Category «Book Reviews»

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
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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.

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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…

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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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Single Sundays: Draw Play by Tia Lewis

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 Draw Play (from Goodreads):
Jake:
I can’t believe my coach assigned me a tutor. I’m all that on the field and between the sheets — who cares about my stupid grades?

But Claire doesn’t treat me like I’m dumb. When we’re not busy fighting, she actually encourages me. And with those sexy curves of hers, I know just how to thank her.

Claire:
I hate football players, but I need the money. Jake is just as cocky and arrogant as the worst of them … but his touch sets me on fire.

I have to believe he’s different, that he won’t use me and break my heart. Because I can’t stop wanting him. I just hope I survive the ride.

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Author: Tia Lewis
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Source & Format: Own (Kindle)–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was really excited when I saw this as a freebie on Amazon: I’m a sucker for the “in love with the tutor” trope. Add to that, I was looking for a story where a “popular” guy goes for the “nerdy” girl. I wanted some great sexual tension but a sweet romance as well.

The Plot:

What I liked about this story is that both of these characters have self-esteem issues. Claire is worried about her appearance (mostly her size) and how others tend to use her only for her brains; Jake’s academic abilities are overshadowed by his athleticism and good looks. They don’t see themselves as anything other than how people treat them and so they have a lot of growth and learning to do.

When it comes to the plot though, it follows your typical routine formula. They reluctantly meet, they exchange insults, they start to see the other person for who they truly are…and I think you know how the rest goes. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was exactly what I wanted to read at the time. I wanted a cute, quick and sweet romance that I would enjoy reading in one sitting.

The Characters:

Claire was a little overdramatic and I hate to say that because she does have a sad past that does warrant her reactions. There was a lot of potential there but it kind-of fell flat by her irrational actions. I just didn’t warm up to her as much as I had hoped.

I thought Jake had the best character growth. A lot of that is thanks to Claire and her ability to see him as a person and not a commodity. And in turn, he helps her with her self-confidence. I really enjoyed that aspect of their relationship. I like when romances aid in personal character growth.

The Romance:

This was more of a slow burn romance than I anticipated. And for the longest time, I didn’t see how these two would ever fall for each other. They were constantly at each other’s throats. It takes them a while to reach the point that is described in the synopsis I think.

But I really did warm up to these two as a couple and could see why they were drawn to each other.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

While it personally lacks that little bit of polish, this is a super cute NA sports romance that focuses on getting to know the person, not just getting into their pants.

Read if You Like: sports romances, in love with the tutor trope
Avoid if You: want more plot twists

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DNF Review: Mr. Right Swipe by Ricki Schultz

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 Mr Right-Swipe (from Goodreads):

Rae Wallace would rather drown in a vat of pinot greezh and be eaten by her own beagle than make another trip down the aisle–even if it is her best friend’s wedding. She’s too busy molding the minds of first graders and polishing that ol’ novel in the drawer to waste time on any man, unless it’s Jason Segel.
But when her be-fris stage an intervention, Rae is forced to give in. After all, they’ve hatched a plan to help her find love the 21st century way: online. She’s skeptical of this electronic chlamydia catcher, but she’s out to prove she hasn’t been too picky with men.

However, when a familiar fella’s profile pops up–the dangerously hot substitute teacher from work (Nick)–Rae swipes herself right into a new problem…

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Author: Ricki Schultz
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Mr. Right-Swipe at 46% (Start of Chapter 12). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book! Humour, a workplace romance and the woes of modern romance–it was calling to me!

What I Liked:

–Realistic Approach–

I have to say that on the basic level, this story is very realistic. Rae is a young woman struggling with the memories of a broken marriage and another failed relationship. She’s the last of her friends to find a successful relationship and she’s starting to feel the pressure. At the same time, she’s trying to decide what she even wants in a relationship (kids? marriage?) and navigate her career (although her passions lie elsewhere). I think we all feel those pressures at one time or another.

I also like that this story takes its time. Things don’t happen in a matter of days, they build slowly and that adds a layer of realism to the plot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I’m Probably too Young to be Reading This–

In the same breath, I’m definitely NOT at that point in my life. I love my career and I’m happy being single right now. And because of that, I had a hard time connecting with Rae and her situation.

–Hard to Root for Rae–

Rae is one of those characters that had to work to make me like her…and it wasn’t a successful attempt. The best way (which is also the vaguest way) to describe my relationship with Rae is that I just didn’t “get” her. I think because we are in two different places in our lives, I just had a harder time sympathizing with her situation.

I also thought she was a little rude. Right around the part where I stopped reading, she was essentially fat shaming her date (not to his face but she mentions it numerous times) and that made her seem so shallow and mean to me.

Which brings me to her:

–Lack of Maturity–

I think Rae is supposed to be in her early 30s or close to–but you wouldn’t know that by her narration. She just lacks the maturity I would expect for someone who has gone through what she has. Perhaps that’s part of her current perdicament.

But if I didn’t know better, I would have thought she was much younger than she is and that wasn’t a good thing.

–Not as Funny as I Wanted it to Be–

Damn, I’ve really been struggling with humour in novels lately. I’m someone who laughs at everything but humour in books is a tricky thing. Rae is definitely quirky and that’s cool but because of everything I listed above, it was hard to find the laughs in her comments sometimes.

Will I Finish It?

Maybe in a few years I’ll try and return to this but for now, this is a full stop.

My Rating: DNF

overall

While my review seems mostly negative, I do think people will enjoy this story! For those who have had some unique experiences in the current dating world or who are feeling the pressures of being in a relationship by your friends, you’ll enjoy this modern contemporary novel!

Read if You Like: novels about dating, modern dating, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: struggle with quirky heroines, are your early 20s

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Single Sundays: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

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 5 to 1 (from Goodreads):

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Contestant Five, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Five’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Five thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

Told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Contestant Five’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Holly Bodger
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Poetry
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this as a book I found from a blog but I’m not sure where. Not that it really matters, this book seemed to be everywhere when it came out so I’m sure it wasn’t a single source. The cover was making lists of fave covers; the synopsis is more than intriguing and the narration style is noteworthy. So I put it on my TBR but never got a chance to read it back in 2015. Which is why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a pick for 2015.

The Concept:

I love stories that challenge our everyday norms; in particular our views on gender roles. I just loved the idea of a matriarchal society–where women are in control and boys compete to win their hand. It’s very reminiscent of something you might see in Victorian times; only this is the future and an isolated society and girl’s are the ultimate prize. I thought this exploration was done fantastically and you can tell it is the driving force behind this story. It really makes you think about what it means to be a woman or a man in society and the expectations that come along with it.

The Narration Style:

I definitely missed the part in the synopsis about Sudasa’s chapters being in verse so that was a cool surprise. It’s easy to read (the flow is great) and the formatting is awesome. Very unique. As a whole it really works as a tool to convey how restricted Sudasa is in her life.

HOWEVER, I did struggle near the end trying to interpret what was happening. The ending seemed so rushed to me because it is told in verse (not in full paragraphs) and I had a hard time following. I just felt like I was misinterpreting what was being said and so I couldn’t put in together the developments. And in turn, that dampened my reading experience (and my rating).

The Characters:

I really liked these two as leads. They were not only rebellious but also intelligent as well. Meaning they thought about everything they did before they did it. I liked that they weren’t overly impulsive.

For this story being a shorter novel, I was really impressed by how developed they were as characters.

The Romance:

I just want to say that if you think this is going to be some epic romance between two people who never wanted to get married–think again. Like I said above, this story is all about pressures from society and not the romance. The marriage situation is just a tool to emphasize the circumstances.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

As I approached the final few chapters, this was going to be a 4/5 star read for me. Unfortunately, this story just felt a little rushed at the end. It’s a great story about gender roles/expectations but it isn’t a romance by any stretch of the imagination.

Read if You Like: dystopia, reversed gender roles
Avoid if You: want a romance
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Single Sundays: Illicit by June Gray

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 Illicit (from Goodreads):
I never meant to be the other woman…

Jake and I felt a connection the moment he walked into my life, an attraction both of us tried so hard to deny. Still, I found myself longing for the very thing I couldn’t have.

I didn’t set out to fall in love with Jake. Not when he clearly wasn’t mine.

He was my mother’s.

* Illicit is a full-length standalone novel told in five parts. It contains strong language and sexual content and is recommended for readers 18 and over. *

breakdown

Author: June Gray
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Taboo
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 27, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I normally don’t read books I buy the same day I get them. Usually, they sit on my eReader for a couple months years until I randomly select the title for a reading challenge or as a way to pass the time. But after reading a particularly emotional draining read, I needed something to pick up my spirits.

I love forbidden romances. Not the dirty, taboo erotica kind: I’m talkin’ the ones that make you wonder why stepsiblings can’t fall in love or ones where the heroine falls in love with the off-limits hero. They are usually filled with sexual tension and swoon-worthy moments. But I’m also extremely picky. I want the author to convince me that these our leads should defy all convention and stay together–you need to prove it to me.

I read–and enjoyed–June Gray’s Disarm Serial years ago. So when this title popped up on a “discounted eBooks” email I subscribe to, I took a second glance. And when I saw the line “He was my mother’s.”, I quickly double checked the price and immediately bought it.

The Concept:

Like I said, it’s hard to find that somewhat forbidden/taboo romance that isn’t pure erotica and makes you feel all icky immediately after reading it. So I was excited that this story was going to explore this type of “taboo” relationship.

Mila Ferrera’s Everything Between Us has a similar “taboo” relationship where the daughter falls in love with her mother’s lover. I really enjoyed that story because there was SO MUCH MORE than just the forbidden romance (like the characters’ mental health and their subsequent development) at play. But I haven’t come across a similar situation elsewhere.

Now, this concept is not for everyone. I mean, if this was real life, I would be seriously concerned. But like I said in my “Let Fiction Be Fiction” Discussion post last year: I like when you can explore these situations in a fictional setting. I’m curious by nature and I wanted to see if June Gray could convince me that this romance was more sweet than gross.

The Plot:

This story was originally written as a serial that got bundled together into one novel–and it shows since the story is divided into parts. That also means the story moves fast and keeps the details to a minimum. Which works well since there is always some new twist that occurs to keep the reader coming back for more.

But in the same breathe, that means you really only scratch the surface of what is happening here. Instead of teasing out the conflict, you only what’s needed to get the point across. I’m not saying I wanted a full blown essay on why it’s ok to lust after your mom’s boyfriend–I just wanted to explore this situation a bit more because it is so unique.

The Characters:

Naturally, due to the format of this series being a serial, the characters are pretty one-dimensional. But they do their job well to tell the story.

The Romance:

I appreciated the fact that this never turned into an erotica (yes, there are sex scenes but they are pretty tame compared to some NA stuff I read). It’s not like you are reading page after page of lusty thoughts and then said thoughts acted upon for another 5 pages.

You actually get to see these characters interact; learn a little why they might be drawn to each other; and don’t forget the sexual tension!

But at the same time, I did want a little more to this. A mutual love of books does not seem a valid of enough reason to sleep with your mom’s boyfriend…#sorrynotsorry

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one started so strong for me, but the serial nature of this story ends up being its downfall. It feels a little rushed and then it becomes a little too dramatic. I wanted a heartfelt forbidden romance and I didn’t totally get that here. But I do appreciate the fact that it isn’t erotica!

Read if You Like: taboo/forbidden romances, serialized stories, quick read
Avoid if You: dislike cheating; can’t get passed the taboo nature.

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Blog Tour: Stalker, My Love by Zach Scott

Synopsis for Stalker, My Love (from Lola’s Blog Tour):

Welcome to Pine Bridge, a small town where secrets are rife, personal is everyone’s business, and passion is high.

With the disappearance of Rosalyn Ray, tensions soar and fingers point in every direction: the lover, the mother, the best friend, and the stalker.

Frustrated by the search going nowhere, Rhett Calloway makes it his mission to discover the truth, find the girl, and win her heart. Some people in Pine Bridge say he’s obsessed. Some say he’s dangerous. Some say he’s hurt Rosalyn. All Rhett knows is he’s loved Rosalyn since they were kids and he’ll do what it takes to see her again.

Stalker, My Love is an untraditional love story where fantasy clashes with reality, and happily ever after seems like an elusive dream. Told through four POVs, the story follows those closest to Rosalyn Ray.

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Author: Zack Scott
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 14, 2017
Source & Format: Lola’s Blog Tour–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always on the lookout for New Adult reads that aren’t just romances so this one immediately grabbed my attention. I love unconventional stories since they always surprise me. And what is more unconventional than a boy who tries to solve the disappearance of the girl he is obsessed with–when he is the prime suspect?

The Plot:

I LOVED the mystery aspect of the plot. I had no idea what happened to Rosalyn and that captured my attention from the start. There’s so much intrigue and little complications along the way that keeps you guessing.

The Characters:

I liked that all these characters were unreliable in one way or another. You don’t know who to root for or who you can trust so I loved how that contributed to my reading experience. Having multiple POVs also helps to drive the story as well, providing a 360 view of everything that is happening.

The Romance:

Don’t be looking for a romance here. It’s all about looking for Rosalyn and trying to figure out what happened to her.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
If you are looking for a New Adult mystery, look no further!

Read if You Like: mysteries, non-romance New Adult
Avoid if You: want a romance


Zack Scott

Zack is the author of the zombie apocalypse trilogy, THEIR DEAD LIVES, the horror comedy, ONE PISSED-OFF SHARK, and the untraditional love story, STALKER, MY LOVE. He’s licensed to practice law in the State of California. When he’s not writing, he enjoys baseball, avoiding LA traffic and playing with the dogs.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Single Sundays: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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 It Ends With Us (from Goodreads):

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2017, Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I am a huge Colleen Hoover fan. With the exception of one series, I’ve read all her works. I eagerly await her new releases every year. So I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get my hands on this book. It took FOREVER for my hold to come in from the library because I added my name to the list late.

But boy, was this book worth the wait!

The Concept:

Normally, I refrain from keeping spoilers in my reviews but I think it is very important that I highlight two things from the synopsis. The first being:

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

While I’ve read other books that get a lot more specific in terms of the descriptions of the graphic scenes, these moments were still hard for me to read. So if that makes you uncomfortable as a reader, just be prepared.

And looking at the synopsis you probably think, ‘Gee Lauren, why so serious? This sounds like a love triangle type of story’ because that’s what I thought when I read the synopsis for the first time. But it isn’tfar from it actually. Which brings me to the other highlight of the synopsis:

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer.

There is so much more to this story than what the synopsis implies and I really don’t want to give it away. It’s obvious to anyone who reads this that it is such a deeply personal story for Colleen Hoover to write as an author. It shows in every word and every scene. That’s what makes it so beautiful to read. So thank you Colleen for sharing something so personal with the world.

The Plot:

This plot sucked me in from the start. Part of that is because I instantly loved the characters and became so invested in them. More on that below.

As for the plot itself, it was heart-wrenchingly beautiful as the synopsis implies. It moves at the perfect pace; never dwelling on inconsequential things for longer than necessary.

You feel every range of emotions while reading this.


And I really have a hard time saying anything more without giving it away and I literally just finished the book 2 hours ago (January 26, 2017, 1pm) and I’m still at a loss for words.

The Characters:

What really makes this story is the characters. They become so real to you as a reader from the moment you first meet them. I fell in love with Lily and Ryle by the end of the first chapter. I loved Atlas from the moment Lily shares what her past with him is. And I loved every other character we meet along the way. It has been a long time since I loved a cast of characters as much I do with this one.

These are all strong characters in their own rights and so heartbreakingly real. Lily in particular really tore at my soul. How she handles everything that comes her way was so empowering yet so sad all at once. It was wonderful to see her evolve as a person throughout the novel.

The Romance:

It’ll tug at your heart from the start until the very end. I’m still shook up over it.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Before this novel, I would have told you that Maybe Someday is my favourite Colleen Hoover book because it is such a powerful story. But It Ends With Us is now my absolute new favourite work by her. It’s a story that everyone should read because it is beautiful, sad and most importantly empowering to read as a reader, no matter who you are.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, strong characters
Avoid if You: dislike books about mature subject matter
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