Tag «Third Person POV: multiple»

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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

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

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

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

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

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

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

–More Politics–

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

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

–Nina’s Story–

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

–Too Much Fan Service–

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

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

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

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

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Series Review: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Final 4 Blitz: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Girl in the Steel Corset (from Goodreads):
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles
Author: Kady Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)
# of Books: 4 (View Full Reading Order here.)

There are 3 novellas: View Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2011 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first saw the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, in 2011 I was intrigued. By this point, my only exposure to Steampunk had been through the Infernal Devices Trilogy but it was a genre I was eager to explore deeper. So when I saw that The Girl in the Steel Corset was another YA Steampunk novel–I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Steampunk is the unique world the books are set in. I adore the mix of science fiction and history. It’s so much fun to read about! And this series is no different.

The very cool part of this series is the paranormal abilities of its lead characters. They remind me a bit of the X-men where you have this group of ragtime, unique characters who somehow create a family and a support system while kicking serious ass. It’s a blast watching them on their adventures to make London a safer place.

The Plot:

While each book has its own plot and focuses on a particular character or two, there is an overarching plot that links all the books together. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the series because it always feels like it is moving forward.

There’s romance, there’s action and there are many, many plot twists. I just love the unpredictable nature of these novels and they were a joy to read from start to finish…and super addicting!

The Characters:

This cast is awesome! Probably some of my favourite characters ever!

Not only are they all unique when it comes to their abilities but they are also unique in their personalities. It was a blast reading about them and uncovering more about each of them as the series progressed.

Finely is particularly noteworthy. As the series progressed, I worried she would lose herself in the typical female protagonist role when they meet a guy they like, but she never did. She was strong, kick-ass, independent but knew when to work together. Love her and the rest of her friends, particularly the females!

The Romance:

The romances in this series are great additions! While they aren’t a major focus of the plot, they add to it in a fabulous way that makes you want more!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Girl in the Steel Corset 4/5 | The Girl in the Clockwork Collar 4/5 | The Girl with the Iron Touch 4/5 | The Girl with the Wind-up Heart 5/5

overall

Might seem bizarre that a series I essentially gave 4 stars to is one of my favourites but I LOVE this world and I LOVE these characters. I think the only reason I gave these books 4/5 was the fact that they ended! I had to wait a long time for the next installment and I know if I read them in one go, they would all be 5/5!

Read if You Like: steampunk, action, friends who act like family
Avoid if You: dislike steampunk

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Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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 These Violent Delights (from Goodreads):

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

breakdown

Series: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Historical Fiction, Romance, Drama, Action, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: November 2020 – November 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this series for a few reasons: the cover never failed to catch my eye when I was browsing library titles and I love the title. I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything Shakespeare related and I am so there. But when I read that this book would be set in the 1920s in Shanghai–I was completely sold!

The Concept / The World:

I think Romeo and Juliet gets a bad rap when it comes to the general public. Everyone knows about the doomed, naïve lovers and I think they get a lot of flack for that in popular culture. But when you study the play or even see it acted out, it really is a much richer story than people give it credit for. Which makes it the perfect foundation for this particular series and the world it takes place in.

I thought the setting of 1926 Shanghai was so great! You’ve got the gang wars and the lack of our modern conveniences. But more importantly, you have the cultural inspiration of China and what it means to be loyal to your family and country. It just adds another rich layer to this retelling that stays true to the original work but shows how the play could have very easily taken place somewhere other than Italy.

The Plot:

I will admit to being a little disappointed in the first book because it wasn’t what I totally expected. There’s a lot of information to take in from the rival gangs, to the politics of the city to the various characters we meet. And perhaps listening to the audio version wasn’t the best choice because I might have missed some important details and not have noticed. However, I did find it suspenseful with the Science Fiction aspect of the “madness” and overall, it does do a great job of setting up the foundation for the sequel.

The sequel was great! I found it was nonstop in the action and plot twists. I also think the allusions to Romeo and Juliet are a little more obvious; though I like the unique takes we get on those elements. It isn’t a carbon copy of the original text by any means.

The Characters:

Juliette isn’t the naïve girl from the play. Sure, she has her weaknesses, but she can hold her own in a fight if she needed to with her cunning wit and her fighting skills. I enjoyed watching her character overcoming obstacles and growing from the past.

Roma is a little more of an enigma but again, another strong character who had some great growth.

I really enjoyed the side characters we met as well. I had a hard time in the first book keeping everyone straight but everyone was well developed.

The Romance:

I felt like the passionate romance was missing a bit in the first book. Perhaps that’s because Juliette and Roma spend more time apart then together. Other than the passing mentions of their previous love affair, I wasn’t entirely sold that their connection was this amazing thing that would have them contemplating betraying their families.

Things definitely improved in the final book though in that respect and I was very happy to see how it comes together there.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audio production. While I think it might have stopped me from fully grasping what was happening all the time, it is well done. My only complaint is that when the narrator does Roma’s voice, the pitch can be super hard to hear so I found I was constantly adjusting the volume as I listened.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

These Violent Delights 3/5 | Our Violent Ends 4/5

overall

Overall, an original take on the classic Romeo and Juliet trope that will keep readers on their toes with its blending of Science Fiction and Historical Fiction.

Read if You Like: Romeo and Juliet retellings, forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike Shakespeare retellings

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Fresh Fridays: Realm Breaker (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

Fresh Fridays: Realm Breaker (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

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:

Realm Breaker Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Realm Breaker (from Goodreads):

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

breakdown

Series: Realm Breaker
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVED The Red Queen when I read it…and was completely disappointed in its sequel. I couldn’t finish it for the life of me. I might try it as an audiobook sometime in the near future though.

I wanted to go into this series with some optimism. I did like The Red Queen after all and the politics of the world. This world sounded super cool (pirates, assassins, immortals) and it had multiple POVs which I love so I was excited when my hold came in for the audiobook.

What I Liked:

–Lack of Romance–

This is a double-edged sword for me because I LOVE a good romance in my books. I will be the first to say that often times it can distract from the plot but sometimes I need that in a book to keep me interested (which you will see is the case here).

However, I can appreciate that there really isn’t any romance at all in the book. There are definitely sparks and some inklings that maybe in future books love will be in the air. So a possible slow burn keeps things going a bit.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of Romance–

As I said above, I can appreciate that it didn’t distract from the plot but the fact of the matter is: I needed something to distract me from the plot!

–Long Prologue–

I struggled to get through the prologue. Like, at one point I went, “it’s still going?” I should have taken that as a sign to stop reading but I wanted to give this book a fair shot because I really wanted to enjoy this book.

I think the prologue really helps explain how Spindles work and how the world operates a little more. And because I zoned out during the prologue, I spent the rest of the book a little lost in what was actually happening.

–Bland Characters–

Normally I love multiple POV books because I can usually find a character or two whose plotlines I enjoy and that motivates me to keep going. Here, I thought everyone was as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall. Even our villain was lackluster to me. They just seemed like every other character from every other high fantasy novel I’ve read. Perhaps it was due to the fact the chapters are excessively long so you get tired of the monotony of the person after a while.

My Audiobook Experience:

Perhaps I should have read an actual text copy so I could flip back to refresh the world-building when needed. But I usually have great success with fantasy books as audio series. The production itself is fine though there is only one narrator. (Which works for a third person POV title but it does add to the monotony).

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t even remember how this ends and I just finished it the other day. That’s how not into it I was. I don’t have any expectations really because I won’t be continuing.

My Rating: 2/5

Realm Breaker 2/5 | Blade Breaker TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This was just a miss for me. With its promising elements I ended up feeling disconnected and disinterested in this new series and I won’t be continuing on.

Read if You Like: slower stories, fantasy, dislike long & wordy books
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Series Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Smoke Thieves (from Goodreads):

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict. End is cliffhanger.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

breakdown

Series: The Smoke Thieves
Author: Sally Green
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2018 – August 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (#1); Hardcover (#2-#3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobooks at my library, I stumbled upon The Smoke Thieves and loved the cover immediately. Once I read the synopsis, I knew I had to give this book a shot. I love fantasy novels with multiple POVs and even more so when they are in audiobook format so I put myself on the holds list.

I’ve never read a book by Sally Green. I had heard good things about the Half Bad Trilogy and only took it off my TBR because I never got around to it. So I was excited to finally read something by her.

The Concept / The World:

The best way to describe this world is a toned down version of Game of Thrones: involving a less families, a lot less sex, more teenagers and the underbelly of smoke-trading (which is like a drug). But the intricacies of the politics and the struggle for power really reminded me of GOT.

I liked that the smoke was what gave people power and not other elements like innate magic. It made for an interesting spin on the fantasy novels I usually read.

The world itself is easy to follow and if you pick up the paper or ebook copies of the book, there is a glossary of people at the end to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

In The Smoke Thieves (#1), I liked that you really didn’t know how everything was all connected until the very end. And then once you see the bigger picture, it makes the next two books flow at a great pace. I never really knew how things were going to go and I liked that it kept me on my toes.

I do have mixed feelings about how one plot aspect was wrapped up at the end. It just felt like a cop-out of sorts or perhaps I am simply missing the bigger picture. Regardless, it didn’t overshadow too much of the journey it took to get there.

The Characters:

I think part of the reason I didn’t rate this series higher is that I don’t really *love* any of the characters. I like all of them enough that I don’t dread anyone’s POV chapters when they come along. But there really wasn’t anyone whose chapters I was dying to read.

I don’t love Catherine but I do enjoy her character development; Ambrose I could take or leave; Edyon and March I like the most; and Tash is intriguing but I often forget about her. However, overall, I can appreciate the development of all the characters.

The Romance:

The romance isn’t a huge focus here though it does serve as an important aspect in a few characters’ stories.

My Audiobook Experience (The Smoke Thieves #1):

I really wanted to keep reading this series as audiobook versions because each character had a different narrator and I love audiobooks with a full cast. But my library only had the first book in that form so I read the hardcovers of the last two books so I could finish the series before I forgot all the plot points.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Smoke Thieves 3.5/5 | The Demon World 3.5/5 | The Burning Kingdom 3/5

overall

While I wouldn’t list this as my favourite YA fantasy series, I definitely think it is worth a read for fans of the genre.

Read if You Like: YA fantasy, politics, less romance
Avoid if You: want less character-focused stories, dislike multiple POV

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Fresh Fridays: House of Dragons (Royal Houses #1) by K A Linde

Fresh Fridays: House of Dragons (Royal Houses #1) by K A Linde

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:

Royal Houses Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for House of Dragons (from Goodreads):

Ten years ago, half-Fae, half human Kerrigan Argon was discreetly dropped off onto the steps of Draco Mountain with nothing but a note. Her life changes completely as she’s swept into the care of the House of Dragons—an elite training program for gifted Fae.

On the year of her seventeenth name day, each student will be chosen by one of the twelve tribes of Alandria to enter society.

Everyone is chosen, except Kerrigan.

So, she strikes a bargain with the Dragon Society: convince a tribe to select her or give up her birthright forever.

With the unlikeliest of allies—Fordham Ollivier, the cursed Fae prince, who escaped his dark throne—she has to chart her own destiny to reshape the world.

breakdown

Series: Royal Houses

I think it is set in the same universe as the Ascension Series

Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, House of Shadows, is to be released October 2021
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Dragons, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

K A Linde has published a number of books in the last few years and I mostly read her contemporary romances. But I really liked her Blood Type Series which was a New Adult Paranormal series with vampires, so I was curious to see what she would do with a YA series about dragons.

What I Liked:

–Intriguing World–

I was really captivated by the world this story takes place in. I found the hierarchy of society to be very interesting and complex. The idea of a boarding school that trains people to fight so that they can be recruited by elite families is something you don’t often read about. There’s a lot of potential for political intrigue and deceptions as people grapple for power and control.

I’m also a sucker for Fae stories so the blending of dragons and fae together was a fun take.

–Lots of Players but Easy to Follow–

I love stories with multiple characters so having the large cast here was great for me. It just adds layers to the story and keeps the plot moving. Because when Kerrigan’s plot line ran a little dry, I found some of the side stories kept me pushing forward.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Plot Twists Were Underwhelming–

I sometimes felt like the big reveals just didn’t have the impact that they should. It wasn’t that this story was overly predictable or anything. I guess it was just that the reveals when they happened just didn’t have enough shock to make me go WOW. More like, “oh, yeah, makes sense”. Which is a shame because K A Linde has really thrown me for a loop with some of the twists in the other series I’ve read by her in the past.

–Kerrigan is ‘Meh’–

If you think Kerrigan is going to be a jaded, special snowflake of a heroine, you would be correct. She never wowed me and I found her to be a little boring with her “whoa is me” attitude. I get it, she’s an angsty 17 year old teenage with a complicated past but I didn’t bond with her as much as I would have liked. I like badass heroines and she has her moments but I didn’t become an instant fan. I’m optimistic that as this series progresses, so will her character.

My Audiobook Experience:

I get a little worried when there are multiple characters to follow when I pick up an audiobook because I have a terrible memory and it is so easy to get lost. But this book was really easy to keep up with! It had a very good flow to it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really intrigued by this world and that’s what I am looking forward to exploring more in the next book.

My Rating: 3/5

House of Dragons 3/5 | House of Shadows TBP

overall

First books in fantasy series have a lot of responsibility to lay down the foundation for the future and I think this one succeeded in doing that. There’s a lot of potential here to bring things to the next level and knowing how K A Linde does that in her contemporary series, I think she can do that here as well.

Read if You Like: YA fantasy, world-building, magic
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike YA fantasy

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Series Review: The Keeper’s Chronicles by Becky Wallace

Series Review: The Keeper’s Chronicles by Becky Wallace

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Storyspinner (from Goodreads):

Drama and danger abound in this “intricately woven” (Shannon Messenger, author of the Sky Fall series) fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: The Storyspinner; The Keepers’ Chronicles
Author: Becky Wallace
# of Books: 2 (Full Series Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (#1); Scribd–eBook (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When The Storyspinner first came out, it seemed to be everywhere. It was gracing lists and seemed to be a staple review post around the blogosphere. I love a good fantasy novel; especially one where the lead heroine is strong in perhaps unconventional ways and there are political maneuvers abound. So I had some high expectations for this.

The Concept / The World:

Like its title suggests, this story weaves together many character stories into one. I loved the multiple POV because it kept the story moving when the plot is somewhat dry. But it also provides a full-circle view of the world and drives the world building.

It might have been me and my somewhat of a rush to finish this book before I had to return it, but I wasn’t totally clear on the roles of Keepers. I’m going with “it’s a me thing”. I often struggle with magic premises…despite the fact that I adore fantasy.

The Plot:

In the grand scheme, I felt like not much happens in the first book. It felt like there was a larger focus on character development or maybe it just felt that way because we got multiple POV. I did enjoy the mystery of who is after Johanna–it wasn’t predictable–even if most other things about Johanna are.

The sequel follows much of the same flow but perhaps at a little faster pace because everything has been building up to this. I read the books too far apart to appreciate the finer details but it was easy to get back into the swing of things.

The Characters:

As I often am, I was drawn to the side characters. I like Jo enough and I liked her drive and intelligence. But I found the paths the other characters went down to be more intriguing. I was surprised by some of the evolving and harder paths the characters follow. It allowed for some great growth throughout the series.

The Romance:

I wasn’t totally sold on Johanna’s romance. I think in the sequel it improves but I was often drawn to the side characters’ relationships. But if you love romance in your novels, no doubt something will appease you here.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Storyspinner 3.5/5 | The Skylighter 3/5

overall

Perfect for fans of fantasy who prefer more character driven stories with a dash of romance!

Read if You Like: fantasy, not overly complicated plots
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV

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Series Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

Series Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

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 Contagion (from Goodreads):

It got in us

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

breakdown

Series: Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
# of Books: 2  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: July 2018 – July 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I kinda stumbled upon this series by accident. I was browsing audiobooks at my library and noticed the author’s name so I decided to see if it was something I’d be into. I really enjoyed Vengeance Road by Bowman and I knew she could create a great world. I’ve been searching for that great SciFi thriller ever since I read Across the Universe and this one seemed like it had the potential to be that.

The Concept / The World:

There’s just something so suspenseful about an isolated space colony with an unknown enemy lurking in the shadows. I found that despite the slower plot, the setting really kept me interested in what was happening because I was invested in solving the mystery.

The scientist in me loved the science of this novel and how it contributed to the story. Sometimes I find the Science Fiction stories I read crossover into the fantasy elements but this one kept it pretty real and was pretty accurate with its scientific terms/explanations.

The Plot:

This story took a while to get its plot to take off. I think part of the problem is that I was a little overwhelmed with all the characters we are introduced to (more on that below). But the combination of the setting and the mystery kept me reading.

The mystery was good though I thought it was pretty basic. Nothing overly shocking or ground-breaking in either novels. I had a pretty good idea of what was happening for the most part fairly early on but I appreciated the science behind it all.

The Characters:

I’m someone who LOVES multiple POVs in a novel but even I was overwhelmed by the number of characters we are introduced to. I had a really hard time distinguishing all the characters from each other so it kept them at a bit of a distance throughout the first novel. I just never connected with any of them or their stories.

The Romance:

I love a little romance in a novel and though there was an inkling early on in Book #1 that was interesting, it fizzled out pretty quickly and nothing else ever sparked. It gets a little more of a focus in Immunity (#2) which was a refreshing element to the story.

My Audiobook Experience:

In hindsight, the audiobook might have been a not-so-great choice for me. Part of the reason I had such a hard time separating the characters from each other was that I didn’t always notice when we switched POVs. I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X the speed (and usually when I’m doing something else) so the page breaks aren’t always noticeable to me. And instead of having each chapter as a different character POV, we got multiple character POVs within the same chapter. So everything just blends together here and it made it hard to follow as a reader.

Series Rating: 3/5

Contagion 3/5 | Immunity 3/5

overall

If you want a science fiction novel that grounds itself more in the practical than the fantastical, this might be a great duet for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: science fiction, little romance
Avoid if You: want lots of action and drama

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Series Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Series Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

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 Spindle Fire (from Goodreads):

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

breakdown

Series: Spindle Fire
Author: Lexa Hillyer
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: April 2017 – April 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (#1), eBook (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I looked past Spindle Fire quite a few times at my library before I finally read the synopsis. Sleeping Beauty is a personal favourite of mine; especially when it comes to retellings. I don’t really know why. I mean the whole damsel in literally distress isn’t my cup of tea but, usually, the retellings don’t have that. And there are so many other elements to the story (magic, faeries, curses, etc) that you can spin (pun on a spindle, perhaps) into an intriguing retelling. So when I read the synopsis, I decided to give this a chance.

The Concept / The World:

This is a very loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It really only has the bare bones of the classic fairy tale (curses, sleeping heroine) so that made it refreshing and unique to read. And if you look hard enough, I think you will see some other pieces of other classic tales as well.

And I really liked how we follow the two sisters as they try to save themselves and their kingdom. As I said above, one of my biggest peeves with Sleeping Beauty is the perception of a damsel in distress who can’t save herself. So watching these two girls fight to save each other and their world had me screaming “YOU GO GIRLS!”

The Plot:

In theory, I loved all the pieces that made up this story. But I really struggled with following what was happening, particularly in Spindle Fire (see my comment about listening to the audiobook below), and putting all the elements together. Truthfully, I didn’t even realize Aurora had activated the curse for a few chapters after it happened until I reread the synopsis again and realized that she had been transported to another world. And Isabelle’s story for a little while just seemed to go off on a tangent that I really didn’t understand. Just seemed like filler to me and perhaps redundant?

Which brings me to my reaction at the end of Winter Glass. For the most part, I was enjoying Winter Glass a lot more than Spindle Fire at the start. The pacing was much better and I seemed to be following what was happening more. Until the last 10 Chapters (the last third) of the novel. That’s when things went off the rails for me.

Have you ever read a book and went what was the point of all those chapters? That’s what happened to me here. Basically, everything Isabelle had done was pointless. Literally pointless. Why? The information she gathered on her unnecessary travels had already been discovered by other characters. Sure, she found out one piece of information about the purpose of the slipper but even then I don’t feel the information was relevant to the story.

>> Read my Spoiler Discussion on the Series here!

The Characters:

Aurora I wasn’t a fan of. She was as exciting as wet paper to me. I truly felt like these books were about Isabelle.

Which is why I was so upset by the decisions that she made at the end of the series. The idea that she hadn’t completed her “own story” to me was ludicrous. What did I spent the better part reading if not the various travelling and obstacles you went through in order to save your sister and the kingdom. You are telling me you didn’t learn anything about yourself during all of that?

The Romance:

Aurora’s romance felt forced. Perhaps I missed something in my listening to the first book but I didn’t see that connection at all. It almost felt like a ploy to get bonus points with readers but maybe that was just my perception since it felt so out of left field for me.

Isabelle had the more interesting romantic life in my opinion. Which is why I was so upset at the vague epilogue that tried to wrap it up with flowery words that only left me going …. what?

My Audiobook Experience:

I only read the first book as audiobook since that was all my library had. But after I finished it, I probably still would have chosen the eBook for the sequel. It’s nothing against the audio production itself (it was a great listen), but rather the way this story is told. We get a lot of POVs in this story and the faeries have names that sound so alike that I was having a hard time distinguishing everyone and their attributes. For the first few chapters, I had to continually go back to the synopsis to figure out which sister was blind and who couldn’t speak. The inability to go back and reread is something I struggle with when I listen to audiobooks and my experience here just emphasized that for me.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

Spindle Fire 3/5 | Winter Glass  2/5

overall

This series reminded me (fittingly enough as I had just passed 7 years of blogging the day I finished the book) why I started writing book series reviews in the first place: to save people the grief of being uber disappointed.

Read if You Like: retellings, complex worlds, sisters
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV

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Series Review: Blood of Ra by M Sasinowski

Series Review: Blood of Ra by M Sasinowski

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 Heir of Ra (from Goodreads):

TEN THOUSAND YEARS BENEATH THE SAND. TWO MYTHS ON A COLLISION COURSE.

An excavation of the fabled Hall of Records beneath the Sphinx unleashes an ancient disease that leaves Alyssa’s father fighting for his life.

As Alyssa races to find a cure, she stumbles upon a haunting artifact–and trespasses into the mind of an Egyptian god.

ANCIENT HISTORY AND PRESENT TIME INTERTWINE.

A global epidemic looms. Alyssa relives memories of an advanced race and unravels clues hidden within the relic, as she evades ruthless adversaries set on exploiting the power of the ancient genes. Then she makes a staggering discovery…

The world is not quite what it seems.

WILL YOU QUESTION YOUR ORIGIN?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Best Series Reads of 2020
Series: Blood of Ra
Author: M Sasinowski
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: August 2018 – December 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you M Sasinowski!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a kid I loved learning about the Ancient Egyptian world. From the curses to the culture, it’s a fascinating history to explore. I also adored the movie The Mummy. It just had a great blend of action, comedy and history that captivated you as you watched.

The Mummy Run GIF by PeacockTV

So when M Sasinowski asked me to read his debut novel, Heir of Ra, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I don’t get to read a lot of fantasy adventures laced with the curses of Ancient Egypt so it seemed like a no brainer.

The Concept / The World:

I love Egyptian history: the idea of curses, rituals and royalty makes a lush backdrop for a novel. Which is why I find it odd that we don’t often get to explore this world in fiction. The blend of science and mythology is great. You’ve got all the classic elements of Ancient Egypt mixed with advanced (yet easy to follow) modern day science and it’s simply great.

The best way to describe this series’s feel overall is if you mixed “The Mummy” with “National Treasure” together. Everything just continuously builds as you uncover the next plot point.

The Plot:

Each book literally hits the ground running and the plot keeps moving at a great pace. Honestly, there isn’t a dull moment here thanks to the multiple POVs you get; helping to build a 360-degree view of everything that is happening plotwise. Yet I was never overwhelmed by following multiple characters. It just helped built up the tension and suspense of what will happen when everything inevitably crashes together.

The Characters:

I liked Alyssa as our lead a lot. She reminds me a little of Indiana Jones and how she doesn’t let anything stop her when it comes to obstacles and getting what she wants. She’s this great blend of thoughtfulness yet reckless all at the same time. She’s what you want in a strong female lead.

The rest of the cast is just as solid. I found even as Alyssa’s story becomes the focus as the series moves forward, the supporting cast evolves just as much. Getting those extra POV along the way, in addition to Alyssa’s, helps to shape the story.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge focus of the series but there are little dashes along the way.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Heir of Ra 5/5 | Daughter of Ra 4.5/5 | Legacy of Ra 4/5

overall

If you want a series you can sink your teeth into and binge read (honestly, I could read all of these books in one sitting, they were hard to put down!), this is it. A great blend of fantasy, science and myth unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time.

Read if You Like: Egyptian mythology, adventure
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike multiple POVs

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