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Series Review: Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

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

Inherit the Stars Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Inherit the Stars (from Goodreads):
Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

breakdown

Series: Inherit the Stars
Author: Tessa Elwood
# of Books: 2 (Inherit the Stars, Split the Sun)

There is a short story prequel, Inherit the Stars: Reprive

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 18, 2015 – December 6, 2016
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book in the Young Adult Gallery on Netgalley and planned to request it closer to the date but when I later saw that it was available as a Read Now, I immediately grabbed it.

I’ve been searching for a great YA SciFi since I read Across the Universe and I hoped that this one would fit the bill nicely. I mean, it has everything I love: space, romance and politics, so the odds were in its favour…

What I Liked:

-The Politics-

I loved the high-stakes, blood thirsty political world this novel is set in. It was fast-paced and was a major part of the plot. It wasn’t some little side plot but a core element of the story and I loved that. It’s hard to say more without giving things away.

-The Romance-

This was a slow burn romance and if you are worried that it is going to overshadow the story, rest assured that isn’t the case. It builds quite nicely and it wasn’t long before I rooted for them.

-Asa’s Fighting Spirit-

Asa was a character that had great growth I thought. Sure, she suffers a little bit from lead-heroine-sacrifice-syndrome but at the same time, I really don’t blame her for feeling that way. And I liked that she was always thinking about how to solve this problem or that. It really made you want to root for her.

What I Didn’t Like:

-The World Development-

I love books that have fast plots and I liked that this one thrusts us into the action from the first page. However, I felt like I was left hanging for the rest of the story. I was so lost in terms of the world. What is the Blight specifically? Why do people have to go through decontamination? I mean, I get the concepts (they easily parallel our real world)  but I just wish they were explained fully. I felt like it was assumed I knew the world and all it’s elements–like it was explained a chapter earlier but we didn’t have it–and I definitely learned as I went, but I spent the first third trying to grasp the world while keeping track of the actual plot.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the world, because I did, I just wish it was explained in a different way than it is.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really looking forward to what is going to happen next! I love the political side of the plot and I can’t wait to see how these characters grow!

updates

–December 11, 2016– Book #2: Split the Sun

DNF’d at 33% (pg 95/290)

This book wasn’t really what I was anticipating for the sequel. I was expecting a continuation of Asa and Eagle’s story truthfully, not the introduction of a new character that I would have to reorient myself with.

Kit provides an interesting side to the overall plot of this series. She’s a regular person with regular problems who is stuck dealing with the consequences of the previous leads’ actions. It’s something as a critic I can appreciate. Inherit the Stars focused on the politics and higher society aspect while Split the Sun changes the focus to the people who are directly impacted by their choices. But the reader in me just wanted more.

For that first 33% of the book, nothing was really happening. It was mostly Kit moaning about her problems (and she has a lot) and going through the motions which isn’t interesting to me. I needed some action or even a hint of where the plot was going to keep my interest. I think the plot had just started to show its potential direction just before I stopped but I wasn’t as invested in Kit’s story as much as I wanted to be (even if I sympathized with her situation).

So while I appreciate the direction this series wanted to go by changing the lead characters, I didn’t like the execution of it at all. I would have much preferred a direct sequel of Asa and Eagle’s storyline.

My Rating: DNF

Inherit the Stars 3.5/5  |  Split the Sun DNF

overall

While the world building leaves something to be desired, the plot speaks for itself. If you like stories that are politically driven and heroines who will do anything to save their world, this is a great one to pick up!

Read if You Like: YA science fiction, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want stronger world building, want more romance

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Series Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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

Orphan Queen Series

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Orphan Queen (from Goodreads):
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: YA Favourite 2015
Series: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 2 (The Orphan Queen, The Mirror King)

There are 4 short stories. Find them all here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Magic, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Jodi Meadows has been on my radar for a long time with her Newsoul Series (though I wasn’t able to read them until I finished this series). Earlier this year, I really got into high fantasy YA and this was one of the many books floating around. It was getting great reviews and from the synopsis, it seemed like it was my kind of story:

  • Political intrigue ✔
  • Independent heroine ✔
  • Undercover premise ✔

Needless to say, I was super excited to start this one!

What I Liked:

–The Layers–

Compared to other novels in this genre, I didn’t find the action to be completely overwhelming. This book was a lot of learning about the world and the journey Wil takes to get to her throne. When there was action, it was great but I never found myself bored between those scenes. Instead, you had Wil working undercover at the castle or Wil doing her vigilante work or her learning more about the wraiths. The plot always kept moving and kept my attention. It never felt slow to me (well, besides the first chapter) when it easily could have been.

–That is it going to be a duology!!!–

I’m loving this trend of having books that only have one sequel! While I think this series could definitely have a third book, I like that everything is going to be wrapped up in the sequel. It makes the story a lot stronger in my opinion–you don’t get filler fluff to pass the time away.

–Wilhelmina–

What I really liked about Wil’s character is that she isn’t invincible or egotistical. She’s passionate about helping her people but it doesn’t cause her to be impulsive or take stupid risks. She thinks about things, can admit when she is wrong and can take care of herself when she needs to. She can fight, but she isn’t some world-renowned fighter. I like that she is more subdued–it really adds to her character development as the story progresses.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Predictability–

For the most part, this book wasn’t overly predictable. There were some plot twists (mainly the ending) that I didn’t see coming so I liked that. It has me on edge to see what is going to happen next.

However, I knew Melanie’s secret behaviour within five seconds of its first appearance; and it was totally obvious to me who the Black Knife was. Perhaps my over indulgence in this genre has made me hyperaware of the various plot twists/elements authors use and so I knew right away.

My other hypothesis is that the reader is supposed to pick up on these things while Wil isn’t–thus adding to her character development/flaws. By having her oblivious to what is happening around her, it does make her more human rather than some untouchable heroine who can do no wrong. I liked that about her but it did make me frustrated at times because it just seemed so obvious to me what was happening.

The Novellas:

I read The Hidden Prince and The Glowing Knight after I read The Orphan Queen and I think that is the best way to go about these novellas. While they are prequel novellas, they kinda give away spoilers about a particular character and I liked that he was a bit of mystery when I was reading The Orphan Queen. I grew to love him in The Orphan Queen so reading these novellas is a bit of a treat for fans of his character and I like that aspect.

The novellas are chronological, meaning they follow the progression of a certain plotline so you do have to read them in order. They add depth to the world and its characters and I think they are very well done. Plus, they are a great way to pass the time while waiting for The Mirror King (and they have teaser chapters!)

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read the last page, I really, really hoped it wasn’t going to be the last one! There are so many aspects still waiting to be solved and I am super excited to see how it all wraps up in the final story.

updates

–May 13, 2016– Book #2: The Mirror King


The Mirror King was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2016 so I went in with high expectations, egged on by the teaser chapters in the novellas that were released prior to the publication.

The Mirror King was a little slower than I thought it was going to be given the ending of The Orphan Queen. It starts with a bang and then proceeds at a somewhat slower pace. It has a similar pace to the first novel but has a few “WHOA” moments along the way. I wanted more action but everything has to go through the motions.

Overall, I really enjoyed the ending. While parts were predictable–though there were some things I never saw coming–I still enjoyed reading everything and I never got bored. The characters are what drive this series for me and getting to spend that time with them in this book is great. I felt a whole range of emotions reading this novel–and that’s what I want in a grande finale. A great ending to a great duology.

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Orphan Queen 4.5/5 | The Mirror King 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this book and I feel like my review doesn’t reflect that! This one was really hard to write. While it isn’t my favourite book ever, it is one of my favourites in the genre for sure. I just loved the way it built and the various layers to it. I never got bored while reading it. Highly recommended for those who want to get into High Fantasy and have little exposure to it.

Read if You Like: world-building, lost princess stories, independent heroines
Avoid if You: easily predict stories, want more romance

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Series Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

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

| |
booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Program (from Goodreads):
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

breakdown

Series: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
# of Books: 6 (Full Series Order Here)

There is also a novella after The Treatment called The Recovery

Book Order: Chronological & Connected

The Remedy & The Epidemic are paired; The Program and The Treatment are paired; The Adjustment and The Complication are paired.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2013 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

NOTE: I have not read books #3-#6.  See why not below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Suzanne Young’s A Need So Beautiful was one of the first books I put on my TBR once I started keeping an actual list. I have yet to read it. Shocking, I know 😉

What drew me to The Program was the cover. The bright yellow in a very white clinical setting? Call me intrigued. And when I read the synopsis? Even more intrigued. So I put my name on the holds list, eagerly awaiting there arrival

The Remedy + The Epidemic vs The Program + The Treatment

I just want to set the record straight about these books. This series contains 6 books, but they are two dual sets. The RemedyThe Epidemic are one duology focusing on one set of characters and The Program & The Treatment follow a different set. All take place within the same world. The Remedy is listed as a prequel to The Program as its events precede the events in The Program; it was published a few years after The Program.

I chose to read The Program & The Treatment first. I have also decided to further break up my headings into subheadings to review keep each duology separate.

The Concept:

The Program & The TREATMENT

The idea that there is a massive epidemic of young people committing suicide is a rather morbid basis for a book albeit unique. It is a tough topic to handle but one I think Young does well (though I wish there was a little blurb at the end about suicide prevention/information). It doesn’t glorify it and I think it shows the impact suicide can have on someone’s family and friends really well. It helps shed light on an issue we often shy away from in society.

The Plot:

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

The plot for The Program is extremely slow! Nothing really happens until the halfway point and even then, it’s a slow incline. The first half really establishes the world and the relationships Sloane has. I personally could of had half the number of pages and still had the main idea. I found it to be dull and because it deals with such a depressing topic, it isn’t a very uplifting read, making it hard to get through at times.

Once we actually get to the nitty-gritty of the epidemic, that’s when things get interesting and The Treatment keeps the pace going…for all of 10 pages. WOW, I didn’t think things could get duller but they did! This book was a lot of waiting around and romantic pining. WAYYY too much focus on the romance! I did appreciate the science fiction elements when they were there but, I wanted more. I wanted so much more that I almost quit reading just before the halfway point. But the need for answers (ie why the epidemic? why the program?) had me reluctantly pressing forward.

The Characters:

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

Sloane was incredibly dull to me. I didn’t love her, but I didn’t hate her either–which is not good. Indifference is the death to any character and poor Sloane just never managed to get me on her side. While I understand her difficult situation and why she isn’t the first person jumping at the opportunity to save the world (I actually found that lack of motivation oddly refreshing), I just really wanted her to DO SOMETHING! Something other than pining for James or the other person in her unnecessary love triangle.

I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and that made reading this not as enjoyable as I had hoped.

The Romance:

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

I don’t really enjoy stories where the romance is already established. I like watching couples fall in love as I read and with Sloane and James, they have already been a couple for a while. Don’t get me wrong, they are cute and I like them together. But they are that nauseatingly cute couple that get too sugary sweet as you read. So by the time I got to The Treatment, I was a little over them as a couple. Oh, and it didn’t help that there are love triangles abound with them as well. It’s not a good thing when the romantic relationships can’t even save the dull plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really, really undecided about reading The Remedy. I’m really intrigued by the premise and I want to give these new characters a shot. But at this moment, I’m holding off on picking it up.

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

Series Rating: 2.5/5

The Remedy TBD | The Epidemic TBP | The Program 3/5 | The Treatment 2/5

overall

The Treatment was a huge disappointment. I wanted a science fiction YA with a dash of romance; but instead, we get a YA romance with a dash of science fiction. In the end, The Program wasn’t for me!

Read if You Like: dystopian worlds, lots of romance, books about mental illness
Avoid if You: want more action

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Single Sundays: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Rook (from Goodreads):
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2015 YA Fav, New Author to Watch
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Adventure, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember where I first stumbled upon this book. It was either on NetGalley or through someones blog; but what got me to add this to my TBR and get really excited was the synopsis. I mean the cover is gorgeous but a “game of cat and mouse”…that it right up my alley and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

I am a HUGE steampunk fan, so to read a book where machines are taboo was really quite the change for me. Especially when everything about this world is so steampunk-esque in terms of politics and society. But I loved how this world came to be–and the scary thing is I could see it happening with today’s society! Our dependency on technology definitely has its strengths and weakness and I liked that this book explored that concept.

The Writing:

I added this subheading because I feel like this is people’s biggest complaint about the book–and I totally get why!

Third person narratives are always hard to get into; especially if you primarily read first person POVs like I do. I find the more familiar you are with an author and their style, the easier it is to read subsequent novels by them. But this is my first Sharon Cameron book, though it won’t be my last!

The narration in this book is not as forthcoming or honest as one would expect; but it has to be. It is a suspense novel so scenes are going to be left vague or a character will be referred to in generic terms until it is beneficial for the reader to know their exact identity. You also get multiple POVs to keep the plot moving and evolving. It makes for a frustrating read from the readers perspective but I always felt like the big reveal was worth it.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to reread lines to make sure I was fully understanding what was happening…because I did. But eventually I got used to the flow of the book and I really enjoyed the narration by the end of it.

The Plot:

As I said, there is a lot going on at times. Which is great for a reader like me who loves layers to their novels. You have the game between Rene and Sophia; Sophia and the debt collectors; the Red Rook and LeBlanc; LeBlanc and Rene; the Upper and Lower parts of the city…I think you get the point. There are a lot of players in this game and they definitely keep things interestingAnd the great thing is that I never felt overwhelmed by it all!

I was sucked into the plot pretty quickly. I feel like it builds really well and has a great balance between all the different elements. Things were always changing and it kept me on my toes, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. This book felt really long when I first started but I pretty much read it in a day as the pages just flew by.

The Characters:

This book probably has some of the most intelligent characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I expected LeBlanc (the “villain”) to be a bumbling fool easily outwitted by the Red Rook but he was so on point it was almost scary! A worth adversary who definitely kept me on my toes whenever he figured something out. Of course these characters all have their flaws but their wit and tenacity really captured my attention.

Also, I just have to add this quote because I absolutely adore it:

The idea that women are not fit for certain tasks is based on cultural expectations, not the science of fact. It is an old-fashioned belief coming from the less civilized centuries after the Great Death, and has nothing to do with medicine. Any man of science knows that.

I just loved the strength of the female characters in this novel! Sophia was amazing as a heroine! She is everything I adore in my leading ladies and exactly what I had hoped for. René was a perfect opponent for Sophia and I loved their interactions together. He was a solid character in his own right and kept my attention throughout. The rest were just fun and balanced the leads and the story extremely well.

The Romance:

I really, really liked that the romance didn’t overshadow this book. It shone when it needed to but stayed dormant when it didn’t. There is a love triangle but it actually contributes to the plot in an obvious and beneficial way.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book just hit all the right points for me! It was fun, twisty and full of action and mind games! I was really hooked into this only a few chapters in! I think the writing will turn some people off, but once you get used to it, it moves at a great pace!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, suspense, post apocolyptic worlds
Avoid if You: want more romance, don’t like third person POVs

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Series Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

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

The Girl at Midnight Series

Synopsis for The Girl at Midnight (from Goodreads):
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

breakdown

Series: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
# of Books: 3 (The Girl at Midnight, The Shadow Hour, The Savage Hour)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult,  Urban Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 2015 – July 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (Shadow Hour)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere when it was first released. I loved the cover but everyone’s positive reviews really drew me to read the synopsis. It sounded like my type of book: a blend of action, urban fantasy and prophecy. Plus, it has been a really long time since I’ve read an Urban Fantasy and waiting for the next Mystic City novel is leaving me with a bit of an urban fantasy hangover.

What I Liked:

–The Mortal Instrument Vibes I got–

Don’t get scared off by this statement if you aren’t a Mortal Instruments fan and really wanted to read this book! They really don’t have that much in common besides some very basic urban fantasy tropes (like teleportation across the world, war against two different races, magic, etc), set in NYC and the fact that they are both narrated in the third person by multiple characters.

It was the narration that spoke to me the most. I got really attached to the side characters with The Girl at Midnight. Echo was a little on the dull side as a heroine for me so I liked having multiple characters tell the story instead of just Echo. (Who I grew to like more, for the record)

–It Surprised Me!–

There were some twists at the end that I wasn’t expecting. I probably should have but I just didn’t put two and two together. So I really liked that! It made the last 100 or so pages exciting to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Start–

I’m all for gradual plot progression but this book just took too long for me. I felt like nothing really happened for the first 200 pages (its was ~295 eBook pages). Sure, some minor plot leads were there and they definitely added to the awesomeness that was the last 50 pages that knocked my socks off, but otherwise, this book was on the drier side.

I think I was expecting more action given the fact that Echo is labelled as a thief. Thief just equates to action/suspense to me but this book reads more like an adventure/journey. Which is fine, just not what I wanted. I find adventure novels can be dull until the end and this is definitely the case here.

–The Romance–

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like the romance, I’m just not sold on it quite yet when it comes to Echo. (I’m definitely on board with some other potential romances though!). The direction Echo’s romantic life is going in is completely different from what my intital impression was when I first started so I’m interested to see what is going to happen next. It’s just going to have to work a little harder to get me to ‘ship her romantic life.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see where this series is going to go next! There were a lot of neat spins that were added near the very end that make me want to read the sequel. I’m not dying to read it though.

updates

–April 8, 2018– Book #2: The Shadow Hour (Audiobook)

I enjoyed this middle novel enough. It did take me awhile to get into it because I have been away from this world for a very long time but I also think not a lot happens at the start either so it was a nice gradual approach. I still really like all the characters so I enjoyed the various spurts of growth they experience. However, this series is very singular in its plot despite having a cast of multiple characters to follow. They all approach the main problem with different angles but I often wished for something else to be happening in the background. We get a few good twists along the way but nothing really impressed me.

As for the audiobook–unfortunately it’s narrated by one of my least favourite narrators so that was a bummer. But it was a great way to read this book regardless.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

The Girl at Midnight 3/5 | The Shadow Hour 3/5 | The Savage Dawn TBA

overall

I wasn’t blown away by this series like I had hoped. It’s a little too one dimensional when it comes to the plot for my liking (ie not a lot of subplots). However, I really liked the cast of characters and how we move around from person to person. It keeps the narrative moving at a steady pace, even when much else isn’t happening.

Read if You Like: slower stories, urban fantasy, adventure stories, the Mortal Instruments
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, dislike adventure

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Single Sundays: My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for My Heart and Other Black Holes (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

breakdown

Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this one on someone’s blog–I’m REALLY going to start writing down where I find these books!–and was really intrigued by the premise. I’m all for any book that talks about mental illness, especially one that focuses on youth mental health. I really enjoyed 13 Reasons Why but I liked that this book was told from someone currently experiencing suicidal thoughts.

From the review I read, I was looking forward to a humorous yet sincere novel about teen suicide. My biggest fear–as is with any book that takes on a subject like mental health–was that it would glorify suicide or lose itself in the humour of the narrator; but the previous reviews I had read gave me the impression that that wouldn’t be the case with this one so I was hopeful.

The Concept:

I love how relateable this book is to current teens! While Aysel and Roman may have traumatizing events that very few people (I hope) will ever have to go through, their everyday lives are very similar to teens today. Problems at school, conflicts with family members and simply just growing up–I feel like these characters are approachable for the reader. Plus, they act like actual teens do, not how adults think they do and I really loved that.

The Plot:

The plot follows Aysel as she contemplates suicide due to depression; which can make it a sad read at times. Aysel really isn’t in a good place in her life, and I admire how the writing captures that.  It’s honest, real and easily elicits it’s emotions in its readers. I love how it challenges the stigma of mental health by never holding anything back and actually talking about it!

What I also adored was Aysel’s sense of humour. I loved her sometimes cynical and always witty rapport. The humour shines a light on the darker side of the book, giving the book a happier feel but still maintaining the sincerity of the situation at hand.

There really isn’t a whole lot of drama in this book and I think that really works to its advantage. It keeps the book grounded in the realism of the situation and doesn’t take away from the main focus of this book: talking about the mental health of teens.

The Characters:

Aysel and Roman are great characters and truly make this story! They are really what drives this book forward–Aysel especially! As I said before, she is hilarious, but she is also very real and I think readers will appreciate that.

The Romance:

I know this is the aspect that a lot of readers dislike and I can agree with them…to a certain extent. There isn’t a lot of romance in this story (ie it really isn’t a big focus; more a subplot).

**This may be a little spoiler-y but nothing is blatantly stated**

I would have been extremely satisfied if there was no romance between these two and they just had a platonic friendship. That may be because I’m all aboard the “let’s have more platonic friendships in YA between the sexes” train. BUT, I do feel like the romance takes away from the ultimate message of this book: talk to someone you love about what you are feeling. Does that person have to be someone you are having romantic feelings with? No. Is falling in love the ultimate cure for depression? NO! I personally don’t feel like this book is perpetuating that last message (I got the impression it was emphasizing the “talking to someone who understands you and will support you” message), but it is there and I know that it is a reason a lot of readers rate this book lower than they would have had it been a platonic friendship instead.

**end of spoiler-esque stuff**

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed reading this book! It is done in a thoughtful way that I think readers will appreciate and connect with. And I love that it holds nothing back when it comes to teens and mental health. It is fighting a stigma that has been around for far too long and I hope it starts a lot of conversations about discussing your feelings and not being afraid to seek help when it is needed.

Read if You Like: witty humour, books discussing mental health
Avoid if You: want a romance contemporary

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Single Sundays: Never Never by Brianna Shrum

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Never Never (from Goodreads):
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

breakdown

Author: Brianna Shrum
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Fairy Tale Retellings
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first found this book on another blog (after I added this one, I started to actually list where I find these for future posts). I love Peter Pan. I watched the animated movie as a kid numerous, numerous times. I also adore Captain Hook from the Once Upon a Time TV series <3

So when I saw that there was going to be a prequel of sorts with this book–and one that focuses mostly on Captain Hook–I was sold!

The Concept / The World:

When I started reading this, it reminded me a lot of Wicked: The Musical in the sense that in this prequel, you have two well known enemies start as friends. And the focus is even on the “villain” character (Hook in Never Never and Elphaba in Wicked) more so than the “hero” character (Peter Pan and Glinda) in each case. But are they really the villain? Or are they just misunderstood? That’s what each story tries to convey and I love that approach–well, more so in Never Never than in Wicked.

Back to Never Never: I thought the take on Neverland was really cool. The idea that it’s fuelled by dreams really works for the story. The world itself is easily recognizable to fans of the various mainstream adaptations but it also has this darker feel to it–which was my favourite part. It doesn’t shy away from death or violence–which is what you want (or at least what I want) when I read about a pirate. That doesn’t mean it is gory or extremely violent–all I’m saying is that there are consequences when boys fight with swords and I liked the unpredictability the story had as a result.

The Plot:

I’m not sure what I was truly expecting the plot to be when I heard about this book. I think at first I thought it would be high action but when I started reading, it felt more like an adventure/coming of age story to me. There are definitely action scenes and definitely moments of suspense but I felt like a majority of the time was focused on James trying to deal with his situation in Neverland and his budding rivalry with Peter.

I think some people might feel like that focus makes the story dry at times because I know I initially thought that too. But as I got further into the book, I really became interested in James’ story. And I realized that the reason I truly picked up this book was because I wanted to know more about James Hook the character and how he becomes Captain Hook.

The Characters:

Casting Peter Pan as a villain really gives this story an interesting edge and made me think twice about how I perceive the whole Peter Pan persona. Is he truly saving the Lost Boys or is he just projecting his ideals on others? It also makes you wonder if it truly is a good thing to remain as a child forever; that even if you don’t grow up, you can still lose your innocence but doing foolish actions.

Perhaps a little too deep for this book? Maybe, but I enjoyed the thoughts it provoked in me.

As for Hook, I didn’t think I would have anything in common with him, but I easily attached myself to his character. Like him, I always wanted to grow up. People always say I’m extremely mature for my age and I think that goes hand in hand with being the oldest child AND the want to do things in life that you have to be older/more responsible for.

I liked watching Hook’s character develop and grow. And what I liked even more is that he makes mistakes. He isn’t perfect, he chooses to do some not so bright things and he learns from them. I love that about coming of age stories! It really grounds him from being this over the top villain that I watched as a kid to a real boy who is human too. I love when stories can make me empathize with a villain or make me feel something I would never have felt about them before.

The Romance:

I’m not sure why I didn’t see the romance coming. In hindsight it seems so obvious to me. But nevertheless, I was a little surprised that there was a romance when I first started reading and that it does play a pretty significant role in the grand scheme of things.  In the end, I really enjoyed that aspect. It really worked for the story and those moments were some of my favourite in the entire book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you have ever wanted to know what caused Captain Hook to be the notorious villain he is, this is the book for you! It is Hook’s coming of age story that really makes you double-guess about what you know about Neverland and Peter Pan!

Read if You Like: adventure stories, prequel retellings of well known tales
Avoid if You: don’t like coming of age stories, Peter Pan

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Series Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

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

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | The Book of Ivy Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Book of Ivy (from Goodreads):
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

breakdown

Series: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
# of Books: 2 (The Book of Ivy, The Revolution of Ivy)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

My Expectations for the Book/Why I Picked it Up:

I was very excited to read The Book of Ivy. I loved the concept of the story–it was very Cruel Beauty-esque but with a more dystopian focus than fantasy and I really, really enjoyed Cruel Beauty so I couldn’t wait! But then, I started to see mediocre reviews for The Book of Ivy on some of the blogs that I follow and got a little less excited. Yet at the same time, it just really made me want to read this more. So I lowered my expectations slightly and went into with an open mind.

I’m glad that I did commit to picking up this book because I really did enjoy it! I was reading The Book of Ivy just on the cusp of my exams so I wanted a book where I didn’t have to think so hard and could get lost in the story. And with this book I could. I was immediately drawn into the world and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Was I able to put it down and function with my life–absolutely. But when I was reading, it managed to capture my attention and keep it.

The Concept/The World:

Why I think a lot of people give it a low rating is because its execution isn’t completely original; or at least to me it wasn’t. I’ve read a LOT of dystopian books and The Book of Ivy is a super mashup of ones I’ve read before. If anyone has ever read Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy‘s 2nd book) they have very similar story lines and concepts. I also got vibes from the Matched Trilogy, The Breathe Series and The Selection as well. The only key difference is, while I found Ivy to be a little on the boring side, I liked her character a lot more than the heroines of these other series. The same can be said about Bishop who completely won me over from the start.

The Plot:

I think the key going into this book is to not expect some high-tension scenarios. I found The Book of Ivy coasts along at a moderate rate because the romance isn’t very passionate; the action is non-existent (ie Ivy isn’t some kick-ass heroine) and it really isn’t politically focused. It’s a very subdued dystopian novel which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–it just makes it look like the younger, not as interesting sibling of bigger dystopian titles like The Hunger Games.

However, that isn’t to say the dystopian world we get isn’t interesting! I really enjoyed the look at gender roles in society, especially how a female “contributes positively” to her community; and what happens if the concept “for the common good” is taken to an extreme. While these themes aren’t highly elaborated, they are definitely present and it add to the story in a positive way.

The Characters & The Romance:

As I said before, Ivy didn’t particularly “wow” me but I did like her character. She showed a considerable amount of growth as the story progressed and I liked her rebellious nature. And while I thought Bishop’s character was a little more on the stereotypical side of things, I liked him a lot. Together I thought they made a great pair.

Which is why I wish the romance was a little more elaborated on. I didn’t mind the slow build and I actually think it was executed in the best way for this story; but the romance fan in me did wish for some more passion 😉

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to The Revolution of Ivy and am very glad that this book will be the finale. Not everything needs to be a trilogy and I feel that 2 books is the perfect length for this series!

updates

–July 4, 2016– Book #2: The Revolution of Ivy

While I forgot some of the littler details of the inaugural novel, I really enjoyed this finale.

I found the start to be slow but I kind-of expected that given the ending of The Book of Ivy. However, it quickly built up speed and become very interesting.

I liked the character development of Ivy we get here. This novel is really about her coming to terms with who she is as a person and what she wants to be happy in life. She makes some tough choices and I applaud her for that.

I wanted a little more excitement at the end but given the nature of the series, I’m very satisfied with how this finale played out. And, the romance was adorable <3

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Book of Ivy 3.5/5 | The Revolution of Ivy 3.5/5

overall

Is The Book of Ivy the greatest dystopian novel ever? No. But if you go in expecting a slower, more subdued dystopian story, I think you will enjoy it! It’s execution is very similar to that of the Delirium Trilogy in the sense that it isn’t a high action, high tension story (like Divergent or The Hunger Games). However, I did feel like The Book of Ivy had a better execution than the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie which explores similar themes.

Read if You Like: low action dystopian, mild romance
Avoid if You: like kick-ass heroines (literally), dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Single Sundays: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Wrong Side of Right (from Goodreads):
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

breakdown

Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Politics, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book one day when I was trolling the blogs I follow. The cover captured my attention, as did the positive reviews; but it was the synopsis that made me want to read this book right away.

Meg Cabot’s All American Girl is one of my favourite teen novels ever. Typical of all Meg Cabot’s work, it just had that great blend of teen romance and humour with a dash of realism, making it so much fun to read. So while I knew The Wrong Side of Right was going to focus more heavily on the realistic world of politics, I was hoping it would capture my heart like All American Girl would.

The Concept:

Don’t be turned off of the fact that this book may present political views you might not agree with. I didn’t find it preachy, pushy or biased in any respect. It focuses more on the world of politics in the sense of how politicians present themselves to the public rather than particular agendas/policies.

The Plot:

The plot mostly focuses on Kate throughout the campaign trail. I truly think this book could have been 50 pages shorter and still got its message across. Because the beginning was strong, as was the end, but somewhere in the middle it started to lose me. It’s interesting for the most part (especially if you like following campaign stories) but after a while it gets a little monotonous. Like, I got the point: she wasn’t sure she was in the right place–now what was she going to do about it?

What I did enjoy about this story was Kate’s interaction with her new family. I loved the approach this story took with that respect because it seemed so real to me. It wasn’t plagued with over dramatics and I could easily see the situation happening to any family–whether they are in politics or not–when an unexpected child enters their lives.

The Characters:

I have such mixed feelings about Kate. There is no doubt about it: she is an extremely naive girl. I can’t say that I entirely blame her either given the situation she finds herself in. Politics–especially American politics–is its own world and you truly don’t understand it, I’m sure, until you’re immersed into it. I get that. However, what frustrated me is that she was so campaign savvy–she knew she had to act a certain way while in public–yet she was surprised when she did have to act a certain way. It’s confusing I know, which is what bothered me the most while reading.

I suppose her naivety is used to show a non-cynical view of politics. She is that fresh voice on her father’s campaign trail. (Why they gave her as much power as they did within the campaign still baffles me.) But it shows her age that she just doesn’t get it-and hey, what 16 year old really does get politics? I’m 23 and I still don’t get it! I think it’s the fact that she gave me the impression she had a better understanding of how it all worked–when in fact she really didn’t–that made her seem wish-washy to me. She was so strong in her political convictions and quickly interfered on those matters, yet struggled with the simplest aspects of her daily life when it came to her family. Yes, it is a coming of age novel and I totally get the journey she has to go on–I just didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I had hoped when we were first introduced to her.

Also, I just have to get this off my chest because it frustrated me to no end:

Spoiler Rant of Frustration

Ok, so the whole deportation situation with her friend frustrated me to no end! Sure, I can get the initial assumption that her father ratted her friend’s parents out. HOWEVER, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the family staring in a photo with Kate that is publicly released before her father’s apparent change in immigration are somehow linked. That just seemed like a MAJOR DUH to me and I guess I was the only one who saw it that way…

[collapse]

The Romance:

For some reason, I really thought this was going to play a bigger role in the story than it actually did. I think it was my All American Girl bias–which is book that is primarily a romance with a side-story of Samantha’s growing up. I wanted more personally but I understand that it was never to be the primary focus of Kate’s story.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This book started strong but lost me along the way. I think Kate’s naivety may turn people off but I think you have to cut her some slack given the situation she is in. At the same time, this book helped me reaffirm that I am not the biggest YA Contemporary fan. I personally really struggle to connect with the characters in this genre so I think my rating may reflect this.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, the world of politics (especially American)
Avoid if You: don’t like naive heroines, want more romance

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

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

The Light Trilogy

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

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

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

breakdown

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

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

What I Liked:

-The Faerie World-

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

-Family Situations-

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

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

What I Didn’t Like:

-The Romance-

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

-The Plot-

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 3/5

overall

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

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

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