Category «Book Reviews»

Single Sundays: None of the Above by I W Gregorio

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 None of the Above (from Goodreads):

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex… and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

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Author: I W Gregorio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It seemed to me that 2015 was the year of “must-read” YA contemporaries. I marked off quite a few as TBR that year thanks to rave reviews from fellow bloggers. Not my usually genre but buzz can do that.

I was drawn to None of the Above for the intersex aspect. As someone who studied science–particularly health sciences–I know what it means to be intersex medically speaking but what does it mean as an everyday person? I was eager to explore that with this book.

The Plot:

As you might have expected, you follow Kristin’s journey from “normal” teenager to learning she is intersex and what that means for her going forward. It’s a heartbreaking journey at times because this girl really does go through a lot. (Truthfully, I lost a little hope in humanity with some of the things people say and do to her).

But there really isn’t much else to the plot. Which is fine because I like the focus on Kristin coming to terms with her diagnosis and becoming comfortable–I mean that’s why I picked up the book.

I do have one peeve with the plot that I have to get off my chest and it’s a spoiler so proceed with caution before opening it.

Spoiler

When Josh assaults Kristin at the club after he realizes she is intersex, I didn’t like that she doesn’t report the assault. I understand that she just got comfortable with other people knowing about her condition but her reasoning that “it being on file will stop him from doing it again” is such bullshit. He will do it again because he thinks he can get away with it. I really wish she would have reported it because it sets a precedence that it’s ok to defend yourself by filing charges but not following through. You aren’t being a hero by letting it slide.

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The Characters:

Truthfully, I wasn’t a big Kristin fan. I can appreciate her journey and how she does grow up from the situation but she was a little too…stereotypical? (Not sure if that is the right word. Maybe cliche?). She’s your classic teenage girl who focuses on popularity, keeping her hot boyfriend and college. And those aren’t bad things necessarily–I just feel like she didn’t evolve from that.

While Kristin learns to accept her condition, her character growth remains pretty stifled. I really wanted her to have this big epiphany that there is more to life than high school and a good-looking boyfriend and she doesn’t really have that.

The Romance:

I’m a little torn on this. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t a huge focus. On the other hand, I don’t like how it is used as a validation that Kristin is a girl because a boy likes her. (Maybe I’m reading too much into it?)

I get that Kristin worries she won’t have that relationship because she isn’t a “true” girl. The difference between gender and sexual orientation is something that is unfortunately linked together. It’s something she struggles with and it does add to her story in a positive way. I just feel like she didn’t think she was complete until she got that “love” from a boy despite the great support from Gwen and her dad.

The Audiobook Version:

This was really well done. One of the nice things about listening to contemporary audiobooks is the emotions they convey. It’s like listening to someone tell you their life story and it’s so easy to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

While the subject matter of None of the Above is superb, it does sometimes slip into the typical flow of YA contemporaries instead of keeping its focus elsewhere. However, it is an eyeopening read that I recommend to everyone.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: (honestly, this is a book everyone should read)
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Single Sundays: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Standalone 2017
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, GLBT, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was EVERYWHERE in 2015. Honestly, you couldn’t escape it. But I was really excited to read it because it sounded a lot like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Will Grayson, Will Grayson–two of my all time favourite novels. And I don’t been just because all three share GLBT themes. This book promised to be filled with wit, hilarity and a touching story about being comfortable with who you are.

I was so close to adding this to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge but opted to choose another series for the 2015 picks. But when I was browsing audiobooks to listen to, this one popped up and I knew it was the perfect choice.

The Narration/Audiobook Experience:

I have no doubt in my mind that I enjoyed this book 20x more as an audiobook than if I had read the paper copy. Oh, I would have enjoyed the written novel for sure but the range of emotions I felt reading this were all thanks to the audiobook.

It’s a totally different experience when you hear Simon’s narration aloud. The narrator does a fabulous job conveying the emotions Simon is feeling with his tone and delivery. It’s fabulous! I felt like it was my BFF telling me his experience and not just reading a book aloud. I could spend a whole post gushing about the wonderful experience I had listening to the audiobook.

The Plot:

For a contemporary novel, this had great pacing. I sometimes find contemporary novels get caught up in the mundane moments of everyday life but that is never the case here.

You get those moments with Blue and Simon that have you swooning and sighing thanks to the emails. (More on that in the Romance Section.) The mystery of who Blue was had me spewing all sorts of theories as I read and I couldn’t wait for the big reveal.

But you also have those moments with Simon’s character growth. Whether that’s through interactions with his family, friends or events at school–this story never had a dull moment. And I think part of that reason is Simon’s narration.

The Characters:

Wow, I haven’t loved a character as much as I have loved Simon in a long time! Not only is he hilarious and extremely witty–seriously, he had me in stitches!–he is also extremely endearing as a hero.

He just came across as so real to me. Sometimes it’s hard to connect to the humanity of a character in contemporaries–or at least for me–but I never had that problem here. He shares his fears and flaws but also learns from them. Watching his confidence blossom was so rewarding for me as a reader.

And the rest of the cast is also fabulous. Special shout-out to Simon’s parents who reminded me of the role parents should have in a YA contemporary series.

The Romance:

Swoon! I loved this! Simon gushing about his crush melted my heart. It just felt so real to me! Watching two people share their vulnerabilities and falling in love with them was so great.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I found a new favourite! This is definitely worthy of sitting beside my all time faves, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Absolute perfection.

Read if You Like: humour, coming of age, GLBT
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries
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Single Sundays: Me & Milo the Great by Michelle Schlicher

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 Me & Milo the Great (from Goodreads):

My name is Holiday Sanchez. I carry a heavy burden.

But I’m not the only one.

There are others who know what it feels like to remember. Maybe they are the answer. Maybe we can help each other. Maybe I’ll finally get past it.

Maybe it just takes time—and a little bit of magic.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Must Read Author
Author: Michelle Schlicher
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Heat Rating: Cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 14, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Michelle Schlicher!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Earlier this year, I picked up Michelle’s other novel Come This Way and loved it! It was so insightful and touching and it was one of those books that had me going “wow” when I finished it (in a totally good way!).

So when Michelle asked if I wanted to read her latest novel, I immediately said yes! The synopsis had that allure intrigue (what’s Holiday’s burden? and how are the others involved? magic?!) and I just had to uncover it!

The Concept:

I don’t want to give too much away because the reveal of Holiday’s “burden” was a big “wow” moment for me. So I’ll just say it was a story that I’ve never read about and it captured my full attention.

The great thing about this story is that the chapters alternate between the “now” and “then” so you really get Holiday’s full story. You see how she has dealt with her past and how it affects the present, enhancing her character development. I really loved watching it all come together.

The Plot:

Like I said above, I enjoyed the back and forth nature of this book. I love stories that build and reveal parts at a time. It keeps you invested in the story and curious to see how everything links together. They always have the most satisfying ending when you see the bigger picture.

The Characters:

I really felt for Holiday as a character. She’s just doing the best she can with what she has and you can’t help but to empathize with her. Her growth from start to finish is just amazing and I loved watching her grow before my eyes.

Milo is great too! I thought he would play a bigger role/be the focus for the novel but he has just the right touch for bringing this story to life. He doesn’t distract from Holiday’s story but complements it in a way that enhances the entire novel.

The Romance:

Again, not a huge focus but it complements the story in a great way.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is a beautifully crafted story about how the past can alter our future but learning that it shouldn’t govern your life. Holiday’s specific circumstances won’t apply to everyone but her discovery of moving on from the past will resonate with many readers.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, past and present chapters
Avoid if You: want a romance driven story
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Single Sundays: Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean

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 Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick (from Goodreads):

Say you want to start going to the gym or practicing a musical instrument. How long should it take before you stop having to force it and start doing it automatically?

The surprising answers are found in Making Habits, Breaking Habits, a psychologist’s popular examination of one of the most powerful and under-appreciated processes in the mind. Although people like to think that they are in control, much of human behavior occurs without any decision-making or conscious thought.

Drawing on hundreds of fascinating studies, psychologist Jeremy Dean busts the myths to finally explain why seemingly easy habits, like eating an apple a day, can be surprisingly difficult to form, and how to take charge of your brain’s natural “autopilot” to make any change stick.

Witty and intriguing, Making Habits, Breaking Habits shows how behavior is more than just a product of what you think. It is possible to bend your habits to your will—and be happier, more creative, and more productive.

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Author: Jeremy Dean
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help, Psychology
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 25, 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked this book up in the hopes it would help motivate me to develop some good habits. See, I finally finished my post-secondary education and was about to start my career so I wanted to get some good habits started right from the get-go of my new lifestyle.

My hopes for this novel were that it would help me come up with some strategies to implement a routine that included work, reading, working out and writing!

The Concept:

The scientist in me really appreciated the use of psychology/sociology studies to explain why certain approaches were more successful than others. I like evidence and I don’t like books that just spew out ideas that have no support. So that really worked for me.

For me, I wanted this book to focus more on creating habits as opposed to breaking them and I felt that at times, this book geared more towards the breaking of habits. But maybe that is just what I got out of it.

The Writing/The Narration:

However, at times, I felt like I was just sitting in a psychology lecture because the first half of the book is so focused on the science of what a habit is and why it is hard to break. It was more educational to me than inspiring for the first 50% of the book. Though that did improve on the later half.

I’m glad I listened to the audiobook though. I think I would have felt like I was reading a textbook if I read the physical book. It was a very easy read.

Did it Impact My Life?

Perhaps not as much as I had hoped. I think I wanted some clear cut strategies for starting new habits and I didn’t totally get those. BUT, it helped to remind me that it can take a while to create a new habit; that I shouldn’t be afraid to try new strategies; that it’s ok to miss a few times or make a mistake. So I did find it a worthwhile read because it made me want to try and create some new habits.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

A very informative book but it didn’t offer too many everyday strategies for making/breaking habits. Instead the focus seemed to be more of why people struggle and that it is a normal occurrence to endure.

Read if You Like: nonfiction, psychology
Avoid if You: dislike self-help books

 

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Movie Mondays: Before I Fall

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2010) | Movie: Before I Fall (2017)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Before I Fall has been on my TBR list before I even knew what “TBR” meant. It graced every teen “must read list” in 2010 and I’ll admit, it grabbed my attention. But the holds list was super long and it slipped my mind. And then I read her Delirium Series–the inspiration for this blog–and really didn’t like it. So I was hesitant to pick up another Oliver title.

I went into this book with a fresh mind but it was hard.

Sam is everything I detest in a YA contemporary heroine. She’s self-absorbed, lost in her own world and just not that nice of a person. But that’s the whole point of this novel isn’t it? Sam is supposed to learn some life changing lesson and become a better person because of it.

And that happens to a certain extent. She definitely learns some valuable lessons but I’m not sure if I like the motivation for it. For me, Sam never escapes the persona of a selfish girl. Her desire to change comes across as someone who needs to fix things in order to redeem herself as a “nice person”. I guess it just didn’t come across as selfless to me.

As for the novel itself, it wasn’t as repetitive as I expected. Oliver does a good job of not rehashing every moment of every day. She also does a decent job of leading you on a bit of a mystery. Trying to figure out how everything links together kept me interest.

overall

I’ll be honest, I rushed through this book a lot because I had to return it so my experience wasn’t everything it could have been. In the end, I had a hard time liking Sam and that really did colour my impressions of this novel as a whole.

Rating: 3/5

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Were My Expectations Met?

Considering I wasn’t a huge fan of the novel, I wasn’t really sure how I would enjoy the movie. If I couldn’t stand Sam and her friends just by reading about them, how would I feel was I watched them be awful teenaged girls?

But the movie is really well done. Like the book, you aren’t rewatching scene after scene of the same day. I suppose that is the beauty of films and their ability to have montages 😉

And I will admit, watching Sam’s story here made me slightly more emotional (in a good way) as opposed to the novel where my feelings were more annoyed than empathetic.

How Close is it to the Book?

From what I remember of the book, this was pretty close. And what I think they left out (like the scene with Sam’s teacher, etc.) made the story stronger here. But the root of the story and its message are the same.

I will say, that Sam’s self-realization in the movie seemed a touch more natural to me. I don’t know if that is because you don’t have her internal monologue for the entire story and you only see what is on the surface/what is said. Or perhaps it is because you have a person you can visually see reacting to everything that helps you empathize. However, I still really struggle with the ending overall.

Did I Like the Cast?

The first role I saw Zoey Deutch (Sam) was the TV show The Ringer where she played a similar character to Sam. She’s a great actress who can play more than just a bitchy teenager (she was great as Rose in The Vampire Academy Movie) so I thought she was a great choice for Sam. Like I said above, I really didn’t like Sam in the book but Zoey brought a touch of humanity to Sam here.

The rest of the cast was great as well. I don’t know if I would change anything about the cast.

thewinneriswinmovie

I definitely enjoyed the movie a touch more than the novel. I think not getting Sam’s internal monologue for every scene really helped me focus on the story and the circumstances instead of her petty, selfish observations.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!


Synopsis for Before I Fall (from Goodreads):

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Trailer:

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Single Sundays: Smut by Karina Halle

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 Smut (from Goodreads):

What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?

All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree, and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.

What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project, but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s a brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also may find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.

When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot, but at least there’s make-up sex now.

But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed? Or are happily-ever-afters just a work of fiction?

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SERIESous’ Top PicksFave New Adult Standalone
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 16, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Karina Halle is one of those authors that I have a ton of books by, but haven’t read. Ironic too that the first one by her I would read is from the public library and not my own personal collection. But, I was really excited to read this one when I found it on someone’s blog last year (sorry I can’t credit someone!). Thus, it made my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a pick for 2016.

I LOVE hate-to-love you relationships and this one sounded perfect! Lots of sexual tension to be had. And like most other book addicts, I have a soft spot for reading about characters who also love literature.

Oh, and the title is just super catchy and intriguing!

The Concept / The World:

I really adored the concept here of these two writing “smut”. Like Porn Star by Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone, this novel explores a market that is heavily stereotyped and judged: the erotica fiction. The writing is smart and you can tell that Halle has experience and done her research. But the story is also fun when it needs to be and I think fans of the romance genre as a whole will enjoy this concept being brought to life.

As for the setting, it’s on the west coast of Canada (Victoria, British Columbia actually) and as a proud Canadian, I love anything that mentions my home country.

The Plot:

I’m sure a lot of people will read the title and think that this book is only erotica with very little plot–but it isn’t. Actually, this is something the book tries to tackle as a whole (re above paragraph).

The story here is brilliant!

The romance develops at a great pace. There are more than enough comedic scenes that will have you laughing out loud. The characters have solid growth from start to finish. And there is just enough drama to add another layer to the story.

The Characters:

I was worried that I wouldn’t like Amanda because she seemed a little too stereotypical to me. A rich girl who realizes the life her parents have carved out for her isn’t what she wants and she breaks free. But I was happily surprised that she was a very interesting character that has so much depth! I loved watching her grow before my eyes and become confident in who she is.

The same goes for Blake. He’s the typical heart-of-gold player that I love to read about, but he too has a lot of depth.

And the rest of the cast as perfectly, providing humour and wit along the way!

The Romance:

Again, with a title like Smut you might think that the story starts hot and heavy–but that is far from the case! This is such a slow burn romance, but in the best way possible. You really get to see how these characters would work and the tension is so on point you can’t help but root for them to get together! Perfection!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is like the ultimate romance novel for romance fans! It has everything you want in a good book: great characters, a sweet romance and just superb writing. You’ll enjoy this for sure!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, slow burn, stories about writers
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a lighter read
similarreads

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Single Sundays: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

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 The Forbidden (from Goodreads):

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-that instant chemistry that renders you weak in the knees. That is, until a night out brings her face to face with the dangerously sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her must be dangerous. She has no idea that he belongs to another. That he’s forbidden.

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Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve never read a Jodi Ellen Malpas novel but I know that she has a very strong and loyal fan base. So when I had the opportunity to read her latest novel, I knew I had to seize it.

It doesn’t hurt that this novel is billed as a “forbidden romance”. I LOVE forbidden/taboo romances. They have this edge of suspense to them that keeps me hooked thanks to all the secrets, drama and passion. I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel and see what was in store for me.

The Concept:

Let’s just say, I never saw what the “taboo” element was going to be and I loved that. When we had that big reveal, my mouth dropped and I muttered some curses because, damn, it’s a good one. It sucked me in like no one’s business.

The Plot:

While this story is a romance as its core, there is enough going on to keep the story moving and fresh. I never had a dull moment reading this novel. I was hooked.

The story has a great blend of being real and dramatic at the same time. The circumstances Annie and Jack find themselves in I think is fairly realistic. Some of the drama that accompanies it definitely has a dramatic flare but it just works so well with this story.

The Characters:

I really loved all the characters here. Malpas does a great job of bringing them to life and making you see their side of the situation. Did I agree with all their choices? No, but I could appreciate them and why they felt they had to make the choices they did.

The Romance:

One of the most important elements for me in a forbidden romance is that the novel has to convince me why these two should pursue their relationship despite all the obstacles in the way. I want to fall in love with these characters despite what they are doing–I want to root for them.

And this novel succeeded in that in every way!

I loved these two together–they have this phenomenal chemistry and connection–and I desperately wanted to see a positive outcome for them. And given the “forbidden” nature of this story, Malpas has done an amazing job to elicit that reaction from me.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of the best forbidden romances I’ve ever read. It kept me on the edge of my seat and had me totally invested in the outcome.

Read if You Like: forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike romantic dramas
similarreads

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Single Sundays: Just Say When by Kaylee Ryan

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 Just Say When (from Goodreads):

Saving myself for marriage, not hardly.‬‬
Saving myself for someone who will make my heart race, most definitely.

In theory it’s a good plan, however even the best-laid plans fall through. Seeing him, being around him, alerts all my senses and I dream about being his, wrapping myself in his arms and never letting go. The only problem – he sees me as his sister.

My name’s Ava Evans and I’m in love with my older brother’s best friend, Nate Garrison.

Burying myself in work for the past two years, avoiding any thought of her, has worked, until now. She’s everywhere, in my dreams, in my gym, and in my heart. I’m not sure when I fell in love with Ava Evans, but I am completely in love with my best friends baby sister.

At first she was too young for me and that made it easy to stay away. Now, it’s a struggle to keep my distance.

How am I supposed to resist her when I can’t escape her? If he ever found out, it would ruin our friendship. Even with that knowledge all she would have to do is…

Just Say When.

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Author: Kaylee Ryan
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 16, 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this as a novel I found on a blog but I’m not sure who’s blog that was (sorry!).

Anywho, I enjoy the “in love with my brother’s BFF” trope for many reasons so that’s what caught my eye. They’re usually filled with delicious tension and swoon worthy moments. I had just finished a YA novel I didn’t particularly enjoy and had just DNF’d another NA read that bored me to tears so I had high hopes that this novel would lift me up from a downward slump.

The Plot:

There isn’t anything new here. If you’ve read any book with this trope, you’ve essentially read this novel. It’s not a bad thing, but I need a little more to stimulate my interest. There isn’t much to this story but these two trying to deny their obvious feelings.

I contemplated DNFing this one pretty early on to be honest because it just moved so, so slowly. But I stuck with it and skimmed the rest of the novel.

The Characters:

They were pretty flat if you ask me. Again, nothing new here. I didn’t care for either of them.

The Romance:

This is definitely a slow burn romance. It wasn’t until the 30% mark that these two make their first move. Which is fine, but not exactly what I wanted from this novel. I wanted tension and longing looks early on…and they are there to an extent. It just wasn’t as passionate as I wanted; it was more sweet and cheesy.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

If I read this when I bought it two years ago, perhaps my review would be different. This novel isn’t awful, it just isn’t anything new. So if you are looking for a sweet and cheesy read about a young girl finally realizing her crush isn’t so unrequited, it might be worth your time.

Read if You Like: sisters in love with brother’s BFF
Avoid if You: want a deeper romance
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Fresh Fridays: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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:

Other books in the series:
book3

Synopsis for My Lady Jane (from Goodreads):
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

breakdown

Series: My Ladies Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane, My Calamity Jane)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This novel was everywhere in 2016! And I’ll admit, I didn’t know much else about it other than it was a retelling of Lady Jane Grey who was somehow connected to the British throne and it was supposed to be funny. I’ve also read series by all three of these authors in the past and enjoyed them. Sounded like a winning combination to me!

So I went in without reading any other reviews in order to not raise my expectations too high. I was hoping for a fun and entertaining read–and if I learned something about the British Monarchy, bonus!

The Concept / The World:

Years ago, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and really enjoyed it. So I am completely open to magic/supernatural changes to a classic story or history. But I really wasn’t expecting the animal shifter storyline we got here. It took me a long to time get comfortable with it.

I also think part of the problem was that I’m not entirely familiar with English History. It was a similar problem to when I picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer–I don’t know American history and so I couldn’t make the little connections between the parody and actual history and that diminished my reading experience.

I really didn’t know who Jane Grey was before I picked this up.  So I read Wikipedia a lot to find out who all the players were and what actually happened in history just so I knew what the authors were trying to do.

Once I made the connections between history and this fictitious story, I started to appreciate it a lot more. The writing here is smart. The conflict between shifters and nonshifters here and its parallel to the religious conflicts of Jane Grey’s time (for example) is fantastic. It’s those little things that make this story interesting to read overall.

The Plot:

I really found the first half of this book to be slow–so slow that I almost contemplated DNFing. Yes, I did love the humour but the animal shifting really threw me off and I wasn’t sure if I liked how the story was progressing. But once I got familiar with the history and got comfortable with the world, I started to enjoy it a lot more.

Plus, I really wanted to know how it was going to end!

And I have to say, that once I got to the halfway point, it really started to pick up. It got a hell of a lot more exciting and I started to get won over by the characters and the plot.

The Characters:

What I liked about this story was that it was told from Edward, Jane and Gifford’s POVs. Not only do you get to learn more about these characters through their POVs, but I find multiple POVs help keep the story moving even when it doesn’t feel like it is.

All of these characters have their little quirks which makes the narration a lot of fun to read. So even when the plot was slow to get somewhere, the characters kept me entertained.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge part of the story but it is pretty cute. The romantic in me was happy with the little spurts we got throughout the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see what will happen next and what these ladies have in store.

 

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

My Lady Jane 4/5  |  My Plain Jane TBR  |  My Calamity Jane TBR

overall

I’m in the minority with this book I think because I know a lot of people who LOVE this novel. If you go into it knowing that it doesn’t take itself seriously and has magical elements to it, you’ll enjoy this a lot more.

Read if You Like: humour, historical novels, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike parodies, want a serious retelling

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Single Sundays: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

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 Zenn Diagram (from Goodreads):

The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.

Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.

Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.

Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

breakdown

Author: Wendy Brant
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had never heard of this book until I stumbled upon Poulami @ Daydreaming Books review back in April. I’m not one for YA contemporaries in general but the mathematics aspect as well as Eva’s gift made this book seem unique and fresh. So I was definitely interested in seeing how everything plays out.

The Concept:

Eva’s gift of reading people’s emotions and anxiety was a very neat addition to this story. It helps to reinforce her personality and actions in a way that you wouldn’t get otherwise. And of course, it adds some drama to the backbone of this coming of age story.

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if this story would have been stronger without it. While it plays a very important role in the first half of the novel, it doesn’t have too much of a role in the latter half. It gives the story a whimsical feeling to it that almost diminishes the overall emotion of the story–or it did to me a little bit.

But it’s still a super refreshing aspect and the story wouldn’t be what it is without it.

The Plot:

This story reads very much like your typical coming of age story, but with lots of twists. I have to say that this plot surprised me more than I ever anticipated! There is so much more to this story than a girl crushing on a boy she can’t touch and I was totally invested.

The Characters:

I thought Eva was absolutely hilarious as a heroine. I totally laughed out loud throughout this story at some of her comments and her wit.

She’s also very relateable as well. The inner math geek in my found a kindred spirit for sure. But the teenage girl in me resonated with her insecurities too. Like strains on your friendships because of boyfriends or other after-school commitments; anxiety with post-secondary school and simply just being confident in yourself. I think many of us have felt those things at one point or another.

However, I did find her a little judgey (or perhaps the word I want is pessimistic?) when it came to her fractals. She really jumps to some steep conclusions and assumptions about people simply by touch and not through knowing who they are. It’s easy to do for sure and I can’t blame her either (the feelings are powerful and overwhelming) but it irked me a little.

The Romance:

This was super cute and completely adorable. Zenn is such a swoon-worthy hero and I immediately fell for him. He’s got that mysterious aura around him and is so genuine that it’s hard not to like him.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting! This book is fun but also serious when it needs to be and it’s just a heartwarming read that will have you laughing, swooning and perhaps shedding a tear along the way.

Read if You Like: coming of age, unique premises
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries

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