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Series Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

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 Wrath and the Dawn (from Goodreads):

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2016 Fav
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (The Wrath and the Dawn, The Rose and The Dagger)

There is also 3 novella short stories. Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: warm *more implied than anything*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s a bit of a weird story. I always thought that I had The Wrath and The Dawn on my TBR (ie Goodreads) because it was around quite a bit on the blogosphere when it was first released and it sounded like a story I would enjoy. When I saw it again at the bookstore, it’s cover (the one I added below) caught my attention and I thought it was a new book. But as soon as I read the synopsis, I realized that I already had marked this book as TBR. So imagine my surprise when I checked on Goodreads to see that I hadn’t even added it! I think I just added it to my library wishlist and left it at that.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

The revenge trope is one of my favourites; especially when there is an assassination involved. Perhaps that is a little morbid, but I find stories with that “I must kill my enemy” element are grittier and have that (obvious) element of danger to them. The stakes are higher and that makes every subsequent action even riskier and more thrilling. Forbidden love is so much sweeter when you fall for your target.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to admit, I know nothing about A Thousand and One Nights nor The Arabian Nights. I’m sure I would get more out of the retelling if I was more familiar with these works but it really isn’t necessary.

The world here is beautiful! I loved how Ahdieh was able to create this magical world that was so easy to see and emerge myself in without copious amounts of detail. The pages weren’t littered with unnecessary descriptions and so I never felt lost or bored while reading.

Oh! Also, there is a glossary! There were a few terms that I had to Google because I couldn’t find the glossary when I first looked for one. But don’t let that scare you! It’s not like there are a ton of terms you have to learn to enjoy this.

The Plot:

What I really loved about this series is that it wasn’t unnecessarily complicated. It struck that perfect balance between world building, character development and dramatic plot.

The Wrath and The Dawn has a great suspense to it. Why is Khalid killing his wives? Will Shazi really fulfill her need for revenge? I loved watching all that unfold before me. It really hooked me into the story–in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. I really just wanted to sit all day and read this compelling work.

The Rose and The Dagger also had a suspenseful plot but more for the political aspects–which I absolutely adored. It just had that hint of danger to it that had me glued to the pages. And the twists were fabulous!

The Characters:

I think Shazi can be a hard character to like initially. She’s hurt and jaded and she gives off this aura of selfishness that makes it hard to root for her. But she really grows throughout the series and I really appreciated that. And it wasn’t long before I was on her side, wanting her to succeed.

As for Khalid, I really liked him. As much as he is the catalyst for the story we get, the story really is about Shazi and how she deals with everything. And because of that, his development takes a bit of a backseat. But he really is a fascinating character to uncover as the series progresses. I always love a good, mysterious male counterpart.

But one of the highlights of this series is the strong secondary characters. I really fell for the rest of the cast as the story progressed.

The Romance:

This was lacking a bit for me in The Wrath and The Dawn. Despite the fact that it was easy to see why these two would fit together as a reader looking in, I just wanted their sparks elaborated on more. The romance was more implied than I would have liked; more show and tell than watching it unfold. But I still enjoyed it and liked these two together.

And I think that’s why I enjoyed The Rose and The Dagger more. Everything there was just emphasized that little bit more and the romance was definitely amplified there. Here, it was obvious why these two felt the way they did and it was a joy to watch as a reader.

The Novellas:

Well, to call The Crown & The Arrow and The Mirror & The Maze novellas is being generous. They are merely deleted chapters totalling 9 pages and are free on eBook sites. However, I do recommend reading The Crown & The Arrow before The Wrath and the Dawn for some context. Same with The Mirror & The Maze before The Rose & The Dagger. Nevertheless, you could get by without ever reading them as well.

The Moth & The Flame is an actual novella that is probably best read after The Wrath & The Dawn because it is a little spoilery about some side characters.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Wrath and The Dawn 4/5 | The Rose and The Dagger 5/5

overall

The entire series is crafted beautifully. From the characters to the drama to the romance; it’s everything you want in a solid YA series.

Read if You Like: retellings, forbidden love, duologies
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike more romance-based stories

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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

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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: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Series Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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

Caraval Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 3 (Caraval, Legendary, Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – May 2019
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC; Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

updates

–July 2, 2018– Book #2: Legendary

It feels like I’ve been waiting for forever for this book (and then when I had it I had to wait for my mom to finish my copy) but it came and it was not a disappointment. Every time I picked this book up, I was sucked back into this amazing world. The pacing in this book was fantastic–you would never think it was the 2nd book in a trilogy with the way it reads. I also loved the plot and how it was always evolving in one way or another. The romance had me swooning as well.

I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up in the finale!

–August 1, 2019– Book #3: Finale

This was a great way to wrap up all those lingering thoughts from the very first book. For me, it wasn’t addicting to read as the first two novels, perhaps because the game of Caraval isn’t happening. There’s a lot happening here and there is definitely gravity to the situations but it just lacked that magic the Caraval brought as a plot device.

But fans will be more than satisfied with the ending.

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Legendary 4.5/5 | Finale 4/5

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

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 Cogling (from Goodreads):
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.

breakdown

Author: Jordan Elizabeth (Mierek)
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 25, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC
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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Jordan Elizabeth’s Escape from Witchwood Hollow earlier this year and enjoyed it for its unique story. I had never read a YA novel like that before–I tend to stick to the romances and that book definitely lacked one.

So I was curious to see what she would do in the world of Steampunk. I’m a sucker for a good steampunk novel. I pretty much read or TBR anything with the word steampunk in its description.

What drew me to this one was the premise. Automations impersonating people of power is something I’ve come across in steampunk before but I was curious to see what would happen with the addition of hags and other magic.

The Concept / The World:

First, the world was really cool. Like most Steampunk novels, this one has a unique spin to how the world operates. The use of “hags” (kinda like witches) was a neat approach and one that works well. But there are other creatures you get introduced to and Jordan Elizabeth does a good job of describing everything in a way that is easy to visualize.

The Plot:

I don’t really enjoy adventure novels too much; I find them very slow. And this novel was definitely more in that vein. Which is totally fine, I just found that it had its slower parts.

I also think the synopsis is a little misleading and a bit of a spoiler. The whole bit about them impersonating “nobility” doesn’t get touched on until later and I think it would have had more of an impact if I didn’t know. (Perhaps it did get mentioned earlier and I just missed it…that happens sometimes too.)

But where that mystery is lacking, there are plenty of other great twists along the way. There were definitely some things I never saw coming that kept me reading this story to see how it all played out.

The Characters:

Everyone is pretty straight forward here. Some of those twists I mentioned do have to deal with the characters which gives them a little depth; but otherwise they are all solid characters who help carry this story.

The Romance:

You really only get a dash here and there. It never distracts from the story at hand which is refreshing.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This was on the slower side for me so my attention waned at times. But there was always a great twist that kept me going forward. I think this is a great Steampunk novel for teens who want to explore more of this world!

Read if You Like: adventures, little romance, steampunk
Avoid if You: want a faster story, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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 Escape from Witchwood Hollow (from Goodreads):
Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

breakdown

Author: Jordan Elizabeth
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Magic, Witches, Suspense
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2014
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Jordan Elizabeth!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually enjoy witch-based stories, though there have been notable exceptions in the past. But what intrigued me about Escape from Witchwood Hollow was the mystery of Witchwood. Who is the witch? What is her hold on the town of Arnn? What happened in the past?

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the flashbacks to the past. I love layers to my story, and by alternating POVs that’s exactly what happens. It was fun trying to take everything in and put it all together to figure out what is happening in Arnn.

The Plot:

Despite the alternating POVs keeping the plot moving, I did find the book to be terribly slow at the start. Not a lot is happening besides Honoria trying to learn about her new school and town. Which is why I appreciated the other POVs because it gave me something to be interested in while building the story.

And once everything comes together and the mystery comes to light, this book is great. I love when I can’t really figure out the plot until the big reveal and that’s what happened in this book.

The Characters:

I feel like the characters take a bit of a backseat because the forest is really the focus of this story. While I felt like these characters are developed enough to contribute to the story, I didn’t become particularly attached to any of them.

Honoria was a bit of a dud but I warmed up to her as the story continued.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance in this story! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a YA novel where romance isn’t a main focus of the story so I enjoyed the break!

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really liked how everything came together in this story. The slower pace of this novel isn’t my preferred style but this book was a refreshing Young Adult Fantasy nonetheless!

Read if You Like: slower paced stories; lack romance; mystery
Avoid if You: want romance, dislike slower stories

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Series Review: Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

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

Gold Seer Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Walk on Earth a Stranger (from Goodreads):

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

breakdown

Series: Gold Seer Trilogy
Author: Rae Carson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Western, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2015 – October 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read Vengeance Road, I was on the look-out for another great Western YA read. I stumbled upon Walk on Earth a Stranger when I was reading Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat’s review of Vengeance Road. I read Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns years ago but never managed to read the rest of the series. That one started slow but I came to really enjoy it by the end, so I was curious to see what another series by her had in store.

It went against some self-imposed rules I had in place (ie, I’m trying not to start new series by authors that I have unfinished series for) but the wait-list was super long for this one. I actually started Walk on Earth a Stranger in November but couldn’t get into it. So I re-added myself to the wait list and patiently waited.

What I Liked:

–The Nitty, Gritty Western–

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was very realistic. The pilgrimage to the West was a gruesome and often deadly journey for those who decided to try it. Whether it was for gold or a new life of freedom, some people and families found it to be worth the risk and I think that is all beautifully represented here. Carson has done her research about what was in store for these people and it shows throughout her writing. For world-builder fans, you will be more than satisfied with this.

–The Premise–

I liked the supernatural element of Leah’s ability. It really isn’t too much of a focus–I think that’s going to come into play more later in the series–but it puts a unique spin on this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was more Adventure than Action–

That isn’t to say that things don’t happen in this story–because they do and Carson isn’t afraid to throw some hard realities in along the way. What I mean to say is that this story is pretty much documenting Leah’s journey West once she discovers the truth about her uncle. I wanted gun fights and showdowns, not the dark reality of a pilgrimage West. 

I don’t enjoy adventure stories all that much. I need my brain to be stimulated by conniving plot twists or revealing secrets or a romance. Adventure stories don’t provide that for me. They move at a slower pace that just builds and builds yet never seems to go anywhere. I actually contemplated DNFing this book at 60% because there didn’t seem to be anything happening and I knew that I wouldn’t be impressed by the ending or, at the very least, enticed to pick up the sequel when it came out. (For the record: guilt and the fact that it took be almost 9 months to get a copy of this book made me push through).

–The Romance–

Not that I was expecting a lot of it in this novel, but I wish it was established more in the story. It’s a minor side aspect that only gets brushed upon here and there. I wanted it to distract me from the slower pace of this novel but it didn’t.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m hoping that Leah’s ability takes more of a focus in the future books and the possible revenge plot-line emerges. Little inklings of information were given out early on in Walk on Earth a Stranger but nothing was ever expanded upon, leading me to believe they will be in the next book. But, I won’t be sticking around to find out.

My Rating: 2/5

Walk on Earth a Stranger 2/5 | Like a River Glorious N/A | Into the Bright Unknown N/A

overall

If you want a gunslinging story about revenge: pick up Vengeance Road instead. If you want a historical journey through the midwest with a dash of supernatural elements, pick up Walk the Earth a Stranger. This is perfect for fans of adventure stories!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, Westerns, realistic historical novels
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
  • Girl of Thorns and Fire by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)

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Series Review: Witchlands by Susan Dennard

Series Review: Witchlands by Susan Dennard

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

Witchlands Series

book4 book5

booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Sightwitch

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

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–The Action Starts Right Away–

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

–Multiple Character Perspectives–

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

–The Female Friendships–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World-Building Explanations–

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

When to Read #2.5, Sightwitch:

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

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

updates

–January 18, 2018– Book #2: Windwitch

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

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

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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.

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.

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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Series Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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

Orphan Queen Series

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Orphan Queen (from Goodreads):
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: YA Favourite 2015
Series: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 2 (The Orphan Queen, The Mirror King)

There are 4 short stories. Find them all here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Magic, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Jodi Meadows has been on my radar for a long time with her Newsoul Series (though I wasn’t able to read them until I finished this series). Earlier this year, I really got into high fantasy YA and this was one of the many books floating around. It was getting great reviews and from the synopsis, it seemed like it was my kind of story:

  • Political intrigue ✔
  • Independent heroine ✔
  • Undercover premise ✔

Needless to say, I was super excited to start this one!

What I Liked:

–The Layers–

Compared to other novels in this genre, I didn’t find the action to be completely overwhelming. This book was a lot of learning about the world and the journey Wil takes to get to her throne. When there was action, it was great but I never found myself bored between those scenes. Instead, you had Wil working undercover at the castle or Wil doing her vigilante work or her learning more about the wraiths. The plot always kept moving and kept my attention. It never felt slow to me (well, besides the first chapter) when it easily could have been.

–That is it going to be a duology!!!–

I’m loving this trend of having books that only have one sequel! While I think this series could definitely have a third book, I like that everything is going to be wrapped up in the sequel. It makes the story a lot stronger in my opinion–you don’t get filler fluff to pass the time away.

–Wilhelmina–

What I really liked about Wil’s character is that she isn’t invincible or egotistical. She’s passionate about helping her people but it doesn’t cause her to be impulsive or take stupid risks. She thinks about things, can admit when she is wrong and can take care of herself when she needs to. She can fight, but she isn’t some world-renowned fighter. I like that she is more subdued–it really adds to her character development as the story progresses.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Predictability–

For the most part, this book wasn’t overly predictable. There were some plot twists (mainly the ending) that I didn’t see coming so I liked that. It has me on edge to see what is going to happen next.

However, I knew Melanie’s secret behaviour within five seconds of its first appearance; and it was totally obvious to me who the Black Knife was. Perhaps my over indulgence in this genre has made me hyperaware of the various plot twists/elements authors use and so I knew right away.

My other hypothesis is that the reader is supposed to pick up on these things while Wil isn’t–thus adding to her character development/flaws. By having her oblivious to what is happening around her, it does make her more human rather than some untouchable heroine who can do no wrong. I liked that about her but it did make me frustrated at times because it just seemed so obvious to me what was happening.

The Novellas:

I read The Hidden Prince and The Glowing Knight after I read The Orphan Queen and I think that is the best way to go about these novellas. While they are prequel novellas, they kinda give away spoilers about a particular character and I liked that he was a bit of mystery when I was reading The Orphan Queen. I grew to love him in The Orphan Queen so reading these novellas is a bit of a treat for fans of his character and I like that aspect.

The novellas are chronological, meaning they follow the progression of a certain plotline so you do have to read them in order. They add depth to the world and its characters and I think they are very well done. Plus, they are a great way to pass the time while waiting for The Mirror King (and they have teaser chapters!)

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read the last page, I really, really hoped it wasn’t going to be the last one! There are so many aspects still waiting to be solved and I am super excited to see how it all wraps up in the final story.

updates

–May 13, 2016– Book #2: The Mirror King


The Mirror King was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2016 so I went in with high expectations, egged on by the teaser chapters in the novellas that were released prior to the publication.

The Mirror King was a little slower than I thought it was going to be given the ending of The Orphan Queen. It starts with a bang and then proceeds at a somewhat slower pace. It has a similar pace to the first novel but has a few “WHOA” moments along the way. I wanted more action but everything has to go through the motions.

Overall, I really enjoyed the ending. While parts were predictable–though there were some things I never saw coming–I still enjoyed reading everything and I never got bored. The characters are what drive this series for me and getting to spend that time with them in this book is great. I felt a whole range of emotions reading this novel–and that’s what I want in a grande finale. A great ending to a great duology.

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Orphan Queen 4.5/5 | The Mirror King 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this book and I feel like my review doesn’t reflect that! This one was really hard to write. While it isn’t my favourite book ever, it is one of my favourites in the genre for sure. I just loved the way it built and the various layers to it. I never got bored while reading it. Highly recommended for those who want to get into High Fantasy and have little exposure to it.

Read if You Like: world-building, lost princess stories, independent heroines
Avoid if You: easily predict stories, want more romance

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Series Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

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

The Girl at Midnight Series

Synopsis for The Girl at Midnight (from Goodreads):
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

breakdown

Series: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
# of Books: 3 (The Girl at Midnight, The Shadow Hour, The Savage Hour)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult,  Urban Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 2015 – July 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (Shadow Hour)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere when it was first released. I loved the cover but everyone’s positive reviews really drew me to read the synopsis. It sounded like my type of book: a blend of action, urban fantasy and prophecy. Plus, it has been a really long time since I’ve read an Urban Fantasy and waiting for the next Mystic City novel is leaving me with a bit of an urban fantasy hangover.

What I Liked:

–The Mortal Instrument Vibes I got–

Don’t get scared off by this statement if you aren’t a Mortal Instruments fan and really wanted to read this book! They really don’t have that much in common besides some very basic urban fantasy tropes (like teleportation across the world, war against two different races, magic, etc), set in NYC and the fact that they are both narrated in the third person by multiple characters.

It was the narration that spoke to me the most. I got really attached to the side characters with The Girl at Midnight. Echo was a little on the dull side as a heroine for me so I liked having multiple characters tell the story instead of just Echo. (Who I grew to like more, for the record)

–It Surprised Me!–

There were some twists at the end that I wasn’t expecting. I probably should have but I just didn’t put two and two together. So I really liked that! It made the last 100 or so pages exciting to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Start–

I’m all for gradual plot progression but this book just took too long for me. I felt like nothing really happened for the first 200 pages (its was ~295 eBook pages). Sure, some minor plot leads were there and they definitely added to the awesomeness that was the last 50 pages that knocked my socks off, but otherwise, this book was on the drier side.

I think I was expecting more action given the fact that Echo is labelled as a thief. Thief just equates to action/suspense to me but this book reads more like an adventure/journey. Which is fine, just not what I wanted. I find adventure novels can be dull until the end and this is definitely the case here.

–The Romance–

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like the romance, I’m just not sold on it quite yet when it comes to Echo. (I’m definitely on board with some other potential romances though!). The direction Echo’s romantic life is going in is completely different from what my intital impression was when I first started so I’m interested to see what is going to happen next. It’s just going to have to work a little harder to get me to ‘ship her romantic life.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see where this series is going to go next! There were a lot of neat spins that were added near the very end that make me want to read the sequel. I’m not dying to read it though.

updates

–April 8, 2018– Book #2: The Shadow Hour (Audiobook)

I enjoyed this middle novel enough. It did take me awhile to get into it because I have been away from this world for a very long time but I also think not a lot happens at the start either so it was a nice gradual approach. I still really like all the characters so I enjoyed the various spurts of growth they experience. However, this series is very singular in its plot despite having a cast of multiple characters to follow. They all approach the main problem with different angles but I often wished for something else to be happening in the background. We get a few good twists along the way but nothing really impressed me.

As for the audiobook–unfortunately it’s narrated by one of my least favourite narrators so that was a bummer. But it was a great way to read this book regardless.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

The Girl at Midnight 3/5 | The Shadow Hour 3/5 | The Savage Dawn TBA

overall

I wasn’t blown away by this series like I had hoped. It’s a little too one dimensional when it comes to the plot for my liking (ie not a lot of subplots). However, I really liked the cast of characters and how we move around from person to person. It keeps the narrative moving at a steady pace, even when much else isn’t happening.

Read if You Like: slower stories, urban fantasy, adventure stories, the Mortal Instruments
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, dislike adventure

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