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.

Review: Gates of Heaven by Pamita Rao

A Fantasy Action Adventure Series

Book 1 of Balthasar Family Saga

 

Title: Gates of Heaven

Subtitle: A Fantasy Action Adventure Series

Author: Pamita Rao

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Year of Publication: 2015

Published by P.S.R. Publishing Limited

Series: Balthasar Family Saga

Rating: 3/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book after I signed up for the author’s no-spam newsletter.

Warning: This book contains mature content not suitable for children!

“It was a myth well known to anyone in Tireol that the enchanted forests hid the gates of heaven created by gods. The gods used the gates to travel between various realms to observe and guide the life force that they helped create.” (Loc. 165-166)

Gates of Heaven is the first instalment in the fantasy adventure series Balthasar Family Saga written by Pamita Rao.  On Planet Myrth, King Creed reigns over the entire land, but his thirst for power didn’t quench with the vast territory he already owns; he also wants to conquer other realms beyond Myrth. To make his greedy wish come true, he needs to pass through the gates of heaven, which are located somewhere in the enchanted forests, but they reveal themselves only to enlightened people.

Though Creed learned to use dark magic from the sages while he was exiled by his father, King Balthasar, he has never found the magic gates like the former king did many years ago. When Queen Elora gives birth to a son, Creed’s trusted sage’s prediction comes true. Neelahaim will possess more powers than his father and he will be able to pass through the gates to unknown lands. What would a twisted totalitarian ruler like Creed do to make sure that he will not let the opportunity to go through the gates of heaven slip through his fingers? To plot the killing of his newborn son, of course, by performing a dangerous ritual through which his son’s powers would be transferred to him!

However, the queen senses what Creed is up to, so she has a plan of her own, meant to keep him safe with the help of her estranged family. Here’s where Alaira and Horace (Elora’s sister and brother) step into the picture; they are as skilful and intelligent as the queen herself, but they are more like tricksters. There are also Freddic and Klink who help their friends not only to get into the castle but also to return safely to Nimah.

Creed, the King of Tireol, is the main villain of this story even if most of the time he seems evil without reason. An explanation would be his belief that King Balthasar loved his subjects more than him. I said before that Creed is a tyrant, a greedy person who uses his power and dark magic to get what he wants without caring if he causes suffering or destruction around him, and for some strange reason I compared him with Emperor Nero because they are both cruel and selfish.

In contrast, Queen Elora is a skilled warrior and an intelligent woman, but she accepts to marry Creed in order to keep her family safe. Even if she doesn’t love the King, she has strong motherly feelings towards her son, for whom she risks and sacrifices everything including her freedom. Though Elora wasn’t able to see her family again after marrying Creed, she can’t ask anyone but her dear sister to protect and take care of her child.

As for Alaira, I don’t have a lot to say, though she’s the protagonist of the story. She is brave like her elder sister, skilled in the arts of swordsmanship and archery, a true trickster, but a girl with strong family bonds and a soft heart for her father (Reddan), siblings and her nephew. She promises to protect the child even if it means risking her life to let him live.

The plot follows different characters, that’s why we have multiple points of view: Freddic (Alaira’s friend and love interest), Creed (King of Tireol), Queen Elora, Alaira, Horace etc. The pacing is fast, the story is very visual, but there were some weird word choices especially in the first half of the book, which made it difficult for me to focus on the story. Here are a few examples just to give you an idea: “she sensed darkness in him” (Loc. 372), “You do not deserve to rule this throne” (Loc. 553), “she turned her to him” (Loc. 564), “to sneak the prince from under the king’s nose” (Loc. 652). The main themes of the story are: good vs. evil, love for one’s family, courage, devotion, and the sense of belonging to a community.

Now let’s talk about world-building. On Planet Myrth, which initially made me think of a science-fiction setting, we have Tireol, Taelk, Griesmal and Nimah. People work in small but loving communities; they trade goods with the aristocrats for protection (as Freddic’s family did). In this world there are also slaves and servants, who are beaten by the guards and noblemen, there are sages like Drahim, and magical creatures like trolls and Ghimish. There are myths, pretty vague beliefs in gods, history of Tireol (the story about Balthasar) and some politics, an essential part of every fantasy novel. Even though the book can be read like a fairytale, it has mature content such as macabre or death scenes which are not suitable for younger readers.

To wrap it up, I hope that my review stirred your interest in reading Gates of Heaven. It was a pretty interesting book for me, though there were some things I didn’t understand or resonate with, but if you’re a fan of high fantasy or adventure, give it a chance.