Tag «supernatural»

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:

booksynopsis

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.

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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

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

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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.

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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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Single Sundays: Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore

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 Evanescent (from Goodreads):
“Then it is settled,” Felix declared. “Come hell or high water, when this is all over, at least one of us here will not make it out alive.”

When Bronwen Snow is pulled from her cottage in the middle of the night, she finds herself seeking the help of three mysterious boys who reside in an abandoned castle deep in the hillside. With only a hasty handwritten note and a vague sense of dread to guide her, Bronwen is forced to put her trust in the eccentric and willful Felix Cavara and his eternal curse – immortality.

Review:

This was another freebie from Amazon that I randomly decided to read one day between library books. I grabbed it because it was free, of course, but because it sounded interesting and had a shorter page count.

This book is pretty quirky if you ask me–which made it fun to read. There where quite a few times that I smiled or chuckled to myself because I really loved Felix’s wit. It really made the book a light, easy read that was just what I needed between my heavier, darker themed books.

Despite a plot that felt slower to me, I went through the pages pretty quickly. Don’t expect some high action novel with tons of fighting and high levels of suspense. There were definitely moments of action but it was pretty minor and it was suspenseful at times. I didn’t find it predictable (I never would have guessed the ending) though it was easy to follow. It was fun to read and to try and figure out what was going to happen to Bronwen and company.

Conclusion:

This book was like reading a modern faery tale with more supernatural elements to it. If you go in expecting a more light hearted novel with paranormal and supernatural elements, you will like this book for what it is.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Paranormal, Supernatural
Recommended for: 15+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: third person
Similar Reads: Devoured by Amanda Marrone

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Series Review: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

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: Falling Under
Author: Gwen Hayes
# of Books: 2 (Falling Under, Dreaming Awake)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Paranormal, Romance, Dark Fantasy
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

When Falling Under first came out 3 years ago, I was dying to read it. It seemed like a really cool read and I will admit I was in love with the cover. Every time I went to the library, the book was out and when it was there I wanted to wait until I could get my hands on the sequel. Eventually, I forgot about it but it stayed near the top of my to-read list until one day the eBooks were added to my library’s catalogue and I immediately swooped them up.

Falling Under wasn’t what I thought it was going to be–though to be fair, I wasn’t sure what to expect thanks to the somewhat vague synopsis. But I think that was what I loved going into the book because I really had no idea what Haden was and I liked the anticipation of the big reveal (and I wasn’t disappointed when it was revealed).  When writing this review I was very careful not to reveal anything about what Haden is because I think it would spoil the fun–so try to avoid reading tags or in-depth genre classifications.

Both Falling Under and Dreaming Awake create a very intriguing dark fantasy world that I really enjoyed. While I have read books with similar fantasy elements, this series felt unique to me because the plot would move in a direction I wasn’t expecting. Falling Under was especially great at keeping the plot interesting.

However, at the same time, I found this series to be predictable but I think that is the result of me reading too many books over the years. For the most part I clued in pretty quickly with what was happening as soon as it was mentioned. Though, as I said before, there were a few good “twists” (twists isn’t really the right word, more like plot “bumps”) that kept things from being completely predictable.

The predictability really got to me in Dreaming Awake. Because I knew exactly what was happening immediately, I got frustrated with Theia not cluing in sooner. I labelled Dreaming Awake with my “annoying-heroine” tag on Goodreads because she did grate on my nerves for the first half of the book. It isn’t really a fair label to give but I didn’t like her as much in the sequel as I did in the inaugural book. As for the rest of the cast of characters, I really liked them. I especially loved Haden: he was swoon-worthy to me and I liked that his character was consistent throughout the series (meaning he didn’t turn into a love-struck sap like some characters **coughcoughEdward**). He wasn’t really anything new–the typical young adult paranormal love interest hero–but I liked his wit and interactions with other characters. Him and Theia complemented each other well I thought so I enjoyed reading their romance.

I’m glad this series isn’t a trilogy because the two book length is perfect. Dreaming Awake was a good follow-up though I felt it started a little slower–but it was nice not having a stupid second book filled with useless drivel to build up the final climax. I did rate Dreaming Awake lower than Falling Under because I didn’t like it as much because I found it more predictable and I liked Theia more in the first book but I think it was a good way to wrap up the series the way it did.

Conclusion:

Although it wasn’t what I was expecting I enjoyed these books. They were a darker Young Adult read with serious characters and serious consequences. The best way I can summarize it is if Twilight had a child with Sweet Evil, the child would be this novel. It had the same basic elements as Twilight but had the more sinister edge that Sweet Evil has (and the better writing). If you like darker paranormal young adult reads, grab this series!

Rating: 3.5/5

Similar Reads: Everneath by Brodi Ashton (Everneath Trilogy #1); Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Trilogy #1); Bloodspell by Amalie Howard and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Twilight Saga #1)

Synopsis for Falling Under (from Goodreads):
Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she’s seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

DNF Series Review: Gilded Wings by Aimee Agresti

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

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Worst Reads of 2014 (Illuminate)
Series: Gilded Wings Trilogy
Author: Aimee Agresti
# of Books: 3 (Illuminate, Infatuate, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 will be published in the near future
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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PLEASE NOTE: That I only read 50% of Illuminate (Book 1) when I wrote this review. I stopped reading it and currently have no plans to finish it. Find out why below:

My Expectations:

Illuminate has been on my Kobo for quite some time now but I only managed to read it this year. It was simply a case of out of sight, out of mind and its subsequent burial in my Kobo once I bought more books.

My Review:

Anyways: I started Illuminate and was shocked by how long it was. It nearly put me to sleep a few times because I found it so slow. This book is one that suffers from a very detailed exposition–so detailed that it is actually mind-numbing and I would forget what I was reading because I would get lost in thought or fall asleep. I NEVER FALL ASLEEP READING A BOOK, especially in broad daylight. There really was no need for the drivel that is in this book–and as I said before, it was USELESS information. I love getting a full description of the scene but this was overboard and in place of essential character interaction. I found a lot of the dialogue between the characters was also unnecessary and boring.

I was 48% through the book when I made the decision to stop reading–despite having paid for this book and also having the sequel, Infatuate, out from the library. There were two reasons I stopped reading: 1) was that my Kobo was telling me that it was going to take another 5 hours to finish it; and 2) there was absolutely no plot happening.

Again, this book suffered from too much detail and it shows in the nonexistent plotline. The parts where Haven reads from the mysterious book and ACTUALLY interacts with Lucian are too few and far between for my tastes. I was very bored with this book and even reading the plot synopsis for the sequel, Infatuate, wasn’t enough to stimulate my curiosity for what is actually happening at this hotel and to Haven.

It doesn’t help that Haven is extremely dull herself. I didn’t understand her fascination with Lucian at all. They met twice and only spoke a handful of words to each other and she fancies herself in love with him. I was expecting more romance in the story but instead, it focused more on Haven doing every day things at her internship and giving a minute-by-minute account of what she does in a day–which is BORING! So I think it goes without saying that this book was lacking in sexual tension or any romantic interaction really–and that makes it a dull read.

One day in the far future I might decide to finish Illuminate just for the sake of having a complete library on my Kobo–but until that day comes, I won’t be finishing this series anytime soon.

Series Rating: DNF

Illuminate 1/5 | Infatuate N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

For me, this is one of these book series that I should have read the reviews to before I bought it. I think I was blinded by the cover because if I managed to read the reviews I probably wouldn’t have read this book at all. Just a poor execution for a good idea (or what I assume is the idea). If you want a similar book but with a much better plot and execution, read Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins.

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Synopsis for Illuminate (from Goodreads):

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything changes when she is awarded a prestigious internship at a posh Chicago hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous strangers: the powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

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Series Review: Shades of London by Maureen Johnson

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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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Name of the Star (from Goodreads):

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

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Series: Shades of London
Author: Maureen Johnson
# of Books: 4 (The Name of the Star, The Madness Underneath, The Shadow Cabinet, Book 4)

There is a prequel novella called The Boy in the Smoke

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Ghosts, Supernatural, Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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PLEASE NOTE: I did not finish reading The Madness Underneath (Book 2)when I published this review. Find out why below…

The Name of The Star Review:

I read The Name of the Star for two reasons: 1) I loved the eBook cover (the one when it first came out) and 2) I hadn’t read anything about ghosts in a long time, if ever. Normally, I prefer to read romance or action novels–I don’t really enjoy ‘scary’ movies but I LOVE thrillers and this book sounded like an episode of Criminal Minds (one of my favourite TV shows) but with a supernatural twist.

Unfortunately, The Name of the Star didn’t do much for me. I didn’t really like Rory as a character and I had a hard time convincing myself to like her. I just didn’t like how she acted–I think some people might label it “quirky’; I would label it “quacky” because I thought she was very odd. I’m not sure if it is the writing style as it is a novel set in the UK and I most books I read that are set there tend to have a slower pace to them but it didn’t do much for me. But I was hooked into the mystery so I continued to read–and I’m glad I did because I liked the ending and solution to the mystery all things considered.

However: I had no interest in reading the sequel. But what happens at the very end of the novel–plus the connection I thought I saw between Rory and another character–kept my interest enough to see what the sequel was all about.

The Madness Underneath Review:

Unfortunately, The Madness Underneath fell (no pun intended) into the classic Book 2 of a Trilogy Slump. I was halfway through the book when I had to ask myself: what the hell is the plot? Honestly, halfway through the book the “mystery” (the “creepy new terror haunting modern-day London”) is never mentioned. Instead, we get to listen to an angsty Rory as she tries to navigate her teenaged life–which is not my cup of tea in any book and especially in this series where I’m not a huge fan of Rory. It would have been ok if the other characters we meet were involved but Rory pretty much flies solo for most of the book.

I was 40% of the way through The Madness Underneath when I decided to stop reading it. I read in other reviews that the ending is very exciting but in my opinion it was too little too late. I decided to sleep on it and see if I changed my mind but I decided I really didn’t care (because nothing had really started by that point) and I could live with not knowing considering I had lived without reading The Madness Underneath for two years since its release. I just didn’t want to be committed to another book if I did like the ending. I have better series to read from the library so I am officially putting this one to rest.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

The Name of the Star 3/5 | The Madness Underneath DNF | The Shadow Cabinet N/A | Book 4 N/A

overall

While I personally didn’t enjoy this story, I quite a few people will like the supernatural/paranormal spin of it. If you like slower series with books dedicated to personal character development then this series is for you. But if you are like me and like having multiple plotlines or faster plotlines with lots of twists and action, you won’t enjoy this series so stay away!

similarreads

  • Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
  • Hereafter by Tess Hudson (Hereafter Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: The Hollow Trilogy by Jessica Verday

Series: The Hollow Trilogy
Author: Jessica Verday
# of Books: 3 (The Hollow, The Haunted, The Hidden)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Supernatural, Ghosts
Heat Rating: cold

Thoughts:

My knowledge of Sleepy Hollow isn’t that much–basically I watch the movies around Halloween but only in bits and pieces. So I was interested in reading a series that is linked to the short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

The premise isn’t really anything out of the ordinary in terms of a paranormal Young Adult read, but the legend of Sleepy Hollow adds a different element to it and the mysterious death of Abbey’s BFF does to. This means that this series is a lot darker than many paranormal young adult reads out there so it can be a little solemn to read at times.

The Hollow was an alright start to the series. Because of the darker elements to it, I found it a little depressing to read at times. There wasn’t as much romance / sexual tension as I was hoping for: just little snippets here and there. I feel like the first book was mostly focusing on Abbey trying to navigate her life after her BFF’s death. Which means there is a lot of angst towards her parents and sad teenage girl thoughts. I just kept waiting for something big to happen to push the series into a more exciting ride.

Unfortunately, that big push never really came in any of the three books. They just coasted along revealing little bits and pieces of the mystery but I never got really excited about any of it.

I know a lot of reviewers don’t like the message the last book, The Hidden, sends out to readers and to an extent I agree. It isn’t the way I would have ended the series and I do agree that it can send out the wrong message to young girls but I think it is important to remember that it is fiction–it isn’t real life and that readers must separate the two.

Conclusion:

Overall, the series was just bland to me. It wasn’t exciting and I didn’t completely love any of the characters. The mystery didn’t do much for me and it really isn’t a focus of the series (which is why I continued to read despite the dull start because I wanted to solve the mystery). Cool concept; unfortunately not the best execution (though the covers are really pretty :P). I would pass on this series if I were to see it again.

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: Immortal by Gillian Shields (Immortal Series #1); Hereafter by Tara Hudson (Hereafter Trilogy #1);  and Swoon by Nina Malkin (Swoon Series #1)

Synopsis for The Hollow (from Goodreads):
When Abbey’s best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen’s funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey’s life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he’s the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again…but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen’s betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

Single Sundays: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis


Synopsis for Whisper (from Goodreads):
I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin…
Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears a frightening whisper from Jessica’s own mind, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.

Review:

I picked up this book because of my cover love for it. I had never heard of it before I saw it as a new addition to my library’s eBranch and once I read the synopsis it sounded interesting enough.

This book starts slow–I mean what we read in the last bit of the synopsis doesn’t even occur until after the halfway  point in the book. The first half is spent establishing Joy’s everyday life with her friends and family. It was a little boring but I generally didn’t mind too much. It was interesting for me to read about Joy’s perspective on things because of her ability to hear people’s thoughts. Joy seemed fairly realistic to me in the sense that she thinks like any other teenage girl but isn’t overly dramatic about it.

This book is really about Joy finding herself more than anything. It focuses on her relationships with her sister, her parents and her friends–and not so much on her romantic interactions but they are there. I don’t know if I particularly like the messages that this book sends about your relationship with your parents but this book definitely focuses on family relationships.

The last 1/4 of the book is the most “exciting” because you get an actual plotline. But I felt like it happened too fast and then the ending just felt lackluster. Goodreads lists this book as the first part of a series but it was published nearly 4 years ago and the author doesn’t seem to have the intention of publishing a sequel. It’s probably a good thing because I’m not sure what else you could to plot-wise other than Joy learning more about her ability.

Conclusion:

A very slow read about familiar relationships more than anything. Don’t be deceived by the book synopsis because the really “exciting” plotline promised doesn’t happen until the last end of the book. But, if you want a short, clean teen read, you’ll like this one.

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Supernatural, Family, Romance
Recommended for: 14+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person
Similar Reads: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Series Review: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Series: Juliet Immortal
Author: Stacey Jay
# of Books: 2 (Juliet Immortal, Romeo Redeemed)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Supernatural, Shakespeare, Immortals
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I’m a sucker for anything Shakespeare so when I see books that are retellings of Shakespeare or involve his stories in some way, I am so there. So it’s no surprise I would pick this book up as soon as it was released.

I enjoyed Juliet Immortal but not as much as I hoped. It was good and had a cool spin on the whole story but I found the spin was a little confusing at time. I didn’t totally understand the immortal part of the books so I found that a little frustrating. I’m not sure if I just read it too fast causing me to not understand it or if it was the way it was written. Either way, I felt a little in the dark at times. I also didn’t totally love Juliet as a character. She had her moments where I really liked her and then moments where I didn’t. I also found it hard to reconcile the fact that Romeo and Juliet were “enemies” and not love-struck fools.

I actually enjoyed Romeo Redeemed a lot more. Again, it was a cool spin and I found it easier to follow along with it. I also like the message of the story a lot more and the characters. The romance was better in this story I thought which made me like it more.

Conclusion:

An interesting and refreshing spin on the classic tale that Shakespeare and supernatural fans will enjoy.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Synopsis for Juliet Immortal (from Goodreads):
The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn’t take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn’t anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she’s fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she’s forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

“These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.”
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Fresh Fridays: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Cruel Beauty Universe)

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:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge  | Cruel Beauty Universe

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Series 2014, New Must-Watch Author 2014
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Author: Rosamund Hodge
# of Books: 2 (Cruel Beauty, Gilded Ashes, Crimson Bound)
Book Order: Connected (as in same universe)
Complete?: No, Crimson Bound will be published Spring 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Mythology, Romance, Mystery, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I was really excited to read this book and pounced on it when it was available at my library. I’ve really been enjoying these dystopian/post-apocalyptic retellings of fairy tale stories lately and this book was no exception. I actually think that this one is one of my favourites.

This book reminded me a lot of the movie Inception and once you read it and see what is unfolding, you will get why. The blending of mythology, the Beauty and the Beast story as well as dystopian elements was done beautifully. There are a lot of layers to this book and as a reader (and studier of literature) I really appreciated it.

But I know a lot of people won’t like this book for those exact reasons. The writing style really reminded me of Graceling–it’s old fashioned in a way that we don’t particularly see in dystopian Young Adult novels. I also found that Cruel Beauty did remind me of Graceling when looking back at it. I didn’t feel like I was reading a regurgitation of Graceling while reading Cruel Beauty–they are two completely separate books with entirely different premises. But there are definitely similarities between the storylines and I think Nyx (Cruel Beauty) and Katsa (Graceling) have a lot in common. Both are extremely angsty and I think Nyx’s angst might not rub people well. I know I had a hard time with it at first but I didn’t really mind it because I understood why she felt that way–and that becomes more apparent as you read.

My favourite part of this book is the plot. It is a mystery essentially and I liked trying to figure it out as I went. Over time I put the clues together and figured it out, but often I didn’t really see the answer until I read it. Which resulted in me doing a bit of a gasping in surprise and saying “that is so cool” while the puzzle pieces connected mentally!

I was worried that this was going to be a lot like Of Beast and Beauty and while they do share some similarities–these books have two entirely different messages and plots. I think the romance is stronger (or at least to me I understood it better) in Of Beast and Beauty but I really warmed up to Ignifex and Nyx’s story by the end. Definitely readers of one will enjoy the other.

I’m excited to read the next book in the universe and I’m glad that there will be more books set in this universe because it is a truly fascinating world Ms. Hodge has created. I will definitely be checking out more of her books in the future!

UPDATED (June 26/14): Gilded Ashes is the next book in the series but it is a novella and not a full-out novel; which disappointed me at first because I wanted to read the next novel in the series. But this book was the perfect length when all is said and done. It doesn’t have the “mystery” element that Cruel Beauty did but it has a lot of cool supernatural pieces to it and I really enjoyed reading it; a very cool spin on Cinderella. What I like about these books is that the romantic leads aren’t gaga for their significant other right away; that the relationship really builds and develops between them. Overall, a great contribution to the series!

Conclusion:

This book will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea so I highly recommend that if you are interested in reading it, you grab the sample or read the first 70 pages here. If you aren’t drawn in by the mystery and story after the first 20 or so pages, don’t continue. But for those who like reading books that have a challenging mystery and are filled with Greek mythology–grab this NOW!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay; For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (For the Darkness Shows the Stars #1) and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

Synopsis for Cruel Beauty (from Goodreads):
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Series Review: Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Young Adult Series, Sad to See Go Series 2014
Series: Elemental Series
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
# of Books: 5 (Storm, Spark, Spirit, Secret, Sacrifice)

There are novellas: #0.5 Elemental, #1.5 Fearless, #2.5 Breathless

Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I found these series online at my local library and was intrigued enough to pick up the first book. I loved the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender (and Legend of Korra is AMAZING) so I’m always excited to read series that focus on the elements.

This is one of those series were reading the novellas is key to understanding what is going on in the book–but you don’t have to necessarily read them before you read the next full length book. For example, while the very first novella, Elemental (#0.5), does setup the story and provide some background context, but I think I would have gotten more out of it and saved myself from some minor spoilers if I had read it after Storm. Fearless (#1.5) should definitely be read after Storm (#1) BUT I would actually read Breathless (#2.5) after Spirit (#3) (though you can totally read it before, it does take place right after Spark (#2) chronologically time-wise) just because Breathless (#2.5) is part of Nick’s story and his book is Secret (#4).

So in short, my recommended reading order for the series is: Storm, Elemental, Fearless, Spark, Spirit, Breathless, Secret, Sacrifice.

Overall, this series truly rocks my socks! It’s great and so refreshing. Ms Kemmerer is not afraid to go places in her novels. The twist we get in Breathless truly left me gasping for air and what she does in Spirit left me in disbelief. She also tackles every issue from abuse to sexual assault to bullying to first loves to the tough choices in life. For a book that is based on supernatural elements, it is so realistic at times and I think a lot of readers will appreciate that.

The characters are great as well. I love all the Merrick brothers–especially Gabriel and Nick. While I’m not the biggest Hunter fan, he really grew on me in Spirit (#3). All the girl characters have been fantastic as well but I’m glad that the focus is mostly on male characters for once.

So far, Spark (#2) is my favourite book but I’ve enjoyed all of them and I’m expecting my new favourite to be Secret (#4) once I get a chance to read it.

UPDATED (June 19/14): And I was right, Secret has definitely become one of my favourites in the series. It’s hard to say what one was my favourite between Spark and Secret because they deal with completely different things but Secret was fantastic. It was really refreshing to read Secret because I don’t think a lot of books discuss what happens in this one with such grace and realism. Most of the book deals with the personal issues of the characters but we get a great plot spin at the end that has me counting down the days to Sacrifice. This series has definitely become a favourite of mine!

UPDATED (November 10/14): Sacrifice wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. My need to read Michael’s story has grown throughout all the books and novellas so I was really excited to read his story and see what was next for the Merrick brothers after that major cliffhanger in Secret. I thought there would be some more physical action than there was but, I found the plot kept moving at a really good pace that I finished it before I knew it. However, nothing really wowed me like in the previous books. I also wish there was an epilogue–I really felt like so many things about everyone’s personal lives were left unanswered and after growing to love these characters so much, I was really dissapointed in that. But, all in all I like how things wrapped up and I really didn’t know how everything was going to wrap up so bonus points for always keeping me guessing.

Conclusion:

A unique and refreshing read for young adult readers (even for 20-somethings!). Girls AND boys will appreciate this series for its realistic take on high school life while adding elements of the supernatural. One of my favourite young adult series in a long time!

FYI: I tried to hard not to use the word “elements” in this review in case people thought I was trying to be PUNny but it’s so hard to do!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux Series #1)

Synopsis for Storm (from Goodreads):
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . .