Tag «trilogy»

Series Review: The Storymakers by Betsy Schow

Series Review: The Storymakers by Betsy Schow

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 Spelled (from Goodreads):

Somewhere over the rainbow, all spell is about to break loose…

Fairy Tale Survival Rule No. 32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the charming brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

breakdown

Series: The Storymakers
Author: Betsy Schow
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2015 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually think I first saw Spelled on Netgalley but even if I didn’t, it was those shoes on the cover that called to me. I have an obsession with shoes–it’s probably unhealthy. But besides that: I really enjoy fairy tale based stories and this own sounded like a lot of fun.

Of course, it sat on my library Wishlist for a long time, but when I saw that my library had all the audiobooks available, I decided it was time to give this series a shot!

The Concept / The World:

I’ve read a few retellings of the Wizard of Oz over the years as well as the classic Fairy Tales and Classic Myths, but it was cool to have everything weaved together into one story and world.

I loved all the little details Betsy Schow threw in along the way. The chapters all have a fun take on classic fairy tale elements and stories. Like quotes from fake autobiographies on classic fairy tale characters. Even the curse words were puns on fairy tales! I just had a blast getting to know this world and how everything fits together.

The Plot:

One thing I loved about the plots of the respective books is that they were always moving. There’s a lot of action in these books and I liked that. Things were always evolving and twisting as you progressed through all the obstacles. It made things less predictable as well which is always a treat.

I will admit though that I did get a little lost in what was happening from Book #2 Wanted onwards. There’s a lot of jumping around and that impacted the flow of the story for me. I really struggled to keep everything straight and my interest started to wane at times.

The Characters:

I would say that this story is more for the younger YA fans. Some of the dilemmas the characters face seem juvenile compared to some of the other YA characters out there. Though I’m not sure if they would be able to follow the way the plot jumps around…

But what I will say is this: although the leads we meet might not be the most likeable characters at the start of their stories, they are redeemable. It was great to see them grow a bit as they conquered the various obstacles and saw more of the world than just their own individual story.

The Romance:

It’s easy for fairy tale retellings to get caught up in the romance but that’s not the case here. It plays an important role for sure but it isn’t the main focus which is refreshing.

My Audiobook Experience:

All the books were great audio productions. No complaints here!

Series Rating: 3/5

Spelled 4/5 | Wanted 3/5 | Banished 3/5

overall

This is a super creative world and I loved the weaving of stories…even if I did get a lost sometimes. But out of the many fairy tale retellings I’ve read, this is one stands out as being super unique!

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, Shrek, Ella Enchanted
Avoid if You: want a darker read

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DNF Series Review: Briarwood Academy by Ilsa Madden-Mills

DNF Series Review: Briarwood Academy by Ilsa Madden-Mills

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 2: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Very Bad Things (from Goodreads):

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about… until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy… where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.

breakdown

Series: Briarwood Academy
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – July 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Very Bad things at 18% (start of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ilsa Madden-Mills is one of my must read authors and this series had been on my radar for a very long time. Because I was looking for audiobooks to listen too, I opted to listen to this series even though I have a few of the books for my Kindle. I was looking forward to the angsty romance so I was very excited to read this.

What I Liked:

–Umm…–

I really struggled to get into this book and there wasn’t much I enjoyed…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Age Gap–

While the rest of the novel falls into some pretty predictable stereotypes (I think you read the synopsis and you already know where this book is going to go), it was the age gap between the two leads that just creeped me right out.
I think if Nora was a little older (like her first year in university) it would have made things less icky. Her need to rebel just made her “connection” to Leo something more devious than it was. Now, normally I’d be on board for this exploration of this somewhat twisted relationship dynamic. But I felt like Nora was trying to hard to be something she wasn’t as she rebelled and she seemed so fragile that it felt like Leo was manipulating her situation and I didn’t like that imbalance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m not sure if reading the book would have been better than listening to it.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While some of the other characters seemed interesting (and they became the leads in the next books), I just didn’t like the direction this series was going in.

My Rating: DNF

Very Bad Things DNF | Very Wicked Things N/A | Very Twisted Things N/A

overall

If you love angsty reads or books that straddle the YA/NA line, you’ll enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: angsty leads, tragic pasts, high school bully
Avoid if You: dislike angst; don’t like age gap romances

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DNF Series Review: The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff

DNF Series Review: The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nevernight (from Goodreads):

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

breakdown

Series: Nevernight Chronicles
Author: Jay Kristoff
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2016 – September 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Nevernight at 44% (middle of Chapter 16). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read Jay Kristoff’s Immuniae Series and I follow him on twitter so I like his sense of humour. But I was curious to see what type of novels he writes on his own and this one seems to be a very popular choice amongst my Goodreads friends. My library only had the audiobooks and I needed a new audio series so I put myself on the holds list and waited for my turn.

What I Liked:

–The Narration Style–

I enjoyed the delivery of the narration. The style of narration is something I might not have fully appreciated if I didn’t listen to the audiobook. The sarcasm and dry, witty lines are great when heard audibly because that tone is easily conveyed.

I could see how that wouldn’t be for everyone though as it is a rather dark approach…but you are reading about a school of assassin teens so I think it comes with the territory.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

The pacing here just didn’t work for me. I definitely forgot about the murder mystery part because there were so many other tangents happening. I just found myself getting bored and so my mind would wander away.

And the flipping between Mia’s past and present was just too hard to keep track of with the audio version.

My Audiobook Experience:

Perhaps the audiobook was a mistake. The shear length of it was daunting for me (books over 15 hours never work out for me) but I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X the speed so it wouldn’t take me the full amount of time.

However: I’m a very visual person so trying to remember people’s names in an audiobook can be a challenge. Once we finally got to the academy, I struggled to keep all the characters straight. I also couldn’t keep the timelines straight. The constant shuffle from the past to present had me missing things and I didn’t always catch the shifts.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I couldn’t really bring myself to care about Mia (I think it is a casualty of the third person narration because she is talked about and not the one directly talking to the reader). And the shear length has turned me off. However, if this was a TV series I’d totally invest my time in watching it.

My Rating: DNF

Nevernight DNF | Godsgrave N/A | Darkdawn N/A

overall

I think if you are a reader who has the patience for longer novels, this is a great choice. It’s a cool concept but I don’t think its execution will work for everyone.

Read if You Like: dark YA, assassins, witty narration
Avoid if You: dislike super long books

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Series Review: The Legal Briefs by Emma Chase

Series Review: The Legal Briefs by Emma Chase

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 Overruled (from Goodreads):

As a DC defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don’t call him the Jury Charmer for nothing – with his southern drawl, disarming smile and captivating green eyes – he’s a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him and women want to be thoroughly cross examined by him.

Stanton’s a man with a plan. And for a while, life was going according to that plan.

Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart and mother of his beloved ten-year old daughter. Jenny is getting married — to someone who isn’t him.

That’s definitely not part of the plan.
***

Sofia Santos is a city raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.

But when Stanton, her “friend with mind-blowing benefits” begs for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him – to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Mississippi – to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves.

Her head tells her she’s crazy…and her heart says something else entirely.
***

What happens when you mix a one stop-light town, two professional arguers, a homecoming queen, four big brothers, some Jimmy Dean sausage and a gun-toting Nana?

The Bourbon flows, passions rise and even the best laid plans get overruled by the desires of the heart.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Authors
Series: The Legal Briefs
Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #3.5 Sidebarred

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1); Single (#2-#3.5)
Publication Dates: April 2015 – January 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read and loved Tangled by Emma, I wanted to read her next series. But when I read the synopsis for Overruled, I wasn’t interested in reading it at all. The allusions to the love triangle just turned me off and so I marked it as a pass. Fast forward a few years later and the book hangover that was the Royally Series and I needed more Emma Chase in my life so I decided to give this series a chance.

The Plot:

These books were surprisingly heavy albeit light. It’s really hard to describe. I’ve never really read a series that had a tone like this one did. Maybe I just needed to manage my expectations?

I finished Overruled (#1) with a lot of mixed emotions. The premise is a hard one to get behind in some ways because it just seems to have this gravity to it. I thought the true romance failed to shine through and that was a disappointment because I really loved our heroine.

The rest of the series didn’t seem to have the same heaviness to it though they stories were complex and had some serious consequences. There is a dash of humour and sexy times that keeps things lighter when needed.

The Characters:

I think it shows Emma Chase’s talent that she can write such real characters that can pull on your heartstrings and feel every range of emotions. With all our males leads, they were likeable albeit frustrating at the same time.

It was interesting to only get the Male hero’s POV in these books. All the guys are assholes to some degree so it was nice to get them put into place. I prefer alternating POVs in my romances but it worked here to only have the one POV because these stories just felt like the boys’ and they had a lot of growing to do.

The Romance:

I thought all the couples had great chemistry but in some ways I was disappointed with them. I just thought some of the stories struggled to highlight the interactions between the couples (especially in Overruled). But I understood the connections and draws.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audiobooks! They were such an easy listen. Honestly, I probably would have DNF’d Overruled if I was reading the book instead of listening to it because the emotions helped me to understand the dilemma Stanton was in.

When to Read the Novella #3.5 Sidebarred:

While the novella follows the lead from Book #2 Sustained, you really should read it after you finish Appealed (#3) because it helps you link the extended epilogue of that book together. And that way you don’t spoil the ending of Appealed either.

Series Rating: 4/5

Overruled 3/5 | Sustained 4/5 | Appealed 4/5 | [Sidebarred 5/5]

overall

If you want a different type of contemporary romance series (one that isn’t so light but isn’t that dark either), this is a great one for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, lawyers
Avoid if You: want light and fluffy romance

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Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

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 Game for Marriage (from Goodreads):

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Game for It
Author: Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I found out about this series after I finished Erickson’s Worth It Series but I’m not sure. All I know is that in the time since I picked up Game for Marriage as a freebie, I’ve read many of Erickson’s works as Monica Murphy so I was excited to dive back into her world of adult romance.

The Plot:

If you love the fake relationship trope, this is the series for you! Honestly, all three of these books focus on some form of a “arranged relationship” so I really liked that.

But these books just skim the surface of everything. They focus on the sexy times and don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts anymore than they need to. And you’ve got your classic little white lies that blow up into something huge simply for the sake of drama. All of that just left me feeling like I was missing that little je-ne-sais-quoi to take these books to that next level.

The Characters:

They’re all likeable albeit somewhat bland. Again, it comes back to not really developing them all that much for the sake of sex scenes. They do their job at delivering the story.

The Romance:

While I love sexy times as much as the next reader, I also like conversations between my romantic leads. So while they had tangible sexual chemistry, that deeper connection was missing for me a little–especially when everything plotwise seems to happen within a month or less.

Series Rating: 3/5

Game for Marriage 3.5/5 | Game for Trouble 3/5 | Game for Tonight 3/5

overall

If you want quick, flirty romance reads this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: quick romance reads
Avoid if You: want deeper plots and characters

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Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Series Review: Tempest by Julie 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 Tempest (from Goodreads):

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies — nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors — it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

breakdown

Series: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3  (Full Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Tomorrow is Today

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2012 – January 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series seemed to be everywhere when it first came out and I quickly marked it for my TBR; even picked it up when it was on sale at Kobo one day. But like many books on my TBR, it went unnoticed for years. In that time though, I’ve I read many other books by Julie Cross–quickly becoming a fan of her work–as well as some other time travel novels. So I was looking forward to reading this when I saw that the audio version was available at my library.

The Concept / The World:

I thought the time travelling elements were easy to understand. Jackson is learning them as you do so everything is explained nicely.

Where it did get confusing is with all his jumping around. And later on, it there are a lot more characters in the mix. Even though the dates and times are stated at the start of the chapter, there are a lot of parallel storylines happening and minor changes that can make it hard to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

I felt like things took a long time to get going in Tempest (#1) but I kinda knew that would happen with my previous Julie Cross experiences. She takes time to establish characters and plot to provide a richer read, but it just made this book seem a little underwhelming despite the time travelling aspect.

And I found it was like that in all the books. There is almost too much focus on the character development and not enough on the drama. Those moments of dramatic tension are often lost in the many character dialogue scenes. It just stopped the momentum at times and I found as the series progressed, I was getting lost in what was truly happening.

The Characters:

I’ll be straight: I wasn’t a huge fan of Jackson. He’s a bit of a self-centred guy who seems to be singularly focused on his relationship with Holly. And you’d think the romantic in me would find that devotion charming—only I didn’t. More about that below. But he just never seemed to win my seal of approval even as the series wrapped up.

There are a lot of characters and there were quite a few side characters I was particularly drawn to. But it’s interesting to see how all their stories weave together as the series progresses.

The Romance:

I really struggled with this because I wanted a fast paced time travel novel but at times, it felt like a romance novel with time travel elements. I think it’s because we were thrown into an already established romance; and one that our hero is willing to do anything for. But I just didn’t see it. Perhaps reading the novella first would have helped me bond with Holly and Jackson as a couple and root for him more to save her. (It didn’t, but I’ll explain more below).

But there is a line that one character saves to Jackson about how he doesn’t like Holly and Jackson to be a couple I definitely agreed with him. In fact, I actually shipped them both with other people. I thought those relationships were stronger. Timestorm (#3) does see their relationship (as well as Holly as a character) get a little more fleshed out but by then I was over their romance.

When to Read the Novella #0.5 Today is Tomorrow?

I read it after I read Tempest (#1) but you could read it before or anytime in the series. I didn’t get much out of it and it didn’t help me become a fan of their romance but it’s always nice to get bonus scenes.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio production is great. It’s easy to listen to.

However, I do think I would have enjoyed this series more if I had read it as a physical book. I think I would have been able to follow the timelines better and not have struggled so much remembering characters. It’s hard with audiobooks to pickup sometimes where you left off because you can’t flip back to read the subheading of the chapter, etc.

Series Rating: 3/5

Tempest 3/5 | Vortex 3/5 | Timestorm 3/5

overall

I think I’m in the minority for this one. If you enjoy more character driven non-contemporary stories this is a great read. Though I recommend not reading the audiobook if you struggle to remember things in novels.

Read if You Like: time travel, non-contemporary New Adult
Avoid if You: want a faster paced novel; action

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Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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 The Belles (from Goodreads):

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control beauty, and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite-the Belle chosen by the queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie-that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

breakdown

Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’ t think you could really escape The Belles when it first came out. It seemed to be everywhere in the blogosphere and I could understand why. The concept was really neat and the cover is gorgeous.

My library had the audiobook version and so I marked it on my “wishlist” but it wasn’t until I read Clayton’s other cowritten novel, Tiny Pretty Things (and absolutely LOVED it!) that my interest in picking up this series spiked.

The Concept / The World:

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the people living in The Capitol of The Hunger Games? I feel like this book attempts to answer that question by highlighting the vanity of humanity and what we would do if we could alter our appearance with a single touch. The concept is fascinating and, like you often do in dystopian novels, taken to an extreme to highlight the flaws within.

There was a lot to like about the world itself. I like how layered the Belle system is. From the history of their role to how they are trained, you know that some serious thought was put into the process. The world has a cool modern vibe (like paparazzi, etc) but felt old at the same time with the way the kingdom is set up.

The Plot:

When I was reading The Belles, I felt like much didn’t happen in the first half. It was a lot of setting up for the future and going through the motions. We do get little clues here and there but nothing overly exciting happens. The latter half, when everything falls into place is much stronger and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

The Everlasting Rose builds on that momentum though and introduces a few more twists. However, I thought the ways things came together in the end was a little messy and rushed. The ending seemed a little lacklustre to me.

The Characters:

Honestly, I could take or leave Camellia as a lead. She doesn’t really standout to me as a lead and I thought she made some terrible decisions. To give her some credit, she does evolve in The Everlasting Rose somewhat. It was nice to see her assert some independence.

The other belles are very hard to read. Perhaps that is the by-product of them being raised to act and do certain things in society. Amber is a good example of that where she can’t seem to rebel against the ideals instilled within her from birth—and I totally get why that would be the case. But it also makes her seem sporadic in her actions and in turn, you can’t get a good read on her as a character.

But I liked how the villain was a true villain.

The Romance:

The romance in the first book gave me some unease right from the start so I was immediately thrown off. As things progress in the series, I think the reasons why become clear and the romance itself evolves for the better (and I really hope it stays that way but I doubt it).

My Audiobook Experience:

So for a story that takes place in “Orleans” I just assumed everything would be french-influenced, including the narration. It was a slightly off-putting to have a British accent for the narrator for Camellia. Otherwise, the narration was really well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect for the third book. I have ideas of what I want it to be given the way things wrap up at the end of Book #2 but I’m not sure.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Belles 3/5 | Everlasting Rose 3.5/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

Great for fans of the classic YA dystopian novels though it does leave a little to be desired at times.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, unique concepts
Avoid if You: dislike dystopian fiction

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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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Series Review: Boys of Oak Park Prep by Callie Rose

Series Review: Boys of Oak Park Prep by Callie Rose

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 Savage Royals (from Goodreads):

A long time ago, I was one of them. Now I’m back, and they hate me for it.

Plucked out of the harsh life I was living and thrust into a world of unimaginable wealth, power, and privilege, all I want to do is keep my head down and survive until graduation.

But they have other plans—Mason, Finn, Elias, and Cole.

Everyone at my new school calls them the Princes, and that’s exactly what they act like. They always get what they want… and who they want.

And they want me.

I’m not sure why, since they all seem to hate me.

The Princes are gorgeous, flawless, and cruel. They own this town, and they’re determined to own me too.

To break me.

What they don’t know is that I’ve already been broken once.

I won’t let it happen again.

breakdown

Series: Boys of Oak Park Prep
Author: Callie Rose
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Bully, Dark
Heat Rating: Warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2019 – July 2019
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually found out about this series from one of my favourite authors: Piper Lawson. She recommended this series as a binge-worthy KU read in her January 2020 Newsletter and I was intrigued.

High School Bully Romances seem to be all the rage again (remember Bully by Penelope Douglas years ago?) and I’ve tried out a few because I love enemies-to-lovers romances–but have had mixed results. But I love Piper’s writing style and we have similar reading tastes so I took her recommendation to heart and put them on my KU reading list.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy darker contemporary reads, I wouldn’t recommend you read this. I’ve definitely read more disturbing YA bully romances (like A Hurt so Sweet for example) than this is but it lives up to the title of “savage” to say the least.

The Plot:

This is definitely one of the better “high school bully” romances I’ve read. It wasn’t filled to the brim with overt shock factor moments but the events were dramatic enough to keep the stakes raised. I would have liked more of an overarching plot (maybe more hints about Talia’s mom’s past or even Talia’s childhood) but we get enough to drive the plot forward.

The third book lagged a bit for me, but the ending earned some bonus points from me.

The Characters:

Are layered! I really liked Taila as a lead. She’s a fighter and it takes a lot to bring her down. Unlike other heroines in the genre I’ve encountered, she actively seeks out her bullies and has a plan to stand her ground. She doesn’t cave in at the first sign of affection.

As for the “Princes”, they were quite the group. They kinda reminded me of The Raven Boys in how they interact with each other sometimes. I liked them and it was interesting to watch them evolve as the series progressed.

The Romance:

I always get a little scared when I see the words “reverse harem”. I immediately think about Zoey from The House of Night Series and how irritating her harem romances were. So I was pretty cautious about this when I started.

And I’m still a little on the fence about it. One positive is that it added an intriguing layer to the plotline that I haven’t encountered in this genre before. (Most of the time there is only one love interest, maybe one other rival). It put an interesting spin on it and I liked that it wasn’t the sole focus of the books either. But in the same breath, I wasn’t entirely convinced that she had romantic feelings for all of them either.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Savage Royals 4/5 | Defiant Princess 4/5 | Broken Empire
3/5

overall

I think a few aspects will turn off some readers like the sexual content around high schoolers and the reverse harem. But if you enjoy darker readers or are an avid fan of the high-school-bully-romance trope, then this is a quick series to binge.

Read if You Like: high-school-bully-romance trope
Avoid if You: dislike sex scenes in YA

similarreads

  • A Hurt So Sweet by Bettie Rosewood (Elite of Eden Falls Prep Series #1)
  • Paper Princess by Erin Watt (The Royals Series #1)
  • Secret Heir by M J Prince (Dynasty Series #1)

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Spin-off Saturdays: Rivals by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: A Song for Liars (Rivals #1) by Piper Lawson

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:

Rivals Series is a spin-off of the Wicked Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Rivals

This is a spinoff of the Wicked Series.

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Love Notes

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: warm *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 29, 2020 – July 9, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

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

My Expectations?

I’m a sucker for Rockstar romances and Piper Lawson’s Wicked Series was one I have never really encountered before. It was like the perfect mashup of other series yet entirely unique in its own way. And two of the characters that stood out to me the most were Annie and Tyler…and I prayed we would get to see their story one day!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Wicked was more of a New Adult read while this new series straddles the line between YA and NA — which gives it its own unique flare.

But all the angst from the original series is here and perhaps it is present more so. These two have a lot of things going on in their personal and romantic lives and it shows. I loved the drama it brought around.

And I think the romance is stronger here. These two have a past friendship and connection to build up. Plus they have so much in common–even if they don’t always think so. You can’t help but root for them!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–I Didn’t Understand All the Angst–

I’m also not entirely sure why Annie was so angry at Tyler at the start of the book. I think it’s explained a little better in the prequel novella from what I remember but I wanted that fleshed out a little more. Maybe some insight into why Tyler did what he did.

–Tyler As the “Prince of the School” Is a Bit of a Stretch–

I think Annie was the only one who really thought that. Yes, people like him (and Annie has some rivals for interest) but he wasn’t really in the popular crowd.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Love Notes:

I read this first and I think that’s probably the best way to do it. If you read the original series, it serves as a good appetizer for what’s to come. And for those who haven’t read the series, it fills in some of the little gaps about their history.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OH what an ending!!! I’m super duper excited to see where things go from here!

updates

–May 16, 2020– Book #2: A Love Song for Rebels

This book was a step up for me from the last one. Gone are their high school days and it shows. Annie and Tyler have grown and matured so they start to talk more about their feelings and wants instead of just holding a silent, angsty grudge against each other. And I liked the conversations and developments that happened as a result. They’re coming into themselves, figuring out what is important and what they want. And most important of all: they are fighting for those dreams and wants.

Piper has a great knack for writing dramatics that are entertaining but grounded in some realism and I find as a reader, you really get sucked into the characters’ lives and their emotions. I really appreciated the struggles and the successes all the more because I feel like I know these characters so well.

–July 6, 2020– Book #3: A Love Song for Dreamers

The evolution of this story is so refreshing to me. We don’t often get trilogies following one couple anymore in the romance world and Piper has reminded me how good they could be. Watching these two grow into the people they’ve become has been such a treat; especially for fans who met them as kids in the Wicked Series.

I love the bittersweet realism infused into this story. Life doesn’t always go to plans and not everything works out like it does in the movies. So seeing these two struggle to find their footings in life and in their relationship kept me enthralled. As I said before, their growth has been amazing to watch as a reader. I feel like I’m closing a bit of a chapter on my life as they close theirs.

This was missing that little je ne said quoi to take it to that next level though. Perhaps it needed one good twist or dramatic element? Regardless, it was a fantastic ending for a series that has had me hooked from the start!

Series Rating: 4/5

[Love Notes 4/5] | A Love Song for Liars 4/5 | A Love Song for Rebels 5/5 | A Love Song for Dreamers 4/5

overall

If you love angsty romances that straddle the line between YA and NA — this is the series you need to start now!

Read if You Like: angst, music, first loves
Avoid if You: dislike romances spread out over multiple books

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Love Song for Liars (from Goodreads):

I fell for Tyler Adams when he had nothing but a guitar.
He was my rebel prince, my handsome muse, my twisted friend.
We were worlds apart in every way that mattered:
He was poor, I was rich.
He was beautiful, I was plain.
He honed his talent in private, while I ached for the spotlight.
When Tyler moved in with us, Oakwood Prep fell on its knees to worship at his altar.
He traded my friendship for their crown.
I will never forgive his betrayal.
But some nights…
He makes me want to.

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