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: You & Me Forever by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

A Sweet Romance Collection

 

Title: You & Me Forever

Subtitle: A Sweet Romance Collection

Authors: Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, New Adult

Year of Publication: 2017

Published by: Gryfyn Publishing

Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection  written by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas is a young adult (and sometimes new adult) romance collection comprising eight short stories and a novella ranging “from thrilling, to dark, to emotional, to wholesome.” (Loc. 71) The stories are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and they are written both by best-selling and first-time writers.I only read Pamita Rao’s Gates of Heaven which was a nice book, so, when I saw this anthology, I was really curious to see what it was all about. Also, this is one of the fewest new releases of this year that I read.

In Check Mate by T. Ariyanna (3.5 stars), Liz heard that a foster child has run off from the correction facility he lived in. When the assailant tries to hold her hostage after he crept into her room, Liz uses her self-defensive skills she has learned to free herself. Why has Rook run away from the facility? Will Liz give in and fall for the beautiful stranger? I liked Liz’s courage and composure in such a tensed situation and I’m sure that it suits her to become a cop like her father. The main theme of this short story is domestic abuse.

In It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale (3.5 stars), Aleyna McKenzie’s dream is to become an actress, but she only finds small roles as an extra, which help her pay the bills, but nothing more. However, her life is about to change when handsome actor Carson Peters comes into her life, befriends her and helps her understand how the film industry really works. This new adult short story, which looked more like a novelette, was very enjoyable because you can see how hard life is for aspiring actors to break the ice or receive an offer for a major role. I also enjoyed the romance because it was low-burning and realistic and I liked the contemporary elements found in this story: Aleyna loves social media and she has her own YouTube channel. The theme of the story is: follow your dreams no matter what and persevere even when things are tough.

In Taken Away by Megan Linski (3 stars), Rosemary McGowan and Noah Cash come from broken families, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become friends or even fall in love. “We both long to be free in a way that we never can be, free of our obligations from our overbearing parents and able to go out on our own into the world. If it was truly up to us we would take his bike and leave, drive to the beach somewhere and leave the old world behind us.” (Loc. 1828) Rosemary loves spending time outside in the open, while Noah is the bad boy who loves riding his motorcycle. One night, after returning from work, Rosemary is kidnapped by someone pretty familiar to her, but Nosh looks for them and he will not give up until he brings his girlfriend safely back home. What family secret will Rosemary discover? The story is a bit suspenseful and Rosemary has the courage to attempt her escape, but I also liked Noah’s determination to look for her. It’s a new adult romantic thriller story and the main themes are domestic abuse and family secrets.

In Forever Together by Pamita Rao (4 stars), Ava begins to fall in love with her best friend Liam. Should Ava follow her heart and confront Liam about their feelings or shouldn’t she ruin such a great friendship? I will let you discover how Ava will find the truth. It’s a cute young adult contemporary romance that will remind you of your first love, the sweetness and the anxiety that comes along with it. I know that it’s a predictable story, but I enjoyed it because it made me feel like a teenager again.

In A Thousand Stats by Amy Reece (3.5 stars), Charles Maddox is Madison Iver’s best friend since childhood. Maddie likes him, but she prefers to put him in the friend zone rather than to ruin such an old friendship. This is a young adult contemporary romance and its themes are friendship and unrequited love like in the previous story. Fortunately, this story isn’t just about falling in love with your best friend, but also about becoming aware that having a pretty face is not everything. Besides finding love, Maddie needs to focus on her future, on her career and stop being a people pleaser.

In When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich (4 stars), Graziella Roberts is rescued from her burning house and brought urgently to the hospital. Daniel Stevenson, a boy from school Graziella secretly had a crush on, came to visit his brother Liam, the firefighter who saved Graziella’s life. Will this be the perfect opportunity or Graziella and Daniel to know each other better and to share their secret feelings?

In Down the Road by Constance Roberts (3 stars), Sophie and her friends are gone camping and drink a lot of booze. Rylan, Sophie’s a controlling and abusive guy, not like Blake who treats her nicely. Will Sophie have the courage to break up with the jealous jerk and give Blake a chance? It’s different from the other stories. The main themes are domestic abuse and unrequited love.

In This Is Not a Drill by Yesenia Vargas (3.5 stars), Max moved to a new school, but he felt out of place after his parents’ divorce. When a drill occurs into the school, Max and Lucy are lead to a dark classroom until the coach comes back for them. Why the school is placed on lockdown and who is the assailant threatening the institution? It’s an interesting story about family secrets.

Overall, You & Me Forever was a cute collection of stories and novellas. Though I’m not a big fan of the young adult books, I took my time to savour each story and I found something I liked pretty much in all of them. Besides, the repetition of a chapter in Cindy Ray Hale’s It Was You and a few editing errors, the stories were clean and well-written. My top three favourite stories from this anthology were It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale, in which I learned about what happens behind the scenes of a film or TV, series Forever Together by Pamita Rao, a sweet short story that made me feel nostalgic for the first time I fell in love and When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich, a story about courage, survival and young love. These nine works of fiction also changed my opinion about short stories and made me crave for more in the future, stories not necessarily belonging to the young adult/ new adult genre.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I actually had a book review planned for this Friday, but I changed my mind because June and July are two crazy months for me, so I opted again for a book tag which suits this time of the year. Plus, I’m always happy to talk about the current state of my TBR pile.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag was created by two book-tubers (Chami and Ety) and it comprises of fourteen questions, mostly regarding the books you read in the first half of the year. I read twenty-six books until now including the dnf-ed ones, so I think that I have enough material to answer properly to each and every question.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017.

This year I wanted to read all the first instalments in the series I own because I plan to continue only the series or trilogies I’ve found unique and enjoyable to explore further on. For the best book I’ve read until now I choose The Essential Book Blog by Ken J. Howe, Saul Tanpepper, Michael Guerini and Cheryl L. Seaton, which is an easy yet informative guide for each new book blogger or newbie author and it teaches you anything from how to build your own blog, what your review should include, how to get traffic on your blog, how to get books and even how to earn money through your blog. Personally, I can’t wait to review this blogging guide and reread some of the sections in order to apply them to my blog.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017.

 

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that I will not be as generous as I used to be with the 5-star ratings and by far, there are just three books that had the wow factor I was looking for. The first 5-star sequel I rated in 2017 is Escape from Sudan, the 9th book in Mike WellsLust, Money & Murder series because I was on pins and needles while reading this book. It really was a roller-coaster of emotions for me and Elaine’s (almost impossible) mission through such a war-torn and dangerous country made my adrenaline levels increase.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

I’m not very interested in new releases for now because I have a lot of unread books sitting and collecting dust on my shelves and many eBooks on my Kindle too; so I prefer to stick to those.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I read Mike Wells’ blurb for Panacea, the 11th book in the Lust, Money & Murder series, which is set in Ukraine and the book, is going to be released in September. This is the only sequel I’m excited to devour.

5.  Biggest disappointment.

Well, I have a few disappointments and dislikes reflected on my ratings and on my dnf-ed shelf, but the biggest one came from an author I haven’t read before. I’m sorry for the repetition, but I was extremely disappointed by Isabel Allende’s Zorro. How can a book about California’s famous bandit be so boring with so many info-dumps, lifeless characters and no hook? I loved the fact that Diego is mixed-race, but besides that, his friendship with Bernardo and how his father met his mother, I didn’t find anything of interest in the chapters I read.

6. Biggest surprise.

 

The biggest surprise was The Rocker Who Holds Me by Terri Anne Browning, a book which didn’t deal only with the dissolute lives of rock stars, but also with abuse, heartache and lack of communication. I really love it and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys rock star romances.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

My new favourite author is KK Allen who wrote Enchanted, the first instalment in The Summer Solstice. Besides her beautiful and visual writing, I enjoyed spending my time with her well-built characters, the plot was extremely interesting and the elemental magic blew my mind along with its complexity. The ancient wisdom passed on to Katrina is a combination of Greek myths and Wiccan beliefs. For those of you who are wondering, the review is coming soon.

8. Newest fictional crush.

Nik from The Rocker Who Holds Me might be a potential fictional crush because he is talented, caring and a very hot guy, but he makes Emmie suffer a lot. On the other hand, she is afraid to talk about her feelings for him.

9. Newest favourite character.

I’m currently reading The Lady of the Pier trilogy written by Effrosyni Moschoudi and though I root for both protagonists of the two alternating stories, Sofia Aspioti is very dear to my heart, not just because she is Greek, but she is also a book nerd, a hardworking student, an animal lover and she also writes poetry. She is shy and very cautious because she is aware that everything she does might reach her strict father’s ears, an overprotective parent who forbids her to stay out late or to do anything silly. Despite the restrictions that suffocate her life, Sofia longs for freedom and adventure especially after meeting Danny, an outgoing and non-conformist British tourist whose laid-back attitude makes Sofia fall for him.

10. Book that made you cry.

Though I’ve shed a tear occasionally when I read about Sofia’s kind and loving grandparents from Corfu who reminded me of my own, none of the books I’ve picked up in the first half of the year made me cry hysterically for a certain character or situation.

11. Book that made you happy.

 

It’s hard to say that one of my recent reads made me feel happy, but You & Me Forever is a collection of romantic YA and NA stories written by eight authors including Megan Linski and Pamita Rao, a book that made me feel good most of the time because the short stories range from sweet to dark and they are easy to read especially while you are travelling. I highly recommend it for the summer.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

I adore the new covers for The Lady of the Pier trilogy; they are so gorgeous and suit the novels perfectly with that beautiful and mysterious woman standing on the pier.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Besides the books mentioned above, I want to continue reading the two remaining novels from the Try a Chapter Book Tag and afterwards to flip through or even reread some classics I’ve read a few years ago, but I haven’t reviewed yet.

 14. Favourite Book Community Member

For now, I’ll give a shoutout to my best friend and awesome reviewer, Elena from eLitere.ro who has great tastes in books and movies. Check out her website and show her some love!

If you enjoyed this book tag, give it a try and leave your answers below in a comment or through a link to your blog or YouTube channel. Have an awesome weekend! See you next time!

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.