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Series Review: The Pledge Trilogy by Kimberly Derting

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite reads of 2012 (The Pledge)
Series: The Pledge Trilogy
Author: Kimberly Derting
# of Books: 3 (The Pledge, The Essence, The Offering)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Point of View: Multiple POV (combination of First Person and Third Person)

Thoughts:

I read Kimberely Derting’s Body Finder series and when I was creeping her website to find out when the 3rd book of that series was going to be released, I came across her announcement for this new series. It sounded really interesting and at the time I was just getting into dystopian fiction so I was intrigued. I find it ironic that I kept up with this series more than the Body Finder series (I have yet to read the 3rd book :P) because I like it so much more than the Body Finder series.

I read The Pledge in a day: I just couldn’t put it down! It drew me in and kept me there. I was reading it between classes, holding it while I ate and using every spare moment I had to read it. I’m not sure what it was exactly that kept me there: it’s hard to name just one thing so I’ll create a list of sorts…

1) I really liked Charlie. While she isn’t the strongest or bravest heroine ever (and I could see how some people might find her annoying because she is very pliable) I just liked her character. It was a nice change to have a heroine of a dystopian novel who wasn’t a natural born rebel but one who really develops into it.

2) Overall, I just found the novel to be refreshing. The segregation based on languages is really simple when you think about it, but it’s super different from the other ways people are split up in other novels (ex. abilities, resources, money, etc).

3) The magic element is really cool. It adds another dimension to it all that keeps the story interesting–especially in The Essence.

4) Max and Charlie have great chemistry–which is probably why I read The Pledge so quickly when I think about it: because I loved every seen they had together! Their romance doesn’t dominate the story but is present enough to keep romance reads happy and nonromance readers interested in still reading the book.

5) The plot twists are great! As I said, the magic elements help keep the story interesting. I found with The Essence I would think something was going to happen one way and it would happen another way. These books always keep me on my toes.

I will admit that The Essence took me a lot longer to read. I mostly blame my hectic life which caused me not to read as much overall as I wanted this past fall; but I had to take this book out twice from the library to read it. It’s not the book’s fault though. Although it started a little slow, it really picks up and I was very satisfied with this sequel!

I recommend that you read these books as close together as possible. While the major plot points of each book wrap up within their respective novels, I found it hard to keep track of everyone and the little twists that happen in The Pledge because I read it the day it came out nearly two years prior. I actually decided to reread it before I read The Essence I am glad that I did because I was able to enjoy it a lot more and remember the little cliff-hangers that were left unresolved.

UPDATED (May 11/14): Like the inaugural book of this trilogy, I read the final novel, The Offering, in a day. Compared to the rest of the series, I found this book to be the slowest. There isn’t much else going on plot-wise so it feels slower. But, the last third of the book moves super quickly and is very captivating. Overall, I am very satisfied with how this series ended even though The Offering didn’t particular “wow” me. Still, this series is definitely worth the read because all the novels are great in their own way and The Offering wraps up everything from the previous novels very well.

Conclusion:

If you want to read a dystopian series that isn’t solely focused on fighting or one that features a touch of magic, try this series out! It has a very different feel from other dystopian novels out in the Young Adult genre. With a dash of romance, science fiction and magic, this series is a refreshing read!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Divergent by Veronica Roth (Divergent Trilogy #1) and Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (Mystic City Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for The Pledge (from Goodreads):
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime

Series Review: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

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

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray | Spellcaster Series

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Synopsis for Spellcaster (from Goodreads):
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed – and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Surprise Reads of 2013
Series: Spellcaster Trilogy
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 3 (Spellcaster, Steadfast, Sorceress)

There is also a prequel novella, The First Midnight Spell — see note below

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Witches, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2013 – March 2015
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.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

Witches are not normally my “thing” when it comes to reading. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed witch books as much as I should. The only exception being Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, one of my all time favourite series. However, I did like the CW TV Series “The Secret Circle” (based on books of the same name) and this book was pitched for fans of that so I decided to give it a shot. I also enjoyed Gray’s Evernight Series and like her style so I decided to pick this book up.

My Review:

I’m glad I did. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a young adult book (but that could also be because of my hectic school schedule cutting out my reading time and/or only reading short, freebies from Kindle ;)) and once I got into this one, it was hard to put it down.

I think one thing that I liked about this book was the writing style Gray uses. One is that it was very mature. Nadia and group are very grown-up for high school students and I really appreciated it. They weren’t focused on who was dating who (though it does come up of course) but the main point is that it wasn’t the ONLY plot of the book–more on that later. They were all very smart and I really liked all the characters we meet. Another thing I really liked was the third person POV and how it switched between multiple people. I like books like this because you get more plot development and you get a better understanding of the characters. I think it worked really well for this book and I’m glad this was the route Claudia Gray took when writing it.

The plot development in this was great. I like how it unfolded as you read it but there were still a few twists that really add to the story. As I said before, it isn’t primarily a romance novel but there is that element. It is more a mystery/suspense plot that keeps you hooked. I don’t want to dive into it, but the plot really builds as you read.

The series reminded me a lot of Beautiful Creatures in it’s delivery (they have similar starts I think with the main characters) but there is enough in this book to make it unique and different. It will do a good job of filling the void Beautiful Creatures left after the final book was published 🙁

The Novella:

Although The First Midnight Spell is listed as a “prequel” novella, I wouldn’t read it until after you read Spellcaster because it will have some spoilers. While it isn’t necessary to read it for the rest of the series, it does shed some light on a particular character and helps explain why things are the way they are in Captive Sound.

updates

–May 12, 2014– Book #2: Steadfast

When my eReader died in March, the book I was reading was Steadfast and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish it just as I really got into the story. So after a few months of waiting, I finally got my hands on a copy.

Steadfast was a great follow-up to Spellcaster. It has the exact same formula that made the first book so enjoyable and addicting. Again, lots of twists and turns throughout the plot so I never found it to be predictable. One thing I really enjoyed was that we got to see more about Verlaine and to be honest it was her story that really drew me in this time around. I’m really excited to see how everything wraps up in the next and final novel of the series.

–March 25, 2015– Book #3: Sorceress

I was first on my library’s list to get Sorceress when it was released but because of school, I wasn’t able to read it for a few weeks. I’m not sure if it was because I was in a rush to finish it before my download expired or if it is because its been a year since I read Steadfast but I just didn’t get into it. I think I was expecting more instant drama/action based on how Steadfast ends so I felt like Sorceress took a long time to build up to what should have been there from the start (in my opinion). Just past the halfway point was where things started to pick up but by then I was a little bored. Overall though I thought it was a solid way to end the series and I liked the way things progressed eventually. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that my current mood really influenced my reading. (So while I gave it a 3/5 on GoodReads, it’s more of a 3.5/5 because I think fans of the series will be satisfied).

Series Rating: 4/5

Spellcaster 4/5 | Steadfast 4/5 | Sorceress 3/5

overall

If you like witches and magic with a dash of romance, pick this up!

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Series Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

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

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence | Mystic City Series

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breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite read of 2012 (Mystic City)
Series: Mystic City
Author: Theo Lawrence
# of Books: 3 (Mystic City, Toxic Heart, Body Electric)
Complete?: No, Body Electric will be published TBA
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool

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.**

I won’t lie, the only reason I picked this book up or at least considered reading it was because of the “fans of X-men” line–I can’t help but be a little curious about a book when a publisher uses that line. So I went in with weary expectations, only to come out of it all with my mind blown and me counting down the endless number of days until the sequel.

This book was FANTASTIC! One of my favourite reads this year for sure!

It just had everything I want in a book: A rich, twisting plot full of drama that wasn’t very predictable (there are clues along that way that you pick up on but there were some things that I happened that surprised me!); a dash of romance; a strong female lead; mystery and a whole lot of suspense and action. I had a very hard time putting this down at the end!

It can be worrisome when a book is compared or suggested to fans of another series. I often find the new books are carbon copies of the “fans of BLANK” books so it can be disheartening when you actually read it and it doesn’t meet your high expectations. I can happily say that this book was unlike anything I have read–sure it takes similar plot concepts from other stories but the way that they are weaved all together makes this book totally original and a joy to read.

UPDATED (July 24/14): I finally was able to get my hands on a copy of Toxic Heart after a very length wait (only know I will have to wait for the third book :P). While the plot isn’t as intricately woven as it was Mystic City, I found it managed to keep my attention right from the get go. It does suffer a bit from the “book-two-of-a-trilogy-slump” but there were still some mystery elements and good plot developments. Aria started to irritate me just a smidgen at the start of the novel but I quickly got over that once I was a few chapters in. Overall, it was a good followup to its predecessor and sets the stage for some awesome plotlines in the next installment!

Conclusion:

I know that this book gets mixed reviews on Goodreads but I think for those who want to try something a little different, this one is worth a shot! It is hard to say anything else without giving too much away but fans of dystopian who love a good mystery plot will LOVE this! If you get a chance pick it up so you can join me in the misery that is waiting for the sequel 😛

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Black City by Elizabeth Richards (Black City Trilogy, #1)

Synopsis for Mystic City (from Goodreads):
For fans of Matched, The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Blade Runner comes a tale of a magical city divided, a political rebellion ignited, and a love that was meant to last forever. Book One of the Mystic City Novels.

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

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Series Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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

book3 book4 book5 book6 book6

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Synopsis for Throne of Glass (from Goodreads):

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined

breakdown

Series: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are five prequel novellas in the series. Find out more here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Action, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: August 2012 – October 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook & Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up:

I find that it is really hard to find a book with a strong female lead nowadays. And by strong, I mean a girl who doesn’t need a man to complete her, who can fight for herself and it helps if she can kick some literal butt. After completing the Vampire Academy Series, I have been on the search to find said leading lady. So when I read the promise of a female assassin in these books, I jumped at the chance and I am happy to say I think I found the girl for the job (or should I say “hit”? ;)).

Initial Impressions:

These books aren’t just straight action though. There is also a dangerous game of politics afoot as well as romance, mystery and drama so there is rarely a dull moment. There were also some plot twists along the way but I think a few were a little predictable (at least in Throne of Glass) so that is disappointing.

I only have two “peeves” about Throne of Glass. One “peeve” would be the lack of a particular character from the novellas in the novel–I just felt like said character played such an important role that they should have been mentioned more than they were in the book. My second “peeve” is the love triangle. I am not a fan of this “plot twist” so I would rather do without it; though I didn’t find it as “consuming” like it is in some novels. Basically, it isn’t the main focus of the book so bonus points there. I also want to say that Throne of Glass started a little slow and it did take me a while to get into it. Unlike the novellas that jump right into the action, this one takes a while to build so just be prepared.

I’m not sure where the next 5 books are planning on going, but I am excited to have another long-running, action packed series on my to-read list now. If only they could be released sooner!

updates

–December 7, 2013– Book #2: Crown of Midnight

I finished Crown of Midnight about a week ago and it’s taken me that whole week to grasp what just happened. When I said I wasn’t sure where the next few books were going I wasn’t lying. I didn’t see what happens coming and I am SUPER excited for the next book!

First, I have to say that the two peeves I commented on before are no longer an issue. Said character is mentioned more than enough to satisfy my requests and the love triangle is “resolved” for a lack of a better term. Unlike Throne of Glass that focuses on Celaena becoming the champion and kicking butt, this book focuses on the magic present in the kingdom and what is happening in their world. While there is still plenty of action, we learn a lot about all the major players and learn what game is truly afoot in this kingdom. Celaena especially has some great character development but still retains her kick-ass heroine status.

This book also hits the ground running. Lots of plot twists and developments that kept me guessing and putting off other aspects of my life just to read the next chapter. Definitely a strong sequel and the best book of the series so far!

–May 23, 2015– Book #3: Heir of Fire

I’ve never anticipated a book as much as I had Heir of Fire. So you can imagine my disappointment when Heir of Fire turned out to be…well…a slight disappointment. After waiting forever on my library’s waiting list, I tried to read this book in November 2014 and just couldn’t get into it. I got halfway through before I gave up in defeat and had to return it, vowing to try again later.

Well, the 2nd time was the charm! Despite getting halfway through the last time, I started Heir of Fire right from the start. This one starts slow and it’s been so long since I read Crown of Midnight that despite my killer book summary (I write down what happens in each book), it took me a while to get back into the groove of things.

I guess I expected it to be like Crown of Midnight which had me from the first word. This one was just a lot of wallowing and it was a tough time for Celaena, so it was a little depressing to read. The critic/analyst in me understands the need to slow things down and let things develop in this book but it just bored me; especially when I was expecting high action given the ending of the last book. But once I got past the halfway mark, it really was non-stop and I had a hard time putting it down.

Overall, I liked how things developed and I am SUPER SUPER excited to see what happens next. I feel like this book was the little speed bump that usually happens in book 2 of trilogies and I don’t discount the need for it in the grand scheme of things: it just wasn’t what I was expecting initially but it definitely improved as I read!

Catch my spoiler filled rant on Heir of Fire Here!

–October 9, 2015– Book #4: Queen of Shadows

I was terrified the hype monster was going to kill this one for me so I dutifully ignored all reviews of this book before I read it. I’m glad I did because I went in with a fresh mind and was really able to enjoy it.

Queen of Shadows has much better pacing than its predecessor, though the page length really got to me. I was in it right from the start, felt a little drag in the middle but really felt like it pulled it socks up at the end. It still doesn’t beat Crown of Midnight for me in terms of a favourite, but it’s pretty close.

I really liked the plot twists and LOVED the character development. I also really liked that characters who were prominent in the novellas finally were brought in. More so than in the previous novels, the plot was really tied to the prequel novellas. It almost makes me wish I had read them more recently than when they were first published because all these characters would have been fresher in my mind.

Can’t wait to see where this story goes next! My faith has been officially restored in this series!

–October 25, 2016– Book #5: Empire of Storms

So I went from having my faith restored to being more than a little bored with this instalment…

I felt like the first 60% was filler–which makes for a slightly dull read when this book is 576 eBook pages long. While the plot does move forward in that time, it definitely dragged while doing so. It’s been a long time since I read the previous instalment so trying to get all those details page in my head (despite the killer notes I took when reading Queen of Shadows), specially the family trees (I swear everyone’s name starts with a G or an A or an E), didn’t make this enjoyable for me.

The last 30% was great! We get more action; the greater plot schemes get revealed and we finally get some drama! And I’m glad to see how the prequel novellas tie into this novel! Made me glad I read them all those years ago.

I’m excited to see how everything wraps up!

–March 23, 2019– Book #6: Tower of Dawn

It wasn’t that this book was bad per say: I just wonder about the necessity of it. I think we can all agree that the lead needed some major redemption after the last few books so it was nice to get that. However, could we have achieved that in half the amount of pages? You betcha! This could have been condensed considerably and still made an impact in the series.

I skimmed most of it, especially in the first half when it was so repetitive. Maas does have a beautiful flow to her writing (it’s not a hard book to read by any means) but she adds far to much detail and monotony to her work. Honestly, if I hadn’t invested so much time in this series over the years, I would have just skipped this.

–May 16, 2020– Book #7: Kingdom of Ash

I have never had a book take me this long to read. I think I took it out 4 separate times over the last 8 months and finally pushed my way through to finish it over the last 3 months.

I think I just outgrew this series. As the books got longer, I stopped caring about the characters. This story has come so far from what the inaugural title was and I’m not sure I really loved its progression in the end (I think its points for originality waned when you look at the similarities to Court of Thorns and Roses).

Maybe if I read the books closer together I would have enjoyed the last few better. But as more characters got introduced, I found it harder and harder to keep up. And the writing just felt repetitive at times (if I never see the word “mate” again it’ll be too soon).

I can appreciate the world and vision but at the end of the day, I think I outgrew this series and that was why I struggled to get through this final novel.

When to Read the Novellas:

I am of the camp that recommends you read the novellas before you pick up the first book in the series. By doing so, I feel like you get a get a better understanding of the world and why Celaena acts and thinks the way she does. I think if you don’t, you might think her character is a little too jaded (which can be irksome) and you won’t understand why she does the things she does. Sometimes that little bit of a background story makes all the difference in your impression of a character.

But I most definitely recommend you read the novellas prior to Queen of Shadows–because there are a lot of allusions there that you won’t understand until you read the novellas.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Throne of Glass 5/5 | Crown of Midnight 5/5 | Heir of Fire 3/5 | Queen of Shadows 4.5/5 | Empire of Storms 3/5 | Tower of Dawn 2/5 | Kingdom of Ash 2/5

overall

If you enjoy convoluted worlds with lots of characters and even longer novels, try this series out!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, ruthless characters, fantasy
Avoid if You: don’t like long series or long books

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Single Sundays: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Talia fell under a spell…Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic…

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.

I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels…The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

Review:

If you were to ask me who my favourite Disney Princess would be, it would be a tie between Jasmine from Aladdin and Princess Aurora, aka, Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty isn’t as popular a princess as Cinderella or Snow White or Belle so when I read that this book was about Sleeping Beauty, I jumped at the chance to read it because in the past, the retelling of fairy tales that I have read have been about those princesses and it’s refreshing to read about something else.

Before I read this, I read Beastly by Alex Flinn which is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast so I was familiar with her writing style. Her books are definitely geared towards a younger teen crowd (14+) but I did read this when I was a little younger so I enjoyed it. Now, I don’t think I would so much just because I am slightly outside that target audience.

Jack and Talia (aka Sleeping Beauty–Sleeping Beauty’s first name changes depending on which version you read) are both self-centered in their own ways. But they aren’t annoying like “I have to put this book down I can’t stand them”–more like you know that they are going to learn a valuable lesson by whatever transpires in this novel. It’s nice to see them grow through their relationship and the events that happen together.

I loved the interaction between these two, more so than in Beastly. I think it is mostly because Talia doesn’t know everything about the modern world (like phones, etc.), so I find the comments she says are pretty funny and Jack has some great responses.

Conclusion:

It’s been a long time since I read it, but I really enjoyed this book. Probably my favourite of the books I have read by Alex Flinn. I recommend this more for younger teens but I think older audiences might enjoy it as well.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Middle School, Romance, Fairy Tales, Time Travel, Magic
Recommended for: 13+
Similar Books: Beastly by Alex Flinn and Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Series Review: The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Authors
Series: Darkest Powers Trilogy
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 3 (The Summoning, The Awakening, The Reckoning)

There are also some short novellas that take place between these books. Details here
There is a “spin-off” series called The Darkness Rising

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Action, Magic, Suspense
Heat Rating: cold

Thoughts:

I picked up this book for two reasons: 1 is that Kelley Armstrong actually lives a few towns over from me so I was intrigued that a huge author was based just around the corner from me and 2 is that the plot really grabbed my attention.

NOTE: It has been a really long time since I read these books and the reason I am doing so now is because the spin-off series, The Darkness Rising, has just released the last book of the trilogy. I don’t like writing about the spin-off series when I don’t have a review of the original, SO consider yourself warned that this review will be really brief and most likely vague.

I definitely plan on rereading these books because I really enjoyed them! I also think that the writing style and story are both something that I will enjoy even when I am older. Although the series is targeted for young adults, there is nothing about the writing that is juvenile that would turn me off of rereading these when I am older. I have since read a few more of Armstrong’s adult novels and I find that the writing is very similar in all her books–it’s just the plots that are changed to her audience. Fun Fact: Most of Kelley Armstrong’s books take place within the same paranormal universe (even her adult ones!)–so while you don’t have to read all the books to get what is going on, if you do read them, you will see little connections here and there!

Now, for the books themselves. The Summoning starts off a little slow but really builds. At the end of book 1 we have found ourselves at the top of a hill and from that point on, the book is just rolling non-stop action, mystery and suspense. There is never a dull moment in The Awakening or The Reckoning and I finished both books within two days each. The only bummer part was waiting a year for the next book to be published.

As for the characters, I really liked all of them. Chloe was great. I admired her and she just seemed so real to me in her reactions to the circumstances thrown at her. As the books progress you get to watch her grow into a strong, more confident girl. One thing I think sets this series apart from The Darkness Rising series is that the teens who take center focus (ie. Chloe’s friends) don’t know each other right from the start. There is some tension between them and I liked watching the dynamics shift between them as they learn to trust each other and become friends. (FYI: In the Darkness Rising Trilogy, all the characters have been a part of the same friend circle for years).

Conclusion:

I know my review above doesn’t tell too much about the series, but it really is worth a read! It’s hard to talk about the series without giving everything away! If you are looking for a fresh paranormal read that doesn’t focus on vampires, PICK THESE BOOKS UP!

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rising Trilogy, #1 — spin-off series)

Synopsis for The Summoning (from Goodreads):
My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost – and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? it’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House…before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

Single Sundays: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.

Review:

I’ve enjoyed Alex Flinn’s work after reading Beastly so I have read a few of her other fairy-tale based books and enjoyed them. I like how she takes well known stories and makes them applicable to the modern world so this book seemed like a no-brainer.

What I like about Cloaked was that it wasn’t just one fairy tale book used in this story (so don’t think it is about Little Red Riding Hood because it isn’t!). In her author note, Alex talks about using lesser known fairy tales in this novel as her main purpose for writing this book and she succeeds in this mission. While I wasn’t familiar with all of the tales used, it added a bit of freshness to the story as I didn’t know where it was going and I was able to learn about other fairy tales that haven’t been made into Disney movies.

However, I just didn’t like this book as much as I hoped. I think I was a little too old to be reading it so it took me a while to get into it. It definitely picked up once you got into it but nothing really wowed me about this book. It was a long time ago when I read this and the fact that this review is so short she be a good indication of how much I enjoyed and remembered the story.

Conclusion:

Definitely better for a middle school crowd who enjoy action, minimal romance and like modern adaptions of fairy tales.
Rating: 3/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young adult, Adventure, Magic, Fairy Tales
Recommended for: 12+
Similar Books: Kill me Softly by Sarah Cross and A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Spin-off Saturdays: Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead

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

The Bloodlines Series is a spin-off of the Vampire Academy

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #10; Favourite Author
Series: Bloodlines

This is a spin off of the Vampire Academy Series.

Author: Richelle Mead
# of Books: 6 (Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, Indigo Spell, The Fiery Heart, Silver Shadows, The Ruby Circle)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Vampires, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Fiery Heart onwards)

Thoughts:

After reading the Vampire Academy (VA) Series, I wasn’t sure how I felt about a spin-off. I loved Adrian in the VA books so I was excited for him to be in the new series; but it was Sydney I wasn’t sure about. It’s not really Sydney’s fault I didn’t love her in the VA books. Her character needed to be who she was in order to progress the story. I warmed up to her by the end of the VA series but she was by no means my top choice for a spin-off character.

Well, it’s a good thing I am not the author of these books! Because Sydney is a great character and I have grown to love her in this new series.

Bloodlines takes fan-favourite characters and gives them the stories we all wanted them to have. From Jill to Eddie to Adrian, all these characters make an appearance in the books. Even Rose and crew appear here and there. Despite the fact that the story is told from Sydney’s POV, we still know what is going on with every other character–just like it was in the VA series.

The first book, Bloodlines, is a slow start to the series but is needed. It really establishes the characters and let’s you into Sydney’s life and thought process–seeing as she was only told through Rose’s perspective in the VA series. Book 2, The Golden Lily is where things start to fall into place and the “overarching” (by this I mean it is a plot that spans multiple books) begins to unwind. It also helps that there is a HUGE cliff-hanger that has you begging for the next one. Book 3, The Indigo Spell does not disappoint and I am counting down the days until book 4, The Fiery Heart is released.

It should be noted that this series doesn’t have much physical action as VA series. It’s there, but Sydney uses other methods, like chemicals and magic, to fight her foes. I tend to not like magic series that have witches so I was worried when the series started to focus more on magic (this series focuses more on the Alchemists than the vampires). I should know by now that Richelle Mead does not disappoint and I really like where this series is going with the spells aspect of it.

UPDATED (Dec 7/13): I was lucky enough to get my hands on The Fiery Heart shortly after it was published. I finished it in a day, that’s how much I loved it! While the book is mostly character development, I never found it to be dull. I think it helped that Adrian gets his own POV so for the first time we really get to see his thought process–and with him being my favourite character in the entire series, I was excited and happy to finally get more insight about him. This book has a great buildup into the next two books of the series and I can’t wait! July 2014 can’t get here soon enough!

UPDATED (August 10/14): When my copy of Silver Shadows finally came in from the library, I went ASAP to grab it and then spent the rest of the weekend reading it. I would have finished in a day but life got in the way :P. Overall, Silver Shadows is a bridging novel that is setting up the plot for the final book (The Ruby Circle) in the series. However, this doesn’t mean that it is dull in anyway. Despite a more singular plotline than the previous novels, I found the book moved at a very quick pace and kept my interest throughout. Fans will not be disappointed–the only disappointment is the waiting 6 months until the conclusion in The Ruby Circle.

UPDATED (March 15/15): It’s always really hard to say goodbye to your favourite characters–and The Ruby Circle was a tough one to read knowing it is the last of the Vampire Academy Universe. I think I was 50 pages from the end when I started to cry knowing I only had a few more pages left. I’ve been following these characters for the last 6 years so expectations were high going into this book and I wasn’t disappointed! I thought The Ruby Circle started slowly but once I was about a third of the way through it picked up immensely and I didn’t put it down. There were unexpected twists, a fast plotline (once it got started) and so many great character appearances, fans of both series will be very, very happy with The Ruby Circle. It’s hard to say goodbye but it makes things 20x easier when you are happy with the ending. I definitely plan on revisiting all of these books in the future.

Conclusion:

To fans of VA: Read this! If you loved Adrian and Sydney (or even Eddie and Jill), you will love this series! It has everything VA had but does it in it’s own unique way. To new fans: even if you didn’t read VA (which I suggest you do!) you could probably get away with diving right into this series. A must read for fans of paranormal YA.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy Series #1)

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WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS HAS SPOILERS!

Synopsis for Bloodlines (from Goodreads):
Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

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Fresh Fridays: Fate on Fire Series by Wendy Knight

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:

Feudlings by Wendy Knight | The Fate on Fire Series

book2

Series: Fate on Fire
Author: Wendy Knight
# of Books: 2+ (Feudlings, Feudlings in the Flames)
Complete?: No, book 2, Feudlings in the Flames, will be released later in 2013
Genre: Teen, Magic, Romance, Action

Thoughts:

I will admit that I was hesitant to read this book based on the synopsis. I find that I am not a huge fan of “witch/spell” type books so that was a worry. I was also worried it was going to be more of a romance with some action and seeing as it is targeted more for teens, the presumed teen angst nearly turned me off from reading it. But that’s what happens when you assume!

This book was definitely more about action than romance. Yes, it is there but there was so much else going on that it nearly took a back seat. It started off slow but it really picked up when you learn more about the world Wendy Knight has created. It’s simple yet complicated at the same time so it is easy to follow along.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of Ari. She was a little too angst-y for me but when you learn more about her past it makes sense why she feels the way she does. (Nothing worse than a whiney, spoiled heroine but that is not the case here!). As for the rest of the characters, I really liked them and can’t wait to see more of them!

Conclusion:

Definitely check this book out if you enjoy star-crossed romance with a lot of action; magic; smart characters and strong female leads!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads:

Synopsis for Feudlings (from Goodreads):
Nothing makes a new school suck worse than discovering the guy you’re in love with is your prophesied nemesis.

Ari is the most powerful flame-throwing sorceress ever, and her people’s last hope in an ancient war. But she’s also a seventeen-year-old girl, and in her free, not-hunting-nemesis times, she jumps from school to school, trying to figure out regular people her own age and pretending she’ll get the chance to graduate.

Shane lives a double life. He goes to school and masters the art of popularity, hiding the fact that he has a fate with a slim chance of his survival. He’s destined to end a 300 year-old war by killing or being killed. He knows he’s hunted by a powerful enemy who’s not afraid to die. Only problem? He has no idea who that enemy is.

When Ari shows up at Shane’s school, angry and sullen and determined to keep him at arm’s reach, neither of them realize they are supposed to be killing each other, not fall-ing in love. Until Ari does realize it, and she almost dies – by Shane’s hand.