Year archives: 2018

Trope Thursday: Cheating [6]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.


For me, this trope is almost always a “no-go”. I just don’t want to read about it when I escape to my “happy place” of reading because it depresses the hell out of me. Sure, it can add to the story in a way tat can be positive (I’ll talk about that below), but most of the time, it brings up unpleasant drama that I would rather not read…

July’s Trope: Cheating

Definition:

Cheating is the receiving of a reward for ability or finding an easy way out of an unpleasant situation by dishonest means.

~Wikipedia (“Cheating“)

Unfortunately, cheating cannot always simply be defined as having sex with someone outside of your relationship. Cheating comes in a variety of shapes and forms, but they are all equally devastating.

~DatingTips.Match.com (“Different Forms of Cheating in a Relationship“)

For the sake of this post, I’m classifying cheating as a situation in a book where a person in a committed relationship either has an emotional or physical relationship outside of that partnership. I’m not including books where the lead was cheated on in the past by a previous partner as that happened prior to the current story.

Simply put, physical cheating is the act of being sexually intimate with someone other than your spouse or significant other.

Emotional cheating may include physical intimacy but not necessarily so. Emotional cheating may begin as an innocent friendship. Eventually, an emotional cheater finds himself intimately confiding in the person, sharing thoughts, dreams and an emotional closeness that would normally be reserved for his mate.

~DatingTips.Match.com (“Different Forms of Cheating in a Relationship“)

Common Features:

  • Unfaithfulness
  • Love triangles
  • Possibility for Forbidden/Taboo Love
  • Torn between two friends/brothers/sisters
  • Unrequited love for a best friend
  • Character dating someone else when they meet

What I Love Like About The “Cheating” Trope:

I will admit that there is a certain suspense that can come about from a cheating situation–depending on the book. You start asking yourself, what will the fallout be when the truth is revealed? (See Avoiding Commitment). And if there is a love triangle involved, who will be with who in the end? (See Something Borrowed). If done well, it can add this anticipation and tension that can suck you in as a reader.

I think the biggest aspect of including unfaithfulness in a book is the potential to grow the characters. One of the first books I ever read with the cheating trope was Emily Griffin’s Love the One You’re With. Yes, I read it probably 20 years too early when I was 14 but the whole novel explored Ellen’s affair shortly after her first year of marriage with the guy she considers to be “the one that got away”. And while this book didn’t work for me in any way, the idea of using the affair to grow Ellen as a character is something I can appreciate as a reader. (Though it definitely does happen in that book). It tests the character’s spirit, morals and emotions which can really help to evolve them as a leading character.

What I Dislike About The “Cheating” Trope:

I’m not even a fan of reading sex scenes between characters who aren’t our two leads before they even meet. Icky. I’m one of those people who likes the “no cheating” disclaimer at the bottom of some of my contemporary romance synopses.

Perhaps this is the wrong view to have, but I view affairs as a mostly negative thing so I don’t want to read about them in my downtime. I don’t mind darker stories at all, I just find cheating to be a turn off.

I guess I don’t like how the characters can make decisions that aren’t logical to me. I get that emotions are high and so impulses can take control, but I often don’t like what those motivations turn the characters into. I just hate the dishonesty that comes about.

And more often than not, these situations involve a love triangle and I don’t enjoy books that have our cheater lamenting on and on about how torn they are between these two great people…

Books that Use the “Cheating” Trope Well:

I dunno if it helps that Darcy is such an unlikeable character that you can’t help but root for Dax to see why Rachel is the better option but this was a case where I didn’t mind the cheating. I think the other thing that helps is that Rachel has great personal growth from the affair. While  I would never condone cheating with your best friend’s fiance, Rachel does learn to become more assured in herself and fight for what she wants instead of being the doormat she has been her entire life.

>>Series Review: Darcy and Rachel

 

This is one of the only books I have ever read that has a “true love triangle” element to it (ie all three characters are in love with each other). The heart of this novel is Laney’s identity crisis and her relationships with both Armin and Blythe play crucial roles in that. The love triangle here provides an interesting dynamic to the story and one that keeps the reader on their toes as they watch Laney’s plan for revenge unfold.

>>Series Review: Avoiding

 

Others: No One Needs to Know

Books that Didn’t Use the “Cheating” Trope Well:

To be fair to this novel, it was originally published as a series of parts that was eventually combined into one novel so it does lack some of the depth you want. I was drawn in by the taboo nature of a girl falling in love with her mother’s boyfriend but I was never really sold on why these two would risk everything to be together.

>>Standalone Review: Illicit

 

This is a case of emotional cheating more than anything–which was interesting to read about for sure. However, I didn’t like how the situation made me dislike like Cami because her reasoning for stringing two guys along isn’t really explained. Sure, we get a good twist at the end that helps us understand her torn nature but I hated her reasoning throughout the novel about why she should stay in a long-distance relationship that clearly wasn’t working…

 

Others: The Vincent Boys


Do you enjoy books with the “cheating” Trope?

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Series Review: The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Inventor’s Secret (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

breakdown

Series: The Inventor’s Secret Trilogy
Author: Andrea Cremer
# of Books: 3 (The Inventor’s Secret, The Conjurer’s Riddle, The Turncoat’s Gambit)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Alternate History, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2014 – November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this series when my library added the second book and my eye was immediately drawn to the cover. I noticed that it was by Andrea Cremer, who wrote the series Nightshade–a series that I didn’t totally love but still enjoyed. She’s a good writer–I just hated the heroine and love interest in that particular series. But this was a steampunk series which is the ultimate kryptonite for me and so I marked it on my wishlist.

I then forgot about this series until I was browsing audiobooks to read and decided this would make for a great audiobook adventure!

The Concept / The World:

I absolutely adored the alternate history aspect of this novel. A world where the American Revolution never succeeded? What a concept! It gives this world a rich background and a unique setting that captured my full attention.

The only downside of this world is that the Steampunk elements never really take off and shine. Honestly, if I didn’t read the “steampunk” tag on Goodreads, I wouldn’t have necessarily labeled The Inventor’s Secret as steampunk. There are some token elements but they play such a minor role that they could easily be written off as a product of the alternate history aspect rather than steampunk. The steampunk does become a little more apparent in the later books but not enough for someone looking for a true steampunk epic.

The Plot:

I will admit, I had no idea what the plot for this series would be. I thought it would be more of a steampunk adventure (I mean you have a group of exile teens living in the catacombs so obviously there is something bigger at play) but that isn’t the case. For one thing, there is a lot more talking than physical action and there is more of a focus on the romance than not (especially in The Inventor’s Secret). It gives this story a lighter feel that I still found to be entertaining just not overly grand.

I also found The Inventor’s Secret to be terribly predictable. None of the “big” twists surprised me because I could see them a mile away. Nonetheless, I was still interested in seeing how everything would play out. The final book, The Turncoat’s Gambit has a few unexpected twists so that was great.

I think the biggest problem with this series is that nothing ever gets elaborated on. Whether that is an attempt to create some mysticism or suspense, I don’t know but it doesn’t really accomplish anything. We get these inklings of bigger issues but it just seems like Charlotte and company just take everything in stride without necessarily delving deeper.

The Characters:

I really loved the cast of characters here! While Charlotte is a little forgettable/dull in The Inventor’s Secret, I could see the potential early on for her development/growth. So I was eager to see her become this respectable heroine and watch her journey. And she does grow up and get a little smarter as the series goes on which is nice to see.

The rest of the cast plays their roles well. I found myself drawn to the various side characters and their relationships. You just really connect with this somewhat ragtag team of teens as they try to navigate this dangerous and intriguing world.

The Romance:

This played a larger role than I anticipated in The Inventor’s Secret given the synopsis but once I started reading, I knew it would be a bigger focus. It’s a bit of a love triangle at the start but I like that it isn’t the sole focus as the series progresses. Other things are at play during the romantic moments of the first book and those take more of the center stage later. And you have all the subplot romances as well so there is always something brewing.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m so glad I picked this up as an audiobook! The narration is fabulous and it felt like you were listening to a TV show. It was super easy to visualize things and I always love it when a narrator gives each character a unique voice.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Inventor’s Secret 3.5/5 | The Conjurer’s Riddle 3/5 | The Turncoat’s Gambit 4/5

overall

The plot isn’t anything groundbreaking but it’s entertaining and always had my full attention. I enjoyed the adventure this group of people takes in this super cool world.

Read if You Like: like romance, alternate history setting
Avoid if You: want a steampunk adventure

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Novella Serial Reviews: Past Life Chronicles by C K Brooke

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Past-Life Chronicles: Volume 1 (from Goodreads):

My name is Willow Raven Solomon, and I hate cars. I suffer from a phobia no one’s been able to cure. Part of that is because we don’t know the origin. My only clue is a chronic nightmare that’s haunted me since I was a child, of an auto accident I was never in.

My Wiccan mom and her friends think it’s past-life related. While I may have been raised by a witch, I don’t know a lot about reincarnation. A cute hypnotherapist is helping me navigate it. But my stepbrother in med school is skeptical. Somehow, he’s part of the puzzle too – they both are.

As I dig deeper, I’m finding more questions I’d never thought to ask. What if my fear originated not with me, but with someone else? What if my nightmare isn’t just a dream?

What if it’s a memory, from another time, another place…another me?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Past Life Chronicles
Author: C K Brooke
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Supernatural, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January – March 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you C K Brooke!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

C K Brooke always has the coolest story concepts. So while I was drawn in by that AMAZING cover, I love a good mystery! I couldn’t wait to uncover Willow’s past life and find out why she hates cars.

The Concept:

I’m always a little hesitant to read stories featuring witches. I rarely enjoy them (there’s just something about the magic that irritates me) so I was a little worried when it mentions that Willow’s mom is a Wiccan because I thought this might focus on witches. But I worried for nothing because it is not a huge aspect to this story in the slightest. This series is all about Willow rediscovering her past and putting the pieces together. 

I really enjoyed the overall message of the book and moving on from the past. It was nice to explore that idea of reincarnation and why souls might return to the earth. But more importantly, I liked that it focused on the “what happens after” they figure it out. I like a book that makes me think and after I finished reading, I wondered what I would do if I had been in Willow’s shoes.

The Plot:

I had a lot of fun trying to solve the mystery as the clues come in. I love stories that always keep my guessing and changing my theories as they get more evolved.

I will say that in the middle of Volume 1, I felt like things got a little mundane. In a shorter story like this, I don’t like dwelling on stuff that seems routine and common. However, once I finished Volume 1, I could see that there was a reason for that focus and it built the anticipation nicely for Volume 2.

Volume 2 kept the pace throughout and had my full attention. It was nice to see everything come together and get the answers we’d been looking for. While I had my own theories, there were certain aspects that surprised me and made me think.

The Characters:

Willow is a great lead for this series. She’s got a good heart and it shows throughout the volumes. You really want her to solve this problem and find peace. I also loved her commitment to her family and how she was open to accepting their beliefs even if they differed from hers.

Everyone else is well developed and unique. They all contribute positively to this story.

The Romance:

In some ways this fell a little flat for me. I didn’t mind the bit of a love triangle we get because I could see how it served a bigger purpose. I just found that the two options didn’t share as much chemistry with her as I wanted in the first volume. I’d say the romance in the second volume was much stronger. I started to see why she was drawn to each of them.

Unfortunately, another reviewer spoiled the love triangle reveal for me so that took away some of the anticipation. PSA to all reviewers: Mark spoilers in your reviews! And that’s a shame because that part of the series always had me guessing (but not in annoying way if you know what I’m trying to say).

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a refreshing YA read, check this series out! It had its fun moments as well as some serious ones as well. It made me think and I always love when a book can do that!

Read if You Like: shorter stories, mysteries, past-lives
Avoid if You: want more complex story and characters

similarreads

  • The Hollow by Jessica Verday (The Hollow Trilogy #1)
  • Swoon by Nina Malkin (Swoon Series #1)

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Blog Tour: Forever Fixed (Fixed #6) by Laurelin Paige

Synopsis for Fixed Forever (from Goodreads):

Hudson Pierce-

You act so high and mighty, you and your perfect pregnant wife Alayna. With your perfect child and your perfect home.

You weren’t always perfect. Your past is filled with misdeeds.

Does your wife know all your secrets?

Would she stand behind you if she did?

You think because she’s on bedrest you can protect her? How sweet.

Sleep tight, you two.

-An Old Friend.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: #1 Top Contemporary Read of 2013
Series: Fixed Trilogy

There is a spinoff series called The Found Duet.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a companion novel to the series called Hudson that must be read AFTER the trilogy. Chandler is a spin-off with another character. Forever Fixed is a continuation after Forever With You.

Book Order: Chronological, Companion (Hudson), Connected (Chandler)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: hot (BDSM in Chandler: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – June 2018
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC
Full Series Review: Here

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Fixed Series is my gold standard for contemporary romance. It has everything I love in a series: strong characters, a plot full of secrets and twists, and a steamy romance.

So what a great surprise it was to find out that there was going to be one more book in this series! I couldn’t wait to read it and see what Laurelin Paige had for my favourite duo.

The Plot:

It’s hard to return to a world that has been seemingly wrapped up without things feelings forced. I wasn’t sure where this story would go when I heard about its conception but I shouldn’t have doubted Laurelin Paige. Once again, she has recreated that sparkle I love so much about this series.

What I loved most about this novel is that it takes us past the happily ever after. It shows us what time can do to our favourite couples once we leave them after the epilogue. Are things really truly resolved? Can they truly move on from the past?

The Characters:

Hudson and Alayna are probably my favourite contemporary romance couple of all time and I think this book only reaffirms that statement for me. They are a fabulous pair that truly compliment each other in every way that matters. These two are partners, even when conflict is in the way. I just love the way they communicate and accept each other. We are SIX books into this series and these characters still manage to impress me with their growth and development.

The Romance:

What’s not to love about these two? They have explosive chemistry every time they are on the page together. But my favourite thing about them is that they are truly partners in everything that they do. They have some of the best communication I’ve ever seen between two leads and you know why they love each other.

My Rating for Fixed Forever: 5/5

Fixed in You 5/5  |  Found in You  4/5  |  Forever with You 5/5  |  [Hudson] 4/5  |  [Chandler] 4/5 | Fixed Forever 5/5

overall
This was just a fantastic finale from start to finish! I loved every minute I spent with these characters (and how the spin-off stories were seamlessly woven in) and the suspense of the plot had me guessing until the very end. Fans of the Fixed Universe will definitely not be disappointed in this grande finale!

Read if You Like: great sexual chemistry, solid characters
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

 

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Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

You can enter to win a *signed* paperback copy by Laurelin Paige herself! Unfortunately this is only open to US residents at this time. Winner will be contacted via email so keep an eye out!

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Not a US resident? Never fear! You can snag a free copy of the book yourself at any of these fine eBook retailers:

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo

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Single Sundays: Watching You by Shannon Greenland

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Watching You (from Goodreads):

Viola’s always been that girl from that family, so a scholarship to a prestigious private school in Florida was supposed to be her ticket out of poverty and into a brand-new life. But Viola’s secrets have followed her. Her relationship with the intelligent and gorgeous Riel should have been the salvation she needed—he understands her troubled past better than anyone. But then weird things start to happen.

Frightening messages.

Missing personal items.

The unsettling feeling that she’s being watched.

Viola’s never been one to give her trust easily, but she’ll need to trust in Riel if she’s going to survive her stalker. Because she’s not fighting for a new life anymore—she’s fighting to stay alive.

breakdown

Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Shannon Greenland’s other works since I read (and loved) Shadow of a Girl last year. That story was so refreshing and I enjoyed her writing style. I’m always on the lookout for a solid suspense thriller so this seemed like a no brainer for me to try.

The Concept:

I think the synopsis is slightly misleading. It makes it sound as if Viola is actively trying to resolve her stalker issue (with the help of Riel) and that is far from the case. Instead, we go through the motions of Viola’s everyday life with the occasional interference from her stalker. So I would classify this as a contemporary romance with a minor suspense aspect to it.

The Plot:

I thought the stalker aspect was well done in terms of their mysterious identity. There are enough red herrings to keep you guessing so I enjoyed that unpredictable aspect.

I also enjoyed the brief chapters we get from the stalker as well; it added to the atmosphere and raised the stakes.

The Characters:

I liked Viola’s drive to succeed. She goes for what she wants and I liked that. I also appreciated the fact that she grew as a character when her own secrets get the better of her. It gives this story the “coming-of-age” aspect which is always nice to see in a YA romance.

I also really liked Riel. He was an interesting character to learn more about and I really liked what we saw as the story progressed.

The Romance:

I think this was definitely the main focus of the book–which is totally OK because it was super cute! These two have a great slow burn romance to their relationship and I loved watching them get to know each other. My favourite romances are the ones that are unexpected for the characters. When they find themselves with someone they never anticipated and that’s what happens here a bit.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This one resulted in some mixed reactions for me though thanks to the expectations I had going into it and not getting exactly what I anticipated. Those looking for a contemporary romance with a dash of suspense (a la Sara Shepard) will enjoy this but those who want an outright thriller will want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA romances, contemporary
Avoid if You: wanted a true thriller
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Series Review: Royally by Emma Chase

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Royally Screwed (from Goodreads):

Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka His Royal Hotness, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant; hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.

Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn’t bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.

Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.

Dating a prince isn’t what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.

There’s a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they’ve traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces, and haven’t chopped anyone’s head off lately, the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.

But to Olivia, Nicholas is worth it.

Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King… or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Fav Couple, 2018 Fav
Series: Royally Trilogy; Royals Trilogy

There is a Spin-Off Series titled The Bodyguards!

Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 3 (Royally Screwed, Royally Matched, Royally Endowed)

There is a free novella: #2.5 Royally Raised

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2016 – August 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Library–Audiobook (Royally Endowed)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been eager to read another Emma Chase series since I finished Tangled years ago. She is one of those authors who never fails to make me laugh. She just has the total package when it comes to writing. The Legal Briefs didn’t interest me all that much (but I do have it on my TBR now because I just love her work) but when I saw she was writing a series about royals? Hell yes!

The Plot:

I really liked that all 3 books had a different plot style to them because each set of leads has a different flare to them. It’s hard to talk about them all without spoilers (particularly because the events in Royally Screwed heavily influence Royally Matched) but I’ll just say you’ll feel every emotion as you read. I laughed, I cried, I swooned.

For me, this whole series is just adult contemporary perfection. You’ve got great characters with great development. Heart-pounding romance and tension. A solid plot throughout. And you can’t forget the humour Emma Chase flawlessly infuses into her stories and her ability to make you cry just moments later. They’re just an absolute pleasure to read!

The Characters:

I loved all these characters. I loved how they were all uniquely complicated. I loved watching them grow as people. I loved their wit and humour. Basically, I loved them and they really made these novels awesome.

The Romance:

You know, all of these characters make my “Favourite Couples” list. They were everything I love in a romantic pair. Great communication, complementary personalities, a strong partnership. While they grow as people, so does the romance.

There’s plenty of heat and tension along the way as well. The chemistry between all the leads just leaps off the pages and it makes all the stories so addicting.

When to Read the Novella #2.5 Royally Raised?

I was a little worried that Royally Raised (which is a freebie novella at most eBook retailers) would have some spoilers for Royally Endowed (Book #3) but it doesn’t at all. It has spoilers for Books 1 & 2 but you really shouldn’t be reading a novella that’s set 20 years later before you read the actual stories of the characters it’s about. (Just sayin’)

Anyways, I read it after Royally Matched and I think that’s the perfect time to read it. It makes for an extended epilogue of sorts with the leads and it’s absolute perfection! Highly recommend!

My Audiobook Experience–Royally Endowed:

I did plan on reading Royally Matched as an audiobook as well but I already had a voice for Henry in my mind and the narrator for that audiobook didn’t sound like that. Thus, I opted for the eBook.

But I’m so, so glad I listened to the audiobook for Royally Endowed. It was absolutely fabulous! Shane East and Andi Arndt did an AMAZING job (they narrate the other novels as well and what I had listened to of Royally Matched was also great). The accent Shane did was the perfect blend of English and Scottish like the Wessco accent is described and it really helped me to get lost in the story. I highly recommend the audiobooks for this series!

Series Rating: 5/5

Royally Screwed 5/5 | Royally Matched 5/5 | [Royally Raised 5/5] | Royally Endowed 5/5

overall

I see a lot of rereads with this series in the future. One of my all time favourite Adult Contemporary Romance Series EVER!

Read if You Like: romances involving royals, humour
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy romance novels

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SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


To DNF or not to DNF ARCs

Back in 2016, I wrote a post about how I wanted to DNF more books. Not that I wanted to go out of my way to stop reading books; more like I wanted to be comfortable saying “this book isn’t for me” and putting it down without feeling guilty for doing so.

And I have to say, since I’ve created that post, I’ve come a long way. I DNF’d a lot of books in 2017 and I went through fewer reading slumps because I wasn’t pushing myself to finish a novel I wasn’t all that interested in. I’ve come to live by the philosophy “you aren’t going to enjoy every book you pick up” and I don’t get so down on myself for not finishing something. But not every reader feels that way.

Views About DNFing vary from blogger to blogger…

This is something I’ve noticed a lot when I read various discussion posts around the blogosphere.

…especially when it comes to ARCs/review copies.

ARCs and review copies (but simplicity sake, I’m going to refer to anything you get for review purposes as ARCs) are always a delicate subject to bring up but it gets even dicey-er when DNFing is brought up.

I get why lots of people don’t DNF ARCs. You are given the copy with the expectation you will provide an unbiased review upon completion. Giving out copies costs authors and publishers money, and not finishing it seems like a waste of their investment.

I want to argue that that isn’t the case.

See, you received that ARC in exchange for providing an honest review–a review that should not be influenced by your source or your means of obtaining it.

So isn’t DNFing a book your honest review?

Like I said above, you aren’t going to like every book you pick up. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t like this book despite the promising synopsis or cover or author, but that’s OK. You were asked to write an honest review and your honest opinion is that you didn’t enjoy it.

I’m one of those people who has DNF’d ARCs in the past. I don’t enjoy doing it by any stretch of the imagination. It sucks because all the books I pick up for reviewing purposes are books I’m genuinely excited to read. I go in wanting to love the book and sometimes that just doesn’t happen. And I never want to force it.

Remember: you aren’t obligated to give a positive review.

You are obligated to give an honest review for the novel you’ve been provided a copy of. Honest can mean positive or negative feedback. And it’s important for titles to have both available so potential readers can make a decision on whether or not to read it.

I still write full reviews for ARCs I DNF, though I rarely give them a star rating. I look at the book from a critical angle and try to articulate what worked and what didn’t work for me. That’s why all my DNF reviews on my blog have a different format than my usual reviews so I can highlight certain aspects. I also try to recommend who I think would enjoy the book given the features I saw/

Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t and I want my review to showcase that.

Do you DNF ARCs? Why or why not?

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Monthly Inventory: June 2018

June 2018

After a very busy May, June seemed like a break in a lot of ways. My main goal for the month was to catch up on ARCs and to read books I already had in my possession. And for the most part, I think I did that. I’m in much better shape now than I was at the start of June so I’m proud of myself. I would have liked to have spent more time on my blog as a whole but I did make the most of the spare moments I did have. The summer looks like it will be just as hectic at work but I’m starting to establish more of a routine so I’m optimistic I can make the most out of everything, including reading and blogging.

Since June is halfway through the year, I wanted to to focus on a mid-year review of all things. Like many people, I start the year with some lofty reading and blogging goals but I find by this point in the year, things just aren’t going the way I expected them to. I promised myself that I would re-evaluate my reading challenges and the like in June and tweak whatever wasn’t working going forward. So that’s what I plan to do in this Monthly Inventory post as well as my usual quarterly reviews that I do in this monthly feature.

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

I’ve seen this tag (and similar) floating around the blogosphere and thought it was a cute way to recap the year so far. This tag was originally created by Ely and Chami so thanks for that! I’ve altered some of the categories a little to fit my table presentation so hopefully everything is clear!

Best Book Read So Far

Royally Endowed (Royally, #3)

Best Sequel Read So Far

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

New Release TBR

Iron Gold (Red Rising, #4)

Can’t Wait for Its Release

Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices, #3)

Biggest Disappointment

A Whole New World (A Twisted Tale #1)

Biggest Surprise

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Fave New Author

Love in the Friend Zone by Molly E. Lee

New Fictional Crush

Hothead by Stella Rhys
Drew

New Fave Character

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)
Magnus

Tear Jerker

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez

Made Me Happy

When It's Real

Fave Film Adaption

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Creekwood, #1)

Fave Review Written

Prettiest Book Purchased

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

Need to Read by Year End

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)

 

thoughts

Total for June 2018: 14 Books Read + 0 Novellas Read

DNF’d: 3 Books

Last June: 17 Books Read + 2 Novellas Read + 4 DNFs

Standout Read (★★★★★)

Sweet Black Waves
It only took me two chapters to become completely enthralled by this Tristan and Isolde retelling. I felt every range of emotions while reading this and I am DYING for the sequel!

Biggest Let Down (DNF)

Gunslinger Girl
I’m not sure if this book was just marketed wrongly or if I interpreted everything about it wrong but this was a huge disappointment. Definitely not what I was expecting. I wanted a Western with a badass heroine and that was far from what this was. Instead, I got a dystopian novel set in the future with some allusions to the wild west and a heroine who was rather dull.

 

kobostats

Every quarter I take a look at my Kobo stats to see how I’m doing. My Kobo is my main reading device, used for personal and library books. My Kindle is used for ARCs but it lacks the statistic features of my Kobo.

As of:

June 30, 2018

June 30, 2017

Total % of Library Complete

23%

10%

Total # of Books Finished

2880

114

Total # of Reading Hours

2511

2309

 

posted reviews

Most Viewed Post

Trope Thursdays: Love Triangles

Most Viewed Review

Blog Tour: Knocked Up

View this year’s archives for more posts and reviews!

 

thoughts

Previously posted series reviews that got updates:

thoughts

You can always get the full details for all my challenges on my dedicated page but here is a quick update:

5 Year 5 Book Challenge: 2 books read | 7 of 25 Titles Read – Slightly Behind
Goodreads Challenge: 14 books added | 132/190 Books – Ahead!
52 Sequel Challenge: 0 books added | 25/52 Sequels – On Track!
Tackling the TBR Challenge: 3 books added | 14/36 Books – Slightly Behind

View my Challenge Progress Here!

Mid Year Review:

I actually thought my stats would be much worse than they were since I have 2 good months of not really reading challenge titles. But I’ve pulled up my socks in the last 2 months and that has helped a bit. While I’m certainly behind on all my challenges, they are still within an obtainable grasp so I’m not going to modify them in any way. Most of the titles I have selected for July crossover for my various challenges so I think I will see an improvement in the near future.

 

In February 2017, I created a challenge for myself to bring my Want to Read Goodreads Shelf to 500 books. By the end of December 2017, I had brought the shelf down from 1205 to 511 books! The ultimate goal for 2018 is to get that number lower than 500 and also bring down my “sequel” shelf as well. I’ve decided that every quarter I will check my stats to see how I’m doing when it comes to cleaning up my TBR

Currently

December 31, 2017

Want to Read (New)

506

511

To Read (Sequels)

317

301

My Thoughts: I think it goes without saying that every time I lower the “new” shelf, the “sequel” shelf gets bigger. But I’m doing a good job of not adding too many books to my TBR each month. May was a tough month because I got a lot of great freebie reads from various newsletters. I also find that I’m not as picky as I once was with audiobooks–meaning I’m more willing to read a book in the audio version than the physical now that I listen to books on a regular basis and am very comfortable with them as a format.

 

Created by Lia @ Lost in a Story

I’ve seen this meme floating around and thought it was a great idea to help me tackle my TBR list and reach that less than 500 goal. The idea is to go through 5-10 books on your Goodreads TBR list chronologically and decide if they should stay or go. I usually do a big Goodreads Purge twice a year but I like the idea of doing a little bit at a time and have decided to do this on a monthly basis.

This month (7 “new to me” titles; 3 “sequels”):

Undeclared (Woodlands, #1)
Keep

No One's Angel (Chadwell Hearts, #1)
Keep

Come Away with Me (With Me in Seattle, #1)
Pass

The Proposition (The Proposition, #1)
Pass

Toxic Secrets (Secrets, #1)
Pass

Break Me Slowly (Shattered, #1)
Pass

Executive Seduction
Pass

Be with Me (Wait for You, #2)
Keep

By Referral Only (Whitman University, #2)
Keep

Renegade (MILA 2.0, #2)
Pass

Pass: 4 | Keep: 6

Grand Totals since January — Pass: 18 | Keep: 22

Did I make any mistakes with my decisions? Let me know in the comments below!

While this is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books, I however will only be updating every quarter.

Since May, I’ve been working really hard on limiting ARCs in order to make my reading more manageable.  Every month I give myself the allowance of requesting 3 ARCs as per my 2018 Reading Plan. So far, I’ve been following that rule when it comes to requesting titles for the summer. I’ve stopped browsing Netgalley on a regular basis; I keep review opportunities in my inbox for a few days before I make a decision; and I closed off direct requests through my blog until the fall.

My Progress for January to June, 2018:

ARCs Read: 54  |   ARCs Overdue: 2+6*  |  Upcoming: 7

(March’s State: ARCs Read: 31  |   ARCs Overdue: 4*  |  Upcoming: 12)

*Some of these books are from my Street Teams and they are “read ASAP” but I consider them to be overdue given the date I’ve received them.

Going Forward:

I’m in an OK position when it comes to ARCs. Of the ones upcoming, a lot aren’t due until August or September so I have some time. I do have a lot of street team reviews that I want to get read for July so hopefully I can squeeze them in. Only 2 ARCs are truly overdue so they are a big priority for July. So far, I’ve been doing a good job of sticking to 3 ARCs a month and not signing myself up for two many opportunities. I’ve really been working on my impulse control by letting opportunities sit for 24 hours and reevaluating if should sign up or not and it really seems to be helping!

discussions

You can still join in on these discussions:

 

Each month I have a list of 11 books I’ve selected to read for that particular month. These books include review copies and reading challenge picks. Here are some of the books I have ready to go for July:

Contrite (Contrite, #1) At Any Price (Gaming the System, #1) Fixed Forever (Fixed #6) Watching You Set the Night on Fire (Cottonbloom, #6) Book Boyfriend

What were your biggest reading or personal accomplishments of the past month? Have you done a mid-year review of your reading and blogging process?

Leave a comment below!

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Fresh Fridays: Secret Heir (Dynasty #1) by M J Prince

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Dynasty Trilogy

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Secret Heir (from Goodreads):

Since the beginning of time, tales have been told about Eden. But all the stories are wrong.

Running parallel alongside Earth, but never touching, there exists not just a garden, but an entire world of vivid colours and breathtaking beauty where the Seraph reside.

Jazmine has lived in ten different foster homes, in ten different towns and all her life she has felt like she doesn’t belong – not in the trailer park which happens to be foster home number ten, not anywhere on Earth.

After a universe shattering revelation, she discovers why. Far from being the nothing and no one, with no past and no future, that Jazmine had always believed herself to be, she discovers that she is in fact an heir to one of the seven remaining Seraph Dynasties.

She is Jazmine Evenstar, the last heir to the sovereign Evenstar Dynasty.

Thrust into the world of wealth and privilege in which the impossibly beautiful and equally cruel Dynasty heirs reside, Jazmine is forced to manoeuvre the tangled web that holds the Dynasties together.

Against the backdrop of breathtaking star filled nights, sweeping coastlines, grand marble halls and decadent palaces, Jazmine tries to find her place in this beautiful new world whilst fighting not to lose herself in the process.

But the fairy tale quickly unravels.

Half human and the illegitimate daughter of the late suicide King of Eden, the other Dynasty heirs make it clear that Jazmine does not belong in their world.

Raphael St. Tristan, heir to the rival sovereign St. Tristan Dynasty and next in line to the throne of Eden, the guy with the face of an angel but who is as wicked as the devil himself, promises to break her.

Jazmine quickly learns that the beauty of Eden is nothing but a deception as she uncovers the secrets festering at the heart of it. But can she disentangle herself from the web of deception and intrigue that the Dynasty heirs have spun? Can she stop herself from falling into Raphael St. Tristan’s trap before he can fulfil his promise to shatter her completely? Or are those stories about Eden true after all and will she be foolish enough to taste the forbidden fruit that is Eden itself?

breakdown

Series: Dynasty
Author: M J Prince
# of Books: 3 (Secret Heir, Shattered Heir, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Fantasy, Non-Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 27, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It & Review It–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book over at Darque Dreamer Reads when she did a review of it in January 2018. I’m always on the lookout for more non-contemporary New Adult reads and with the parallel universe of this one, I was curious. So I marked this book as one to keep my eye out for when it was released in February.

When the opportunity to review it came up with my New Adult Group on Goodreads, I jumped at the chance! I couldn’t wait to dive into all the drama and watch this “hate-to-love” you romance unfold!

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

That synopsis is long! Usually that deters me but it had me hooked with all its various tropes and features. Forbidden love–check. Family Feuds–check. An Alternate Universe–check. So many great elements are present and I couldn’t wait to see how they would all weave together.

I’ll admit that it takes a while for all these aspects to come into play. But we slowly get them a little bit at a time and this book starts to build at an addicting pace. I always wanted to read more and get more from the story and the characters. It’s like a really great TV drama that you can’t help but binge watch.

–Jaz and Raph’s Relationship–

I ADORE the enemies to lovers trope and this one is a great example of that.  Their dynasties are rivals in nearly all aspects of Eden and so the tension between them is important. They have a pretty tumultuous relationship at the start but once it reaches its turning point, I was hooked!

I loved watching their scenes together. They have such a strong tension between them that it jumps off the page at you. Once the story began to focus on those two learning more about each other, that’s when it really started to shine.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Repetitive Start–

As I mentioned above, this book started a little slow for me. Part of the reason is that the first few chapters seemed a touch repetitive. I felt like Jaz kept reiterating the same sentiments again and again so it made for a duller read than I anticipated. But once she learns about her destiny and goes to Eden, things pickup and never stop.

–Overdramatic Antics–

It’s easy to forget that the main setting for this novel is Jaz’s new high school in Eden. In the world of Eden, the dynasty heirs we see for a majority of the novel seem to be much older given their lifestyle. And especially later on in the novel when things become romantically heated.

I found some of the earlier antics between Jaz and Raph were very over the top. Things get escalated very quickly and it just takes things to the next level. Once I reminded myself that Eden isn’t Earth–that things are a little different thanks to the powers and such–it became easier to reconcile the character actions. And I found that things tapered off as the novel progressed. Yes, we get some of that petty drama but I feel like that comes with the territory of feuding family dramas so I didn’t mind so much.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

That finale was GREAT! I can’t wait to see what unfolds in Book 2! I have my own theories and suspicions but it looks like we are in for a wild ride regardless!

My Rating: 4/5

Secret Heir 4/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If you like dramatic TV shows but in a non-contemporary setting, this will be a great juicy read for you!

Read if You Like: parallel universes, family feuds, hate to love you
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult/Young Adult drama, want more action

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SERIESous Spoilers: A Whole New World

seriesousspoilers
SERIESous Spoilers: A feature where we discuss what happened in our favourite (or maybe not so favourite) books. Did you like the plot changes? The romance? What surprised you? What angered you? And what do you think will happen next?

This SERIESous Spoilers Pick:

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell | A Twisted Tale

warning2

Note: I read this as an audiobook so I say “listen” a lot.


–The first 25% is just the movie in book form–

It was a great play-by-play for the movie if you’ve never seen it–minus the amazing music of course. As a massive fan of the movie, I didn’t mind so much. However, it was a little boring to essentially listen to the movie without the actual movie flashing before me. I’ve probably watched Aladdin 100 times in my life so I’m pretty familiar with it all and I didn’t need the word for word recap.

Related image

–Jasmine–

If you ask me who my favourite Disney Princess is, I’d say it’s Jasmine (well my answer is more complicated than that but nonetheless, I am a huge Jasmine fan). In the movie I always respected Jasmine’s drive to live her own life. She’s intelligent and quick; I loved that she attempts to save herself by tricking Jafar. Plus, she has a tiger people!

After I read the synopsis and saw that Jasmine is touted as revolutionary, I was super happy. She’s a strong character in the original movie and the idea that I’d get to see that be elevated in this book? Awesome.

Only, it doesn’t happen that way. She’s a bit of a dud of a character honestly. I didn’t like her at all. I can forgive her ignorance about the outside world, that’s not the problem. It was just her attitude and comments about certain things that rubbed me the wrong way. I thought she had the best character development of anyone–but the character depth was lacking for everyone so that isn’t saying much.

Image result for aladdin gifs

–The Lacklustre Romance–

As I’m sure you can guess, Aladdin and Jasmine are one of my favourite Disney couples. Economic factors separate them socially but when they are together, the sparks just fly. They have this deeper connection and understanding that I really wanted to see emphasized in this novel.

Was I the only one who thought the romance between these two was forced? I felt like Aladdin would have taken up with any beautiful girl that crossed his path if she batted her eyes at him.

Image result for aladdin gifs

It’s an insta-love but one that lacks a visible spark. They don’t really have those memorable moments like they do in the film and so I never grew to enjoy the romance.

–The Genie–

I don’t think I could do a post discussing this book without talking about the Genie! I actually didn’t mind this spin on the classic character. His somewhat cynical but accurate appraisal of the world was a highlight of the novel for me.

Image result for aladdin gifs

He was one of the only characters to get a decent backstory in this novel and I liked that. I wish he had a bigger role but in another way I’m glad because how do you top the original?

–The Ghouls–

This is perhaps the biggest “twist” to the original tale but it really didn’t work for me. It just made everything seem silly and ridiculous.

Image result for aladdin gifs

Part of the charm of the original movie (at least for me) is that it could be real. Yes, it has magic and flying carpets but the core of the story (that a street rat could save a kingdom and the princess can save herself) is a moral and feel good story. Not saying that can’t happen with ghouls; I’m saying the ghouls just took this story to a different level and in a way that didn’t really benefit the story.

–All of this because of a Parrot?–

Ok, I love Iago don’t get me wrong. He’s one of the most memorable sidekicks in Disney for a lot of reasons. But the whole idea that Jafar wants to recapture the love of Iago? Really? That’s the best motive we could come up with?

Image result for aladdin gifs

Why not make Jafar completely in love with Jasmine? Or perhaps her mother? Or throw in some lost paternity and make him the Sultan’s long lost older brother who thinks he should be in charge. Or keep it simpler and make him power hungry when it comes to magic. There are about thirty other ways to do it I think.

What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Please leave a comment below!

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