Tag «Rating: 3/5»

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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Series Review: Cinderella by K Webster

Series Review: Cinderella by K Webster

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 Stroke of Midnight (from Goodreads):

Money can buy anything. And anyone.
As the head of the Constantine family, I’m used to people bowing to my will. Cruel, rigid, unyielding—I’m all those things.
When I discover the one woman who doesn’t wither under my gaze, but instead smiles right back at me, I’m intrigued. Ash Elliott needs cash, and I make her trade in crudeness and degradation for it.
I crave her tears, her moans, her submission. I pay for each one. And every time, she comes back for more.
When she challenges me with an offer of her own, I have to decide if I’m willing to give her far more than cold hard cash. But love can have deadly consequences when it comes from a Constantine. At the stroke of midnight, that choice may be lost for both of us.

breakdown

Series: Cinderella Trilogy | Midnight Dynasty Series

There is a direct spin-off: Deception Duet

Author: K Webster
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Mild | BDSM: Mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2020 – April 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this series when I was browsing Kobo Plus Series I could read with my trial subscription. Only when I tried to read another book (Triple Threat) that sounded a little more interesting did I discover that this series was the first in the Midnight Dynasty Universe. So, I stopped reading that book so I could start from the very beginning of this universe with this trilogy.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time but there are chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe.

The Plot:

This series is a modern, dark retelling of Cinderella. Ash has found herself on the outs of her family now that her father has married a wealthy, prominent doctor who has 3 sons herself. In a bid to escape to college, she winds up working and catching the attention of Winston Constantine. The rest of the trilogy ties in lose adaptations of the classic fairy tale but things are a little darker and twisted.

Part of the appeal of the Midnight Dynasty Universe is that there are major families dueling to rule New York City. The Constantines are one powerful family so as soon as Ash and Winston enter their bargain, the drama ensues. It reminded me a lot of the soap operas of Dynasty or Dallas — only there is a lot more (kinky) sex and violence.

The Characters:

I liked Ash and her need for independence. She isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, whether that’s Winston or going to college. She isn’t a total damsel in distress which I can appreciate, even if she needs the help of others along the way.

Winston is like a kinkier Christian Gray to me. He comes across gruff and distant but he actually has a heart under there once you peel back those layers.

This series also lays down the foundation for the other characters that will be featured in the Midnight Dynasty Universe so it was great to start to see how deep the family feuds run and who the key players are.

The Romance:

You have to know what you are getting into with this story or you won’t enjoy it. It’s dark, twisted and sits on the edge of being taboo sometimes. It’s like Fifty Shades amped up to the next level; so if you don’t enjoy alpha leads or kinky novels, stay away!

It took me a while to warm up to Winston and Ash’s relationship. It’s bordered on the creepy for me at the start with the difference in their ages and with how strong Winston comes on. But as the series goes on, I really started to like these two together. They start to peel back each other’s layers and I can see how they would work together.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but I jumped a few books after reading the Cinderella Trilogy based on the lead for the Beast of Bishop’s Landing. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings since:

Series Rating: 3/5

Stroke of Midnight 3.5/5 | Prince Charming 3/5 | The Glass Slipper 3/5

overall

You need to be a fan of darker contemporary romances or erotica to enjoy this. Otherwise, I would say to stay away. But fans of darker contemporary romances with plenty of steam will enjoy this first foray into the Midnight Dynasty Universe and the many other books that take place within it.

Read if You Like: alpha males, kinky/dark erotica
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike age gap romances

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Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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:

Mary Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for My Contrary Mary (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head – or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.⠀

breakdown

Series: Mary

This is a spinoff of the My Lady Janies Series.

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a bit of a so-so relationship with the My Lady Janies Series. I didn’t *love* it but I enjoyed the idea of spinning well known history and there were some moments of brilliance interspersed with moments of silliness. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick up this series but when I read that the first book was about Mary Queen of Scots–a historical figure I knew a decent amount about–I was willing to give them a shot.

What I Liked:

–I Was Familiar with the History–

Part of my struggle with the Jane Series was that I wasn’t overly familiar with all the history of our lead characters. So certain scenes and how they unfold were a little lost on me. I couldn’t see the intelligent spin the authors put on the historical moments.

But I do know the history of Mary Queen of Scots because I researched her story after I started watchin the TV Series Reign. As I often do with series that are based on history, I read the history and learn what history says happened, not the creative license TV shows or movies sometimes take.

So I think I got a little more out of this story because I could see how the Eðian (shapeshifting) aspects puts a spin on notable history events.

–Witty–

I laughed a lot thanks to the audiobook. I learned with the Jane Series that the audiobooks were the way to go for me to get the most out of the humour. But there is a lot of play on words and other aspects that made me appreciate the efforts the authors put into weaving this tale.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Sometimes It Gets Silly–

I have a bit of a love-hate thing with the Eðian aspect. It’s a fun idea and helps explain some of the prejudices of the time. But sometimes, I think it gets a little silly and distracts from the realism of these historical events. Having read the Jane series, I knew what to expect when it comes to these twists but I’m still torn on how much I actually like them in the books.

My Audiobook Experience:

I learned my lesson with the last series that the humour and dry wit comes across better when I listen to these books as audiobooks so that’s what I did for this series. I definitely enjoyed the audiobook production and I do think it contributes positively to my reading experience.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a little undecided about continuing on with this series. I’m not a huge Mary Shelley fan and the synopsis for the second book doesn’t overly excite me. I like Fae stories though….we will see. Right now I’ve marked it as a pass on Goodreads.

My Rating: 3/5

My Contrary Mary 3/5 | My Imaginary Mary TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Fans of the original Jane series will be excited for another round of historical hijinks! And new fans will appreciate the clever weaving of fantasy and history — so long as you know what you are getting into before you pick it up.

Read if You Like: historical retellings with fantasy spins, parodies
Avoid if You: dislike satires/parodies

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Series Review: Vampire Royals by Leigh Walker

Series Review: Vampire Royals by Leigh Walker

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 Pageant (from Goodreads):

Who’s the fairest of them all?
Young women from every settlement in the land are being handpicked to enter The Pageant, a beauty contest reminiscent of Miss Universe from the old days. Gwyneth West’s social-climbing mother wants her to compete, by Gwyn isn’t so sure…
The Pageant is government-sponsored. If you’re lucky enough to be chosen, participation is mandatory. Aggressive competition is allowed, even encouraged.

And then there’s the prize…
The winner of The Pageant gets a marriage proposal from Dallas Black, otherwise known as The Dark Prince. Dallas is the son of King Black, who won the last world war and now governs the new settlements. The Royal Family is mysterious. Rumor has it they don’t sleep. Rumor has it they eschew the sun.
Rumor has it they’re immortal.
When Gwyn is thrust into The Pageant, she fights to survive the competitive nature of the other contestants.
But even if wins…can she survive a vampire fiancé?

breakdown

Series: Vampire Royals

Books #6-8 are a part of the Shifter Royals Series

Author: Leigh Walker
# of Books: 9 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological but Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually picked up The Pageant (#1) because the cover drew me in when I was browsing audiobooks to borrow on my library’s Hoopla. The bold colours and the haunting background of the cover called to me every time I scrolled by. And once I read the synopsis, I thought it would be a great new audiobook series for me to read!

The Concept / The World:

I think the best way to describe this series is as the perfect hybrid baby between The Selection (girls competing for the prince’s love from different social classes) and Twilight (the vampires and werewolves). Basically, it’s all about human girls finding love with dangerous paranormal creatures who capture their hearts despite the many obstacles in their way.

The Reading Order:

In terms of Chronological Events, it’s best to read everything as it is listed on Goodreads for the Vampire Royals Series. The book number corresponds to the order of events.

But, not all the books follow the same heroine. Books #1-3 follow Gwen; Books #4-5 follow another girl from the competition; Books #6-8 follow another girl (and they are often grouped under the Shifter Royals Trilogy); Book #9 follows a third girl from the original competition of Books #1-3.

The Plot:

For Books #1-3, the overall feel is very much like the TV show The Bachelor — if you had teenagers competing for a vampire bachelor since that’s what the drama stays focused on. You have girls trash-talking each other; interfering parents and dates.

Yes, there is a subplot of the humans vs vampires but it really takes a backseat to the drama of Dallas finding a bride…at least I felt like that was the case for those 3 books–and I was OK with that. However, when I compare the “rebellion” subplot featured in The Selection Series, this one is much better executed.  In the Selection, I felt like the rebellion plotline came from nowhere but with this paranormal series, we get it in the right doses so that you never forget that it is actually happening outside the competition.

Books #4-5 have a different approach where they lack that reality competition aspect and I really missed that. I didn’t think the politics of the world and the rebellion were strong enough to carry the two books without the Bachelor-esque storyline.

Read my review of Books #6 to #8 here as a part of my review of the Shifter Royals Series!

The Characters:

If you take Katniss (The Hunger Games), America (The Selection) and Bella (Twilight) you’d probably get Gwen. She seems to have some of the best and worst traits of all these heroines–though she wasn’t the worst heroine I’ve endured. She was likeable in a lot of ways. She worries for her family and she knows how to play the royalty game. Of course, she is a little all over the place with her feelings for Dallas but given the nature of the competition, I can understand how she would be put in that position.

I liked a lot of the side characters (who end up being future leads) which is something I always enjoy in my book series. It’s great to see some characters redeem themselves…or get their just desserts.

The Romance:

It’s really cute and sweet. There isn’t much else to it besides attraction and some stolen moments, but I liked how the couples communicated with each other. These books are very clean in terms of sexual content (really, it’s a lot of hand-holding and kissing) so I find that refreshing in a paranormal read. Adult paranormal or supernatural series can get a little smutty (Black Dagger Brotherhood for example) so it was nice to read something that kept things PG.

My Audiobook Experience (Books #1-#3):

I really enjoyed the audiobooks! They were quick and addicting to listen to. It made it feel like I was watching a TV show. I could only find audiobooks for the first 3 novels, so I read the others that way though I would have loved to have continued with the audio versions.

The Shifter Royals Spin-Off:

Read my review of that series here!

Series Rating: 3/5

The Pageant 3/5 | The Gala 3/5 | The Finale 3/5 | The North 3/5 | The Siege 3/5 | Shifter Royals Series | The Rebel TBP

overall

If you are looking for an uncomplicated paranormal romance that reads more like a reality TV show, this is a fun series for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: vampires, love competitions
Avoid if You: want more action
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Single Sundays: High Society by Charlotte Casey

Single Sundays: High Society by Charlotte Casey

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 High Society (from Goodreads):
She’s not who he thinks she is.

It wasn’t Rayne’s fault, Cameron just assumed she was one of his rich friends and not one of the waitresses who served them. But he’s nice and sweet and genuinely seems like he wants to get to know her. Giving in to her desires, Rayne goes against her better judgment and continues the charade. He’s the forever kind of guy, that once in a lifetime love. Now that she’s had a taste of it, of him and his world, she doesn’t want to give it up.

That choice isn’t hers to make, though.

breakdown

Author: Charlotte Casey
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Novella
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Amazon Kindle–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I discovered this book through another author’s (Ella Miles) email newsletter where she had listed a whole bunch of free books. I had marked it as high anticipation when I picked it up probably because it seemed to have some forbidden love vibes going on.

The Plot:

We spend most of this book watching Rayne worry about hiding her true financial situation from Cameron — when the man doesn’t give any inkling that he cares about that stuff.

This is a novella so its shorter page shows when it comes to the plot. Not a lot is going on and it would have been interesting to see how these characters would have developed with another 100 pages. However at the time I picked this up, I didn’t want a book with a lot going on either so I didn’t mind.

The Characters:

One thing I really appreciated was that Cameron was just a nice, genuine guy. Not every “rich” book hero has to be an asshole (though trust me, I enjoy those reads) and Cameron is a great example of that. He just wants to foster this connection he made with this girl and I think that is so sweet.

Could both of the leads have had a little more depth? Sure, but again, with the page count their development is sufficient.

The Romance:

I got a lot of love-at-first-sight vibes where there was this unspoken pull. Again, it suffers from a shorter page count but they do have a solid chemistry between them.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you go in knowing this is a shorter romance read that just delivers the necessities to keep the story going, you’ll enjoy this for what it is. If you like more developed romances with complex characters and lots of drama, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: romance novellas
Avoid if You: want more complex stories

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Single Sundays: Bossy Brit by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: Bossy Brit by Kendall Ryan

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 Bossy Brit (from Goodreads):
Sexy billionaire Liam Bennett is cocky, dangerously handsome, and more importantly, my new boss. If only my ovaries didn’t flutter when he was near—yeah, that’d be super helpful.

When our long hours lead to a dare—and an X-rated encounter—I never expected it to be the hottest night of my life.

It’d also be super helpful if Liam didn’t know it and taunt me about it every chance he got. Unable to deny our attraction any longer, our work relationship brings a whole new meaning to the term inbox.

But being with him comes with some baggage—like an ex-wife and three kids kind of baggage. And a lawyer who wants half of his company.

Unsure that I’m cut out for this new level of complicated, my traitorous ovaries beg me to try.

Heaven help us all.

breakdown

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 25, 2019
Source & Format: Amazon Kindle–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in a bit of a reading-funk in November 2021 as the end of the year approached. So I decided to read some of the shorter novels I had sitting on my Kobo and Kindle to get me back in the mood all-the-while adding some titles to my year-end Goodreads Goal. This one popped up and sounded like a great option for my mood. I’ve enjoyed Kendall Ryan books in the past so I was looking forward to read this freebie I picked up.

The Plot:

Despite the shorter page count of this story, I felt like everything was fairly well-rounded. Could we have had a more elaborate plot and characters? Sure. But there is something to be said for a straight-forward romance. I thought this was super cute and had a tone of realism to it (Liam managing his divorce and his kids) that I appreciated.

The Characters:

I’m sure it is hard to write a character from a specific country and not make them fall into every stereotype. But honestly, I totally forgot Liam was supposed to be British. Other than the occasional drop of the words “knickers” and “arse”, I forgot he was billeted as a British hunk. He has been living in America for the better part of a decade so maybe he lost some of his British-isms.

The Romance:

It was easy to see why Noelle and Liam would fall for each other. At first, I worried their relationship was based on physical chemistry only but as I read more, I say how they connected with each other. I also liked that they were strong in their convictions and knew what they wanted. Perhaps we don’t see them get frightened of their relationship because of the shorter page count? Regardless, I liked how their relationship progressed.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This was a well-rounded, genuinely cute romance that is a great one-shot read for those who want something that will bring a smile to your face.

Read if You Like: single dad heroes, office romances
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a longer novel

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Series Review: The Rite of the Vampire Saga by Juliana Haygert

Series Review: The Rite of the Vampire Saga by Juliana Haygert

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 Vampire Heir (from Goodreads):

A young woman with a secret. A man with a death sentence. And a terrible fate that threatens to destroy them both …
When I was invited to the secretive castle DuMoir, I knew I’d end up dead. The guests might be excited by the exclusive tour around the estate, and the ending ball that concludes it, but I know better.

The castle’s inhabitants are vampires. And they want our blood.

I must find a way to survive their feast, because I’m not here as a clueless visitor. I’m here for a reason. Undercover work can be hard, but I’ve been through worse. That is until I unwillingly become a blood slave to Drake, a mysterious, brooding vampire prince.

Tragedy strikes the castle and chaos arise. Despite the new dangers surrounding us, I soon find out there’s more to Drake than he lets on, and feelings I’m not supposed to have stir in my chest.

But I can’t afford any distractions or everything will be lost. After all, I’m hiding a secret-a dark secret that might save us all … or doom us forever.

breakdown

Series: Rite of the Vampire Saga

Part of the Rite World collection

Author: Juliana Haygert
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Non-Contemporary
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Non-contemporary New Adult reads are hard to find — or maybe I just look for them in the wrong places? Regardless, ever since I binged Blood Type and Vampire Royals last year, I’ve kept my eye out for anything remotely similar. That’s how I stumbled upon Rite of the Vampire when browsing my library’s audiobook collection.

I had read Haygert’s Playing Pretend years ago and enjoyed the straightforward story. The synopsis for The Vampire Heir was intriguing and the audiobook time was just over 5 hours so it seemed like it would be worth a shot!

The Concept / The World:

At first I thought this story was going to be strictly vampires but we meet Drake, our hero, after he returns from a battle with a werewolf pact. I thought the world here was a cool blend of all paranormal creatures. It kind of reminded my of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series for its blending of modern and paranormal.

The series itself is set in a universe that has other books published within it. So each series follows a specific set of leads but they all intermingle and crossover since it is set in the same world. That’s always fun, especially if you like to read series like I do. It’s nice to return sometimes to a familiar world and after completing this series, I’m really interested in the next one, The Rite of the Warlock!

The Plot:

Given the many paranormal creatures and the various hierarchies within their groups, I thought this story would be harder to follow but it wasn’t. However, I think it’s important for readers to know that it isn’t going to be a straightforward, only vampires story. Look elsewhere if you only want to read about vampires.

The Rite of the Vampire (#1) is pretty mellow, focusing more on the suspense for the first 3/4 of the book and then things change. It has a very different vibe than the rest of the series which is more action packed and lots of twists and turns. The overarching series plot is simple to follow but nevertheless entertaining.

The Characters:

I found both Thea and Drake to be super dry at the start of the series. They just seemed like cookie-cutter molds of lead characters but I think that was intentional given the setup of the first book and it’s suspenseful, mystery approach. As the series progresses, their characters evolve a bit more and break away from those stiff shells.

I also enjoyed the rest of the cast as well. Despite the many characters we meet, it was easy to remember everyone and get attached to some and hate others.

The Romance:

So I didn’t really like the romance in the first book; well, I should say that I didn’t like the way it materialized. It would have liked a little more tension, more “I hate you but I’m attracted to you” chemistry between Drake and Thea. It just seemed like they never interacted and then BAM, love. I just craved a little more from it especially when it’s a “I shouldn’t love you” type of relationship.

However, I did enjoy the romance as the series progressed. I thought there was a good balance between it, the plot and the character development we get from it.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobooks were a lot of fun. I liked that the annoying characters that you weren’t supposed to like had nasally voices and tones that suited their delivery. It was an easy series to listen to and I think I finished them super quickly because they weren’t very long. I felt like I was listening to a TV show which is always fun.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Vampire Heir 3/5 | The Witch Queen 3/5 | The Immortal Vow 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick but satisfying non-contemporary romance in the new adult genre, this is a great one for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: blending of paranormal creatures, non-contemporary new adult
Avoid if You: dislike paranormal
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