Tag Archives: Series Review

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab

I’ve been very hit-or-miss with Victoria/V.E. Schwab but my friends loved this series so I wanted to give it a shot! It made it easy to read with my library having copies of the first audiobook and I ended up purchasing the second to finish it out.

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: July 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 17, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I wrote a pretty quick collection of thoughts on Goodreads and since it’s been quite a few months since I actually read the book, it’s interesting to read these thoughts and look back on my experience reading the book… which is that I don’t remember as much as I had hoped. THIS SAVAGE SONG was a solid read, but it didn’t really stay with me. The book kind of had a feel like THE 5TH WAVE except more of a paranormal/urban fantasy concept with monsters instead of aliens. (I mean, it’s not a direct comparison because a lot is different but that kind of post-apocalyptic feel is there.)

I was entertained the whole way though and I enjoyed the characters of August and Kate. I really liked Kate’s toughness and I appreciated August’s situation but I was always left feeling like I wanted a little more background. It’s only a two-book series so I was hoping there would be more world-building and set-up included in THIS SAVAGE SONG and there wasn’t, so I was left waiting for that in book two.

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 19, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

OUR DARK DUET was a less enjoyable read for me. I kept hearing about all of the FEELS here but since I didn’t really have them for the first book, I really didn’t keep anything moving to the second book. I felt like the author was relying on feelings to carry the book through and still, I was really lacking that development of the world and the background of the story. I wanted so many more details on how the monsters are formed, WHY they started forming in the first place. I mean, this isn’t a fantasy world — it’s our world and monsters have changed the way we live in it… so where did they come from? Why did they start forming? The concept is there of the reason that they do but what changed that this process creates monsters? There’s a difference between an urban fantasy world in which these creatures have always existed and or own world in which a change has been made that created an urban fantasy setting. It’s SUCH an important part of my reading experience and without it, I just didn’t believe the story.

SERIES THOUGHTS

I find myself disappointed again with the lack of development from Victoria Schwab. Just a bit more thought on the background of things could make any one of her books so much richer. There was plenty of space for it and ample opportunities but she doesn’t seem to go that extra step to really make her worlds that much deeper.

I did enjoy THIS SAVAGE SONG but I lost something with my read of OUR DARK DUET. I just have a really hard time when I like the conclusion of a series less than its beginning because it ends on a lower note and I have a hard time wanting to recommend the series.

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Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

SO many people seem to love this series but it wasn’t a hit for me. I had some issues with the structure that really bothered me and it affected my whole read. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend these books but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to tell anyone not to read them. It was just very middle-of-the-road for me.

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BOOKS LIKE MONSTERS OF VERITY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Grey

I had been eyeing The Firebird Trilogy ever since I saw the cover for A THOUSAND PIECES ABOVE YOU and fell instantly in love! NO WAIT. I’ve actually been eyeing the trilogy ever since Claudia Grey gave a sneak peek of it at a signing for SPELLCASTER. (Seriously. I made a note of it.) Anyway, I finally got around to reading the books and decided to binge all three for a cohesive series read!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Thousand Pieces of You (The Firebird Trilogy #1) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2017

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

This book had been on my TBR and on my shelves for a very long time (I mean, hello, one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen) and the concept was something that instantly drew me in. I finally grabbed the audio for this, wanting to read something more sci-fi and what better to pick up than an multi-dimension story?

The book started off abruptly for me. It kind of starts right in the action and things immediately start happening. I really wished Claudia Gray had taken the time to set up a little backstory before throwing readers into things because it permanently messed up my feelings towards some of the characters, without giving away any spoilers, and once that happens, it’s really hard for me to go back and “correct” that. The first impressions stuck with me and I didn’t even have time to learn a little backstory, but more importantly, see some character history and personality, before the action took off.

The concept was exactly what I was looking for! Hopping from dimension to dimension and travelling between worlds. I have to say, I was super impressed with the different universes that Claudia Gray created for these characters! Most books, when dealing with alternate universes, focus a lot on things that are very close to the life that we’re living now but a few major or minor things have been changed to have a significant impact on a character. Here, Gray set up worlds where the main characters have a whole lot more to figure out. From a world where technology has progressed much faster to a world where technology has progressed MUCH slower so that the world is essentially still in the dark ages. A world where Marguerite ends up in a place almost exactly like her home to a world where she lives in a different country and has an entirely different upbringing. It’s easy to create a setting for a book a tamper with it slightly to come up with an alternate universe. Claudia Gray really gets into the different possibilities and how anything minor can create a huge major difference!

I also really love the family aspect and how tightly knit this family is. There’s a great dynamic, the parents are loving and supportive (although I guess it depends in what universe, right?), and the graduate students that work with Marguerite’s parents have become a part of the family too.

What I didn’t love was the romance. It was set up a little awkwardly and there were some… things that happened that really turned me around right from the start. I won’t get into details because that heads into spoiler-ville but the set-up and execution of the romance felt really clunky to me and even heading straight on to the second book (which I’m reading now), I still can’t shake that feel because of how it was set up in book one. Again, with no backstory for these characters when the book started, I had no sense of who was supposed to be what to Marguerite, the history she had with them, her feelings for them, and why she should trust anyone. I just really needed that chapter or so in the beginning to introduce all of the characters. The book felt like it was the second book in the series, not the first, with the way that it started and threw the story and characters at me right away and that made things a little difficult. The book does offer flashbacks so readers are still able to see things from “before” but that didn’t really make up for what I was wanting in the very beginning.

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU didn’t exactly go how I had hoped but it was still an enjoyable read and I’m so impressed with the different worlds that Claudia Gray has built! I’m already in the second book because I’m interested in bingeing the whole series and I’m loving her creativity so far.

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (The Firebird Trilogy #2) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

I think I enjoyed this book better than the first! I liked having everything established and it was neat to see these concepts expanded even more. One thing I love about good fantasy/sci-fi writers is when they make the readers think they’ve gotten all of the reveals and then something totally new is revealed and it’s like a whole new world opening up!

I’m still not the biggest fan of the romance, but I don’t think I will be at this point. It’s kind of just there for me and I don’t love that it’s the main reason why Marguerite is doing what she’s doing, but I guess I also like that her guy isn’t someone she just met and that it’s someone who’s been in her life for a long time. There’s just something about it that still feels like instalove for some reason, and I think it’s the way it was all set up in the first book. I don’t have a problem with instalove when it’s executed well but I’ve just never been a fan of this relationship.

The further development of the multiverse is fascinating! We get to know the same characters but in different dimensions and how their lives are different, as well as how one dimension may be affecting another. Things dig way deeper in this book and the plot was even more fascinating!

I’m still not tooootally in love like I had hoped to be but these books are proving to be very enjoyable and I’m glad I’m reading them back-to-back-to-back so I’m able to soak everything in and not have a year in between each book!

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Million Worlds With You (The Firebird Trilogy #3) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 1, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2017

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

I think this may have been the best book of the series for me! I really liked how everything came together and it was nice to follow the story having gotten to know these characters and really get into their histories. I really enjoyed the conclusion and that it included even deeper layers of these worlds and how they entwined with each other.

One thing I always have a hard time with in sci-fi books is how much science the reader should really be exposed to. We knew the Firebirds worked and that there was a lot of physics and science behind them, but I always found myself wanting to know just a bit more about the science behind it. I understand we don’t want to bog readers down with complicated explanations but I always feel that it adds to the world-building (at least personally, for me) and adds that sense of reality instead of just saying “we created these with science and the science works”. Obviously there’s no real technology like that (at least not that the public knows *cue conspiracy theory music*) but I was left wanting just a biiiiit more of an explanation of why the science made it work the way it did. There were descriptions of how the Firebirds worked but I wanted to know how the science made those functions possible. Maybe I’m going one step too far, haha.

Anyway, I found this book really enjoyable! The whole series was a very solid four-star read for me but I never quite fell head over heels for it, and I think that was because of the characters. They were all very good characters with depth (as noted in their different personalities in different dimensions), but I just never LOVED them. I did love all of the different universes and I’m still impressed with how much time and thought went into each one of them.

Listening via audio, I did find one discontinuity which wasn’t a big deal but it really bothered me for the brief moment that it existed and I needed to get it off my chest! If you want to check it out, head over to my Goodreads review and peek between the spoiler tags!

So TL;DR, this series was very fun in terms of concept and set-up! I didn’t totally love the characters — mostly the romance. I don’t know why but I never fully got on board! I think I liked Theo better, to be honest… I love the rakish rogues, what can I say? — but it was a super solid series and I loved the creativity and detail!

SERIES THOUGHTS

The Firebird Trilogy was really enjoyable! I thought it was a very solid series, all quite good with some great characters, excellent settings, and creative plotting. I really loved that the different universes Marguerite travels to aren’t just slight changes but large changes. It was different from the other alt-reality books I’ve read and it was quite fun to experience such alternate realities!

I was on the wrong side of the love triangle the whole time, so that was hard for me, but I did enjoy the characters to a certain extent. When you’re on the wrong side of a love triangle, it’s REALLY hard to fall into the “do anything for love” concept so that became slightly unrealistic for me but I tried to go with it.

I did want a little more detail with the science to better explain some things but I really enjoyed all of the dynamics between all of the characters and how the different worlds shaped them. I never quite fell in love with these books but they were all very, very good reads and I like the way everything wrapped up! It’s always nice to be able to recommend a series from start to finish.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

These books were so interesting and Claudia Grey did a wonderful job with the different worlds. I’m really glad I finally read this series!!

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BOOKS LIKE THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan Turner

I had seen The Queen’s Thief series around Goodreads for a long time and even picked up the first book at a used book store, but it wasn’t really high up on my TBR being that my TBR contains over 1000 books, so I was really excited when I had seen that Harper had the audiobooks available to request for review when this series was introduced on audio for the first time a few months ago! I took a shot and requested them all and miraculously, they were all approved! So I went on a hard series binge and essentially read them all almost back-to-back (to back to back, etc)! Plus, Steve West narrates the audio so how can you go wrong?

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: December 27, 2005 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 7, 2017

The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.

THE THIEF was not at all the book I expected it to be, though not in a bad way. I had many incorrect assumptions about it based on appearance and general reading experience (it is not, in fact, a book about a female thief and it is not a light and snarky read). These weren’t bad things but due to the fact that I like going into books blind, I didn’t re-read the synopsis before I started so I was surprised!

I really enjoyed THE THIEF and not in the way that I expected. It did get a little slow with a lot of uneventful traveling (we all know how much I get bored with travel stories) but I loved the little bits of mythology to break it up and those were actually my favorite parts. The creation stories were really interesting, vivid, and created a solid foundation for this world.

THE THIEF is also a fantasy world that is fantasy but without magic, similar to books like THE WINNER’S CURSE. There is a presence of religion/mythology and part of the plot does deal directly with the gods so there’s the concept of the involvement of gods but it’s more deities and less magic system. I know this book was written before the majority of the YA fiction out there but since I’m only reading this for the first time, I found the change in pace in fantasy refreshing. I liked the blend of mythology and politics and how they played their roles within the plot.

The characters became more and more interesting as the book went on. Gen got more personable, we see the true colors of Sophos and Ambiades, and the Magus gets really fleshed out and I actually thought his character development was the most interesting of all. At first he’s played out to be the villain (and even has a villain voice, as voiced by Steve West. For those of you who are avid Steve West audio fans, it’s along the lines of Benjamin Malvern in THE SCORPIO RACES so you just know he’s a snooty bad guy) but the more he gets to know Gen, the more you see of his true character and how he treats people. I actually loved it and thought it was wonderful to see something that was much less black and white, good vs evil.

The beginning and middle were a little slow because a lot of it was working up to the big finale, which was definitely big! Megan Whelan Turner did a fantastic job of sneaking in little details that the reader doesn’t know are important until you realize what all has been going on and I loved the surprises in the end.

I also really loved Gen’s voice and his narration throughout the book. I always love listening to Steve West narrate and it feels especially personal to hear his narration in first person, I think in part because of my love for THE SCORPIO RACES. Although it was a bit slow for a while, by the time the book ended, I was ready for more! I received the entire series for review on audio from HarperCollins so I immediately jumped into book two upon completion of THE THIEF!

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #2) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: January 24, 2006 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 12, 2017

Revenge
When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

...but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

...at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...

THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA was actually quite a different experience than THE THIEF! It started off in a very different but good way with a POV switch from first person to third person. I don’t normally like structure changes mid-series BUT I actually did appreciate that Megan Whelan Turner made that decision for this book, and I’m assuming, the rest of the series. THE THIEF was very much a Gen-centric story while THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA started getting more into the political side of this world, involving Attolia, Eddis, and Eugenides’ role between them.

Things were INTENSE right off the bat. I totally wasn’t expecting that given that the first book was… well, not light but it definitely had a lighter tone and nothing too crazy happened. THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA really stepped it up with a reality check for the characters and brought a whole lot of serious to this series.

I sort of started to drift towards the end. There was a… well, I guess it was a twist since it was only revealed in the end of the book but I wouldn’t really call it a twist — but anyway, it was something that didn’t really sit right with me. I had a hard time coming to terms with it, and since it was involving Eugenides, I couldn’t tell if it was a lie/con at first so I spent some time not believing it, but it seems to be the real deal. It’s hard to talk about since I don’t want to spoil anything but essentially it felt a little out of character for a few of the characters and it just didn’t really fit for me. I got a little used to it when the book ended, especially since it seems like it’s going to be a major part of the next book, but I may have a rough time adapting. I guess we’ll see what happens next!

I also found myself wanted more world-building in this book. I loved the mythology stories in THE THIEF and the gods were still involved here but the politics were the main focus of the world-building aspect here. I don’t have an issue with that because I actually loved the political motives in books like GRAVE MERCY, but for some reason I just didn’t feel like it was quite moving things forward and giving me that world-building satisfaction like I was wanting. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there was just something missing.

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #3) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: January 24, 2006 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 20, 2017

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king's caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.

These books have all been good and enjoyable but still nothing that’s totally wow-ing me. In each book, I hit a point where I get a little bored. It’s interesting to see where the book finally ends, but it’s such a round-about way (which is truthfully actually very cool) to get to the end point, and the end goal isn’t always something massive. It ends up feeling a little anticlimactic and I would have loved to see a few of these elements written in together with one final larger goal instead of each of these being a different book (if that makes any sense at all).

I’m really enjoying the characters but I just wish the story was pushing forward a little bit more. I feel like some things are thrown into action too quickly and others take a long time to happen.

I am enjoying the series, though. I do still think the hype built this up too much but they’re fun reads, I love the tone, and the characters really make the books. I’m just not quite finding myself as impressed as I had hoped.

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief #4) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: March 23, 2010 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 21, 2017

Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father's villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the Magus and Eddis, sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.

I’m actually kind of enjoying that each book has a different POV! And Sophos! And the Magus! I love that the gang is back together… kind of. But I really enjoyed this one. I seem to reach a point every book where my interest wanes a little bit so still not quiiiiiite totally engrossed in this series but I’ve been enjoying every book and Sophos’ POV was very fun to follow! I do like him a lot and he has a lot of personality.

The story-telling is just a little different in every book which is actually kind of interesting. Usually a series sort of sticks to one style and this really changes with each character. Sophos was telling a lot of the story until it caught up to current events but I also really enjoyed his story and where it took the readers!

Series Review: The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whelan TurnerTitle: Thick as Thieves (The Queen's Thief #5) by Megan Whelan Turner
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 24, 2017

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

This has been by far my favorite of the series! I was wholly engrossed the whole story and the two main characters (The Attolian!) were amazing. Their relationship and tentative friendship was complicated and meaningful and I felt a little bit of a bromance there! It was fun to really see the two men kind of hate each other and then really develop a solid friendship. The characters were definitely my favorite part of this novel and that’s what really hooked me. I finally got super into it and I think the friendship was really what sold me and that bonding was something that I was missing in the previous books.

I love the little tricks that Megan Whalen Turner always has up her sleeve and there were a few emotional roller coasters here!! In previous books, there were some things that I didn’t see coming because they were revealed after everything happened, but these were exciting surprises that really threw me for a loop as I was reading! There was also a lot more action in this book than some of the others so all-in-all, this was definitely my favorite of the series.

 

SERIES THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed reading this series and getting to know this whole world! I didn’t quite connect AS much as I had hoped with the first few books but I really started to get into the swing of things towards book four and five. It’s really interesting getting so many angles of this world from so many characters and it’s actually fairly unique to other series that I’ve read. I actually enjoy seeing the “main characters” from a “secondary character’s” (which I put in quotes because the secondary characters become the main characters often times) and it’s quite different to see that from a totally different perspective! I really enjoyed this series overall!

addiction_factor1

Addiction Rating
Read them!

These books were so interesting and the series structure was so different from what I normally read! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to review and listen to these audiobooks!!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE QUEEN’S THIEF

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I had put off reading A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC for a while now, for a couple of different reasons. I had some personal reasons involved, some worries that it might be too much like NEVERWHERE, and I actually wanted to let some of the craze die down because hype really kills a book for me and I didn’t want to be caught up in it. I started A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC on audio because I really wanted to listen to Michael Kramer narrate the 2nd and 3rd books (along with Kate Reading) because he’s one of my all-time favorite narrators. It was funny though — I actually preferred the 1st books narrator on a lot of things so that was a surprise! I think he just got those voices all set up in my head and then I couldn’t shake them.

Anyway… I binge read all three books on audio and decided to review them all together instead of one-by-one!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 24, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

This was really good! I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect because I had really enjoyed VICIOUS and didn’t like THE NEAR WITCH (I never finished it) and I also had some personal qualms about starting this book… but I’m really glad that I did because it was actually really enjoyable! I actually enjoyed that some things were set up in book one that weren’t resolved. They weren’t cliffhangers but things that will be important to the plot in future books (I’m pretty sure I know what’s up with Lila) and I like that it wasn’t all resolved in ADSOM so it keeps me pulled to keep reading (even though I would anyway).

That being said…

This was a fantasy world that just totally came together as my kind of book. I LOVE anything with parallel worlds and I really liked how it was incorporated into fantasy instead of just sci-fi. The magic system is really interesting too. It’s not just magic and non-magic… there really are shades of magic and each world has varying degrees of how magic is incorporated and affects its citizens. I am still suuuuper curious about Black London and I kind of hope we journey there in a future book. I just have to know!!

ADSOM wraps up nicely and closes out a story line which is nice not to be left on a cliffhanger! There’s a lot more to discover so I’m sure the next book will get into that and also dip into what spiraled into play here so I thought it was nice on world-building side. There was a solid foundation but there’s still so much more to discover, and everything was nicely built into the story and I didn’t feel any infodumps about this world-system.

I also liked that the romance was slow and steady. Obviously there’s something building between Lila and Kell but it wasn’t instalove and their relationship is built on a friendship — that almost isn’t even a friendship! They butt heads, Lila is stubborn, Kell is kind of a loner (minus his affection for his brother), and yet their sparring and jabs totally work. I do love banter in my book relationships and although this was less flirting and romantic banter, it was just perfect for these two.

I’m actually surprised how much I enjoyed this because I really hadn’t expected to. I listened to the book on audio, having purchased it in an Audible sale, and mostly wanted to listen to the audio because Michael Kramer narrates the second and third books and he is one of my all-time favorite narrators! (Okay, and Kate Reading but Michael is most important.) I actually did like the narrator of this book so I’m not sure how the switch will go, even though I love the narrators of the next books! Steven Crossley is British so it was perfect for a book about Londons and I really enjoyed his narration and will actually go seek out more books that he voices. I didn’t like how he voiced the spell casting (it was much too formal because it wasn’t described as “said”, not anything that had to be so formally announced and pompous) but really that was the only thing I didn’t like about it.

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 23, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 31, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Wow, I am so sorry for anyone who read this book when it first came out and had to wait for the third book. That ending was EVIL.

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS was very enjoyable! The beginning was good but the first half sort of felt like a book one instead of a book two. SO much happened in ADSOM that when things slowed down to this pace again instead of continuing on and escalating, it felt a bit like a step back.

The games/competition was really fun, but also felt like a book one thing that could have set up the magic system, worlds, and characters so it didn’t really feel necessary at all for this book. Unless it plays a big part in the third book, I don’t really think it pushed the plot forward much at all. The characters from the neighboring lands don’t seem to directly play an important part in the book and actually, Kell even said it himself that there was a totally different way this could have all played out (that’s vague, I know, but if I say more, it’s definitely a spoiler).

I did LOVE Alucard, who is my new favorite. (I think I just love all privateers. They’re so sassy and are always involved in banter.) And I also loved where Lila and Kell’s relationship went in this book. We had a bit of book-two-forces-the-lovebirds-apart syndrome here but it actually resolved nicely which is better than a lot of books!

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 21, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 6, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1), Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)

Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

And so I say anoshe to this series.

The ending to this book was just beautiful and a wonderful way to wrap things up. I loved the finality of everything and yet the openness to allow the characters to go off and pursue other things. The series was complete and yet there could totally be more books or a spin-off series with more things to come.

I will say, though, that the thing that struck me the most about this book was HOW MUCH happened. It’s the last book in the series so of course things will escalate but there were so many things that could have been put in the second book — like backstories, more world-building, explanations, etc — that felt a little too crammed into the final book when this would have been more suited for the action and not building things up at the same time. I would have loved to have learned more about Holland in AGOS instead of ACOL, as a specific example, and some of the revelations could have been developed in AGOS with a final reveal in ACOL instead of it all happening at once. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the length of the book but it just did feel like a whole lot was flung at me at once, especially in the beginning. It’s not that it was hard to follow but it was a lot to constantly take in.

Definite (mild) spoilers for the series in the rest of the review below so skim to the bottom if you want to avoid them! 

I also still have some questions that weren’t really answered… I understand the unspoken concept of the one black eye for Antari but I also wish that was more directly addressed. I wish we had known who Kell’s parents were and what his name was before he came to the royal family but I understand leaving that one open because who he was is not who he is and he chooses to be present instead of dwelling in the past. I also wanted to know more about Lila’s past, how she lost her eye (it was said to be an accident but I always wondered if it was more to cover up her true nature), and what led her to where she was. There were so many hints that Lila was so much MORE than basically everything but it was never said that she was more than an Antari… so was she more or was she just Antari? Or an exceptional Antari? Or am I just looking for too many answers that I should attain for myself? I figured out that she was Antari pretty much immediately once it was revealed that she was missing an eye but then the actual reveal wasn’t even an event. It just kind of… happened. Like oh yeah, Lila is doing magic now and she’s doing crazy stuff so I guess she’s an Antari and everyone else was just like, okay, guess so. Maybe because Lila does whatever she wants so people weren’t surprised when she broke all the rules anyway, but still. Again, I understand not wanting to go fully into each character’s past and reveal every little thing but just a few words of wrap-up could have left things more final, I think.

Then there were the THINGS with the magic system. I’m a huuuuge magic-system geek and I love learning about all of the rules and what a magician/wizard/whoever can and cannot do. It felt a little inconsistent to me with new abilities popping up where they were convenient. I did like that average citizens of Red London were able to wield magic and how differently it was accessible to the “common” people and also how its accessibility was different from world to world. I did love that Antari were next-level magic users and the only ones who were able to use blood magic to perform extraordinary feats and that they could use every element and not just one or two or three. Does the black eye signify black magic? It seemed like it should due to the story line here but that really wasn’t addressed. Was it a piece of black magic within them or was it just magic and the essence of Black London had just turned bad? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari were from the three different Londons? Was there a Black London Antari and there is only allowed one from each London? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari had three different colored eyes (Lila: brown, Kell: blue, Holland: green)? Was this all planned and the rules of magic or was it all just randomly coincidental? Maybe I’m just naturally too curious but it seemed like these things were rules but never talked about. Maybe the characters don’t even know themselves. I’m just a total sucker for learning as much as I can about a magic system so that really felt incomplete to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled with Brandon Sanderson books that detail everything so much that I’ve eaten it all up and come to expect it in other books. (The Antari reminded me of Mistborn in a way, with their ability to use all types of magic so there was a minor association for me there.)

I also for some reason didn’t totally love the Osaron concept… maybe because I didn’t love the concept of magic taking a human form? I’m not sure. There was just something about it that I didn’t love and something just felt “off” there for some reason. Maybe because it seemed like some sort of a turn in the concepts and I was expecting a different direction regarding the escalation of the black magic. I was also hoping for more time in Black London because I’m just TOO DARN CURIOUS. So I guess most of my disappointments were just hopes and my curious brain demanding more answers!

Despite all of the thoughts I’ve just expressed, I did enjoy the series. I actually think the first book was the strongest in terms of plot and structure and it still remains my favorite. If things hadn’t gotten derailed with the games in AGOS and had continued with strong plot development, I think the series could have been even stronger and more cohesive. All of the books were entertaining and the characters were really just wonderful. I really loved the character dynamics, the personalities, and the wonderful relationships. As a series, I think AGOS just really killed the plot momentum and while it was still highly entertaining, it could have pushed things so much further and more time could have been dedicated in ACOL to tying things up along with the action instead of jamming everything into a final book. I loved every character and the ways that they all interacted with each other and I did think that was so well done. I really connected with each one and just loved the feelings that I got from their relationships. The ending of the series was bittersweet and just the perfect way to say goodbye, or rather, anoshe.

SERIES THOUGHTS

The first book in this series was definitely my favorite. I thought it was the most solid in terms of setting up the book’s overall plot and kicking off the series. I was disappointed with the lack of series development in A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (book two) because of the games involved and that really ended up taking the spotlight. It was still very entertaining but I’m such a world-building nerd that I can’t get enough of it and I don’t feel like things kept developing until the end of the book. A CONJURING OF LIGHT was also still very entertaining but things took a biiiiit of a weird turn for me and mostly, I just wanted more answers about this world. I feel like some were implied, some we could infer, and others were maybe coincidental? I thought things could have shaken out just a bit more to really settle all those burning questions, although the overall wrap up was very nice!

Now I just need to own the series in print so I can put them with my As Travars candle…

addiction_factor1

Addiction Rating
Read them!

To my surprise, I really enjoyed this series. I had no idea what I was going to find within these pages (or I guess… audio files in my case) and I think it’s a solid series that could benefit from a little more plot and world-building.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE SHADES OF MAGIC

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William Ritter

Well, I had the best intentions of binge-reading this series but alas. I found out that it was actually a four-book series and not a trilogy, so today’s series review will have to be for the first three books and then when the fourth one comes out, that’ll be on its own.

SERIES REVIEW: JACKABY, BEASTLY BONES, GHOSTLY ECHOES

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 16, 2014 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 1, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

I wasn’t totally sure what JACKABY was all about but I was excited to start it! I actually hadn’t known that it involved paranormal elements so that was an interesting surprise when I started reading! (Yes, yes, I know that’s what the whole series is about and it’s plain as day in the book descriptions but you know me and going in totally blind.) I actually thought JACKABY was straight historical fiction, like a YA Sherlock Holmes. I was also interested to find out that Jackaby himself wasn’t a young adult, and I thought that was great to have an adult character as a main part of the book since so many YA books skip around older figures and stick with the teens. It brought an interesting dynamic and mix and also allowed Abigail to get involved in so many things that she may not normally have had access to. That’s always my thing with YA mysteries — a big question that always has to be addressed is why a teen wouldn’t go to an adult with a murder-mystery case and in JACKABY, Abigail is working for paranormal detective R.F. Jackaby.

I also figured that there would be a romance between Jackaby (this was before I knew how much older he was) and Abigail and I’m really glad that there wasn’t! It was nice to see the romance built with Abigail and more of a secondary character and that it was a side plot and not a main focus of the book. The quirky mysteries still took the spotlight and there wasn’t any mixing of work and romance. I actually didn’t really care for the romance, though. I thought it wasn’t very developed in the first book, which it didn’t have to be developed right away, but for some reason it felt fast and forced for me.

JACKABY wasn’t a perfect book but it was really enjoyable! Things kind of piled on with the paranormal but it was fun and not overwhelming as some books tend to feel when dealing with so many different para-creatures.

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 21, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

I started BEASTLY BONES right after I finished JACKABY because the first book was just so enjoyable and a breeze to read! I thought BEASTLY BONES stepped it up even more and that William Ritter’s writing really improved, not that I thought JACKABY was lacking, but it felt more mature and more put-together.

I loved the fantastical element in this book and I won’t give it away because it was a super fun reveal for me but it was a creature that I was so excited to see, and even that had a turn of its own. The characters handle the situation adeptly, as always, and the mystery was a hoot!

One thing I actually didn’t like was the appearance of some secondary characters that were immediately eliminated in this book. They had such a heavy focus in BEASTLY BONES and it kind of felt like a waste to get to know them for such a short time only to never see them again. There was also a bit of repetition of terms and words in this book that I started to notice a lot (I didn’t need to read “indomitable” 20 times) so that was a little frustrating but I thought the mystery was even more exciting than the first book and it took a different turn as well!

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 23, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 25, 2017
Related Posts: The Dire King (Jackaby #4)

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.
Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

GHOSTLY ECHOES was a bit different all together with one of the main characters being involved in the mystery instead of someone from the outside. I really loved how much more personal the mystery became — to Jackaby and Abigail as well as the reader — and where the whole series went! Things really escalated in this book and I really appreciated how so many things came full circle here.

The friendships in this book were stepped up even more and I love how much tighter this group got! The different elements in this mystery were also top notch and I think this was my favorite book of the series!

SERIES THOUGHTS

 

This series is fun, easy to read, and seems to be getting better with each book! I still am missing that big “wow” factor that would shoot it up to five stars but these are all so solid and really entertaining.

I think William Ritter does a great job bringing all of the plot together, especially in GHOSTLY ECHOES, and it was also nice to have an overall plot but mysteries that were solved at the end of each book so I didn’t have to jump back into a world where I forgot everything that had happened, as with so many series. (Although I did binge read these so that wasn’t a huge issue anyway.)

I do feel like I could do without Abigail’s romance. I personally have never connected to it and it still feels forced to me. I actually feel like Abigail would be a stronger character without it, or she needs a more spirited companion. She’s so spunky and I would love to see her banter with someone instead of becoming softer and more gentle, although I guess she does have a different sort of banter with Jackaby. Still, I love that romantic banter and teasing.

addiction_factor1

Addiction Rating
Read them!

This is a really solid series and each book seems to get better! The paranormal and fantasy aspects are so much fun and the two main characters (Jackaby and Abigail) are really solid.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE JACKABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas

I was looking for a new audiobook to start (gosh, so many of my audiobook reviews start like this — it’s always on a whim!) and I was in the mood for a fantasy. I’d been meaning to read THE BURNING SKY for years, literally. I apparently have it marked that I got it at BEA 2013, which frankly was a whirlwind since it was my first year attending BEA and since the trilogy is now complete, I figured why not just binge read it so I can start and finish all at once? I’m so glad that I did because after starting, I didn’t want to stop! I had so much fun with these characters and this setting and it was such a fun series to consume from start to finish. (And oh gosh, these covers look SO PRETTY all next to each other!)

Each book is reviewed individually and then I have some overall feelings on the series, all spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists. Please do note that if you’re reading about books two and three, there may be MINOR spoilers for previous books or for how they start. 

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry ThomasTitle: The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 9, 2016

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.
The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

I was so excited to finally start THE BURNING SKY! I feel like I had heard a lot of good things before I started it and immediately, I knew why. The series had an overall Harry Potter-type feel to me and I mean that in the best way possible. Right off the bat, the feelings started creeping in with an orphan main character who is watched by her guardian and a separation of the mage world and non-mage world. I really enjoyed that the book kicked off with the mage character and then moved into the non-magical world instead of vice versa like so many stories tend to do. We already know the magical characters and then they bounce back and forth between worlds and figure out how to best stay protected in either one.

The characters are fantastic. I love, love, loved the banter between Titus and Iolanthe and these two are some of my favorites. They’re quite a pair and they play off of each other so well, Iolanthe being independent, stubborn, and sarcastic and Titus being protective and stoic. Their banter (really throughout the whole series) gives me life and I absolutely adore how even in the most dire of times, they’re still being witty and sarcastic and adorable. There’s young love, forbidden love, hate-to-love, and awkward love and I loved every bit of it.

Elemental magic is one of my favorite kinds and I loved all of the different ways it was used, but even more so than that, I really loved how elemental magic wasn’t the only kind. So often, if elemental magic is present in a book, that’s the only magic there is throughout but I liked how it was a different kind of magic, one that put mages on an entirely different level. Other mages still have the ability to execute magic with and without wands, though wands amplify and assist their spells/curses/hexes. There was so much to do and so many more characters were able to be included with magic not being exclusive to elemental mages. There’s also an aspect of Seers and the prophecies that play an enormous part throughout the whole series.

The element of the Crucible is one of my favorite things ever. It’s a magical book based on sets of fairy tales that mages may enter to experience as if they were really there. Their bodies stay in the actual world and they’re essentially mentally transported into the crucible but are still able to feel and sense everything as if it were real. No harm can come to a mage’s physical body within the crucible unless using it as an actual portal so Titus uses it often to practice particularly challenging bits of magic and defense against possible situations. I love the scenes in the crucible and I just adore its involvement throughout the whole series. It’s such an important part and is used so many ways.

The non-mage world is magical in its own right. Titus and Iolanthe spend a large amount of time at Eton College, a school for boys in Britain (yes, school for boys. Girl masquerading as a boy, I love it), and the camaraderie at this school is fantastic. There are a variety of friendships formed, from inquisitive Kashkari, to eager Wintervale, to adoring Cooper, to the glue that ties them together, Titus and Iolanthe aka Archer Fairfax. The friendships are just beautiful and I just love this group of boys (and girl). They’re so much fun to watch and I adore the way their friendships work and grow.

There is so, so much more I could say about this book but I’ll leave words for the other two books in the series. I’ll wrap this one up by saying that THINGS happen in the end (as they always do) and so many things are set up for the next book that I couldn’t stand it. Luckily, I didn’t have to and as soon as I finished this one, I kid you not I immediately started book two.

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry ThomasTitle: The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: September 16, 20114 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 17, 2016

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

THE PERILOUS SEA was quite the different set-up from THE BURNING SKY. While we still did have those shifting points of view (I wouldn’t really call it alternating — since everything was from the third person, it was much easier to slide back and forth betweet Titus and Iolanthe without such a stiff change but it is a definite shift in perspective), THE PERILOUS SEA opened up on the present time and the book kept flashing back to X point on the time line, working its way forward to meet up with where the book started. Sometimes this can get confusing, but I actually rather enjoyed it!

The shocker about the beginning of THE PERILOUS SEA is that we meet up with Titus and Iolanthe in the middle of the desert, not knowing how they got there and oh yeah, they have no idea who they are or who each other are. So as the book works through the past, the reader highly anticipates the moment when it’s revealed how they ended up that way. I rather enjoyed the suspense but I actually wish there was a little bit more time spent with that reveal. The magical thing about this whole part about Titus and Iolanthe not knowing each other was that they get to fall in love all over again. You think that little magic is gone because they’ve already gotten together? Surprise. They get to know each other again — with no pre-conceived notions, I might add — and it is amazing.

I wasn’t as thrilled about book two as I was about book one for most of the book until Sherry Thomas drops some SERIOUS TWISTS on us!! Really, a LOT happened in the last quarter of the book so it was a bit much to get all at once but oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, it was a doozy of a twist and there are a lot of reveals that happen here as well regarding several characters! Because of the mass-reveal, I kind of wish some things had been spread out so it wasn’t so soap-opera-confession-spree (it got to be a bit much and one more twist might have gotten to the point of silly) BUT I did love what the answers to all of these burning questions were. Like, I had some serious panic moments because of a huge twist and I was not okay.

Another thing that I noted in this book was something that I love so much about Sarah J. Maas’ books — the incredible ability to fit secondary characters in who become so much more. It’s so easy to dismiss supporting characters nowadays as so many books use them simply for support and not for actual plot development. Not Sherry Thomas. There are characters here for a darn specific reason and you will surely find out that reason all in good time. I loved how much foresight was involved in placing everyone where they belonged from the beginning of the series and holding some important moments with these characters until the exact right time. It was so neat to witness and one of my favorite things about this series!

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry ThomasTitle: The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: October 13, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 18, 2016

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.
However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…
Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?
With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

I basically worried about every single person’s death in THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS. No spoilers there — I was just so, so worried about how it would end. I basically just felt like the Battle of Hogwarts was going to happen at any minute and I feared for all of my beloved characters. There are constant prophecies that show impending incidences but the concept of a prophecy is up for interpretation depending on the character. Are they a certain future that you can’t avoid? Are they a future you need to actively try to accomplish? Are they an overall picture that could come true but you still decide your own destiny? It was really neat to see how one prophecy after another popped up and how they were worked into the story. There’s a long-standing one that we hear from the beginning of the first book that I worried about the whole series and we do finally get to see how that one plays out.

There were plenty more twists in this book as well! Like the thoughts I had in THE PERILOUS SEA, some twists worked brilliantly and tied so well with every character and concept and others felt juuust a little cheesy for some reason. I still loved the whole thing and I don’t know the best way to describe it but it was like almost one step too far and was a little overboard. Still, the ideas behind how to tie all of this together were so impressive!

The ending was a whirlwind and literally everything that the series had been building towards, including pretty much every concept from every book and I loved that. I just really enjoy how these books all tie together instead of being plot 1. Plot 2. Plot 3. It was truly an overarching plot that carried readers from one book to the next, even if the settings were quite different and characters came and went.

SERIES THOUGHTS

These books were just so entertaining and so enjoyable. I LOVED the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe, romantically and how Titus kept calling her his closest friend and most trusted confidant. I really enjoyed how they had such a strong friendship and bond as well as a romantic connection. All of the relationships throughout the series were just beautiful and I loved all of the different types.

I do think the world building was probably the element that was just a little lacking throughout the series. The plotting was done really well and I always enjoyed how everything came together but there were times that I wanted just a little more history or a little more structure or a little more setting and I think those things really could have shot this book to a super-love status. I still loved all of the books and just felt so at home reading them but it was something that I noticed.

This was a great series to binge-read and I truly binge read them, not pausing to read anything else in between. I think that probably helped my overall enjoyment of the series since I didn’t have to stop and wait for a new book to be published, losing some of that memory of what happened in a previous book like I always do. I also loved how the settings and happenings were quite distinct from book to book so even as I was binge reading, I was able to keep them separated in my mind.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS: I listened to all three of these books on audio. Philip Battley narrates them and sadly he doesn’t narrate much else that I could find on Audible. I just loved his narration! He has a delightful British accent and a deep, clear voice which was so enjoyable to listen to. His voicing of the characters was quite distinct and it was nice that Iolanthe was described as having a gravelly sort of voice so he didn’t have to put on a super soft, breathy act for her. He picked up on that beautiful, beautiful sarcasm and banter and the tone and volume of each scene was just perfect. I loved his narration and I’m so sad that he’s not a big audiobook narrator because I’d love to listen to more from him!

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Addiction Rating
Binge them!

I’m so glad I read these back-to-back-to-back. I didn’t want to put them down and stringing them all together really kept me hooked and kept everything fresh in my mind!

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BOOKS LIKE THE ELEMENTAL TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

I had been meaning to read the Mara Dyer trilogy forever! I had heard so many things about the series, how crazy it was, and how it messes with your head so I was incredibly excited to finally start! I even avoided an event at my local bookstore when Michelle Hodkin was in town because I hadn’t read the books yet and I didn’t want to encounter any spoilers.

We read THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER together for our On the Same Page read in January and I knew I wanted to binge-read these series to A) finally complete it and B) because I had hoped I just couldn’t put it down!

Each book is reviewed individually and then I have some overall feelings on the series, all spoiler-free!

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin
Publishing Info: September 27, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 7, 2016
Related Posts: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

I was SUPER excited to finally start this series! THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER kicked off with a bang (maybe quite literally) and really hits the ground running! I was immediately intrigued and was hoping for some super twisty things to happen!

The middle of the book dragged for me just a little bit. When books kick off with such a big start and then the pacing slows, I tend to have trouble staying hooked unless more crazy and/or twisty things continue to happen. There was a lot of necessary set-up of Mara’s new life in Florida and how she meets Noah Shaw/comes to fall for him but there were so many THINGS I couldn’t wait to find out that it did slow down for me just a tad!

There was SO much hype about how much this book/series messes with readers’ heads that I just really wanted so much more of that throughout the book. There were a lot of things that happened but there was very little explanation in this book. I knew (well, hoped) that it would be explained in later books but I do get frustrated when more questions appear than answers. I feel like in order to keep readers hooked, you need them to feel like they got something and aren’t left feeling so confused or in the dark. It’s also more exciting to actually get some answers and then be able to ponder what that means for the rest of the series!

The ending did get super twisty and I totally raced to finish the book! Thank goodness I already knew I was binge-reading the series because I would have had to after that ending!

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
Publishing Info: October 23, 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 17, 2016
Related Posts: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

The truth about Mara Dyer's dangerous and mysterious abilities continues to unravel in the New York Times bestselling sequel to the thrilling The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.She can't. She used to think her problems were all in her head. They aren't. She couldn't imagine that after everything she's been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets. She's wrong. In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

WELL, EVOLUTION certain amped up the mind games quite a bit! Of course you always want to believe the protagonist (Mara) but it’s a case of, is this really an unreliable narrator or is she actually experiencing the truth and no one believes her? It was so much fun to really play around with those ideas and never quite know what was going on! Things started to get absolutely bananas towards the end and I was literally shivering and shouting and afraid of things that go bump in the night because I was getting so freaked out (in a good way).

I really felt like things picked up throughout EVOLUTION and carried on with a steady pace. The reader finds out a lot more of what is happening to Mara and a little bit more as to why. This was definitely my favorite book of the series but things got super twisty and I was totally riveted from about the middle of the book until the end!

I was actually a little bit disappointed by the ending, though. I’m not sure if I had hoped for more mystery? There are some answers to whether we trust Mara or throw her into the loony bin and I wasn’t a huge fan of how the answers played out. I think it felt a bit strange, maybe a bit too hard to believe? Which is saying a lot considering what we’ve learned about what Mara can do and I’ve fully accepted that!

I also was a bit disappointed that more questions got added and there were STILL things I had no answers for. I always hope that book two answers some to most of the questions set up in book one and I was left wondering what the hell is going on with some of these things.

Series Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle HodkinTitle: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 22, 2016
Related Posts: The Evolution of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.
She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.
She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.
Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

RETRIBUTION was a very weird case for me in that the entire book was actually a bit lacking for me but the ending was so clever and very fun! It actually left me on a good note with the series which was nice because I was kind of frustrated with the overall feel of this book, especially as a series conclusion. It sort of felt like it should have been the “sophomore slump” you so often see in trilogies except this happened in the last book instead. Very strange!

RETRIBUTION was the least mysterious/suspenseful for me. There was a lot of action and some straight up “I can’t believe he/she just did that” moments but it felt more like shock value than actual suspense. I was totally bummed that I didn’t have as many “omg” or “wtf” moments as I had in the first two books. Book two was just out of control with crazy moments and RETRIBUTION kind of took a turn…

There was a lot going on in this book but things started to feel way more far-fetched. I mean, we’re dealing with possible paranormal, possible sci-fi, possible mind-messing, but things started to really stray here, I think. Without spoiling anything, I will note that there seemed to be a major character shift which really threw me off. There are new characters who gain more spotlight and other characters who end up moving to the back-burner or are completely (physically) absent for large chunks of the book. It kind of screwed up the dynamic for me and just plain felt odd to do in the last book when relationships are solidifying and answers are finally happening.

I was also not impressed with the new settings and scenery change. Again, it felt like the “sophomore slump” since that so often happens to me in book two even though this was the last book in the trilogy. I just really didn’t like the turn the book took and I felt like an inordinate amount of time was spent in this new setting with this new concept. I really felt like things could have been wrapped up quicker — or just differently all together — and the story could have continued with more suspense or crazy answers.

When it comes down to it, RETRIBUTION did provide a lot of big questions for me. My issue was that I wasn’t a big fan of how those answers came to be. I did like what the answers were but I wished things had played out a little differently to get there. Some scenes felt unnecessary and overdone when something simpler could have happened. It was paranormal, it was science, and yet it was neither. I was sadly not super impressed with the conclusion to the series but I was left on a high note with the very ending of the book itself. I wished parts in the beginning of RETRIBUTION had been more condensed and maybe played out a little differently. Overall, the series was fun but felt a little too dramatic to me when it could have been more suspenseful. The suspense and mystery was absolutely GREAT but I wanted so much more of it in the last book.

SERIES THOUGHTS

Mara Dyer was a lot of fun and really did keep me on the edge of my seat! I’m glad I ended up reading all of these back-to-back-to-back because I would have lost a lot of details if I had waited. The second book was definitely the most thrilling and twisty for me and I really wish the third book had continued on that pace. It was definitely a bit crazy but it also started to become a bit too wild for me in the sense that I wasn’t quite believing it anymore. I kind of felt like Michelle Hodkin was trying to combine too many things all into one series. There are some series (The Raven Cycle comes to mind) where the books blur the lines between genres and you don’t end up falling into any one specific category. I feel like that’s what Mara Dyer should have been for me and it almost was, but things started to fall apart once the answers started coming into play. The answers to the mysteries did resolve things but I wasn’t a big fan of how we got there.

The romance was definitely a lot of fun and I loved the balance between Mara and Noah! They played off of each other nicely and their opposition really made them a good pair! I wasn’t wholly sold on the romance the way some readers are. There was definitely chemistry there and I don’t know if it was because I was listening to the audiobook but I could have used a bit more development of the feelings before the whole falling in love thing. BUT I do get it in the long run!

I absolutely loved the humor in these books. Lots of sarcasm, quips, banter, and jokes based on pop culture. I love how every day humor really brings characters alive and Michelle Hodkin did an amazing job with that! Although I wasn’t totally satisfied with some of the plot developments, I think Michelle Hodkin does an amazing job at character development. I feel like I got a really good sense of who everyone was and Michelle Hodkin really let each personality shine!

Overall, I was hoping for a bit more suspense and mind-messing! Each book definitely had its moments but it didn’t quite seem consistent throughout the series. I also really enjoyed how thing wrapped up but I wasn’t a big fan of how book three got there. It was a solid series, though, and I definitely want to pick up the Noah POV that’s coming out in 2017! I actually feel like I have the potential to enjoy it more than this one… I’m pretty excited for it!

Have you read the Mara Dyer trilogy? Which book was your favorite? Are you planning to read the Noah POV in 2017!?

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

I did enjoy this series as a whole. The great thing was that once I was done with one book, I immediately wanted the next — thank goodness I started this series after they were all out!! I wasn’t totally impressed but I did like the ease of reading and how quickly I was sucked in. I definitely enjoyed this world and want more!

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BOOKS LIKE THE MARA DYER TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

POSSESS     UNSPOKEN