Regrets. I really liked these characters and want to know their story. I’m undecided about Moving On–I’ll have to read the full synopsis when it’s released to make a decision though I feel like the unresolved events in The List will cause me to read it anyways.

updates

disclaimer

–March 18, 2016– Book #2: No Regrets

I was looking forward to reading this story because I’m a sucker for the “forbidden” romance trope. Not that this romance was forbidden, more like it was “off-limits”.

It took me awhile to like Cami. She’s a bit of a rambling person and it makes her come across as an airhead (and I think she is to a certain degree) but I knew that she was going to have some strong character development as the story progressed.

Unfortunately, I wanted to read about her falling in love. I wanted to actually see it happen and not have it neatly summarized as “we talked everyday for the next week and I couldn’t stop thinking about him”. So I had a hard time understanding the connection between these two beside physical attraction. Their relationship seemed like a side plot which is fine, just not what I was expecting.

If I had to give an overview of the whole novel, I would say it was all about Cami growing up. Which is why I would label this story as a coming of age story more so than a romance. Cami is dealing with some pretty heavy stuff and I did like that her character grew up a bit as you read. It took a while for me to get comfortable with that idea because I wanted it to be a romance. But once I realized the direction it was taking, I enjoyed the latter half of the book.

I also didn’t realize that this novel would be a companion novel (ie. taking place simultaneously with The List). I actually liked that a lot because it helped me keep the pacing of everything and answered some of the questions you have while reading The List when it comes to Cami and Liam’s relationship.

–March 20, 2016– Book #3: Moving On

Having just finished No Regrets the day before, I was better prepared for the type of story I was going to get with Moving On. I knew it was going to be more of a slow burn romance story, with the romantic passion coming on in the end. And that was exactly what we got.

What I enjoyed about this novel was the alternating perspectives and their character development. I liked watching these two form their bond of friendship first and getting to know each other. I understood why they liked each other and how their feelings developed. Again, the story is more about them growing as people and coincidentally finding love along the way. It’s a quick, cute read and by far the best of the series.

(Fun Fact: This book has the two lead characters from Diana Gardin’s Falling Deep [Nelson Island #2] in it!)

–February 1, 2017– Book #4: Letting Go

I will not be picking up the 4th book in the series.

My Rating: 3/5

The List 3/5 | No Regrets 2.5/5 | Moving On 4/5 | Letting Go N/A

overall

The List was too much love triangle for me and not enough character development. Whereas the opposite was true for No Regrets. Moving On had a great slow burn romance but if you are looking for loads of passion and sexual tension, there are other New Adult Series that would suit you better.

Read if You Like: slower stories, coming of age stories
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, don’t like reckless rebellious characters, want a hotter romance

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Series Review: The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole

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

book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Poison Princess (from Goodreads):
She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

breakdown

Series: Arcana Chronicles
Author: Kresley Cole
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Dark Calling will be published in Spring 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: public library–hardcopies & eBook

thoughts

My Expectations:

In the same vein of bestselling adult romance author Gena Showalter writing a Young Adult Series (White Rabbit Chronicles), Kresley Cole has done the same thing with the Arcana Chronicles. And like Showalter, I had never read a book by Cole until I picked up this YA series.

The Concept:

I wanted to read Poison Princess because the premise really interested me. It sounded like it was going to be like the White Rabbit Chronicles meets The Scorch Trials–two of my favourite apocalyptic themed books–but with a Tarot Card theme (instead of zombies or science fiction) so I just had to read it! Once I started reading it though it also reminded me of a lot of other novels. Not in the sense that it is a carbon copy of these other books but that it incorporates elements that I have come across in other series. For example: Evie’s character reminds me a lot of Isobel from Nevermore; and the post-apocalyptic world and book delivery reminds me of The Blood of Eden Trilogy. (Endless Knight also had some Cruel Beauty vibes coming from it as well).

But the whole tarot card aspect is definitely a unique feature of this story and its best feature for sure.

The Plot:

Unfortunately, Poison Princess (to me) falls prey to the same issue The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) did: it’s boring until the very end. I didn’t mind the beginning so much (before the apocalypse) because it had some character development, but there is a solid 100 pages where nothing of importance happens. I’m not lying. I honestly don’t think anything happened to progress the plot forward other than days passing. The last 50 pages definitely improve with the addition of a few new characters and the actual progression of the supernatural plotline.

I could probably rant for a few days on why I didn’t like Poison Princess, but I’ll just keep it short here:

  • The supernatural elements really don’t come into play near the very end which sucks! I feel like Poison Princess simply served as a really long prequel novella because it didn’t do much to set up the Arcana Game in the slightest, rather it just introduced you to Evie and her life before the apocalypse.
  • The romance just fizzled for me! I really didn’t see the connection besides the physical lust. Jackson isn’t anything to write home about in my books so I was disappointed in that aspect as well.
  • Evie is just plain annoying! She is not the kick-ass heroine I wanted. She is a petty, immature girl who isn’t all that bright either. I get that she is 16 and all, but the world is ending! Being thankful that you don’t have to shave your legs because you had laser hair removal isn’t something I would worry about in an apocalypse! I really didn’t connect with her whatsoever and all I really wanted to do was slap some sense into her as I turned the pages!

Part of the problem is that I built up what the plot of this book was going to be in my head before I ever read it. I really thought the focus was going to be more on Evie finding other Arcana characters in this new world. Not her wandering boringly towards one destination for 200 pages.

Turns out that Endless Knight is the book that I thought I was getting with Poison Princess. This book managed to keep my attention the entire time and actually had some plot development to it. Evie was still annoying to me, but I felt like she had some great character development so she went from “extremely annoying” to “annoying”–which is quite the leap. I also liked the romance a touch more as well–I think this is the rare case where a love triangle actually helps the story progress. But what I really think helped with this book was the addition of more characters that I found to be much more interesting to me. Reading Endless Knight made me happy I continued on with the series despite the painful drag that was Poison Princess.

Dead of Winter is probably my favourite of the 3. I quickly motored through it because the plot is fast, the action is high and–dare I say it–I actually started to like Evie as a character. I know! CrAzY! Well, it’s partly true: I liked Evie the “let’s-get-down-to-fighting” Evie, not the “I-can’t-decide-between-the-two” Evie. Evie has a true case of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome when it comes to “dealing” with her love triangle. Man-oh-man, I don’t know why she struggles so much with just saying the full truth to these boys who constantly fawn over her! It would solve a lot of problems other than assuming shit all the time! I also don’t know why there were 50 pages dedicated to each boy giving his case for why she should pick her–let’s just get on with the story please!

The Romance:

Speaking of the romance, I think I have to mention that it borders more on the “older” scale of young adult reads. If you are someone who doesn’t like sex being mentioned in their YA reads or having it described in more detail (I’m not talking full blown erotica, merely descriptions of how the body is reacting, etc) you might not like this series. The sexual situations aren’t really a huge focus of the books but it is definitely present. (For those who have read the White Rabbit Chronicles, the sex scenes here are the same as in it)

updates

–July 11, 2017– Book #4: Arcana Rising

This started very slowly for me and while it did pick up, I feel like it was just coasting along to get to the end. Bigger things are definitely in store for this series but this book was nothing more than a (necessary) bridge in the middle.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Poison Princess 2.5/5  |  Endless Knight 3.5/5  |  Dead of Winter 4/5  |  Arcana Rising 3.5/5 |  The Dark Calling TBR

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Poison Princess lived up to its name in my opinion: it truly poisoned my views for the other books because I really struggled to read it. The series definitely gets better as you go, especially when the Arcana aspect of the plot actually comes into fruition and more characters are introduced. But the love triangle and heroine are often hard to swallow, even in the later books. It’s definitely a series that you have to invest into to enjoy

Read if You Like: slow building stories, post-apocalyptic worlds, fights to the death
Avoid if You Dislike: petty heroines, love triangles (extreme), slow starts

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Characters Who Are Reluctantly in Love Triangles [5]

Top Ten Tuesdays: Is a weekly meme feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers post their Top 10 List for an assigned topic! I will not be participating every week, but I will occasionally take a shot at it! You can always find these lists (past, present and original) on my Riffle Page!


This Week’s Topic:

Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who…

are reluctantly in love triangles <3

This week, it was a “your choice” and I decided to pick characters who are reluctantly in love triangles.

I detest love triangles but even I have a soft spot for those characters who somehow find themselves in a love triangle situation without meaning to be. I’m talking about the ones who are forced into an arranged marriage or are the best friend who was always there but gets passed over for the newest guy in school– you know, the ones who aren’t really a choice for the lead but are introduced to add some pressure on the true intended? I am always a sucker for these plot device characters and often I want them to be the ones who end up with the heroine. Sigh…

Here are the characters I think find themselves reluctantly in a love triangle

aka the times I picked the wrong person to “win” the love triangle

(in no particular order):

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#10 – Theron (w/ Meira & Mather) from Snow Like Ashes Series

Theron is actually the motivation behind picking this week’s topic! It was hard not to like him because he seems like a really nice guy who is simply pushed into a marriage alliance by his father. He instantly won me over with his passion for protecting his people and I think he would make a fantastic match for Meira! Time will tell who she picks but I honestly think she has a win-win situation on her hands with Theron and Mather!

#9 – Prince Verex (w/ Kestrel & Arin) from The Winner’s Trilogy

Again, another arranged marriage situation for political gain! Verex immediately stole my heart with his kind nature and if I didn’t like Arin so much, I would be hoping Kestrel picks this prince!

(Read my review of The Winner’s Trilogy)

#8 – Theo (w/ Marguerite & Paul) and Paul (w/ Marguerite & Imperial Russia Paul) from The Firebird Trilogy

Confused? That’s what happens when you read a book about alternate dimensions!

Theo gets are spot because I really do think he has feelings for Marguerite, he just knows he doesn’t have a shot thanks to the spy hijacking his present-day body.

Now poor Paul has the opposite problem: the girl he loves is in love with his alternate self! I can understand the appeal of Imperial Russia Paul but I feel bad that real-Paul is stuck in a situation because he was trying to save Marguerite and thereby forces her to meet his alternate self.

(Read my series review of The Firebird Trilogy)

#7 – Liam (w/ Olivia & Zoey) from No One Needs to Know

It’s not everyday that your girlfriend falls in love with your twin sister…

(Read my review of No One Needs to Know)

#6 – Tess (w/ Dylan & Hannah) from Canton Series

The only girl on my list I can remember reading in a long time that didn’t have to choose between two boys, rather she was the choice between the hero and another girl. This story was simply a case of bad timing for everyone involved!

(Read my series review of The Canton Series)

#5 – Stella (w/ Daniel & Her Mom) from Everything Between Us

I still don’t know how Stella was able to reconcile the fact that the boy she falls in love with used to sleep with her mother–yikes! But to be fair, it wasn’t like it was some deep connection between the two of them and I ended up really liking Daniel by the time I finished the book.

(Read my review of Everything Between Us)

#4 – Death (w/ Evie & Jackson) from The Arcana Chronicles

This one is a little tricky because of the whole reincarnation bit and probably doesn’t really, truly belong on this list but I’m so Team Death it isn’t even funny. While this love triangle pisses me off to no end when I read the series, I can’t help but feel bad for Death because he has waited so long for Evie to return. Ok, so maybe that waiting wasn’t totally romantic and was totally evil but, he’s had over a hundred years to feel the burn of Evie’s last betrayal so sue me that I sympathize with him a little bit!

#3 – Ren (w/ Calla & Shay) from Nightshade Trilogy

I was Team Ren from the start so it was not fun watching his complete downward spiral as the series progressed. I swear, every bad thing that could happen to a character in a book series happened to this guy! I thought he was a much better match for Calla and the only reason he didn’t get her in the end was because they were cast as an arranged relationship from the time they were kids and she couldn’t deal with it–sigh. I would have picked you Ren <3

(Read my series review of The Nightshade Trilogy)

#2 – Xander (w/ Cassia & Ky) the Matched Trilogy

In my opinion, Ky was duller than a rock. I just did not get the appeal of his character whatsoever. Again, I think for poor Xander it was simply the fact that he got Matched to Cassia that killed any chance he had with her. If he had simply revealed his trump card earlier, he might have got her in the end. Not that she was any prize, so maybe it was a good thing!

(Read my series review of The Matched Trilogy)

#1 – Keenan (w/ Aislinn & Seth + Donia) from The Wicked Lovely Series

Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding the queen your kingdom needs in someone who doesn’t want you or having the girl you truly love act as your enemy–and poor Keenan gets shafted with both. Doesn’t get much worse than that but I applaud both Aislinn and Keenan for trying so hard when it was inevitable that it wouldn’t work.

(Read my series review of The Wicked Lovely Series)

#If I only got One Choice – Adrian (w/ Rose & Dimitri) from The Vampire Academy Series

I loved Adrian from the minute we met him and while I was totally Team Dimitri, I honestly would have been happy with either of these guys winning Rose’s heart. I’m glad in the end that Adrian didn’t, because him and Sydney are amazing together, but when it came to the VA series, Adrian was a solid choice for Rose in my books.

(Read my series review of The Vampire Academy Series)

 

Was there any love interest that YOU loved but the lead didn’t end up picking?

Series Review: Starcrossed by Leisa Rayven

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:

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven | Starcrossed Series

Other books in the series:
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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav Read 2015, Must Read Author, Fav Read 2016
Series: Starcrossed
Author: Leisa Rayven
# of Books: 3 (Bad Romeo, Broken Juliet, Wicked Heart)

There are a few short stories. See the full reading list here.

Book Order: Chronological; Wicked Heart is Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Second Chances, New Adult, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–hardcover, eBook; Wicked Hearts – NetGalley eARC

Thoughts:

This review was original published as a Fresh Friday feature and has seen been updated to a full Series Review.

I read anything with a hint of Shakespeare so it’s no surprise I picked up this book given its title. I can’t remember how I learned of its existence but when I did, I added it to my hold-list at the library. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book–I’m not the biggest fan of second chance romances–but when I actually had it in my hands and saw that 3 of my favourite authors had given it high praise, I was really excited to read it.

When I was reading this book, I had to read another book at the same time so I budgeted to read this book over a few days, just a little bit at a time. That was hard to stick to because I really got into this story (as well as the other book I was reading!)! I love enemy-to-lover storylines and it has been so long since I read one that I instantly fell for this one. It also doesn’t hurt that Cassie is a funny heroine and Ethan is a suave jackass (my favourite hero characteristic). That made reading this book so easy and fun!

I think my favourite part about this book is that it has two congruent storylines: Cassie and Ethan’s past plus Cassie and Ethan’s present. It was almost like reading two stories at once, one that is a contemporary adult romance (the present) and a new adult romance (the past). When you read the present, you are trying to figure out what exactly Ethan did to break Cassie’s heart and you hate him a bit for making her feel that way. BUT at the same time, you watch them fall in love in the past and you can’t help but root for them in the present. It really kept me on my toes trying to get to the bottom of their “torrid” affair and I enjoyed every minute of it!

What I loved about the romance was all the sexual tension. I adore sexual tension in my novels and Bad Romeo had it in buckets. It’s far from erotica–meaning there aren’t copious amounts of sex scenes–but there are a lot of foreplay (that’s the best word I can come up with besides “heavy make out scenes”) scenes which I thought was really great because you actually got to see their emotional relationship together and not just their physical attraction.

As for the Shakespeare element, it isn’t overly in your face besides them acting in the play. I’m sure there are some parallel connections but it isn’t a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in anyway–so if that was turning you off of reading this, please think about reading it again!

I was kinda hoping Broken Juliet was going to be an alternate POV retelling when I picked up Bad Romeo but it is a continuation of the story. I’m glad it is the conclusion because I would hate to see this story dragged out! I’m really looking forward to getting some closure with these two and seeing what is in store for them in the next novel.

updates

–August 5, 2015– Book 2: Broken Juliet

I simply could not put down this book! It  was intense, romantic and had such a great pacing to it! I loved the focus on the relationship and how it promoted healthy relationships and communication in those relationships. I really thought I would get bored and feel like the story was dragged out considering this is a sequel in a second chance romance. SO NOT THE CASE!

Leisa Rayven has done a superb job writing this novel! If this book had been written with the past in one whole book and the present in the sequel, this series would have lost me. But because we get these two stories simultaneously, it just hooks you in! You root for these characters, you want to slap these characters and you fall in love with this characters. I was just as engrossed in their present story as I was their past and that is what gives makes it a 5 star read for me!

I’m soooooooooooooooooo stoked for the new book in the series, Wicked Heart! I thought this series was going to be a duology (which it is in terms for Ethan and Cassie’s story) but I can’t wait to read Elissa’s story! Gah!

–April 16, 2016– Book 3: Wicked Heart

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You have no idea how excited I was when Wicked Heart was uploaded to NetGalley–and you can’t even imagine how ecstatic I was when my wish was granted to read it! I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time and I had high expectations and guess what:

This book was AMAZING!

I was really looking forward to Elissa’s story and I was not disappointed! It was funny, amazingly sweet, had tons of palpable sexual tension with just the right amount of angst and it was very, very addicting. I easily could have finished this book in one sitting but ya know, I had to study for exams.

I’m not normally a fan of second chance romances but Leisa Rayven writes ones that make me a believer and a fan. This book follows a similar set-up to the previous books but definitely has its own unique charms and features to set itself apart. It had me laughing one minute, crying the next and squealing in delight. I was easily won over by Elissa and Liam.

In short: this book was contemporary romance perfection and a must read!

Series Rating: 5/5

Bad Romeo 4.5/5 | Broken Juliet 5/5 | Wicked Heart 5/5

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If you like books with a dash of humour and loads of sexual tension, this IS the series for you! It reads like a Christina Lauren novel but with less emphasis on sex and more on the connection and relationship between the two leads (though there are definitely enough romantic scenes 😉 ). Even if you don’t like Shakespeare but love contemporary romances, this is great! One of my all-time favourites!

Read if You Like: relationship-focused romances, passion, second chance romances
Avoid if You: don’t like flashbacks, want more than a relationship focused plot

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Synopsis for Bad Romeo (from Goodreads):
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan’s romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they’re forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they’ll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.

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Throwdown Thursdays: Twilight vs Vampire Diaries

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Since the beginning of time, similar things have always been compared to each other: Pepsi or Coke? Lemon or Lime? Boxers or Briefs?

And books are no exception!

Throwdown Thursdays: On the first Thursday of every month I play the ultimate game of “Would You Rather” with books that are inevitably compared to each other. After 3 rounds, I pick my winner. Feel free to join in by commenting, making your own response (just link back) or vote in my poll! Here is this month’s match:
twiVSvam
Twilight Saga Review Here  | Vampire Diaries Review Here

*I am only including the first 4 books of the original Vampire Diaries Series in my review

**Note: I am comparing the BOOK series, not the movie vs TV series

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Round 1: Story

Unsuspecting New Girl Falls for Local Vampire vs Local Girl Falls for Newbie Vampire

At the base of these stories is a romance, but there is some more to them plot-wise…

Contrary to popular belief, Twilight was actually written YEARS after the first Vampire Diaries novel. It’s simply that the revival of the Vampire Diaries series with the TV show happened after Twilight’s popularity became main-stream so people accuse it of being a rip-off of Twilight.

But I can understand the comparison. In a lot of ways these books are similar: a new person at school, a stand-offish relationship until a major event changes everything and then throw in a vampire antagonist and you have the bones of each series.

Twilight focuses more on the romance I think. The whole first book is basically Bella learning about the vampire world with a dash of dramatics near the end. Then you have a whole book dedicated to heart-break (New Moon); followed by a book of romantic indecision (Eclipse) which all wraps up in the final book of fan-fiction wishes (Breaking Dawn). Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you go into it knowing that it is a romance with some paranormal elements. And I will be the first to tell you that as a teen-aged girl, I loved the first novel because of the romance with its little bit of excitement near the end.

Vampire Diaries takes a bit of a different approach. The dramatic paranormal plot is pretty much right there from the get-go, side-by-side with the romance. I felt like there was a good balance between the two. But most of the focus is on Damon trying to make Elena his Queen of Darkness, Stefan fighting his true nature and Elena trying to figure out her path in this crazy world she finds herself in. Throw in a witch, magic and a creepy grave and you get a more paranormal urban fantasy than Twilight provides.

Winner: Based simply on plot concept alone, I have to give it to Vampire Diaries. While I found they were slower and didn’t have too much going on, I liked the fact that it focused more on the paranormal and trying to solve the supernatural problems that were happening.

Twilight: 0 | Vampire Diaries: 1

Round 2: Vampires

Glitter in the Sun, Mind-Power Vampires vs Bat-Transforming, Will Die in the Sun Vampires

It’s a battle between the modern and the classic vampires…

Twilight gets a lot of flack for the fact that Edward glitters in the sun. And while it isn’t my favourite modification of vampires ever (that goes to Vampire Academy), I can appreciate the fact that it is fiction and with fiction comes artistic licence. I also sympathize with Edward because my skin is so pasty I too reflect sunlight when I am outside 😛

I also didn’t mind (no pun intended) the whole mind-powers bit that vampires possess–initially. It got a little ridiculous near the end of the series to me though (do you get the impression yet that I really, really didn’t like Breaking Dawn?). What I did like was how vampires were the ultimate predators; the scientist in me can see how this would happen in nature. I also kinda liked the fact that they were these sophisticated vampires who secretly ran their own world. I thought that it was really interesting to read.

Vampire Diaries features your more classically known vampire stereotypes. They transform, they drink human blood (though Stefan, like the Cullens, drinks animal blood), and they don’t do so good in sunlight (unless they have a magic amulet/ring). Naturally they are more aggressive and tend to stay alone. There really isn’t much more to say about them.

Winner: Call me whatever you want, but I liked learning about the vampires in Twilight. I like different takes on popular ideas. Sure, some of the ideas weren’t that great, but to me it was more exciting because these vampires and their characteristics were unknown. While I can appreciate the darker vampires in Vampire Diaries, they weren’t anything new to me.

Twilight: 1 | Vampire Diaries: 1

Round 3: Romances

Love Triangle vs Love Triangle

Oh! Don’t forget the male BFF who is also in love with the heroine! So I guess that makes it a love square?

I detest love triangles–I actually have Twilight to thank for that realization: so thanks TwilightI just never got why three boys (you are probably wondering where I got three from: Jacob, Edward and Mike, you know the normal guy who crushes on her in the first book) all simultaneously fall in love with dull Bella. Maybe they like her moodiness? I guess girls like brooding guys so I suppose it works vice versa. But the worst part of this triangle was the indecisiveness on Bella’s part. Like I said in Round 1, all the books focused on Bella sorting out her love life. And while I can see why it might be hard to differentiate romantic feelings from ones of friendship, I think it was glaringly obvious to everyone else who she was going to pick. Mostly, I’m just mad that I had to read New Moon–perhaps one of the most boring books I have ever had to read–to set up a love triangle. Yes, I am still bitter 7 years later.

There is also a love triangle (plus one) in Vampire Diaries. However, it never really felt like a love triangle to me (at least in the first four books, I never read past that). Elena is smart enough to know her feelings for Matt are just friendly and she is magically compelled to fall for Damon. It was frustrating to watch her swoon all over Damon but because I knew that there were supernatural things at play, I think I always knew deep down what the end result was going to be. But, I did find the romance between Elena and Stefan to be a little too insta-love for me in addition to being super cheesy (was it just me or were romances really cheesy in the 1990s?)

Winner: Vampire Diaries for sure! It never made me pull out my hair or read an entire book about a girl mooning over her boyfriend while another hot guy tries to sweep in. The Vampire Diaries love triangle served a purpose plot-wise which I can appreciate.

Twilight: 1 | Vampire Diaries: 2

Ultimate Winner: The Vampire Diaries!

Final Comments: Both series had their quirks that irritated me but they also had aspects that I really enjoyed. Yet neither series tops my Favourite Series list for various reasons (read my individual reviews to learn why). But for me to make this decision it really came down to the basics of what I like more as a reader objectively. Which is hard because enjoying a book is supposed to be subjective! However, I think if I had chosen different Round topics, the results could have definitely swung in Twilight’s favor.

What are your thoughts: which one would you rather read? Leave a comment below!

Next Time: Vampire Diaries Novels vs Vampire Diaries TV Series

Series Review: Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

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: The Vampire Diaries

There are a number of spin-off series; some written by L.J. Smith, others by a ghost writer. See all here. The Wikipedia page for the series has some interesting statements about how this series and the spin-offs are published.

Author: L.J. Smith
# of Books: 4 (The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, Dark Reunion)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Technically, Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Supernatural, Vampires, Magic, Witches
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: First and foremost, I read these books a looooonnnngggg time ago. Also, I want to be clear that I am only rating the original 4 Vampire Diaries novels. There are a number of spin-offs that I have never read…find out why below…

I can’t remember if I read these books before or after Twilight; I’m pretty sure it was after but definitely before the show first aired. I had the combined volumes I used for the covers for this post so I really have a hard time differentiating the plot of each book because it just seems like one big story–which is what a series is really–but what I’m trying to say is that it is all one big blur so don’t ask me about individual books!

One thing I really loved about Vampire Diaries is that it is a darker series where evil is always lurking. I know that there is lots of disagreements over how vampires are portrayed in books/popular culture but I’ve never really minded these alterations to what I call “modern vampires”. Yet Vampire Diaries features your blood drinking, bat-changing vampires who are up to no-good. It makes things creepy and darker than some of the other vampire series out there. I like how there is a villain and I like that actual dangerous things happen and sometimes they have disastrous consequences. It wasn’t always happy-go-lucky in this series and I liked that.

What I didn’t really like about the series was the romance. I’m not sure how many of you have read old romance novels from the late 80s/90s but they are drastically different from the romance novels you get today. Elena and Stefan’s romance was super cheesy to me and I think it was a product of it’s time (the first Vampire Diaries novel was published in 1991). I also wasn’t annoyed with the love triangle because, to me, it wasn’t truly a love triangle; it was more a by-product of what was going on plot-wise.

As for the characters, they weren’t anything that exciting or unique to me. They didn’t seem all that complex to me–even brooding, fighting-against-his-nature Stefan. I remember liking one of Elena’s friends more than I liked Elena.

I know a lot of people probably watch the TV or watched it (I stopped after season 3) and want to know how close it is to the books. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t anything close to the books. Sure, the basic ideas are there but things are drastically different. Things as simple as Elena’s list of friends and family are changed and the TV series definitely has a sexier feel. Some of the basic backbones are there but characters have radically different purposes in each. I LOVED the first two seasons of the show; but Season 3 just started to get too complicated for me and with school it was hard to keep up with it all. I plan to catch up on Netflix this summer.

The TV show is the reason I stopped following the book series. I enjoyed the TV series way more than I ever did the books so I never felt the need to pick them up. And I probably won’t ever pick up the books. I don’t like dragged out things and I feel like these spin-off series are just the by-product of the TV show. (Which is great because anything that encourages reading is fantastic but I feel like it takes away from the original spirit of the series).

Conclusion:

Simply put: I’ve read better vampire romances. But I can appreciate the fact that I can probably thank this series for spawning all of the “better vampire romances” out there. Unlike the TV show, it’s cheesy and basic in its delivery. If you want a sexier, danger-filled vampire romance, watch the TV show instead!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No, I’d recommend the TV show first!

Similar Reads: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight Saga #1)

Synopsis for The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (from Goodreads):
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.

Throwdown Thursdays: Divergent vs Hunger Games

Introducing my new original monthly feature:

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Since the beginning of time, similar things have always been compared to each other: Pepsi or Coke? Lemon or Lime? Boxers or Briefs? And books are no exception!

Throwdown Thursdays: On the first Thursday of every month I play the ultimate game of “Would You Rather” with books that are inevitably compared to each other. After 3 rounds, I pick my winner. Feel free to join in by commenting, making your own response (just link back) or vote in my poll! Here is this month’s match:


Divergent Trilogy Review Here | Hunger Games Trilogy Review Here

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Round 1: The Dystopian World

Personality Factions vs Resource Districts

What I love about dystopian novels is that they take a regular, everyday trait of society and exploit them to the extreme–and as readers, we get to see how everything unfolds.

Divergent goes the personality type route, dividing people into four groups: the honest, the selfless, the brave and the peaceful plus the one group that encompasses all four, the divergent. While you can argue that there are more than these 4 types of personalities, at the core these are the ones that exist and influence everything else. It makes for an interesting social project: but it isn’t a world that I would want to live in. You know how sometimes, the people who think exactly like you are the ones you can’t get along with. Like, I am a stubborn person when it comes to certain things so when I meet someone who is as equally stubborn we butt heads. I could see why, in a post-apocalyptic world, society might try this route but I think it would be a disaster! So this isn’t the world that I would want to live in–not like Pan Am is a golden world either.

However, Pan Am in the Hunger Games is more realistic to me. We live in a material world and The Hunger Games chooses to exploit this by dividing the people based on each district and their economic contributions. I could easily see this happening in our world–and to a certain extent we already live in a world where a select few have power and money while the vast majority do not. Do I think our current way of life will lead to a battle to the death game every year? Definitely not! But if you remove the game aspect from the Hunger Games, the world seems much more probable than Divergent’s.

Winner: The Hunger Games. I prefer its underlying themes of greed and the corruption that follows it to divisions based on personalities.

Divergent: 0  |   Hunger Games: 1

Round 2: The Romance

Four/Tobias vs Gale and Peeta

All is fair in love and…rebellion?

I really loved Divergent when I read it for two reasons: the suspense of Tris undergoing Dauntless’ initiation process and Tobias/Four. I loved their chemistry in the first book, even if it wasn’t a huge focus; but when we did get to see them interact, I absorbed every moment. And in the subsequent books, I loved watching their relationship develop. They make great partners in everything they do and I could see how much they loved and cared for each other. They brought out the best in their partner and it was so sweet to watch.

In the Hunger Games, I was Team Peeta all the way. I detest love triangles; especially the ones where the female lead’s male BFF is obviously in love with her and she is oblivious. So it really is nothing against Gale as a person (though I came to detest him by the end of Mockingjay) it’s just that he played a generic role and it didn’t do anything for me. However, I always felt like Peeta cared more than Katniss. But, to be fair, that is part of Katniss’ character flaw: she is too independent and guards her feelings. It definitely improves and in Mockingjay I think Katniss shows her true feelings for Peeta more. But sometimes I got the impression is was just guilt on Katniss’ part for using Peeta in the first book because Peeta does everything he can to save Katniss because he loves her and she just uses him in the first book to save herself.

Winner: Divergent. I loved the relationship between Tobias and Tris–it is a true partnership that is more than just physical chemistry and need.

Divergent: 1  |   Hunger Games: 1

Round 3: The Action

Breaking the Factions vs The Hunger Games

While both rebel against their respective governments, the each do so in a different way: but which way is best to read?

To me, Divergent’s action packed appeal slowly goes away in the next two books of the series. It becomes a lot more talking and trying to figure out what they are going to do next: which is fine and dandy but not all the thrilling to read. Especially when Divergent had so much action when you take into account the inner faction fights during the initiation, the fear simulations and the eventual rebellion. It took me a long time to get through Allegiant (Book 3) because it was so dry. But once the action was there (the last little bit of the book) I was hooked and it was over. I’m hoping the movies will focus more on the action than they do on the talking when they are finally released.

I found the Hunger Games always had action because of the nature of the Games itself. Katniss is quickly thrown into a life and death situation and the way Suzanne Collins describes things makes you feel like you are right there with her. And while I found the second and third books didn’t have as much intensity, they had more action and just the right amount of talking. Well, maybe not Mockingjay so much, but I felt like it picked up much quicker than Allegiant did.

Winner: The Hunger Games. I preferred the high intensity fighting and background rebellion to the plotting rebellion and followup action that we get in Divergent.

Divergent: 1  |   Hunger Games: 2

Ultimate Winner: The Hunger Games

Final Comments: While I really enjoyed each series, The Hunger Games is one of my favourite series hands down. Divergent was great (and definitely had some things I loved more than the Hunger Games), but I was really disappointed in the subsequent books. If you could combine those two series into one, you would have an amazing series. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I love Legend by Marie Lu so much…

What are your thoughts: which one would you rather read? Leave a comment below!

Next Time: Vampire Diaries vs Twilight