Tag «trilogy»

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

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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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Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

Series Review: The Hybrid Chronicles by Kat Zhang

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 What’s Left of Me (from Goodreads):

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

breakdown

Series: The Hybrid Chronicles
Author: Kat Zhang
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2012 – September 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I’ve moved this series on and off of my TBR numerous times over the years. But the faces on the covers stare back at me every time I browse my library’s eBooks, enticing me to have another peek. It wasn’t until I was looking at available audiobooks that I decided to revisit the series. I loved the idea of the story (the scientist in me thought “neato!”) and it has been such a long time since I read a straight up dystopian novel that I immediately checked it out.

The Concept / The World:

The whole idea that there are two people within one body just fascinates me.  And I love the layer it brings to the character development. I think in any other novel or plot-hook, Eva would be a slightly boring character. But her struggle to find her independence while maintaining her relationship with Addie–all while sharing a body–makes her character development unique and more complex than other heroines in some dystopian stories.

The Plot:

What’s Left of Me (#1) is pretty formulaic for anyone who has ever read a dystopian novel before. And because I’ve been around the block a time or too, nothing is overly shocking or overly eventful. But again, the concept is what kept me hooked.

I felt that way throughout the series truthfully. There weren’t any big twists or revelations that had me going “WOW”. But there is a bit of an unreliable narrator thing going on with Eva so it kept my attention.

The Characters:

Like I said above, the hybrid concept amplifies the characters in a way. Eva goes through a different identity crisis than any other dystopian heroine I’ve ever encountered. It was super interesting to watch her grow and come into her own. In the same breath, she wasn’t anything overly new either but she worked for the story.

The Romance:

It was pretty refreshing that this is a subtle aspect to the plot. I think it enhances the dilemma of the concept though in some ways I wish it was utilized a little more.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m glad I opted for the audio version. I think it just amplified the emotions of the characters more than me reading  the text would.

Series Rating: 3/5

What’s Left of Me 3/5 | Once We Were 3/5 | Echoes of Us 3/5

overall

If you’ve read many dystopian novels before, you might find this a little underwhelming. But I think the concept is fresh and that will keep readers invested.

Read if You Like: dystopian novels
Avoid if You: want more complex plot

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Series Review: Boomerang by Noelle August

Series Review: Boomerang by Noelle August

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 Boomerang (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret.

Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started?

breakdown

Series: Boomerang
Author: Noelle August (aka Lorin Overweger & Veronica Rossi)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series pops up from time to time in the blogosphere but it was a tweet from Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler that convinced me to read this series. A lot of the NA reads I pick up are darker but this seemed like a lighter read a la Christina Lauren and I was excited to listen to the audiobook.

The Plot:

Workplace romances can be a lot of fun and this was no exception. The plot in Boomerang was always moving and developing. In Rebound I thought the stakes were a little higher and amplified by the many secrets between our leads. And in Bounce, the theme seemed to be more about becoming confident in yourself and learning to deserve love. All in all, I thought each book had its own unique plot and story.

The Characters:

I think often times when I see a “lighter read”, I assume that we will get so-so character development. But that’s not the case here. These characters are fleshed out from the start and it was great to watch them grow as the plot progressed.

The one lead for Rebound was an interesting choice (since they weren’t cast in a great light in Boomerang) but I like when authors can change my mind about a character through some great character development and they definitely succeeded in that front.

The Romance:

I was in a bit of a romance reading funk when I picked up Boomerang and it was great to be reminded of what fantastic chemistry between two leads can do to a story. I loved the sexual tension and it kept me wanting more.

All of these romances have a touch of the forbidden to them and I think that helps keep the tension hot between the leads. And while they each start with a bang of intense chemistry, they almost have a slow burn approach to the romance for the rest of the series that helps develop the relationship by spending the time to get to know each lead.

My Audiobook Experience:

Highly recommend the audiobook. It was a fantastic listen throughout the series!

Series Rating: 4/5

Boomerang 4/5 | Rebound 4/5 | Bounce 4/5

overall

If you want a New Adult romance that reads a little more like a light adult contemporary romance, this is a great one to try!

Read if You Like: workplace romances, light contemporary
Avoid if You: want erotica, want darker romance
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Spin-off Saturdays: Lorien Legacies Reborn Series by Pittacus Lore

Spin-off Saturdays: Lorien Legacies Reborn Series by Pittacus Lore

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:

Lorien Legacies Reborn Series is a spin-off of the Lorien Legacies Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2019 Fave
Series: The Lorien Legacies Reborn

This is a spinoff of the Lorien Legacies Series.

Author: Pittacus Lore
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 2017 – June 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’m always happy to return the world of Lorien so when this spin-off series was announced, I was stoked. I couldn’t wait to see old friends and maybe get some of those lingering questions answered.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

You can read all about my experience with the first book of the original series, I am Number Four, here — but the short version is that the first book didn’t impress me all that much. It was slow and not as action packed as I wanted but by the end, I could see the bigger picture and I was willing to give the sequel a shot. And I’m so glad I did!

This spin-off series doesn’t start slow at all. It dives into the action and sets the stakes high pretty quickly. Perhaps that’s because most readers are going in already knowing how the world works and what state it is in since they read the original series. You don’t have to spend so much time establishing everything; I’m not sure what it would be like if you’ve never read the original series but I feel like there is enough world-building that you’d get up to speed quickly.

But this had everything you like in a solid spin-off. A new set of characters that captivate you; the return of old favourites; action; romance; and the resolutions to some of those open-ended questions from the original series.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Truthfully, the final book (Return to Zero) in the series wasn’t my favourite. The book spent so much time building up that the climax seemed a little lacklustre given how it resolves itself. And while I appreciate the extended epilogues, I found myself wanting a little more than I got. I could have used a fourth book.

My Audiobook Experience:

While the original series was one of the first novels I ever read as an eBook, I wanted to try the audiobook version this time around.

It was a great choice! Despite only having one narrator for a multiple POV story, everyone had their own distinct voice. I also think it allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the new cast of characters because of how their reactions and emotions were conveyed through voice. The series has great character growth despite the numerous new characters we are introduced to in such a short span (3 novels compared to the original series’ 7) and I think the audio version helped me connect with them better.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Generation One 5/5 | Fugitive Six 4.5/5 | Return to Zero 4/5

overall

It was great to return to one of my all-time favourite worlds. This was a solid spin-off that had its own voice all the while echoing and honouring its source material perfectly.

Read if You Like: world-building, aliens, YA Science Fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike science fiction

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Generation One (from Goodreads):

The first book in a pulse-pounding new series that’s set in the world of the #1 New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series. The war may be over—but for the next generation, the battle has just begun!

It has been over a year since the invasion of Earth was thwarted in Pittacus Lore’s United as One. But in order to win, our alien allies known as the Garde unleashed their Loric energy that spread throughout the globe. Now human teenagers have begun to develop incredible powers of their own, known as Legacies.

To help these incredible and potentially dangerous individuals—and put the world at ease—the Garde have created an academy where they can train this new generation to control their powers and hopefully one day help mankind. But not everyone thinks that’s the best use of their talents. And the teens may need to use their Legacies sooner than they ever imagined.

Perfect for fans of Marvel’s X-Men and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, this epic new series follows a diverse cast of teens as they struggle to hone their abilities and decide what, if anything, they should do with them. As a spin-off of the bestselling I Am Number Four series, those familiar with the original books and newcomers alike will devour this fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi adventure.

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Series Review: Masters of Love by Leisa Rayven

Series Review: Masters of Love by Leisa Rayven

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 Mister Romance (from Goodreads):

Max Riley is the man of your dreams. Or at least he will be, for a price.

As his alter-ego Mister Romance, Max is a drop-dead gorgeous escort who makes romantic fantasies come to life. No sex, just swoon-worthy dates to die for, and the cream of New York’s socialites can’t get enough. Whether they want a dominating billionaire, bad boy with a heart of gold, hot geek, sexy biker, or best friend who loves them from afar, Max can make it all happen, but he’s careful to keep his real identity a secret.

Enter investigative journalist Eden Tate. Having caught wind of the urban legend of Mister Romance from a lovestruck client, Eden is determined to publish a scathing expose on Max and his ability to swindle lonely society women out of their fortunes.

Desperate to protect his anonymity and his clients, Max challenges Eden to give him three dates. If she doesn’t fall in love with him, she can run her story with his blessing. If she succumbs to his charms, the story dies.

Cynical Eden has no doubt she can resist his fake romance personas, but when the real Max admits he’s falling for her, she has to decide if the professional liar is telling the truth, or if the passionate man with the mysterious past is just one more character designed to con her out of her career-making story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Masters of Love
Author: Leisa Rayven
# of Books: 3  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 3 is to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I ADORED Leisa Rayven’s Starcrossed Series. Honestly, no one does romantic angst better so I was eager to read her future works when I wrapped that series up.

The premise of Mister Romance reads like a rom-com so I was very excited to take on this book (which later became a book series!).

The Plot:

Like I said about, these stories read like your favourite rom-com movie. There’s just the great blend of drama, twists, character growth, swoon-worthy moments and fun. I found myself so enthralled by the story and the characters. But unlike your favourite rom-coms, they weren’t entirely predictable so that gave them this refreshing taste.

The Characters:

It’s almost common practice nowadays to have a romance novel told from dual POVs and as I reader, I have to say I often prefer that. I find with dual POVs I get a better understanding of all the characters and their motives because we get to see inside their mind.

But Leisa Rayven’s characters never suffer from a single POV story. Her characters are just so rounded and strong that I have a great grasp of who they are as people even if I don’t get their POV.

The Romance:

This is the type of series that makes you believe in soulmates. While the physical timeline of their stories might have been on the shorter side, I thought the characters were so well rounded and that I knew them so well that the romantic matches were perfect.

My Audiobook Experience:

So I actually own Mister Romance for my Kindle but because I really needed a great audiobook pick-me-up, I decided to listen to the audio version—and I’m so glad I did. Not only is it narrated by Andi Arndt (seriously, one of the best audiobook narrators out there) but it’s just a great story that unfolds like a rom-com.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure who the third novel will be about. I kinda hope it’s Joanna but I’d be happy for Toby as well.

Series Rating: 4/5

Mister Romance 5/5 | Professor Feelgood 4/5 | Doctor Love TBP

overall

Once again, Leisa Rayven delivers a strong contemporary romance brimming with tension, great character growth and a dash of humour.

Read if You Like: rom-coms, single POV romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

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 American Queen (from Goodreads):

Warned as a girl to keep her kisses to herself, Greer Galloway disobeys twice–once on her sixteenth birthday as she’s kneeling in a pool of broken glass, and another time after a charming stranger named Embry Moore whisks her into the dazzling Chicago night. Both times she falls in love, and both times her heart is broken beyond repair. And so as an adult, she vows never to kiss–or to love again.

That’s until the Vice President of the United States shows up at the university where she teaches, and asks for one thing: for her to meet with the hero-turned-President Maxen Colchester. Maxen, the soldier who was her first kiss in that pool of broken glass.

And the other complication? The Vice President is none other than charming Embry Moore himself.

Soon, Greer finds herself caught between past and present, pleasure and pain–and two men who long for each other as much as they long for her. And as war and betrayal press ever closer, they tumble headlong into a passionate love affair that will change the world…

From the USA Today bestselling author of Priest comes a contemporary reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot–elegant, carnal, and unforgettable.

breakdown

Series: New Camelot Trilogy
Author: Sierra Simone
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There are 2 novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Multiple (#2-3)
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#1-3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for anything with an Arthurian Legend twist (I even took the literature class in university) and when I saw that Sierra Simone–who co-wrote one of my favourite contemporary romances, Porn Star— was the author, I was very curious to see what modern spin she would put on arguably the most famous love triangle in history.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy non-vanilla romances, I’d avoid this one. It’s full of BDSM moments and kinky sex scenes. And while there is substance to the romance (as in it’s not just sex scene after sex scene though I’d say 70% of the books are dedicated to the deed), the sex scenes are quite detailed when they do appear and I just think it would make you uncomfortable.

But I mean, how great of an idea is it to make the classic love triangle a menage? It’s one of those true love triangle situations I rarely encounter in a novel/series and I was definitely on board for seeing how it would all work out.

As for the Arthurian Legend aspect, it’s one of those little hidden eggs you find along the way. And I don’t think most of it becomes apparent until you complete the trilogy and see the bigger picture. But I appreciated the modern spin (President instead of King, etc) though I wasn’t a fan of the creative license employed by the end.

The Plot:

I kept waiting for something to happen in American Queen; it just took a little too long to build for me. While I liked the flashbacks, I almost wonder if it would have been better to have all the past events thrown out at once and then jump to the present. (Perhaps have each book dedicated to a different time instead of a different character).

American Prince definitely amps up the suspense when it comes to the dramatic plot. And at times, I wished that would remain the focus. While I loved having a new perspective (Embry’s) I did get a little tired of all the passionate sex. I just found the scenes to be distracting and I’d often forget what important drama/twist/secret had just happened. It became especially hard since I was listening to the audiobook and we do jump a lot between the past and present. The situation was the same in the finale (American King) as well and I found myself getting pulled away from the plot.

The Characters:

I usually don’t enjoy the “Guinevere” character (only exception has ever been from the TV Series Merlin) and Greer was just ok for me. She’s a little wish-washy and part of that translates to her romances with the boys She’s just so non-confident in her everyday life but as soon as you dim the lights, she’s a confident submissive and they just didn’t seem to go hand and hand for me. Yes, all the power to her for owning her sexuality but I struggled to reconcile the two versions we see of her.

Embry and Ash served their roles well. It was nice for them to each get their own books to heighten their development. Otherwise, I would have wondered what the big deal was.

The Romance:

I was disappointed in this because everything seemed to instalove to me (with the exception of Ash and Embry’s relationship). But Greer’s love for the boys just seemed like some fixated school girl fantasy that she has lived in for so long that it comes across as superficial when she actually begins a relationship with the boys. I didn’t see this all-consuming, soul-deep connection they seemed to go on about.

I really adored Ash and Embry together though. I could see the passionate draw they had between them and that only strengthens as the series progresses. I could have just read a book about those two honestly and have been satisfied.

My Audiobook Experience:

Emotions are always more apparent to me when I listen to audiobooks and I think that helped bring these characters to life for me in a way that could understand their dilemmas and struggles.

That being said, I wish we had a second male narrator for Ash in book 3. It was weird to have the same voice for both Embry and Ash and when you stop suddenly in a chapter, it was hard to recognize who the POV was.

When to Read the Novellas:

I have yet to read them but both seem to be recommended for reading after you have finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: 3/5

American Queen 3/5 | American Prince 3/5 | American King 3/5

overall

If you are searching for a romance novel that works around a “true” love triangle and don’t mind the steamy scenes, pick this series up. But I think those who don’t enjoy erotica should stay far away, even if the Arthurian draw is there.

Read if You Like: erotica, menage romance, contemporary retellings
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM

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DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 13: 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 Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (from Goodreads):

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

breakdown

Series: Rise of the Empress
Author: Julie C Dao
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (#1) at 52% (Chapter 22) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually tried to read this book earlier last year as an eBook but knew immediately that I wasn’t in the right mind frame to start it. That’s why I made it a selection for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge. I’m obsessed with Asian folklore and I find very few books seem to have it (though more and more do lately!) so when I do find it, I’m so on-board. This one I stumbled upon randomly at my library but I was looking forward to it once I read the synopsis!

What I Liked:

–The Idea of the Prophecy–

When I first started reading this story, I actually thought Xifeng was Snow White and her aunt was the Evil Queen. But that’s not the case at all. I really loved the idea of a prophecy as the driving motivation for Xifeng and the questions it stirs up. Are all these things really happening because it is her destiny? Or are they happening because she makes them happen in order to fulfill her destiny? It made me think about things in a grand scheme and I love when a book can do that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Character Driven–

Normally I wouldn’t complain about a Character Driven story. In fact, it was kinda nice to have a heroine who isn’t physically strong and who has to rely on her wit and cunning in order to accomplish things. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that isn’t plagued with battle scenes.

But I just didn’t like Xifeng at all and that makes it hard to follow a story that is just about her and her life.

It’s a tough line I think because she is going to become a villain. Now I don’t need a villain with redeemable qualities; I like them evil. But Xifeng is simply boring. I guess that’s part of her charm that she rises from nothing to be something but it was a dull journey to get there. I thought once she got to court the politics of the kingdom would draw me in but it was far too mundane (and cliche) for my enjoyment.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think I got further into this book because I listened to the audiobook. The narrator has a great voice that makes the minutes roll by, even if it is a third person narration. I had the same problem with Red Winter when I listened to it as an audiobook and that was the traditional names. To my untrained ear, a lot of the terms and names sound super similar so I sometimes got characters mixed up.

Will I Finish It?

If I wasn’t reading the audiobook, I probably would have toughed out the last half of the novel by skimming it. But since the audiobook had 5 hours left and I felt myself zoning out, I decided to leave it there.

I read the reviews for the read of the series and people who had a similar experience to me in book one had it repeated in the sequels. So I’m happy with my decision not to continue.

My Rating: DNF

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns DNF | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix N/A | Song of the Crimson Flower N/A

overall

If you are looking for a fantasy novel that isn’t brimming with battle scenes and you like watching the underdog achieve greatness, no matter the expense, you might enjoy this retelling.

Read if You Like: Asian folklore, fairy tale re imaginings, villains
Avoid if You: dislike character driven stories, want action

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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