Tag: 2 stars

Sunday Series Review: Red Queen

This week’s Sunday post is different.  I’m not sure how often it will occur, but it is a Sunday Series Review. This will be where a book series is reviewed.  This time Kim has read The Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard and given her thoughts on it.  FYI, this series was not for her and she gives her honest and at times frustrated opinion. But here at Jessica’s Reading Room, we give our honest opinions on the books we read, whether we like the books or not.

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Books in the Series:
Red Queen
Glass Sword
King’s Cage
Novellas:
Cruel Crown
Queen’s Song
Steel Scars

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s rating of the series: 2 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Red Queen: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal. This sweeping story of palace intrigue, class hierarchy, and deception will keep readers hurtling along, desperate to find out Mare’s fate. Her honesty and determination, quick wit, and no-holds-barred attitude will surely make readers fall in love with her.

Glass Sword: Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind. Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

King’s Cage: Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner. As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back. When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Cruel Crown: Queen Song
Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

Steel Scars
Captain Farley exchanges coded transmissions with the resistance as she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital. She was raised to be strong, but planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected—until she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation: Mare Barrow.

Kim’s Review:

Now as I’ve said in other reviews, I hate politicizing fiction. I don’t care about the race, gender, or orientation of characters, if I like a character, then I like them. I don’t want to be preached at by an author, even when they try to do it subtly. When I read Red Queen, I had just started in YA and I enjoyed it. But when I read it again to get back into the series and read all the way through it when King’s Cage came out, I realized just how common it actually is. It’s the exact same story as every other stereotypical YA book on the market. I loved Hunger Games, I mostly enjoyed The Selection . . . Red Queen is a combination of both and has basically the exact same story. Aveyard couldn’t even find an original name for her main character! Mare . . . like America, nicknamed Mare, in The Selection. She even threw in a love triangle, like every other YA story. I then moved on to Glass Sword and got bored. It was just an average book. It faded into the background and I honestly barely remember what was in it. But then I read King’s Cage. There were only 2 things that I felt while reading it: boredom and annoyance. I was bored during the hundreds of pages of Mare sitting in a literal cage bemoaning her life and her circumstances and whether she loved Cal or the evil Maven. “Cuz yeah, Maven is evil, but I can’t seem to get him out of my head, even though he’s really, really evil, I think I may still love him! But he’s using his armies to fight against us, but I think I may still love him!”

Then, Aveyard started in with the politicizing. She started out with a Hillary Clinton quote, which hey, you’re allowed to have your opinion and I would have just breezed over it with a slight eye roll, except for one thing. She didn’t even credit Hillary Clinton, she credited HRC . . . how cowardly! If you can’t confidently credit a quote, then what does that say about you, being too cowardly, or about the person you’re quoting? Then throughout the whole book, the characters whined about having to fight, about having to place nice with others, about trying to identify with the enemy, about how fighting makes them just as evil as the enemy! I got so mad, Ivan(my husband) looked at me and asked what was wrong! And I gave him an earful!

Aveyard’s pathetic “philosophizing” combined with her obvious loathing of anyone in uniform killed any sense of plot that book could have had! She at least had the whining balanced out with action in Glass Sword, but not in Kings Cage!! This book was nothing but whining and bellyaching instead of understanding what true sacrifice really is. I will not read another book by Victoria Aveyard because of her pandering politicizing of fiction! And the end?? ****Ok spoiler alert, asterisks mark the end where it’s safe to start reading again. My gosh, Mare!! Why don’t you quit being so dang self-centered and see what Cal could do for Reds, Silvers, and Newbloods alike, on the throne!! This isn’t all about you! Cal is in love with a Red so you don’t think just maybe he’d be open to changing the world for the better? But no, all you can think about is yourself! Give me a break!**** 

I won’t talk all about my annoyance with the acknowledgement section because I didn’t have to read it, but there’s lots of obvious and self-righteous politicizing. Basically, starting in Glass Sword, all I thought was, “when is this series going to end? I can’t take any more boredom. I can’t take any more annoyance. Gosh! Be over already!” When I finally finished, I handed the books to Ivan and said, “Here, you can go ahead and throw these out.” I have NEVER thrown out a book. I am absolutely opposed to burning or disposing of books. But I, the ultimate book nerd and preservationist, wanted to throw this series straight into the dumpster. I ended up leaving them on my “Read” shelf and will keep them there until December 31 at midnight, then I will through them in the donation pile because I will never pick them up again. I know not everyone agrees with me politically, and I completely understand and respect that. So, I want to make sure to convey that these books are boring with a capital B. Even the novellas weren’t that great! Queen’s Song was the only one that I appreciated because it gave a little historical context on Cal’s mother. I would not recommend this series to anyone.

The Weekenders


Author: Mary Kay Andrews
AUDIOBOOK

Published: May 17, 2016
Dates Read: February 14- March 7, 2017

My Rating: 2 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends, and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it becomes clear that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens…in a murderous way. Now Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

My Review:

I first want to say I am a Mary Kay Andrews (MKA) fan. She is also from Georgia, and I love to support authors who live in my state. I have read some of her books that I have loved (Beach Town and Save the Date) and others that were passable. I hate to say it, but The Weekenders was of the latter.

MKA books are women’s fiction/chick lit/beach reads. They make for a quick and easy read. The Weekenders is about Riley Griggs and her daughter Maggy. Riley and her daughter are heading for Belle Isle to stay at their vacation house. While on the ferry Riley is handed some papers by a process server. Riley is not happy about those papers and her husband not showing. From that point on there are a few mysteries that occur in The Weekenders. A body shows up and it also appears that Riley’s husband has a few secrets of his own. Also entering the picture is Nate, who was involved with Riley in the past.

I can’t say too much more about the novel without spoilers. I did not become that attached to the characters, although I did like Maggy. She is a twelve year old with a serious attitude problem, and she also has juvenile diabetes. She causes drama, along with a lot of family drama in Riley’s family. I really did not have any feelings about Riley. I know you are supposed to root for her with everything she goes through, but some of that could be considered problems the wealthy have. I am far from wealthy and I suppose that is why I did not identify with her.

I admit I kept listening to the audiobook as I wanted to know about the murder. Once we find out who the murderer was I couldn’t help but giggle. I was not expecting this particular character to be the murderer. It is unrealistic as to how and when we find out who the murderer is: A conversation where the character admits to the murder right before a hurricane coming to the island. Closer to the end of the novel it just seemed like the hurricane was thrown in to make an already long book even longer. It was a bit ridiculous and far-fetched in my opinion.

I know beach reads are for fun and to throw all belief out the door, but in this case The Weekenders was a bit excessive. For me the best part of the book was the Epilogue. Everything was concluded in a nice way.

Overall, I would say skip The Weekenders and read another of MKA’s book. I would recommend the first book of hers I read, as it is what put her on my radar: Save the Date.

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In a Dark Dark Wood

Author: Ruth Ware
AUDIOBOOK

Published: 8/04/2015
Dates Read: December 12-26, 2016

My Rating: 2 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

My Review:

Leonora (Lee/Nora- I will reference her as Nora in this review) is a 26 year old crime writer. One day she gets an email inviting her to a Hen (bachelorette) party for her old friend Clare. She hasn’t seen Clare in ten years and wonders why she was even invited to the party since it has been so long since they have seen each other and when she wasn’t even invited to the wedding. After debating with herself she decides to attend. ( I would wonder the same thing. Why would someone I haven’t talked to in ten years invite me to her party? More than likely I would not go. ) Things go horribly wrong at the party and forty-eight hours later she awakens at the hospital. She has no memory of what happened but overhears a conversation and knows someone is dead. Nora becomes determined to find out what happened and who is dead?

The book goes back and forth from the hospital and the hen party. While at the party, Nora discovers who Clare is marrying and I will not say who he is, but whom the groom is goes back to issues they had in their teen years. The small group has several adventures leading up to the tragic evening.

This is yet another book with an unreliable narrator. At least the narrator is not an alcoholic, she just has amnesia. As she begins to remember that evening, you can’t help but wonder are these memories accurate, or is Nora the murderer?

The beginning pulled me in, but in the end it just wasn’t for me. Things that happened in her teen years are still affecting Nora and she kept focusing on it in the book. I can say I did not predict the ending of the book. I was a little shocked with the ending and the killer’s motive. The killer’s motive was a bit juvenile in itself.

I have read much better mysteries and worse mysteries. I would say skip In a Dark, Dark Wood and read Ruth Ware’s second book, The Woman in Cabin 10 which I awarded four stars. The protagonist in Cabin 10 is also unreliable, but it is a much superior book than Dark, Dark Wood is. My review for Cabin 10 is here.

I do look forward to reading more from Ruth Ware.

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