Tag «supernatural»

Series Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

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 Nevermore (from Goodreads):
Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

breakdown

Series: Nevermore Trilogy
Author: Kelly Creagh
# of Books: 3 (Nevermore, Enshadowed, Oblivion)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2010 – July 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (Nevermore, Enshadowed), eBook (Oblivion)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t recall how I found Nevermore. I think it was through Indigo’s YA Summer reads one year. Anyways, the idea of a cheerleader falling for a “goth” is a cliché in and of itself, but the weavings of Edgar Allen Poe’s work into a paranormal world? Call me intrigued!

The Concept / The World:

I’m not a huge Poe fan per say, but I’ve read many of his works for school and enjoy his unique stories. So I was excited to see how Kelly Creagh was going to work it all together.

The great thing about this series is that you don’t have to know Poe’s work inside and out in order to understand what is happening. I’m sure it would help at times and it would enrich your experience, but it isn’t necessary.

I will admit I still don’t really understand the world all that well–even after finishing the books. I know enough to enjoy the story and move forward without feeling completely lost. Part of the issue is that there was nearly 2 years between all the books–that is a super, super long time between books! Especially when you have read numerous other books in between and don’t have the time to reread everything (because these books are long). Thankfully, I kept good notes on what happened but I still feel like some of the finer details were missing for me in the grande scheme.

The Plot:

The plot takes a long time to get going at the start. I remember reading Nevermore waiting for the romance and drama to begin. And that isn’t to say that nothing happened during those first few chapters; it’s just not a high action paranormal read. Those chapters instead focus on character and world development, which is needed because the paranormal aspects are quite complex. But once everything starts to reveal itself, you get more of the paranormal plot line. 

There really isn’t much else to these books besides the romance and paranormal plot line. Meaning, there isn’t a lot of subplots as everything stems to the one common problem. And because of that, I didn’t find this book to be extremely “twisty”, rather it just had big revelations when things were made clear to the reader. Despite not having high levels of action for its book length, I still found this series to be super easy to read and it kept my attention. My attention may have been spent 80% of the time trying to keep everything about the world straight, but it made me pay attention.

The Characters:

I remember not really liking Isobel initially when I started Nevermore. She reminded me a lot of Elena from The Vampire Diaries in her character delivery–the cold hearted, popular cheerleader. But she really grew on me as her character expanded.

Varen is also a complex character but I always really liked him. He’s got that tortured soul thing going on and I like the mystery surrounding him. He always really intrigued me, especially when Isobel is the main focus of the narration, because he comes across as such an enigma. It was fun trying to learn more about him as a character while I read.

The rest of the cast is pretty typical of a paranormal YA series. New girl quickly becomes BFF, crazy exes, over protective parents, etc. But they all really work for this story and do their roles well.

The Romance:

I really liked Van and Isobel together. I think it helped that we got to really know their characters first when it came to seeing their relationship bloom.

It’s also a dark love–very reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s work. Perhaps I was just oblivious to it or perhaps it really doesn’t manifest until the final book but it almost seemed unhealthy to me. I think part of my issue was that it had been so long since I read Enshadowed and so I forgot plot developments and feelings. Once I got into Oblivion a bit more, I was totally back on board with their romance.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Nevermore 4/5 | Enshadowed 4/5 | Oblivion 3/5

overall

This series continually builds to its climax in the final book so I recommend reading them as close together as possible. I think because I read Oblivion nearly 2 years after Enshadowed, it lost some of its appeal to me and I ended up really disappointed in the story. I don’t think would have been the case if I had read it right after Enshadowed.

Overall, it is a dark paranormal YA romance that has a unique edge to it that I haven’t really encountered in just one book and I really enjoyed them was all said and done…I just didn’t like waiting for them all 😛

Read if You Like: Edgar Allen Poe, dark paranormal, alternate dimension stories
Avoid if You: dislike long books with slower starts

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Series Review: The Illumination Paradox by Jacqueline Garlick

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lumière (from Goodreads):
One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.

After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.

Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.

Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Illumination Paradox
Author: Jacqueline Garlick
# of Books: 3 (Lumière, Noir, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, there is a third book to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool (gets a little more suggestive in Noir)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook  Thank you Skyscape!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love steampunk! Its one of my favourite genres because I find each series has its own little spin on the genre. So when I saw Lumière in the Read Now section of NetGalley, I couldn’t pass it up!

I was looking forward to a perhaps more dystopian steampunk world (the Vapours sounded like something from Under the Never Sky) with a take-charge heroine. I also was looking forward to this alluring stranger character and the fact that there seemed to be a true evil villain.

The World:

I really enjoyed the world of this series. It’s classic steampunk but with a more supernatural spin to it. I find a lot of steampunk stories focus on the mechanical aspects of the story (ie machines) but only a few have a paranormal/supernatural element. Sometimes it felt like there were too many elements to it all but once you get used to everything, it’s easier to keep everything straight.

I think at times this book is a little too descriptive. I would find myself drifting away from the long paragraphs. It definitely helps the reader get a clear picture of everything but at times it seemed to be a little too much.

The Plot:

At first, the plot of Lumière reminded me a bit of Vengeance Road as Eyelet suddenly finds herself on the run from an enemy. But it quickly morphed into more of a Beauty and the Beast premise, something I really wasn’t expecting. And then that quickly changed into its own unique story for the rest of the book.

I liked the premise for the plot, I just felt that it took WAY TOO LONG to get there. Lumière is nearly 400 eBook pages long, which is about 150 pages longer than your average eBook. And unfortunately, I really felt like nothing happened until the last 150 pages or so. The extra page length was great for establishing the complex world but I felt like I had a good grasp of everything about 100 pages in and would have liked the main plot line to have shifted into focus. I just wanted more because the last 100 or so pages were exciting, but my enthusiasm for them had significantly decreased by the time I got there.

The Characters:

I liked Eyelet and Urlick. They had their strengths and their flaws which I appreciate. However, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of character development for them in Lumière despite the length of the book. Who they are as characters is readily established and is well done, I just felt like there was something lacking for me when it comes to their characters–which might be a result of the romance clouding my impression of them (see below).

Otherwise, you have quite the interesting cast of characters. The supporting characters do their jobs perfectly and Smrt as a villain (though he has a smaller part than I expected) was entertaining.

The Romance:

In Lumière, the romance just didn’t work for me. It seemed like it bloomed out of nowhere. That really frustrated me because I could see why these two would work together but I failed to understand how they knew that. I really don’t think they had spoken all that much to each other before they were feeling these deeper things. I get the physical attraction part of it all, I just didn’t see the emotional connection and that resulted in a lacklustre romance for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think now that the world has been established and all the major players have been introduced, we are going to get more from Noir. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds.

updates

–November 6, 2015– Book 2: Noir

This book moved well from beginning to end. I felt like it kept the pace at a constant and didn’t drag on like Lumière often did. Secrets are revealed, there are lots of interesting plot twists and the characters get a little more depth to them. Overall, Noir just felt complete. It was solid and built up as you read. I got hooked into the story and the pages just flew by. This book was a lot of fun to read and really made me happy that I stuck with this series.

I’m excited to see what will happen in the next one!

concSLOW

Formally: Time Will Tell

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Lumière 3/5 | Noir 4/5 | Book 3 TBP

overall

Lumière showed some great promise and build up an intriguing world, but I just wanted a little more wow from it. I’m hoping that will come in the sequel. Noir does a great job of building on what the first novel has created. It kept my attention from start to end and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.

Read if You Like: slower stories, steampunk with supernatural elements
Avoid if You: want a faster story, want more romance

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

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Light Trilogy

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

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

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

breakdown

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

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

What I Liked:

-The Faerie World-

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

-Family Situations-

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

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

What I Didn’t Like:

-The Romance-

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

-The Plot-

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 3/5

overall

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

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

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Anthology ARC Review: Led Astray by Kelley Armstrong

Synopsis for Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong (from Goodreads): Two brand new tales anchor this wide-ranging collection from one of urban fantasy’s most successful authors. Here is the first time that best-selling fantasy, YA, and crime author Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from Otherworld and beyond. With her signature twists and turns, Armstrong gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies, while also traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even to feudal Japan. With tales that range from humorous to heart-stopping, these are the stories that showcase Kelley Armstrong at her versatile best.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Canadian Author
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First & Third Person
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source & Format: ARC–eBook Thank you Tachyon Publications!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I would be interested in reading the latest work by Kelley Armstrong before it came out–I immediately said yes! I love Kelley Armstrong’s work. Whether it’s her adult works or her young adult works, I’m always looking forward to her latest release. I’m not too up to date with the Otherworld series but I was looking forward to the Age of Legends short story as well as the Darkest Powers and standalone stories.

The Kitsune’s Nine Tales:

I just want to mention this one specifically because I LOVE the Age of Legend series, I was stoked for this! It was a perfect prequel short story and I hope we get more of these in the future because it added so much depth to the series. I can hope anyway 😉

The other stories:

These stories did a great job showing off Armstrong’s talent as a writer. Her ability to write strong adult and young adult stories as well as jump between urban fantasy and thriller/horror is amazing and shown fully here.

I’m not a huge short story fan but these ones were really well done! I had enough information to understand what was happening completely. I didn’t feel like information was missing and it was easy to move from story to story. There keep your attention and end on a very satisfactory note. Simply well done!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy variety to your anthologies, this is a great one! Fans of Kelley Armstrong will love these extra bonuses to their favourite Armstrong series!

Read if You Like: anthologies, short stories, urban fantasy
Avoid if You: don’t like short stories

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Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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

book4

booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in April 2020
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Supernatural, Magic, Dystopian, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool *mature subject matter*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating; Multiple (#2 on)
Publication Date: April 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (#2)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

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

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Series Review: The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole

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

book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Poison Princess (from Goodreads):
She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

breakdown

Series: Arcana Chronicles
Author: Kresley Cole
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Dark Calling will be published in Spring 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: public library–hardcopies & eBook

thoughts

My Expectations:

In the same vein of bestselling adult romance author Gena Showalter writing a Young Adult Series (White Rabbit Chronicles), Kresley Cole has done the same thing with the Arcana Chronicles. And like Showalter, I had never read a book by Cole until I picked up this YA series.

The Concept:

I wanted to read Poison Princess because the premise really interested me. It sounded like it was going to be like the White Rabbit Chronicles meets The Scorch Trials–two of my favourite apocalyptic themed books–but with a Tarot Card theme (instead of zombies or science fiction) so I just had to read it! Once I started reading it though it also reminded me of a lot of other novels. Not in the sense that it is a carbon copy of these other books but that it incorporates elements that I have come across in other series. For example: Evie’s character reminds me a lot of Isobel from Nevermore; and the post-apocalyptic world and book delivery reminds me of The Blood of Eden Trilogy. (Endless Knight also had some Cruel Beauty vibes coming from it as well).

But the whole tarot card aspect is definitely a unique feature of this story and its best feature for sure.

The Plot:

Unfortunately, Poison Princess (to me) falls prey to the same issue The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) did: it’s boring until the very end. I didn’t mind the beginning so much (before the apocalypse) because it had some character development, but there is a solid 100 pages where nothing of importance happens. I’m not lying. I honestly don’t think anything happened to progress the plot forward other than days passing. The last 50 pages definitely improve with the addition of a few new characters and the actual progression of the supernatural plotline.

I could probably rant for a few days on why I didn’t like Poison Princess, but I’ll just keep it short here:

  • The supernatural elements really don’t come into play near the very end which sucks! I feel like Poison Princess simply served as a really long prequel novella because it didn’t do much to set up the Arcana Game in the slightest, rather it just introduced you to Evie and her life before the apocalypse.
  • The romance just fizzled for me! I really didn’t see the connection besides the physical lust. Jackson isn’t anything to write home about in my books so I was disappointed in that aspect as well.
  • Evie is just plain annoying! She is not the kick-ass heroine I wanted. She is a petty, immature girl who isn’t all that bright either. I get that she is 16 and all, but the world is ending! Being thankful that you don’t have to shave your legs because you had laser hair removal isn’t something I would worry about in an apocalypse! I really didn’t connect with her whatsoever and all I really wanted to do was slap some sense into her as I turned the pages!

Part of the problem is that I built up what the plot of this book was going to be in my head before I ever read it. I really thought the focus was going to be more on Evie finding other Arcana characters in this new world. Not her wandering boringly towards one destination for 200 pages.

Turns out that Endless Knight is the book that I thought I was getting with Poison Princess. This book managed to keep my attention the entire time and actually had some plot development to it. Evie was still annoying to me, but I felt like she had some great character development so she went from “extremely annoying” to “annoying”–which is quite the leap. I also liked the romance a touch more as well–I think this is the rare case where a love triangle actually helps the story progress. But what I really think helped with this book was the addition of more characters that I found to be much more interesting to me. Reading Endless Knight made me happy I continued on with the series despite the painful drag that was Poison Princess.

Dead of Winter is probably my favourite of the 3. I quickly motored through it because the plot is fast, the action is high and–dare I say it–I actually started to like Evie as a character. I know! CrAzY! Well, it’s partly true: I liked Evie the “let’s-get-down-to-fighting” Evie, not the “I-can’t-decide-between-the-two” Evie. Evie has a true case of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome when it comes to “dealing” with her love triangle. Man-oh-man, I don’t know why she struggles so much with just saying the full truth to these boys who constantly fawn over her! It would solve a lot of problems other than assuming shit all the time! I also don’t know why there were 50 pages dedicated to each boy giving his case for why she should pick her–let’s just get on with the story please!

The Romance:

Speaking of the romance, I think I have to mention that it borders more on the “older” scale of young adult reads. If you are someone who doesn’t like sex being mentioned in their YA reads or having it described in more detail (I’m not talking full blown erotica, merely descriptions of how the body is reacting, etc) you might not like this series. The sexual situations aren’t really a huge focus of the books but it is definitely present. (For those who have read the White Rabbit Chronicles, the sex scenes here are the same as in it)

updates

–July 11, 2017– Book #4: Arcana Rising

This started very slowly for me and while it did pick up, I feel like it was just coasting along to get to the end. Bigger things are definitely in store for this series but this book was nothing more than a (necessary) bridge in the middle.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

Poison Princess 2.5/5  |  Endless Knight 3.5/5  |  Dead of Winter 4/5  |  Arcana Rising 3.5/5 |  The Dark Calling TBR

overall

Poison Princess lived up to its name in my opinion: it truly poisoned my views for the other books because I really struggled to read it. The series definitely gets better as you go, especially when the Arcana aspect of the plot actually comes into fruition and more characters are introduced. But the love triangle and heroine are often hard to swallow, even in the later books. It’s definitely a series that you have to invest into to enjoy

Read if You Like: slow building stories, post-apocalyptic worlds, fights to the death
Avoid if You Dislike: petty heroines, love triangles (extreme), slow starts

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Series Review: Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

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

Series: The Vampire Diaries

There are a number of spin-off series; some written by L.J. Smith, others by a ghost writer. See all here. The Wikipedia page for the series has some interesting statements about how this series and the spin-offs are published.

Author: L.J. Smith
# of Books: 4 (The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, Dark Reunion)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Technically, Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Supernatural, Vampires, Magic, Witches
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: First and foremost, I read these books a looooonnnngggg time ago. Also, I want to be clear that I am only rating the original 4 Vampire Diaries novels. There are a number of spin-offs that I have never read…find out why below…

I can’t remember if I read these books before or after Twilight; I’m pretty sure it was after but definitely before the show first aired. I had the combined volumes I used for the covers for this post so I really have a hard time differentiating the plot of each book because it just seems like one big story–which is what a series is really–but what I’m trying to say is that it is all one big blur so don’t ask me about individual books!

One thing I really loved about Vampire Diaries is that it is a darker series where evil is always lurking. I know that there is lots of disagreements over how vampires are portrayed in books/popular culture but I’ve never really minded these alterations to what I call “modern vampires”. Yet Vampire Diaries features your blood drinking, bat-changing vampires who are up to no-good. It makes things creepy and darker than some of the other vampire series out there. I like how there is a villain and I like that actual dangerous things happen and sometimes they have disastrous consequences. It wasn’t always happy-go-lucky in this series and I liked that.

What I didn’t really like about the series was the romance. I’m not sure how many of you have read old romance novels from the late 80s/90s but they are drastically different from the romance novels you get today. Elena and Stefan’s romance was super cheesy to me and I think it was a product of it’s time (the first Vampire Diaries novel was published in 1991). I also wasn’t annoyed with the love triangle because, to me, it wasn’t truly a love triangle; it was more a by-product of what was going on plot-wise.

As for the characters, they weren’t anything that exciting or unique to me. They didn’t seem all that complex to me–even brooding, fighting-against-his-nature Stefan. I remember liking one of Elena’s friends more than I liked Elena.

I know a lot of people probably watch the TV or watched it (I stopped after season 3) and want to know how close it is to the books. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t anything close to the books. Sure, the basic ideas are there but things are drastically different. Things as simple as Elena’s list of friends and family are changed and the TV series definitely has a sexier feel. Some of the basic backbones are there but characters have radically different purposes in each. I LOVED the first two seasons of the show; but Season 3 just started to get too complicated for me and with school it was hard to keep up with it all. I plan to catch up on Netflix this summer.

The TV show is the reason I stopped following the book series. I enjoyed the TV series way more than I ever did the books so I never felt the need to pick them up. And I probably won’t ever pick up the books. I don’t like dragged out things and I feel like these spin-off series are just the by-product of the TV show. (Which is great because anything that encourages reading is fantastic but I feel like it takes away from the original spirit of the series).

Conclusion:

Simply put: I’ve read better vampire romances. But I can appreciate the fact that I can probably thank this series for spawning all of the “better vampire romances” out there. Unlike the TV show, it’s cheesy and basic in its delivery. If you want a sexier, danger-filled vampire romance, watch the TV show instead!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No, I’d recommend the TV show first!

Similar Reads: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight Saga #1)

Synopsis for The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (from Goodreads):
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.

Series Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

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

Series:

There is a prequel series called the Nightshade Prequel Series.

There is also a prequel adult erotica series called Captive: the Forbidden Side of Nightshade

There is also a spin-off series called the Nightshade Legacy

Author: Andrea Cremer
# of Books: 3 (Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose)

There are 3 novellas: #0.5 Shadow Days, #2.5 Treachery, and #3.5 Aftermath

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Werewolves, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm (but pretty steamy for a Young Adult read)
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

I actually read Nightshade 3 years ago and Wolfsbane 2 years ago but decided to reread both before I finally read the grande finale, Bloodrose this fall. Part of the reason was that the year between reading the first two novels really caused me some hardships as I couldn’t remember some of the finer details of the plot which in turn altered my reading experience. So I knew the two years between Wolfbane and Bloodrose wouldn’t be any better and subsequently put in my holds at the library to get my hands on these books.

When I first read Nightshade, I really enjoyed it though I did have my negatives about it. Rereading reaffirmed my initial impression: I like this series and the concept of it but dislike the heroine. I really don’t enjoy werewolf novels; they just don’t do anything for me other than piss me off with overprotective alpha males and silly (often nonexistent in the adult genre) plot-lines. I know that that appeals to some people but it sure doesn’t to me. And while this series does have some of those moments, I find it’s a lot more toned down (in some things) and it has a more intricate plot that peaks my interest.

That’s the best way to describe this series: an adult werewolf read for young adults. Because the sexual tension is there (Calla is probably one, if not the, horniest young adult heroine I have ever come across) complete with the love triangle and the alpha males that are supposed to get your heart racing; it just isn’t as descriptive as an adult paranormal read would be (though you get a pretty good idea of what is going down if you catch my drift). I guess that’s why the Captive: Forbidden Side of Nightshade series was created because this trilogy often bordered on adult content so I could definitely see Cremer doing a more adult series like she has.

One of the negatives with this series is Calla. Man, I really want to like her because she has everything she needs to be a strong, independent heroine and for the most part I would say she is independent. But her ultimate flaw is her flare for over-dramatics. She just flips like a switch in her moods at times and it doesn’t help that she is torn between two love interests for the entire series. One minute she wants to smack Ren then the next she is shivering in lust to be with him; same with Shay. This love triangle is one of the sole reasons why I hate love triangles in novels. It also doesn’t help that I am totally Team Ren through and through so I really can’t stand anything Shay does and in turn, anything Calla does with Shay. Calla actually reminds me a lot of Zoey from the House of Night Series, and not in a good way. Although Calla doesn’t have multiple love interests per book (she thankfully just has the two) she still is extremely self-absorbed about her romantic relationships and is constantly making out with them then subsequently feeling quilt for doing so.

It gets tiring–this back and forth between Calla and the two boys and by Bloodrose it was driving me nuts! I found Wolfsbane didn’t have much of a plot: it was mostly just Calla worrying about who she would choose between Ren and Shay. That got even worse in Bloodrose. By the time I was 50 pages in I couldn’t handle it anymore and had to read the synopsis for the Aftermath novella in the hopes it would tell me who she picked. It didn’t but I accidentally read a spoiler so that made things go a little smoother.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ending of Bloodrose. Having read the entire series in a week I honestly was getting kind of bored with it (mostly because of the love triangle thing) and I think I just wanted it to end. I understand why some people hate the ending given the two twists we get near the end, I do a little bit too. But it honestly ended how I thought it would so in the end, no biggie.

I didn’t read any of the other novellas in the series (Shadow Days and Treachery) with the exception of Aftermath. I didn’t read the first two because I really could care less about Shay and Treachery just didn’t interest me. I don’t feel like I lost any reading experience by not reading them. Aftermath is a good one to read if you are interested in reading the spin-off series, Nightshade Legacy. But it doesn’t really wrap up everything if you are expecting an epilogue type of novella.

Despite not totally loving this series, I think I am going to give Nightshade Legacy a shot because I really like one of the characters it focuses on and I’m interested to see where the plot will go next.

Conclusion:

This series really lost momentum for me after the first book. Cool concept, interesting plot and awesome secondary characters but Calla as a heroine really disappointed me. If you enjoy werewolf reads and/or love triangle obsessed novels, this is the series for you. However, if you are like me and wanted to tear your hair out reading Twilight because of Bella’s love triangle, this is NOT the series for you.

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight Saga #1); Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Raised by Wolves Trilogy #1) and Marked by P.C. Cast (House of Night Series #1)

Synopsis for Nightshade (from Goodreads):
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Series Review: The Dark Elements by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout | The Dark Elements Series

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: The Dark Elements Trilogy
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout (Pennames include J. Lynn)
# of Books: 3 (White Hot Kiss, Stone Cold Touch, Every Last Breath)

There is a prequel novella called Bitter Sweet Love that can be read before the series

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm – spicy for a young adult novel
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

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

I pretty much read anything Jennifer L. Armentrout because I have always enjoyed her works but this was one series I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy. After reading the plot synopsis for White Hot Kiss it seemed obvious to me that there was going to be a love triangle and that kind-of turned me off of this new series (love triangles are my least favourite literary device). However, when I was browsing the Kindle Free Bestsellers, I came across Bitter Sweet Love and decided to give this series a shot.

I’m glad I read Bitter Sweet Love first–and I highly recommend that you read it first if you plan on reading this series (though it isn’t necessary). It does a great job of setting up the world–which is pretty unique in that it features gargoyles–so that you are familiar with it when you read the first full length novel, White Hot Kiss. It also introduces you to the main character Layla years earlier as well as some other characters that make an appearance later on. Again, you don’t have to read this book but I found that it helped set the scene for the rest of the series and it made me really excited to read White Hot Kiss.

White Hot Kiss reminded me of Firelight by Sophie Jordan but with gargoyles instead of dragons and a more mature (read: less annoying) heroine. The storyline is also completely different but I found the stories had a lot of parallels in its delivery. The love triangle wasn’t as bad as it could have been–it was pretty mild compared to other love triangle based stories. However, the sexual content (like most of Armentrout’s work) is higher than most Young Adult reads. Personally, it’s right on that Young Adult-New Adult border for me like Sweet Evil was.

I did like Layla as a character and I could understand her choices; however I just didn’t love her. I find Armentrout’s heroines all have the same general makeup to them so at times I felt like I was reading about Kat from Lux or Alex from Covenant (more so Kat in this case). I loved Roth though 😛

I’m interested to see where the series is going to go and I’m looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds.

updates

–December 7, 2014– Book 2: Stone Cold Touch

Stone Cold Touch really just an amped up version of White Hot Kiss. The plot is darker and more twisty; the love triangle is at full force (and totally swoon-worthy); and the characters become more defined. I really enjoyed reading it and it sucked me into the story much faster than the first novel did. While I had a pretty good idea of how things were going to unfold, I often found myself second-guessing myself so I loved that uncertainty and it kept me reading.

I have to hand it to Armentrout–she honestly writes the best male leads. I normally hate love triangles but with this one I had such a hard time picking a side! I probably have one I leaned to more (Roth if I’m going to be honest) but I liked that the love triangle wasn’t the whole focus of the book or annoyed the shit out of me by having Layla going back and forth between the two of them. While I still don’t love Layla (what I said earlier still stands) I liked her a lot more in this book. Overall, it’s a solid second novel (my favourite of the series so far) and I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up in Summer 2015.

–August 29, 2015– Book 3: Every Last Breath

I was really excited to read this last book, especially after the previous one which was fantastic. But I think I just read this book at the wrong time. When I was reading it, I was in the middle of moving and preparing for my new school year so I really didn’t have a lot of time to just sit around and read.

And because of that, the book just felt slow to me. I was expecting the action to start right from the get-go but instead, it focused on wrapping up the love triangle. Which, I appreciated don’t get me wrong! I wasn’t looking forward to waiting until the very end to see how that would all go down so it was nice to get it out of the way. I just wanted all that action I had anticipated given the ending of the second book.

The last 100 pages or so (the eBook was ~280) really picked things up and overall it was a solid ending. I just wanted a bit more and because I really enjoyed the second book SO MUCH, I think this finale had a lot to live up to.

Series Rating: 4/5

White Hot Kiss 3.5/5 | Stone Cold Touch 5/5 | Every Last Breath 3/5

overall

Fans of Armentrout will enjoy this series as it has her fingerprints all over it and delivers like you expect her works to. For people unfamiliar with Armentrout’s work, you will also enjoy it if you want a more mature Young Adult read with paranormal/supernatural creatures not often talked about in Young Adult fiction (gargoyles).

Read if You Like: more New Adult-esque YA, paranormal shapeshifter stories, good vs evil
Avoid if You: want less romance, don’t like paranormal YA

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Synopsis for White Hot Kiss (from Goodreads):

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

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Series Review: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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

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Synopsis for Dangerous Creatures (from Goodreads):
Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she’s a bad girl. She’s Dark. She’s a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she’s around. Lucky for her, Wesley “Link” Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn’t hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Biggest Disappointment 2014 (Dangerous Creatures)
Series: Dangerous Creatures

This is a spinoff of the Beautiful Creatures Series.

Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
# of Books: 2 (Dangerous Creatures, Dangerous Deception)

There is a prequel novella called Dangerous Dream.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Magic, Supernatural, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2014 – May 2015
Source & Format: Public Library—eBook & Hardcover

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that the Beautiful Creatures Series is one of my favourite young adult series I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s a great blend of romance, mystery, suspense and magic with superb characters and great writing. And while the movie may have flopped and failed, the book series is fantastic and is the standard I uphold all magic-based books to. So it’s no surprise that I was ecstatic to learn that there would be a spin-off series with two of my favourite characters that I was dying to see more of: Link and Ridley.

The Concept / The World:

Dangerous Creatures has an entirely different feel to it than Beautiful Creatures–which makes sense because Link and Ridley are no Ethan and Lena. It’s traded the slower, gothic feel for the upbeat, modern feel of New York–but I’m not sure how I feel about that. It definitely took some getting used to but I eventually got into the swing of things. Just don’t go in expecting a carbon copy of Beautiful Creatures when you read this book.

The Plot:

Unlike Beautiful Creatures, Dangerous Creatures lacks a mystery from the past. I suppose that there is a bit of one but I find it isn’t as powerful as it was in Beautiful Creatures. And because it isn’t as powerful, I felt like the plot was the bare minimum needed to move the novel along.

The Characters:

I kinda wanted more from Link and Ridley to be honest. Neither one grabbed my attention like they did in the previous series. I wasn’t as in love with them as I expected to be and that was a disappointment.

The Romance:

For fans of Link and Ridley, you honestly just want them to get their happy ending. So it was frustrating to watch them go back and forth for the duration of the novel.

This aspect could have used some work in my opinion. It was probably my biggest upset with this novel.

The Prequel, Dangerous Dream:

For a while I felt pretty lost while reading Dangerous Creatures and I blame myself for not reading Dangerous Dream, the prequel, before Dangerous Creatures. I felt like I was missing something the entire first half of the book.

Dangerous Dream does bridge the two series together nicely while refreshing you mind on everything that happened at the end of the previous series.

It isn’t necessary though, and honestly, it isn’t worth the $3-5 dollars you will spend on it. If you library has the digital copy, borrow it; otherwise, don’t waste your money!

updates

–November 8, 2016– Book #2: Dangerous Deception

After the disappointment that was Dangerous Creatures, I was hesitant to get into this one.

But I enjoyed this one immensely!

This story had a thrilling aspect to it that kept my attention. It moved fast and just kept building and building. Unlike the previous novel, there actually felt like there was a true plot to this story.

A great sequel (and conclusion?) to this story arc. I’m glad this one was entertaining; it was nice to return to this Caster world once again.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Dangerous Creatures 3/5 | Dangerous Deception 4/5

overall

Fans of Beautiful Creatures will love that Link and Ridley finally get their own story. However, it has a completely different plot line and feel that may take some getting used to.

Read if You Like: magic based stories, good vs evil plots
Avoid if You: want more romance
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