Tag «Rating: 3/5»

Series Review: Pretend by Ella Miles

Series Review: Pretend by Ella Miles

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 Pretend I’m Yours (from Goodreads):

I’m a twenty-two-year-old virgin. Tonight that changes.

I thought my first time had to be magical. The perfect date. The perfect place. The perfect guy. I thought I wanted to be in love.
But now, I’m desperate.
I’ll take any guy as long as he’s decent looking and treats me well, at least for the night.
Turns out Mr. Perfect isn’t so hard to find. He’s hot, dreamy, and filthy rich. And he wants me.
Sex with him is going to be better than I ever imagined. He’s going to ruin me for all other guys. I know that it is just for one night, but it doesn’t matter. I’m happy to get my perfect night.
One night isn’t enough, for either of us.
Because Mr. Perfect just fake proposed to me. And he wants this proposal to last a lot longer than one night.

Will you pretend to be my wife?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Pretend
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2018 – June  2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Originally pitched as a standalone novel with Pretend I’m Yours, Ella Miles created two spin off novels featuring some characters we meet along the way. I reviewed Pretend I’m Yours, and Pretend We’re Over separately but the last book in the series, Pretend I’m Her, is only available in the boxset. Hence, this series review.

I consider Ella Miles to be a must read author for me, but I do have a hit and miss relationship with her titles. I often love the concept but not always the execution.

The Concept / The World:

Each novel features a “fake” relationship plot – a favourite romance trope of mine! Some are executed better than others but it is the common theme amongst the novels.

The Plot:

One thing I really enjoy about Ella Miles’ novels is that I never really know how they will end or how we will get there. She keeps me on her toes with her twists and intricate plotlines.

However, one thing I can struggle with Ella Miles’ novels is that sometimes the logic doesn’t always add up. Or the characters run hot and cold in their convictions for no reason. That was something very noticeable to me in Pretend We’re Over (#2).

The Characters:

In a nutshell, I really loved the leads in Pretend I’m Yours (#1); not so much in Pretend We’re Over (#2); and felt they were alright in Pretend I’m Her (#3).

The Romance:

Part of the reason I held the rest of this series to such a high standard was the explosive chemistry our two leads had in the first book. I loved the banter and the tension between them. We still got that in the rest of the series but perhaps not always to the same extent.

Series Rating: 3/5

Pretend I’m Yours 5/5 | Pretend We’re Over 3/5 | Pretend I’m Her 3/5

overall

As a series, not my favourite. But if you want quick, angsty reads, they fit the bill. However, I do consider Pretend I’m Yours to be one of my favourite Ella Miles novels in her catalogue.

Read if You Like: angst, fake relationships
Avoid if You: dislike drama
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Serial Saturday: Hush by Amanda Maxlyn

Serial Saturday: Hush by Amanda Maxlyn

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Hush (from Goodreads):

I never expected to get fired on my birthday of all days. But that was the start of many unexpected things.
With him.
It was one night masked in desire and pleasure that changed everything. He’s all I think about- all I want. And he’s everything I can’t possibly have.
My sisters ex. My swim coach.
Now, all I’m left with are stolen glances, brief touches, and a burning desire for more as I drown in my need for him- the man who’s off limits, totally forbidden.
Unless …
We keep it completely hushed.

breakdown

Series: Hush
Author: Amanda Maxlyn
# of Parts: 4
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I discovered this series one day when I was browsing through a Book Bub newsletter and saw it was on sale for $1. I LOVE forbidden romances and this sounded like a quick read with lots of sexual tension.

Fast forward nearly 5 year later and I finally picked this one up when I had a craving for a quick, easy to read romance.

The Plot:

I actually didn’t reread the synopsis before I started reading and I think that was for the better. I think the fact that Trey dated Emma’s sister was enough of a forbidden factor but I liked that the fact that he was Emma’s new swim coach was a mystery to me until it was revealed in the book. That was a nice spin and I think the synopsis ruins that.

After that particular twist, there isn’t too much else to up the ante. It’s just watching these two navigate their complicated, budding romance.

The Characters:

Trey’s decision to throw away everything for Emma after 3 encounters was a little much for me. Because we don’t get his POV I felt like I missed why he really felt like it was worth the risk. He has a good backstory, it would have been nice if that was built up a little more.

Emma is alright. I can appreciate how she tries to navigate things with her sister (who is a bit of a narcissistic diva to say the least). But she wasn’t anything groundbreaking or memorable.

The Romance:

Classic instalove at its finest.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

If you want something quick with a dash of taboo, this is a great read to finish in one sitting. But if you want a more complex forbidden romance, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: quick reads
Avoid if You: dislike instalove
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Single Sundays: Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Single Sundays: Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

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 Bright Ruined Things (from Goodreads):
The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the magic on the island and the spirits who inhabit it. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. Now that she’s eighteen, Mae knows her time with the Prospers may soon come to an end.

But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends return to the island to celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.

When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae starts to realize that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past that she doesn’t remember. As Mae and her friends begin to unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all…

breakdown

Author: Samantha Cohoe
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this book when I was browsing new audiobook additions at my library and loved the cover. The concept seemed cool enough but when I read reviews on Goodreads that said it was a Tempest retelling, I was sold. I think it’s such an underrated Shakespeare play — but I promptly forgot that fact when I finally got to read it!

The Concept / The World:

So I definitely forgot it was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest when I started reading. I would say it is a very loose retelling but the core of it is the same: a magically-naive girl stranded on a magic island is tempted for more when visitors appear on the magical island.

The Tempest as a play is about suffering, endurance, love and betrayal and I feel like there are elements of that here as well but with a shift of “who” is experiencing those emotions. To me, the broader message of this story was the cost of privilege and how much people are willing to pay (physically and emotionally) to maintain it.

I actually felt like this story was more the love child of Caraval (magic) and We Were Liars (family drama).

The Plot:

It took me a bit to figure out what was the actual plot of the story. The story moves a little slowly at the start as you learn about all the characters, the island and how the magic works. For me, the pacing was just off a bit with it all and I never got fully invested in the story or the plot.

The Characters:

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda (Prospero’s daughter) is extremely naive and oblivious to a lot of what is going on around her (besides her love interest). And while Mae does have a crush on Miles, her naivety doesn’t stop her from learning more about the island. But boy, is she a hard character to connect to. She was just all over the place for me with her actions and feelings. I understand that her world is literally crumbling around her but one minute she’d be brave in fighting for something, the next she would be a naive shell once more. There is something to be said about picking battles but I just got the impression she didn’t know what was happening more often then not.

There are a lot of side characters and some seem like they are haphazardly thrown in. I do wish Ivo had more screen time. He was very intriguing and I feel like we missed an opportunity.

The Romance:

It’s not often that I say a book should exclude the romance but I think this one might have been stronger without it. Again, it was wish-washy. Mae finds herself in a love triangle of sorts but it didn’t really add to the story in any way. I suppose it helped show her naivety? I dunno, I just really wish it was more or way less.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production was great. I really enjoyed listening to it and how all the various characters had distinct voices.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I just felt like this book was a little too all over the place. Like it couldn’t make up its mind about how or what it wanted to do. It’s not a good sign when you end a book and go, what was the point?

Read if You Like: Tempest Retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger plot and heroine

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Series Review: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

Series Review: Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Children of Blood and Bone (from Goodreads):

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

Now we rise.

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

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

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

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Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

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 Exposure (from Goodreads):

My friends know me as Evan Cosette, a biochemistry major with a flawless GPA.

Everyone else? Well, they know me as Rylan Willow, erotic model for East Park Exposed.

The magazine has kept my tuition paid at East Park University. I just had to keep up the naive school-girl disguise on campus and my secret was safe, my two worlds separate.

Until Dallas. The gorgeous, disgustingly brilliant grad student who’s teaching my bio class this semester.

Oh, yeah… he’s also my new modeling partner.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get distracted. Dallas has a girlfriend, and I have to get into grad school.

That was before sales went through the roof.

Before the photographer decided to crank up the heat.

Before every photo shoot left me gasping for breath.

So, who gets Dallas? Me… or Rylan?

breakdown

Series: East Park
Author: Iris Blaire
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Direct (#1-2; #2-#3); Connected (#4)
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, College, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – May 2020
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–eBook (#2); KoboPlus–eBook (#3-#4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Exposure(#1) as a freebie for my Kindle in November 2013 but didn’t actually read it until 2020 when I was looking for a shorter read to get me out of a reading funk. I was drawn to this title for its unique concept (college erotica magazine) and was intrigued by the fact that our “hero” already had a girlfriend.

The Concept / The World:

I didn’t know erotic college magazines were a thing. Amateur video porn, sure, but not photo spreads. You have to be a little more open to read this book because of that aspect (and the fact that Dallas does have a girlfriend already) or else you won’t get into the crux of it all.

The Plot:

The overall theme of these novels is the trials and tribulations of running and/or starring in an erotica magazine in college. There are a lot of pre-conceptions about the type of person who would pose nude or start a magazine like this. It’s not just people who want to have sex all the time (though there is plenty of steam along the way) but it’s people who are comfortable with their bodies (or want to learn to be); who view it as an art form; who need the money or just want to flaunt what they have. I found all the dynamics to be extremely intriguing to read about.

Aside from the magazine, there is the balancing of friendships, planning for the future after college and some complicated romantic entanglements to keep things dramatic.

The Characters:

I found that our lead characters in Exposure (#1) were a little all over the place. Perhaps it is because we see them as their “personas” when they are modeling and then as their everyday selves, but I struggled getting a read on our leads. Dallas in particular was hard to get a grasp on. He was confident one minute than docile the next. Evan was a little self-centered and in her own world but I understand why given the stage she is in at her life. Though I think it is a little naïve of her to think no one will recognize her in person because of the magazine.

I really enjoyed Britain’s character and was glad to see she gets more focus in Call Backs (#2) and Voyeur (#3).

Shiver (#4) sees the return of some of the characters from the first 3 books but focuses on the “next generation” of the East Park Exposed crew. You could definitely read it as a standalone or just not read it if you are satisfied with the way the first 3 books wrap up.

The Romance:

The romance theme of all the books is falling for the slightly forbidden romantic interest. I enjoyed the tension that brings but it was done better in some books than others.

I wasn’t entirely sold on the romance in Exposure (#1). I don’t enjoy books about cheating but I went in with an objective mind-frame. But because I struggled with the characters, I struggled with their romance. So I was glad when I learned that Call Backs (#2) would also focus on another character’s romance.

The best way to describe Call Backs (#2) is as a bridging novel. It ties up the loose ends of Exposure (#1) but gets you ready for the new romance that takes center stage in Voyeur (#3). It also amped up the sexuality in a way I’ve never really read in a romance book before which was intriguing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Given the mentions of “this is a story for another time” in the epilogue of Shiver (#4), I suspect that more books may be planned in the future for this series. I’d definitely be interested in reading them depending on the characters.

Series Rating: 3/5

Exposure 3/5 | Call Backs 3/5 | Voyeur 4/5 | Shiver 3/5

overall

If you enjoy unique New Adult stories or characters who are comfortable discussing sex and sexuality, check this quick series out!

Read if You Like: shorter romances reads, unique stories
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Spin-off Saturdays: Promises We Meant to Keep by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: Promises We Meant to Keep by Monica Murphy

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:

Promises We Meant to Keep is a spin-off of Things I Wanted to Say but Never Did

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author

Series: Lancaster Universe

This is a spinoff of the standalone Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did).

Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 22, 2022
Source & Format: Author—ARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I always enjoy a good redemption story and I was eager to get inside the head of the complex Sylvie Lancaster we met in Things I Wanted to Say but Never Did. I honestly don’t remember if Spencer was mentioned much in that book because I was totally consumed with Whit and Summer’s angsty love, but I do remember finishing it and wanting Sylvie’s story one day. We ended up getting A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime before this one (no complaints!) so I was really excited to dive into this one when it was officially announced.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not As Angsty–

I missed the angst though there is plenty of steam between the two leads. I just craved a little more drama to their second chance romance. While I always enjoy romances where the characters actually chat about their issues, everything here just felt too easy. Perhaps I put this expectation of their romance being a little more forbidden than it actually is given the fact that Spencer is Sylvie’s brother’s best friend?

–More A Redemption Story–

While I enjoyed the arrogance that is Whit Lancaster, this story is really about Sylvie’s redemption story. In that way, it definitely succeeds. It was great to understand her character and her motives. And it was also great to watch her grow and become her own person as she learned from her past.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Need a Little More Plot in the Middle–

The course of true love never did run smooth but I think in this case, it might have. Since it lacked the angst of the romance, it just needed a little something more to keep the story going. Some more obstacles or tension would have helped to move the story’s pacing.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

It wasn’t nearly as addicting to read as Whit’s book though I think fans will still enjoy this one! Especially those who wanted to know more about the infamous Sylvie!

Read if You Like: redemption stories, second chance romances
Avoid if You: want more angst
similarreads

  • Always Been You by Beverley Kendall (Unforgettable You Series #3)
  • PS I Miss You by Winter Renshaw (P.S. Series #2)
  • Twisted Love by Ana Huang (Twisted Series #1)

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Promises We Meant to Keep (from Goodreads):

Spencer Donato.

My brother’s best friend.

My dirty little secret.

We fell for each other at Lancaster Prep. Sneaking around. Not wanting anyone to find out. He was my first love, my protector, my knight in shining armor. We were made for each other, and I truly believed he was my forever.

But then I did the unthinkable, and betrayed him in the worst possible way. I thought I lost him for good…

Until I saw him at my brother’s wedding. Now he’s older. Crueler. Unbearably handsome. We’re drawn to each other still, but will Spencer be there for me when I need him the most? Or did I ruin us once again?

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Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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

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

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

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

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

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

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

–More Politics–

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

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

–Nina’s Story–

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

–Too Much Fan Service–

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

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

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

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

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Series Review: Angel by L A Weatherly

Trilogy Termination: Angel by L A Weatherly

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 Angel Burn(from Goodreads):

They’re out for your soul.
And they don’t have heaven in mind…

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from.
But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems; least of all good and evil.

breakdown

Series: Angel Trilogy
Author: L A Weatherly
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Angels, Paranormal, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person + Third Person
Publication Dates: January 2010 – August 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like many series I started in university many years ago, I don’t really remember how I discovered it. I assume it had something to do with the Angel Trend that was huge around that time (2010). Either way, I really enjoyed the first novel in the series and that enjoyment is what kept this series on my TBR for over 5 years after the finale was published.

The Concept / The World:

I always think back fondly on this series because it was one of the more unique Angel concepts I had come across. Angel stories are always about good angels vs bad angels (or one faction vs another) but here, nearly all angels are evil and humans are fighting for themselves. It’s a fresh take on the world.

Unfortunately, that cool premise gets overshadowed by your typical YA paranormal cliches and the like but at its core, this is a cool story.

The Plot:

I remember being totally engrossed in the first novel. I loved watching Alex and Willow navigate this new world and their budding feelings. It was a fun adventure that kept me on my toes.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember much about the second novel (Angel Fire) other than the fact that it introduces a love triangle that seems to take over the entire novel. Ugh.

But despite a “meh” experience with the second book, I was eager to see this series completed and was determined to pick up the finale (Angel Fever) 5 years later. Only I was thrust back into a mundane plotline that seemed to be taking its sweet-ass time and a seemingly resolved love triangle that would resolve every chapter with new ire.

Which is why I DNF’d it at 25% and skipped to the last chapter to give myself some closure.

The Characters:

Willow is one of those “special snowflakes” combined with a “Mary Sue”. It wasn’t really apparent to me in the first novel but I definitely saw it in the third. She’s just becomes so wish-washy in her convictions and morphs into your stereotypical heroine of a paranormal YA series.

The rest of the cast fits into their typical roles with ease.

The Romance:

This started strong for me but the introduction of a useless love triangle really killed any positive feelings I had towards this.

Series Rating: 3/5

Angel Burn 4/5 | Angel Fire 3/5 | Angel Fever DNF

overall

Like many of the angel romances released around the same time, this series takes your typical cookie cutter pieces and assembles them for your average angel read.

Read if You Like: angels, YA paranormal reads
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, want more action

similarreads

  • Newsoul by Jodi Meadows (Newsoul Trilogy #1)
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush Saga #1)
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (A Touch Trilogy #1)
  • Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire Trilogy #1)

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Single Sundays: The Bad Boy’s Good Girl by Cookie O’Gorman & Michelle Pennington

Single Sundays: The Bad Boy’s Good Girl by Cookie O’Gorman & Michelle Pennington

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 The Bad Boy’s Good Girl (from Goodreads):
Logan King was trouble.

I knew it from the moment I laid eyes on him. But when I challenged him, I had no idea he’d take his revenge so far.

To make up for his inexcusable behavior, his parents gave me a scholarship to King’s Prep Academy. My mom insisted that I accept. Now, I’m the poor, public school girl attending an elite academy for the rich.

Even worse, Logan is here. He rules the school, and he wants me gone.

But I have a dream to chase, and no one, not even a King, will stop me.

*previously published on Kindle Vella as The Boys of King’s Prep Academy*

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author (O’Gorman)
Author: Cookie O’Gorman and Michelle Pennington
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 4, 2022
Source & Format: ARC–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Boy’s of King’s Prep Academy is the only Cookie O’Gorman novel I haven’t read by her. I love her sweet YA romances; they never fail to put a smile on my face. So I was excited to read the revised version of the original Kindle Vella Series.

I’ve had some hits and missed with the high-school-bully trope with their over the top antics and the shock factor but knowing Cookie’s other reads, I knew this would be a sweet yet angsty read.

The Concept:

Originally written as a series of individual episodes (like a serial), it shows a little in this new version. Most chapters end on a cliffhanger of sorts to keep you reading. I also felt like chapters were more robust in order to give readers a solid episode to read.

The Plot:

After a not-so-meet-cute between our leads that was filled with drama, the next 50% or so seems a little tame and slow in comparison. I struggled with the pacing as a result. Perhaps if we had more stolen looks and brimming sexual tension between Ava and Logan in that first half, I wouldn’t have minded the slow burn as much. But they rarely seem to interact at all or at least enough to convince me that Logan was falling for her so hard and fast.

The Characters:

Logan has great character development throughout the book. It was nice to see him let some of his angst go and become a stronger person.

Ava is a strong match for him but she also shows some vulnerability that I appreciated.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why Chris has some POV chapters. I’m not sure if it was to introduce a potential rival to the romance or to plant the seeds for a future sequel.

The Romance:

I’ve read a few “high-school-bully” trope romances over the last year and this one was refreshing in the sense that it didn’t try to shock you with crazy sexscapades or violence. Instead, it’s a sweet romance between two people who realize that there is more to the other person than they first assumed.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

Perfect for fans who want to partake in the hate to love you prep school YA romance genre but don’t want all the grit and sex that usually comes with it. It’s sweet but angsty and has a lot of depth to it!

Read if You Like: slow burn romances, sweet romances
Avoid if You: want a grittier high-school-bully romance

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Series Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Series Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Testing (from Goodreads):

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honoured to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies—trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every gruelling (and deadly) day of the Testing.

To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

breakdown

Series: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 The Testing Guide

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2013 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually think The Testing (#1) is the first book I added to my TBR by Charbonneau; I saw it as a freebie on Amazon one day and downloaded it. But I ended up reading (and enjoying) her Dividing Eden Series first. When my library added the audiobooks for this trilogy last year, I was excited to give this series a try! It has been a long time since I read a dystopian novel and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

The Concept / The World:

If the Hunger Games and Divergent had a baby, I feel like it would be this book. It reminded me a little of the construction of the Red Queen where it is a mash-up of everything you expect in the genre (only the Red Queen is high fantasy). Yet at the same time, everything here felt unique and refreshing in a way. It’s a really cool world to explore and it has so many layers to it–but you don’t realize that is the case right away either which I think is a lot of fun.

The Plot:

At the start of The Testing (#1), this book felt really “young teen” or middle age dystopian to me. I think I got that impression thanks to the naïve vibes I was getting from our heroine, Cia. Of course, she’s naïve because society wants her to be that way, not because she is unintelligent. (More on that below!)

Once the true nature of the testing is revealed and the more sinister edge to this world takes center stage. This series doesn’t have a lot of physical action compared to others in the genre. Yes, parts of the testing has physically dangerous elements but I found everything was rooted more in logic and thinking and testing the characters that way. It almost reads like Divergent, only if you focused more on the politics of the world than the physical battle for it.

However, I felt a little let down in how everything progresses. I kept waiting for a big reveal to take things to the next level. And while there are some great twists that I really didn’t see until they were just about to be revealed, they were just a little underwhelming for me.

The Characters:

Perhaps I am in the minority for this: but I loved how Cia’s character evolved as the series progressed. One thing that I thought was interesting about her character is that she really isn’t emotionally driven like some heroines we meet in this genre, but more moral based. Although she has a strong moral compass, she definitely isn’t devoid of feelings. She’s an intelligent, logical girl who really tackles everything that comes her way by thinking things through. I appreciated that she was always thinking 3 steps ahead when she made decisions and could see the bigger picture.

To a certain extent, Cia is a bit of a special snowflake heroine and I know that irks others who have read this series. For some reason she is singled out during the Testing when really, there isn’t anything extremely remarkable about her. But I think she works really hard to apply herself when challenges are brought her way rather than things just falling into place for her.

The Romance:

I liked that this kept me guessing a bit. It’s an interesting element to the story, particularly in the first book during the Testing. It isn’t a huge driving element to the story but another factor to consider as the plot moves on. Could it have been played upon more?–Definitely. I really thought there was a missed opportunity to have this element take things to the next level and add a more dramatic flare to Cia’s life than the dull flare it brings.

My Audiobook Experience:

It took me a bit to get into but once I got into the story, the audiobook was addicting to listen to throughout the series. I thought the narrator did a good job bringing Cia’s character to life.

When to Read The Testing Guide (#0.5):

I didn’t read this prequel but you can likely read it at any time since the events take place years before the trilogy. If you want to read it in chronological order, then read it before The Testing (#1).

Series Rating: 3/5

[The Testing Guide N/A| The Testing 3.5/5 | Independent Study 3.5/5 | Graduation Day 3/5

overall

Fans of dystopian YA fiction will see a lot of similarities to other books but I enjoyed the weaving of classic dystopian elements. However, I kept waiting for something amazing to happen so the conclusion felt a little lackluster to me. And I when I finished, I kinda struggled with “what was the purpose of this whole series” which isn’t the best way to end a series if you ask me.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, books dealing with politics
Avoid if You: want more physical action

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