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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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Fresh Fridays: Shattered Blue by Lauren Bird Horowitz (Light #1)

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:

The Light Trilogy

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Shattered Blue (from Goodreads):
For Noa and Callum, being together is dangerous, even deadly. From the start, sixteen-year-old Noa senses that the mysterious transfer student to her Monterey boarding school is different. Callum unnerves and intrigues her, and even as she struggles through family tragedy, she’s irresistibly drawn to him. Soon they are bound by his deepest secret: Callum is Fae, banished from another world after a loss hauntingly similar to her own.

But in Noa’s world, Callum needs a special human energy, Light, to survive; his body steals it through touch—or a kiss. And Callum’s not the only Fae on the hunt. When Callum is taken, Noa must decide: Will she sacrifice everything to save him? Even if it means learning their love may not be what she thought?

breakdown

Series: The Light Trilogy
Author: Lauren Bird Horowitz
# of Books: 3 (Shattered Blue, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 has yet to be published
Genre: Teen, Fantasy, Faerie, Magic, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 15, 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you Skyscape and Two Lions!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into looking at this book. But what made me read it was the faerie plotline. I ADORE faerie stories–so much so that I almost always read any faerie book I come across.

While the premise seemed like your typical YA story, I was intrigued by the idea that faeries steal light.

What I Liked:

-The Faerie World-

I love faerie stories because they always have their own unique spins to things and this book is no exception. There are a lot of cool elements at play. From the faerie hierarchy of powers to the way their world borders with ours–it really intrigued me.

-Family Situations-

I really didn’t expect the plotline regarding Noa’s family life. I was captivated by the mystery behind her sister’s death and how her family has reacted. It added an element to Noa’s otherwise dull and typical character.

Callum also has a very interesting family dynamic as well and that adds depth to his character. It also helps reinforce the connection he has with Noa.

What I Didn’t Like:

-The Romance-

I knew the romance was going to happen fast but I didn’t expect it to be THAT fast. It was like they talked and then BAM, love. And given the magic of the world it makes sense–they have that instant connection and I can accept that. I think I just wanted more buildup to the big moment because I love romances in my novels!

-The Plot-

Because the romance happens to fast, I really feel like nothing happened for the first half of the novel (~150 eBook pages). I had thought I would read this book in a day or two but I read it over the course of a week because I couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time. Noa wasn’t all that interested aside from her family life–which got monotonous after awhile. I wanted more action, intrigue and passion and I didn’t really get that.

Well, I didn’t really get that until the end where bombshell after bombshell was dropped! By that point I was just skimming the book when the first great twist happened I was sucked in! The last  40 pages or so were great and really bumped this book up from the 2 stars I was going to give it to the 3 I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m currently undecided about reading this sequel. When I was about 80% way through this book I was leaning towards no. But when all the big revelations happened in the last few pages, I will admit my curiosity was peaked. I think the rest of the series has potential but I don’t really want to commit at this time.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I really don’t think this book was for me. I don’t enjoy slow building stories and that’s what this one was. But, I do think a lot of people will like this one! If you want a faerie series that isn’t dripping in faerie politics, this is a great one for you!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, faeries
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwall

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 Mechanica (from Goodreads):
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

breakdown

Author: Betsy Cornwall
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Steampunk, Romance, Magic, Faeries
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you very muchHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first got my Netgalley account, this book captured my attention for its title and cover. And then when I read the synopsis, I really wanted to requested it. I love fairy tale retellings and a steampunk retelling of Cinderella? That’s just a major bonus!

Needless to say, I was really excited when I requested, got approved and finally picked it up.

The Concept / The World:

The steampunk application to the traditional (ok, the Disney Animated version of Cinderella) was really well done. I liked how mechanical creatures replaced the mice and how the magic was replaced with the machines Nicolette had made. It gave the story a gritter feel than the medieval story Cinderella is usually told in.

I also thought it was explained very well. There are lots of pages dedicated to Nicolette describing her mother’s work–too much if you ask me, but it helped me to get a good idea of the world this story was taking place in. However, that kinda fell apart at the end but that might have just been me reading the book to fast to fully grasp what was happening.

The Plot:

This is where the book fell apart for me. Nothing really happens for 200 pages and that makes it hard to get into. Which is a shame, because I was definitely enamoured with the world we are presented in the first 50 pages. Those pages flew by as I learned more about the politics, the faeries and the mechanics (literally) of the world. But then, it just kept going and I felt like too much time was spent in the past recalling Nicolette’s tough childhood. It really isn’t until the last 100 pages (FYI, my PDF eBook was 306 pages in length) that we get an actual story happening but at that point my interest was waning (which is a shame because I loved the approach it took for the ending).

If things were paced better, and the focus was more on certain plot aspects and less on others, this book would have been great! Because all the right gears were there, they just weren’t aligned properly to keep this flow going (see what I did there? :P).

The Characters:

I really appreciated Nicolette’s determination to fix her own problems. She isn’t some damsel in distress waiting for someone else to save her. Traditionally, (again, Disney animated version) Cinderella is just too nice to do anything about her situation (ie she’s a bit of a doormat) and thus relies on others (aka her fairy godmother) to solve her problems. Nicolette really doesn’t rely on others in the same sense. When she sees an opportunity, she goes for it and I really admire that. So much time is spent recalling her past, you do feel for her and want to see her succeed.

As for the rest of cast, they were exactly what you would expect and get very little air time.

The Romance:

I have mixed feelings about this. I kinda liked that the romantic side of things wasn’t the main focus of the story. You know, for the longest time I even forgot that there was a romantic plot in this story because so much time is spent watching Nicolette grow as a character.

But at the same time, I was hoping the romantic story would save the otherwise dry plot and give me something to be interested in.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This is a classic example of a book simply missing its mark and it is a real shame! There are so many great take-away messages in this book: that it is ok for girls to fight for their own destiny; that you don’t always need someone to save you and that it is OK to be interested in fields usually “reserved” for the opposite gender. All these messages are winners in my eyes and ones that girls SHOULD associate with a story like Cinderella.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, steampunk, coming of age stories
Avoid if You: don’t like slow paced books, want a faster/exciting plot, want more romance

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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: The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo

Series Review: The Grisha 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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Shadow and Bone (from Goodreads):
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

breakdown

Series: The Grisha Trilogy, The Grisha

There are spin-off series set in the same word: Six of Crows and King of Scars

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 3 (Shadow and Bone, Seige and Storm, Ruin and Rising)

There are numerous short stories. See Goodreads for full list and order.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2012 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Truth be told, The Grisha Trilogy has been on my TBR list before I ever joined Goodreads. I mean, just look at that cover! But the blogosphere has serious love for this trilogy and I just had to see what all the fuss was about.

Like all books that are endlessly pumped by my fellow bloggers, I tried to keep an open mind and keep my expectations at the level they would have been at before I started blogging/heard all these awesome things. Still, I was really excited to read this!

The Concept / The World:

The Grisha world is so cool! It’s a great blend of science and magic so it’s not very “witchy”, which (no pun intended) always worries me when I pick up a magic novel (for some reason I don’t like witch series).

What I didn’t like about the world is that I felt like it was never fully explained to me. Sure, the hierarchy breakdown on the page at the start of the novel is helpful in classifying warriors, but I felt lost throughout Shadow and Bone trying to keep all the colours, abilities and roles each Grisha group has straight. Maybe it was explained and I just missed it–it is possible, I do read fast–but I don’t think it truly was. Personally, I like books that take those few pages early on to explain how the world works and that disappointed me with this first book.

The Plot:

Shadow and Bone is your typical first book. I think I was expecting more action given the world but a lot of that first book is watching Alina discovering her powers. Which is fine and great for character development, it just wasn’t very thrilling. The last 100 pages are where things get really interesting. That’s when the plot twists, politics and action happen.

Unfortunately, Siege and Storm wasn’t able keep this momentum going for me. And that is a shame because the 2nd book started off so promising! It’s faster paced, has new exciting characters and we get these great mini twists that propel you forward. But then suddenly we get a lull again–and I get why we do, truly I do. It’s needed to build up the rest of the plot for the end of the series. I just wish it didn’t have to be so boring and dry to do that. Perhaps my low tolerance was a result of my reading slump but I think this book would have been slower to me even if I was in the right mood.

I felt like most of this series was just waiting for something big to happen in order for the characters to react; especially in Ruin and Rising (when a conclusion book should be wrapping everything up if you ask me) . Which means great character development and world-building but very little action. And to me that is a waste of potential because these Grisha ARE SO COOL and could do so many other things that would keep my interest!

**My next statement might be a little spoiler-y regarding the last book**

I also have to say this: I feel like Ruin and Rising wrapped up too neatly. It was oddly reminiscent of my reading experience with Breaking Dawn; where everything fans want to see happens and I don’t really feel resolved with these characters. But I was also at the point where I didn’t really care what happened to Alina so it didn’t break my heart.

**End spoiler-y statement**

The Characters:

This is one of those series where I love the secondary characters (and the villain) more than the heroine. Everyone seemed 20x more interesting than Alina to me. She was just dull and I suppose that is part of the point. Like most heroines in a high fantasy, she is suddenly thrust into a world she never expected and discovers she isn’t who she truly expected. But unlike those other heroines, she doesn’t have anything that makes her stand out. Same goes for Mal. I mean I liked them and wanted to root for them but I found myself drawn to these other characters who have much more interesting lives, relationships and attitudes.

The Romance:

The romance is pretty typical. There is a love triangle/square and it’s executed fairly well in terms of driving the plot forward. Around the second book it gets a little tedious to read about  because it’s just jealousy-invoking situations. I also think it doesn’t help that Alina and Mal bore me so that potential pairing doesn’t have me jumping for joy whereas the other one (possibly the other two) suitors peak my interest a lot more.

The Short Stories:

I only read the one story, The Tailor, after Shadow and Bone because of the character it focuses on. I enjoyed it as an extended scene though it isn’t necessary to read. I didn’t pick up the other short stories but I may one day.

I did pick up The Demon in the Woods and The Witch of Duva when the eBooks became available at my library. Both are ~25 pages and give you a little insight into some characters and the world. I actually didn’t finish The Witch of Duva because I couldn’t get into it but The Demon in the Woods was an interesting and informative story. Again, not necessary but for fans of the series, I’m sure they will gobble these up!

Will I pick up the spin-off series?

Actually, I’m really looking forward to the spin-off series! Like I said earlier, I really loved the Grisha world and I think with a new cast of characters, I could easily become obsessed with this universe.

See my review of the spin-off series Six of Crows here!

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

Grishaverse Series Reading Order:

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

Series Rating: 3/5

Shadow and Bone 3.5/5  |  Siege and Storm 3/5  |  Ruin and Rising 3/5

overall

This series just didn’t work for me. The pacing was off, the lead characters were typical and the romance was lacklustre. I loved the world but it wasn’t enough to keep my interest. I also think this book suffered from over-hyped syndrome and my expectations for something mind-blowing were at a maximum for this one and I feel like it didn`t live up to that expectation.

Read if You Like: multi-layered worlds, high fantasy, magic based on science
Avoid if You: don’t like slower starts, don’t like adventure paced novels

similarreads

  • Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
  • Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (Arcane Chronicles #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorn Trilogy #1)

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DNF Series Review: Study by Maria V. Snyder

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 Poison Study (from Goodreads):

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

breakdown

Series: Study Trilogy; The Chronicles of Ixia

There are numerous spin-off/companion series. See Goodreads for book order.

Author: Maria V Snyder
# of Books: 3 (Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study)

There are 3 novellas: #1.5 Assassin Study; #3.5 Power Study & #3.6 Ice Study

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, High Fantasy
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2007 – March 2009
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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PLEASE NOTE: I did not finish Poison Study (I was about halfway through when I stopped). Find out why and if I plan to pick it up at a later time below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When the spin-off/continuation of this series (Soulfinders) was being released earlier this year, this series sparked my interest. I heard a lot of good things via Goodreads so I decided to put these books on hold at the library. Luckily I got them all around the same time; unluckily I had a lot of books to read and felt the pressure to read all of my books before their due dates.

What I Liked:

The Concept

The concept behind this series is very original to me.  The whole predicament Yelena finds herself in is very intriguing and something I have never come across before. I like the danger that’s at play. And I also like how Yelena is a murderer—probably not the nicest way to phrase it but I like that she isn’t a goody-two-shoes heroine and that she holds no apologizes for her actions.

The World

I really like the setup of this city. Instead of some tyrannical ruler, you actually have someone who seems like an OK guy in charge. I like how the hierarchy of the  world is laid out as well. It was very refreshing to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

Very Slow plot movement

This book just couldn’t keep my attention. I’m sure that part of the problem was that I wasn’t in the right mindset to read a slower book but I found myself drifting. And normally I like plots where a lot is going on but I just felt like too many things were thrown out at once and then left to ferment while another plot-line was worked for a bit. I’m sure if I was into this book like I expected and usually am, this wouldn’t have been an issue but this time around it was. I was halfway through and I felt like we were just scratching the surface when we should have been in the thick of something.

Will I finish it?

I really think this was just a case of bad timing. Because I felt the pressure to read so many other books I just didn’t have the patience to read something on the slower side of things. In the end, it was simply a matter of priority to decide what books to read and which ones to drop. And unfortunately, I opted to read the sequels to a series I had already started.

I plan on finishing Poison Study at the very least. When I stopped reading it was building really nicely so I think it has a lot of potential to keep my interest when I actually have the time to.

My Rating: –

overall

This one showed a lot of promise and I’m not quite ready to give it up. I hope to pick this series back up later when I have the time for this slower inaugural book.

Read if You Like: magic, slow building stories
Avoid if You: don’t like slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1)
  • Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood (The Poison Diaries Series #1)
  • Defiance by C.J. Redwine (Defiance Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Shades of Magic by V E Schwab

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 A Darker Shade of Magic (from Goodreads):
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

breakdown

Series: Shades of Magic Trilogy; A Darker Shade of Magic Trilogy
Author: V.E. Schwab (aka Victoria Schwab)
# of Books: 3 (A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, A Conjuring of Light)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Alternate Dimensions
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2015 – February 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 include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When this book first came out, it was on a lot of the blogs that I follow. Schwab’s The Archived Series has been on my TBR for a while but this one compelled me to pick it up first. I won’t lie, it was probably the cover 😛 But actually, I’ve really been loving alternate dimension books recently and I needed one for my Ready for Spring Bingo 2015 card so this was my pick!

So I was really excited to pick up this book even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was in store for me (I avoided all reviews for it before I read it to keep my mind clear of spoilers). I hoped for a fast paced adventure with witty banter between the two leads and I couldn’t wait to get started!

The World:

I really recommend that you start this book when your mind is clear and you aren’t really tired. I made the mistake of reading the first 100 pages (approx. a third of the book) fighting off some shut-eye and I had a very hard time grasping the world. I found that it definitely got easier to understand the more I read, but I think that was because we actually get a breakdown of everything all at once as Lila learns about the dimensions.

Because really, the dimensions are easy to understand as is the role of magic in the worlds. I love all the layers–literally and metaphorically. It’s great world-building and one of the coolest alternate dimension stories I have read. I just wish I was in a better place when I first picked it up so it didn’t take so long for me to get into it.

The Plot:

I really feel like this book could have been a lot shorter than it was. I found the first 100 pages to be really slow. I’m sure my tiredness played a role but considering the plot described in the synopsis doesn’t really start until we are 100 pages in I feel like I am justified in that conclusion. I like and appreciate world/plot building but I don’t like when it is prolonged.

Especially when we actually get to the main plot of the story and it’s an AMAZING ride! Despite this book being nearly 300 eBook pages, the last 200 pages fly by! The plot moves at a great pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are a lot of great twists and action and I loved every minute of it!

I feel like there is a greater emphasis on the role of magic in these worlds instead of how the alternate dimensions work. Of course the alternate dimensions play a huge role but magic is really the heart of the story. (I hope that makes sense). As a reader who doesn’t really love magic stories, I really liked this one and how it is executed. There was a great balance between the magic elements, the dimensions and action.

The Characters:

It took me a while to like Kell–again, I think it was my tired state–but I loved Lila as soon as we met her! I love the bad-ass thief that she is and her wit. Together, Kell and Lila make one fantastic duo. Their banter back and forth was so much fun to read and I loved watching them learn to work together and trust each other.

I also love that there are good guys and bad guys–and that the bad guys are really bad. It makes for some interesting events which is a lot of fun. But I also like that Kell and Lila have flaws–that they aren’t straight-laced characters that are righteous in everything they do. They can be just as ruthless but you still want to root for them because their hearts are in the good places.

The Romance:

While there is definitely chemistry between Kell and Lila, this book has practically no romance. I think it’s going to come into play in later books but this book isn’t a romance by any means.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see what is in store next for these characters and their worlds. I can’t wait to see how everything develops over the next two books!

updates

–August 31, 2016– Book #2: A Gathering of Shadows

OK, this took me wayyyyy to long to get into.

I found the first 45% of the book to be terribly slow. Like, I contemplated actually finishing it or not because it wasn’t capturing my attention. But then I remembered I had the same feelings with ADSOM but in the end, I really enjoyed it. And like in ADSOM, I feel like you could have easily cut 100 (eBook) pages out and still had a kick ass story!

I mean the last 50% was AWESOME! Even if it felt a little like filler, I was thoroughly entertained. I like the hints we got of where things are going in the finale and it was nice to see the development of other characters as well as Lila and Kell.

In short: this was a slow start if you are someone who doesn’t love lots of descriptions but it becomes and enjoyable adventure past the halfway mark.

–May 7, 2018– Book #3: A Conjuring of Light

I think this one was my favourite of the series. I found the momentum was strong throughout the entire novel–no slow starts here!

But we also returned to the great character interaction as well that I loved in the first book. All the banter between all the characters; though mostly Kell and Lila. These two really made the series for me so I loved all their scenes together.

I did find the solution to be slightly anti-climatic; after reading 500+ pages only to have the main conflict wrap up within a few pages seemed odd to me. However, the rest of the book is strong so I can let that slip by.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

A Darker Shade of Magic 4/5 | A Gathering of Shadows 3.5/5 | A Conjuring of Light 4/5

overall

Each novel starts slowly but once it gets going, it really doesn’t stop! It’s a beautifully crafted and unique world that will suck readers in!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Ember in the Ashes (from Goodreads):
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

breakdown

Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Supernatural, Magic, Dystopian, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool *mature subject matter*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating; Multiple (#2+)
Publication Date: April 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (#2-#4)

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:

This book was everywhere around it’s release date but I had put it on my list in March when it was added to my library. In hindsight, it was great because High Fantasy novels have been my JAM lately and this fit the bill perfectly! But the key words that drew me in: “inspired by ancient Rome” and “spy”. Also, the promise of a forbidden romance–yes please!

So needless to say, I was really excited to read this book.

The Concept / The World:

I really liked the world this book takes place in and I’m sure I would have liked it more if I knew more about ancient Rome. I know general stuff but nothing to confirm this book has deep-rooted inspiration. Though it is important to note that the subject of rape is brought up multiple times within the book so if that makes you uncomfortable, just be aware.

The societal hierarchies were easy to follow with their Latin names but I found the supernatural elements to be VERY confusing. Confusing in the sense that I couldn’t remember what each creature did as I read because the names were in Latin and I have an awful memory. It would have been easy to rectify if I bothered to flip back in the book–though in the end it really isn’t a huge deal.

The Plot:

This book started really slowly for me. It took me a while to get into the story because the first quarter or so is used to build up the world. Which is fine, it just makes this book seem longer than it is (though it is long, even as an eBook).

But once this got going, man, I was hooked. It helps that we get to very well developed POVs. Elias’ POV is packed with action while Laia’s is more of the political side of things and in addition they each have their own plotlines. It’s almost like you have two different stories in one and the reader in me who loves lots of things going on really liked that. (Don’t worry, it’s really easy to understand what is happening and it isn’t very overwhelming!).

However, while there were some excellent mini-twists along the way, there were some points that were too predictable for me. That’s why this book is only a 4 star and not a 5 star to me because I really wasn’t WOWed by any of the plot points. Yes, those few twists we got were great and the battle scenes were hard to call; but I just felt like it was lacking that book-altering twist for me. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed reading this book!

The Characters:

I loved Elias as soon as we met him. I just loved his personality and morals plus, I adored his friends. His POVs were easily my favourite to read about because they were so interesting and action-packed. Honestly, this book could have just been his POV and I would have been happy.

I liked Laia but she isn’t going to win any “amazing heroine awards” in this book; but at the same time, I don’t think she’s supposed to. Unlike other high fantasy heroines that I have been reading about recently, Laia isn’t prepared for the life she is thrust into in any way. She isn’t a fighter, she isn’t a rebel: she is a scared girl who makes rash decisions because she doesn’t know any better–which is so refreshing to me!  She reminds me that not all heroines are like Katniss or Celaena and that is A-OK! (Though I agree that as a reader she is hard to read about because there is a great secondary character who is like those two heroines that I think readers will/do like more). It was great to watch her grow into the independent woman she always could have been. Her passion to help her brother is her greatest strength and weakness and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the future because of it.

The Romance:

This one is hard to review without giving too much away but I’ll give it a shot!

Normally, I’m not a fan of love triangles but I really enjoyed the interchanging ones in this book. I say interchanging because there a multiple suitors for multiple characters–and when I say ‘suitors’ I mean people who have crushes on characters but they aren’t all serious contenders in the end. What I really liked is that I don’t know who I want to “win” the main love triangle because I really like all the characters involved. But at the same time, I feel like all the possible romantic relationships need some series attention before they can be resolved–they aren’t fully developed because the romance really isn’t a huge focus of the book. It’s important but it isn’t the sole focus of the book–which is why it is hard to say who will end up with who in the end. The love triangles do their job of adding to the plot but they don’t take away from it so I really didn’t mind their presence.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to read the sequel to this book! This book didn’t WOW me but I really think the next one could because all the great lead-ups are there, they just need some fine tuning.

updates

–May 9, 2019– Book #2: A Torch Against the Night

After years away from this series, I decided to read the sequels as audiobooks to get me back into it. I have to say, it was a great choice! I loved the audio performances and I think it helped keep my attention.

This book was so-so for me. Laia grates on my nerves and I can’t stand the romance with Elias. I think that’s because I could read a book featuring only Helene and be more than satisfied. I loved her story line.

There were some great twists though! And while I’m not the biggest fan of the supernatural elements, I’m warming up to the idea now that they are being elaborated on more in this novel.

–August 21, 2019– Book #3: A Reaper at the Gates

If these novels only focused on Helene, I’d be giving them 5/5 every time. I find her story fascinating and it’s everything I want in a fantasy novel: dirty politics, action and a girl giving it everything she has. I lived for her chapters.

Otherwise, this book had some pacing issues. I’d find myself a little bored in the middle. I think part of the reason is that Laia’s story just seems so run of the mill to me and we go very little from Elias near the end. And once again, I’m getting lost in all the paranormal/supernatural elements but they are starting to mesh with the story.

I honestly have no idea how this is going to end–and that has me pretty excited for the finale.

–July 8, 2021– Book #4: A Sky Beyond the Storm

I’ll start by saying: What a journey this series has been!

While I don’t count some characters as my favorite of all time (Laia), I can appreciate their evolution throughout the series. And while I didn’t love some of the fallout of the conclusion, again, I can appreciate why things had to be that way.

My Rating: 4/5

An Ember in the Ashes 4/5 | A Torch Against the Night 3/5 | A Reaper at the Gates 3/5 | A Sky Beyond the Storm 4/5

overall

Like I said, this book was missing the WOW factor for me but I really, really enjoyed reading it! It has all the great elements needed for a high fantasy YA series that seem to build as the sequels progress.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance, don’t like supernatural elements

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Series Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Red Queen (from Goodreads):
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2015 (Red Queen), Biggest Disappointment 2016 (Glass Sword)
Series: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are two novellas: #0.1 Queen Song & #0.2 Steel Scars

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Dystopian, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2015 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Find out why I DNF’d the Glass Sword (Book 2) below:

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Lately I’ve been really into High Fantasy novels–if you look at my 5/5 star books for the year, most of them are high fantasy YA novels. I’m loving this blend of dystopian tones, magic, romance and political intrigue. They are everything I love in novels and I’m so stoked that current YA trends are churning out these amazing pieces of fiction.

So, I think it goes without saying, I was super excited to read the Red Queen. I was actually excited for it before I even picked up the other High Fantasy books I read this year and dutifully ignored other reviews so nothing would be spoiled. I was hoping this book would be what I wanted The Selection to be: a politically focused dystopian read with a heroine who is actually intelligent. And after I read The Winner’s Curse and Snow Like Ashes, I was really hoping Mare would be in league with these fantastic leading ladies!

The Concept / The World:

The entire Red Queen world is a combination of lots of other fantasy and dystopian worlds but at the same time, I found it to be very refreshing. It took elements from my favourite books and used them to their full advantage without going over the top or feeling unoriginal. So while some people will definitely see parallels, I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of another book. The book does a great job of building and explaining the world at the start and throughout the novel so world-building fans will love it!

I usually don’t love magical elements in my stories but I really loved the way it works here. It was very Avatar: Legend of Korra to me with their powers and I had a lot of fun learning about all the different types of Silvers.

The Plot:

While this book started very slow to me, it really kept my attention and I always felt like it was building up to something. And boy was it building up to something! This story is great! It truly kept me on my toes and I never knew what was going to happen next!

This book had a great balance between action and politics; though the political aspects are the standout feature to me. I’m not sure how many people watch Game of Thrones but I adore the political games that are always afoot with those characters. And this book had the same deceptive games. I loved that it kept me thinking five moves ahead but I was always surprised but what happened next.

And the last 100 pages—simply amazing!

The Characters:

When I first started reading this book, I was really worried Mare would be like America from The Selection: a girl thrust into a situation she never imagined yet does nothing as everything happens around her to resolve the world. That frustrated me to no end with the Selection Trilogy so I was very relieved that that wasn’t the case with Mare.

Mare isn’t an instant kick-ass character though she is a interesting character–and I really loved that. She isn’t flawless and she really has to work for what she wants which made reading so captivating.

And the same can be said about the other characters. They really kept me on the edge of my seat and they all had great character development.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book expecting some passionate romance. While it definitely is there and has an important role to play, it isn’t all consuming which was great. Even the romantic in me was satisfied by what we had here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Red Queen really set the stage for the rest of the series and I truly can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Glass Sword

I really hummed and hawed over DNFing this one or not. Even ran a Twitter poll…most people said to DNF it.

I was SO BORED by this book!

I LOVED the Red Queen! I was a strong defender of it, telling everyone to not be so hard on it and all that. So Glass Sword was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.

But this was dreadfully dry. Nothing seemed to be happen except the passing of time.

Understandably, everyone is a little beaten down. Mare especially. I really struggled with her character. Cal was so dull; and there was very little Maven.

This is the very definition of a Book 2 slump if you ask me. It’s just one of those bridging books that is a necessary evil to the series. Seems like something big happens at the end that I am curious about, but not curious enough to pick this one back up.

It’s been 8 months since I stopped in the middle of the novel and I haven’t regretted it yet.

Perhaps I’ll finish it another time but as of right now, this is a DNF’d series for me.

My Rating: DNF

Red Queen 5/5 | Glass Sword DNF

overall

Even the slow start couldn’t deter me from loving this book! It’s perfect for readers who love political games with a dash of physical action. YA High Fantasy at its finest!

Obviously, my opinion has changed. Each book seems to have a slow start and really only climaxes at the end of the novel. Sorry, but I just need something that will keep my attention all the way through.

Read if You Like: characters with magical/supernatural powers, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow starting stories, want more romance

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