Series I Might Continue Reading

Almost three weeks ago, I wrote an article about the Series I Won’t Be Finishing and today I’m revealing the article about the series I might continue reading. Now, you know how I feel about book series in general and there are two first instalments I really enjoyed and hope to explore more when I’m in the mood for fantasy and contemporary romance. The titles of these books are Enchanted (The Summer Solstice) by K. K. Allen and The Rocker Who Holds Me (The Rocker) by Terri Anne Browning. On the other hand, there are four series I’m on the fence about, either because the first book wasn’t intriguing enough or I didn’t particularly like the author’s writing style. Only time will tell whether I pick up their sequels or not, in the future.

The Prince’s Special Bride (Royal Romance) by Devika Fernando

I know that modern Cinderella stories appeal to women of all ages and Devika Fernando does a pretty good job building the imaginary Kingdom of Taragonia and the sumptuous atmosphere of the royal court with its glamour and code of conduct. However, I felt that the story needed a little more depth as well as the main characters: Marie and Prince Christian. The sequel follows Princess Olivia, Christian’s sister, and her struggles to become a stronger woman and queen and to find true love. The excerpt I read seemed better written than the previous book, but I’m still not sure if it’s my type of story.

Passion, Powe & Sin by Mike Wells

This is a financial thriller in which themes like poverty vs wealth, family, addiction, love, morality and the thin line between truth and lie are woven into a realistic story whose protagonist can be anyone in dire need of money. How far can a person go to get money fast enough to save one’s parental house from foreclosure? Is it moral to accept the help and instructions of an online friend whose identity is unknown to you? The psychology of addiction was well-written and intriguing, but the first book ends a bit abruptly and the twist I was anticipating didn’t actually happen here. Will I read the next book? That’s a very good question I don’t know the answer to.

Forbidden by Mike Wells and Devika Fernando

Forbidden is a romantic thriller comprising of two plot lines: one is set in the past and it follows Lady Sotheby’s early life, while the other focuses on the present and it follows Jayne whose life changes drastically after hearing the truth about her real family. I loved the way Eleanore Sotheby’s story unfolds with all the suspenseful elements specific to Mike Wells’ writing style. However, the story set in the present reminds me a bit of soap opera I’ve watched in the 90s due to some elements I found in the book. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading a good romance, but in this case, I‘ve pretty much anticipated what’s going to happen; therefore. I’m on the fence about giving the sequel a go.

Song At Dawn (The Troubadours Quartet) by Jean Gill

This book is a romantic thriller as well, but it is set in medieval times during the reign of Eleanore of Aquitaine. Though I thought that this book would be something I would definitely enjoy because it has troubadours, court intrigues and a runaway girl whose talent can help her become a trobairitz. However, I was disappointed because I found the story hard to get into, the pacing was very slow, the characters were interesting, but I couldn’t warm up to them and I was pretty confused with all the conspiracies involving people from the court and beyond.  Now, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy anything, but besides a few well-done scenes, I didn’t feel that much the tension of a true thriller. The synopsis of the second book sounds more appealing, but if I didn’t enjoy the first instalment, is it worth continuing the series?

Before I wrap it up, I would like to know which are the series you are on the fence about.

The End of the Year Book Tag

I saw this book tag a few weeks ago and for a strange reason, I thought that it would be perfect for December. It looks like I was wrong because it’s pretty tricky to answer Ariel Bissett’ s questions in the last month of the year, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

If I push aside the books I DNF-ed, I would say The First Stage by Romanian author Cătălin Pînzaru is a book I need to finish. This is a sci-fi novel I put on hold for now, not because I didn’t like what I’ve read, but I wanted to take a break from this genre until next year because I read enough science fiction for this year and hopefully, I will be in the mood to continue reading it in 2018.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I tend to read darker or more complex books in autumn and winter; therefore the first book I picked up this autumn was the sequel to a young adult sci-fi trilogy entitled The Makers (H.A.L.F.) by Natalie Wright.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Not this year, but I was excited to receive the ARC for Panacea, the 11th book in Mike Wells’ thriller suspense/espionage series Lust, Money & Murder. I’m going to post the review at the beginning of January.

 What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

I don’t really think that I’m going to finish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before the end of the year because Christmas is almost here and I might not have enough time to read. However, I would like to read two cosy mysteries from Agatha Christie and one from Rodica Ojog-Brașoveanu, who is considered the Romanian Agatha Christie. I haven’t read either of these two amazing ladies’ novels, so I’m pretty excited to see how they write.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

If we’re talking only about this year, then the answer is no. I read a few amazing books this year and I can’t wait to write an article about them.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Well, I’m not very good at sticking to plans and New Year’s Resolutions, but I know that I want to read more non-fiction in 2018 and maybe poetry. If I read as much as I did this year, I can’t ask for more.

If you like this tag, please play along or make a mental note for the next year. Which are your answers to Ariel’s questions? Comment below or share a blog post or a video with me and my readers!

Review: Riapoke by Bryan Nowak

Controlled by a demon, a town institutionalizes serial killing to free an evil trapped beneath its surface. A suspenseful, paranormal thriller

Title: Riapoke

Subtitle: Controlled by a demon, a town institutionalizes serial killing to free an evil trapped beneath its surface. A suspenseful, paranormal thriller

Author: Bryan Nowak

Genre: Paranormal Thriller, Suspense

Year of Publication: 2017

Self-Published

Rating: 3/5 stars

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review. Thank you, Bryan Nowak, for sending me this book!

“Just be careful up that way. On the other side of the lake, there is a little town called Riapoke. I’d steer clear of it. They are not particularly friendly to strangers up that way. (…) Just stick to the resort while you’re up there and you’ll be fine.” (p. 17-18)

Meghan Johnston and her seventeen-year-old son Kyle go on a trip before the boy leaves for college, in order to spend some quality time together. They drive to Hideaway Resort, a secluded resort in the Virginian wilderness, but along the way, they hear some strange stories about Riapoke, a small town on the other side of Lake Oleander and the mysterious disappearances that took place there. What will this mother-son vacation have in store for them? Will they listen to the warnings and stay away from the obscure town on the other side of the lake? Read and you will find out.

Meghan Johnston has been separated from her husband for twelve years; therefore she became the overprotective parent who suffocates her child with love. Kyle, on the other hand, loves being spoiled by Meghan, but he is a teenager now who needs independence in order to explore the world around him and to date girls. Therefore; it’s not hard to imagine that the boy is not too thrilled about this trip, but their adventure in the quaint town of Riaopke will certainly be an experience neither of them will forget. This journey will help both mother and son to strengthen their relationship and teach Kyle to become a responsible person.

There are some important characters in this story, but the most intriguing one is Reverend Donny Swenson is the Head of Riapoke, of the Church of the Master and anything you can think of because he controls the entire town, perform the sacrifices for the Master and manipulates the whole community to get what he or the Master wants. This character will give you the creeps for sure because he does disturbing stuff an ordinary priest would never do. At first glance, you might think that Donny is a kind and hospitable person, but when you fall into his trap, you realise that it’s too late to escape your fate. However, his intentions don’t lack reasoning and motivation because there is a prophecy he is eager to fulfil both for himself and the Master and it seems that Meghan and Kyle have the profile of the two people the prophecy talks about. Furthermore, the reverend is the only one who can communicate directly with the strange creature and can appease it because Donny’s office is connected to the underground cave in which the Master dwells and awaits its next victims

The place is more like a cult compound than a town. The whole shebang is run by a guy named Reverend Donny Swenson. He’s literally the head honcho of everything around here. He’s in charge of the police, fire department, garbage, even controls the local school board.” (p. 99)

The idea of a secluded town that institutionalized serial killing is very intriguing for a reader who enjoys thrillers, but I felt pretty detached from the story whether it’s because of the characters I couldn’t warm up to or the overall plot which didn’t always grip me. However, this doesn’t mean that the book is bad, but it was just not my cup of tea. While I was exploring this thriller, I realised that I don’t particularly enjoy reading about strange cults and human sacrifice. On a more deeper level, this book questions religion authority/power and manipulation in a secretive and secluded town, good and evil, the importance of having a family who should be bound by love, redemption, (lack of ) humanity and many more.

Riapoke has plenty gruesome scenes; therefore it’s not advisable to be read by a younger audience. The story is told from multiple perspectives (Carl, Waylon Anderson, Meghan, Donny, Matthew and Mike), which help you understand the plot better. I didn’t have a favourite character or scene, but the last quarter of the book was really dynamic and intense, while the ending turned the whole story on its head.

 If you love paranormal more than I do, you might enjoy this book, so pick it up if you are interested.

Winter Reading Challenge / Ce cărți mi-a ales prietena mea cea mai bună?

Așa cum a scris și Elena în articolul ei, am descoperit provocarea Adelei de la Vanilla Moon Books și ne-am gândit să ne alegem una alteia cărțile pentru următoarele luni. Ce a ieșit a fost foarte interesant, așa că vă invit să citiți ambele articole.

Deși mai am cale lungă până voi termina Harry Potter și piatra filosofală, îmi doresc să citesc atât cărțile pe care le-ați votat în sondaj, cât și pe cele alese de Elena, fie alternându-le, fie luându-mă după impulsul de moment. Deși am foarte mute titluri tentante în minte, este totuși mai ușor să aleg dintr-un număr redus de cărți, decât să deliberez în fața bibliotecii ce volum să scot. Astfel, iată o parte din lista mea de lecturi pentru începutul anului 2018.

Voi începe cu cele două cărți polițiste: Zece negri mititei de Agatha Christie și Cianură pentru un surâs de Rodica Ojog-Brașoveanu, care sper să-mi dreagă gustul lăsat de cărțile mystery din acest an, care m-au dezamăgit profund. Deși pare greu de crezut, nu le-am citit nici pe Agatha Christie, nici pe Rodica Ojog-Braoveanu până acum, însă voi umple acest gol în curând.

Înainte de a trece la non-ficțiune, voi menționa Ultima licornă de Peter S. Beagle, de care uitasem complet până când am văzut cartea într-un wrap up al Adelei, iar Elena mi-a împrumutat ediția ei, deoarece volumul se găsește destul de greu, fiind o ediție mai veche. Îmi amintesc cu plăcere că am vizionat desenul animat cu mulți ani în urmă și tare cred că am plâns la anumite scene. Cel mai probabil, această lectură îmi va ține companie spre primăvară pentru că iarna am tendința să citesc cărți mai întunecate sau mai dense.

Și iată că am ajuns la titlurile de care sunt cel mai entuziasmată, deoarece mi-aș dori ca la anul să citesc mai multe cărți des scriere creativă pentru a învăța de la persoane avizate despre intrigă, personaje, perspective, cu scopul de a înțelege procesul de scriere al unui roman. Cărțile alese sunt On Writing de Stephen King, tradusă la noi ca Misterul regelui. Despre scris și Aspecte ale romanului de E. M. Forster, pe care am început-o în anul întâi de facultate, dar nu am mai avut timp să o continui. Știu că am parcurs primul capitol care mi-a plăcut foarte mult.

În final, aș vrea să-i mulțumesc din inimă Elenei, pentru cărțile alese și tare cred că vom mai repeta această provocare. Nu în ultimul rând, îi mulțumesc Adelei pentru videoclipul care ne-a inspirat să acceptăm provocarea și să scriem aceste articole. Vă invităm și pe voi să intrați în acest joc, dacă vă surâde ideea. Tot ce trebuie să faceți este să lăsați un prieten, iubit, părinte copil sau pe cine doriți voi, să vă aleagă cărțile pentru următoarea lună. Ce spuneți? Vă place această provocare?

Series I Won’t Be Finishing

Besides reading, I also love watching book-tubers talking in front of their cameras about the books they own or got from the library. Though I enjoy wrap-ups and book unhauls, I’m also interested in learning about books they didn’t like or series they are not going to finish. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of book series, especially those long ones because life is pretty short and I have to do a thorough selection of the volumes I’m really excited to pick up and hopefully enjoy. I know that there are some amazing series out there for every age group, but the book industry is also full of volumes I’m not interested in or I didn’t feel the urge to continue reading. Personally, I don’t believe in unpopular opinions because everyone has the right to speak one’s mind in a decent manner without tearing the book apart or insulting its author. Therefore, the six series I’m going to talk about in this article are not necessarily bad, but rather not my cup of tea.

The genres of these first instalments range from young adult dystopian to adult mystery or contemporary. I bought some of these volumes in eBook format, while others were received from authors for an honest review. The ratings for these books are between 2 and 3 stars.

1.. Gates of Heaven (Balthasar Family Saga) by Pamita Rao is a fantasy adventure series set on a planet called Myrth where the world comprises of medieval kingdoms conquered by King Creed, but he wants to rule other realms too; therefore he plans to kill his son, Prince Neelahaim, in order to find the Gates of Heaven. However, the gates reveal themselves only to the chosen ones and let them pass through. Will Alaira, Horace and their friends manage to keep the child safe and fulfil the prophecy? This is a high fantasy book with dark and elemental magic whose end was gripping and for me, it read like a stand-alone.

2. Dawn of Rebellion by Michelle Lynn is a young adult series set in a dystopian world where Britain is an empire again and the US is its colony. After Gabby is sent to the colonies for shoplifting, her sister Dawn and Gabby’s love interest (Drew) go on a mission to save her. We follow three perspectives and we get a glimpse of the totalitarian society, the US’s lost identity and the family secrets the two siblings didn’t know about. Though this story gave me the creeps, I can’t say that post-apocalyptic dystopias are my thing.

3. Maggie Elisabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert is a fictional story based on the life of a real person. Sounds interesting, right? Well, the first chapters were enjoyable, but the young protagonist who lived in Central Mine (Michigan) began to be very annoying due to her repetitive thoughts about the world and the people around her. Though this book was pretty short, I deeply regret reading it because it was a waste of time and energy.

4. Wild Child by Mike wells was a pretty big disappointment for me because a young adult thriller from the author who writes ‘unputdownable’ espionage books sounded great, but… it actually wasn’t. Now, the idea of two teenagers finding a strange green substance that heals wounds and strengthens the body is a pretty cool concept and if you add two CIA agents who are interested in the location of the miraculous water, it’s even more intriguing. However, I didn’t like the story that much and I’m not planning to continue this trilogy. The characters were thinly fleshed out and Briana Fox was so annoying that I didn’t care too much what happened to her.

5. The Greeks of Beaubien Street  (The Greektown Stories Series) by Suzanne Jenkins is pretty much marketed as a mystery, but it reads more like a family saga – the family dynamics of the Greek-American Zamos Family) which was very interesting. When it came to the mystery aspect, it was a bit overshadowed by the other plotline of the book. Jill Zamos is a homicide detective from Detroit who has to solve the murder of Gretchen Parker and she does that with the help of her colleague and friend, Albert Wong, and her visions. I was pretty disappointed that the mystery was not the focus of the story and it wasn’t clear enough for me who actually killed the girl. This book also has some disturbing scenes, so be aware if you are a sensitive person.

6. Chiriaș la Cluj (Fiziologii extrase dintr-un jurnal) by Marius Oliviu Iacob is the Romanian contemporary story of a middle-aged man called Hipolit Sterea (or Hip as his friends call him) who lives a pretty miserable life due to its low wedges from the publishing house where he works. He blogs about real estate as a hobby and writes funny stories online, but his dream is to write a book and his friend Oli (Oliviu) is willing to support and help him make his wish come true. Hip is the type of person who doesn’t seem to blend in anywhere, that’s why he rents his apartment from Cluj and becomes a tenant himself. To be honest, besides a few jokes and literary hints here and there, this book lacked everything I love in a book, including a plot and likeable characters.

These are the series I’m not planning to finish now or anytime in the near future. I will also write an article about the series I might continue, but until then, I would like to know which series you’ve quit or want to abandon.