Category «Series Reviews»

DNF Series Review: The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 4: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Unnaturalists (from Goodreads):

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

breakdown

Series: The Unnaturalists
Author: Tiffany Trent
# of Books: 2 (The Unnaturalists, The Tinker King)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person & Third Person
Publication Dates: August 2012 – February 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Unnaturalists at 18% (Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good steampunk novel and 2012 was the year I added every one to my TBR list it seems because that’s when I discovered the genre. I didn’t get to this series until my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2017 and I selected it as a 2012 pick.

I was very excited to see the blending of science and fantasy–each steampunk world is unique and this one seemed to be in a league of its own so I was anxious to see it all come together.

What I Liked:

–The “Saints” are Famous Scientists–

The scientist in my loved how scientists are viewed as saints in this world. Lots of people see science and religion as two mutually exclusive things but the blending of the two together here brought a smile to my face.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Immediately Felt Lost in the World–

The key to a good steampunk novel is building the world so the readers can fully understand the vision the author wants to convey…something that did not happen here.

I don’t mind being thrown into a world I don’t know or making me ask questions, but you have to provide me with the tools to understand what the heck is even happening. With this novel, I got lost in all the terms that were being thrown out to describe people, places and the fundamental foundations for the world. I’m not saying that everything needs to be fully explained on every page in excessive detail–even a glossary at the back of the book would work because I would be able to put two and two together and figure out the world myself–all I’m saying is that you need to do something to provide the basis for the world as the reader goes along.

Will I Finish It?

No, I don’t think I will. I wasn’t really invested in the plot (probably because I didn’t totally understand what was even happening) but I also wasn’t loving the characters either.

Series Rating: DNF

The Unnaturalists DNF | The Tinker King N/A

overall

The execution is really what hurt this novel for me. I think if I didn’t feel so lost at the start, I would have fully enjoyed this novel.

Read if You Like: being thrown into worlds, steampunk
Avoid if You: need world building

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DNF Series Review: Breathe by Rachel Brookes

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 3: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Just Breathe (from Goodreads):

For Savannah Rae, living life without her parents was unimaginable. But being blamed for her first love’s suicide? That destroyed every part of who she was.

Gone were the days of innocence, happiness, and dreams. Now her days simply meant attempting to survive. In her mind, her only means for that was replacing her grief with men, booze and the fast life. And for five years, it worked.

When an opportunity to leave the nightmares of her past in Australia opens up, she takes it. Los Angeles beckons – with hopes of late nights, new beginnings, and the promise of a string of endless men to distract her, she can’t wait to dive in.

One thing she didn’t count on was meeting her match.

In the eyes of outsiders, Tate Connors has it all; the ultimate LA bachelor who is content with his lifestyle of wild nights, women and one night stands. He’s Mr. Unpredictable with looks that could destroy any woman with one glance.

The craziness of Los Angeles throws them into the chaotic path of each other. Savannah becomes the perfect game, and Tate becomes the ultimate prey. Lines are crossed, emotions are smashed, and the idea of who they truly are begins to be tangled.

However, one thing will become clear.

They are more alike than either one could ever have imagined.

breakdown

Series: Breathe Duology
Author: Rachel Brookes
# of Books: 2 (Just Breathe, Breathe Again)

There is a #1.5 companion novella called Breathless.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2013 – March 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Just Breathe at 36%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As per my usual routine, I’m not sure how I found out about this series but I bought Just Breathe in December 2014 so I’m assuming I grabbed it during a holiday sale. I will say that the suicide plotline with Savannah’s ex-boyfriend is what drew me in. I was curious to learn why she felt it was her fault as well as to see the impact it had on her moving forward.

What I Liked:

–Savannah’s Situation–

Like I said above, Savannah’s past relationship was refreshing to me in the sense that it was something I had never encountered before. I’ve read stories about leads with deceased girl/boyfriends but not through suicide. It was interesting for me to see how it altered her relationships going forward and how she lives with the burden of guilt she feels for her “role” in it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard to Like the Leads–

I can get over jaded leads–Savannah is a great example of one–but I found Savannah to be rather dull. She didn’t inspire any emotions from me (if that makes sense). I just didn’t get that bond with her as a character.

Tate also seemed like a walking cliché. I think hope there was supposed to be depth to his character but I don’t think I was going to learn about it anytime soon.

–Blah Romance–

Savannah and Tate are two characters that are extremely set in their ways. They’ve lived the “one-and-done” lifestyle for years and it’s ingrained in them.

So why is it that eyes meeting across the room and one bout of really great sex 5 days later has them completely upending their entire life philosophy?

Sorry, that just doesn’t work for me. I think I just wanted more resistance. I wanted this story to be about them slowly breaking down those walls and realizing that when you meet the right person, it just works. I wanted to peel back those layers.

But since I wasn’t interested in their characters, this quick romance simply flopped for me.

Will I Finish It?

No. When I saw that the sequel novel dealt with these two directly (and not another set of leads), I quickly bowed out. I don’t want to invest myself in a series I’m just not feeling.

Series Rating: DNF

Just Breathe DNF | Breathe Again N/A

overall

Nothing about this story felt new or refreshing to me. It’s nothing I haven’t encountered before and I wasn’t connecting to these leads.

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, jaded characters
Avoid if You: want something refreshing
similarreads

  • Shame by Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin Trilogy #3)
  • Just a Little Kiss by Renita Pizzitola (Crush Trilogy #3)
  • Undone by R E Hunter (Disclosure Series #1)

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

Thanks for joining me on my first (hopefully) annual DNF December Review Blitz! That’s all I have for this year!

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DNF Series Review: Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 2: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Changeling (from Goodreads):

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

breakdown

Series: Order of Darkness
Author: Philippa Gregory
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Changeling at 60%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this series when I was browsing audiobook series at my library. My one friend really loves Philippa Gregory’s works so I was excited to see she had a YA title and I added this to my holds list.

I love historical stories and ones that explore the “supernatural” elements of the time. Changeling appealed to me for its forbidden romance and the mystery of the nunnery. So I was excited to see what was happening!

What I Liked:

–Luca’s Job/Mission–

I really liked that Luca is an investigator of sorts. One of my favourite mystery tropes is when the detective uses everyday common sense to debunk “supernatural” causes. I just love the logic of it all.

Here, it’s a bit of a catch-22 because there are supernatural elements at play but are they truly the cause of the mystery? It kept me intrigued.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Misleading Synopsis–

I totally thought I was getting a completely different story based on the synopsis. I thought Luca and Isolde were going to have this intense connection and he would do everything he could to help her escape the nunnery. I mean, that’s what the synopsis implies.

You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Luca and Isolde have very little interaction and absolutely zero chemistry together. This isn’t some consuming, forbidden romance. It wasn’t even a slow burn romance. Perhaps their relationship will evolve but it won’t be until much, much later in this book.

Lastly, he doesn’t help her escape and their “journey across Europe” doesn’t happen until well after the 60% mark.

–Predictable Mystery–

I wasn’t that far into the novel before I contemplated DNFing. This wasn’t the story I anticipated and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to the next 3 books. But, I found myself hooked to the mystery of the nunnery and wanted to see if my theory was right.

I don’t think you need to be an avid reader to figure out the “mystery” pretty early on. My initial theory proved to be right and I had really hoped I was wrong (or at the very least, that there would be some unforeseen twist) because it would have made things a tad more interesting.

My Audiobook Experience:

It doesn’t matter if the book is in print or in audio, I struggle with third person narration. Here, I had a hard time figuring out who the “she” was often times. Was it Isolde or the other head nun (both had eerily similar names that were hard to distinguish on the audio) that Luca was talking to?

It was also particularly hard because the audio is a single male voice for everything and while he does do different voices while speaking, sometimes I had a hard time figuring out who was talking. He also talked in a very monotone and quiet way so it wasn’t as engaging as I expected.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I promptly stopped the audiobook right after the big mystery reveal. I just wasn’t feeling this story and the reviews from others on Goodreads led me to believe I wasn’t missing much. I didn’t want to invest myself into a 4 book series I wasn’t totally feeling. I’m all for slow growth but this one was just super misleading and not what I expected.

Series Rating: DNF

Changeling 2/5 | Stormbringers N/A | Fools’ Gold  N/A | Dark Tracks N/A

overall

This story was just terribly slow, grossly misleading and lacked the chemistry needed to keep a reader to engage.

Read if You Like: slow stories, slow burn romance, historical
Avoid if You: want an engaging plotline
similarreads

  • The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges (Katerina Trilogy #1)
  • Cross my Heart by Sasha Gould (Cross My Heart Series #1)

Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Prisoners of Peace by Erin Bow

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Scorpion Rules (from Goodreads):

The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Cover Love
Series: Prisoners of Peace; The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
# of Books: 2 (The Scorpion Rules, The Swan Riders)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Scorpion Rules at 18% (middle of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There was a lot that drew me to this series. It’s written by a Canadian. It has political intrigue. Its unique concept. The cover. I quick marked it as an anticipated read upon its release in 2015 but let it slip away after I read some mixed reviews.

Despite that though, I was eager to read it and that was why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2018.

What I Liked about The Scorpion Rules:

–The Concept–

The whole setting of this novel is really intriguing. Children of political leaders are used as pawns in the hopes that forfeiting their lives in order to go to war will prevent the battle from even taking place–because who would sacrifice their own child?

Like many political things, this one is convoluted and that does result in some info dumping moments. I found the whole idea straight forward though I will admit I struggled with the AI portions of the information.

What I Didn’t Like The Scorpion Rules:

–All the Characters Seem to do is Farm–

I’ve got nothing against farming (where I live is predominately farms) but I didn’t pick up this book to read about Greta and company milking goats or making cheese.

I wanted back stabbing and conspiracy theories. I wanted a little more action and drama.

Instead, I got polite teenagers doing chores. Yawn.

My Audiobook Experience with The Scorpion Rules:

I do think part of the reason I DNF’d this so quick was the audio version (though truthfully, I would have found it boring either way). While I appreciate that each of the Children of Peace had their own accents, I found everyone seemed to have a slow drawl that proved to be distracting. When we would get those info dumping moments (usually when the teens are answering something in class or talking to each other), I just couldn’t concentrate on their words or the importance of what they were saying. I also thought the that narrator sounded to old to be Greta’s age so that was off-putting as well.

Will I Finish The Series?

Nope. I read the synopsis for Book 2 and I don’t think much really happened to get to that point.

Series Rating: DNF

The Scorpion Rules DNF | The Swan Riders N/A

overall

If you like slower books that take their time or want a book that is completely unlike any other out there, check this out.

Read if You Like: LBGTQ characters, slow novels, lots of detail about the world
Avoid if You: want action, want conspiracy theories

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

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 Him (from Goodreads):

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author(s)
Series: Him
Author: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 2 (Him, Us)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MM Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors co-write a series together, you know the expectations are high. I love Bowen and Kennedy’s work respectively so the fact that they wrote a MM romance together had me eager to read it. I’ve really become a fan of MM romance over the last 2 years thanks to some great authors telling some even better stories. So I was STOKED when I managed to snag these two books on sale for my Kobo.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the balance these novels had between the character development, romance and the drama. They just had a great flow to them that kept me hooked on their every word.

And the tension! GAH! In Him (#1), we don’t know exactly what happened between Jamie and Wes (Ryan) right away. Instead, we get little snippets of their last summer at camp together until we finally get the big reveal. I just loved the anticipation that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I really loved both our leads. Jamie is such a sweetheart and I enjoyed watching him grow into the man he becomes. I found his approach to his sexual identity was refreshing and realistic as well. And Wes is also a great guy. I loved his attitude and approach to everything. He has this maturity to him that I also found refreshing.

The Romance:

There is no denying the great chemistry these two have. Boy oh boy, their scenes together are steamy! But for me, I wanted a little more emotional connection in Him. I got the attraction between these two physically but I wasn’t entirely sold on why the boys liked each other. Sure they have a lot in common and have been close friends for years, but I needed a little more to see why they would make great partners for each other in the long run.

Which we get to see in Us (#2). I found this book really tested their relationship in a realistic way and that reaffirmed for my why they are a good match for each other and why they love each other. We still get plenty of steam but the emotional connection between the guys is the main focus.

Series Rating: 4/5

Him 4/5| Us 4/5

overall

This super sexy read is great for new and returning MM romance fans!

Read if You Like: mm romance, sports romances, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes

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DNF Series Review: Aligned by Ella Miles

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 Aligned (from Goodreads):

He’s an arrogant complication.

I don’t care if Landon Davis has sold millions of records. I don’t care that his damn crooked grin makes my panties wet.

I can’t want him.

I should be mourning, but I can’t. I just need him gone. Then I can align the chaos floating in my head.

——

She has a f*cking boyfriend.

I’ve seen the picture of them together. But Alex Blakely still wants me. And who am I not to oblige when her body is begging for me?

I need one night to own her body.

I should be focused on getting my career out of the gutter. I’ll take one night first. Then I’ll be gone.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Aligned
Author: Ella Miles
# of Parts: 4 (1+2 are novellas; 3+4 are novels)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2015 – June 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read Aligned Volumes 1 + 2 and never picked up Volumes 3 + 4. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m an Ella Miles fan without a doubt. Her stories always surprise me with the direction they take and they keep me on my toes. I actually grabbed this series after I read my first Ella Miles’ read, Maybe but didn’t actually read it until I had a few more Ella Miles’ titles under my belt.

What I Liked:

–The Rebuilding of Alex’s Past–

I really enjoyed the first volume thanks to the suspense of Alex’s missing past. Watching her try to establish her new life while completely oblivious to her old one was intriguing. It kept me curious trying to figure out what would happen next.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Landon–

I just couldn’t get myself to like him. I think he suffers a little bit from underdevelopment in the first volume since we spend more time with Alex and her situation. He starts to get more interesting in Volume 2 when his secrets are alluded to more but by then I just didn’t care.

–Not Enough in Volumes 1+2 to Keep Me Hooked–

I enjoyed Volume 1, probably because I knew it was just the start and that more things would come given the foundations it had set. But Volume 2 just felt like filler to me with not a whole lot else happening. I know that the full novels are jammed pack with twist after twist thanks to other reviews I read while contemplating my DNF decision, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care and it felt like a chore to try and get there.

Will I Finish It?

No. I read the spoilers for Volumes 3 & 4 and I definitely missed out on some interesting developments to say the least. In some ways I do regret not sticking it out but I just didn’t like the characters enough to try.

Series Rating: DNF

overall

This one just wasn’t for me. But if you like stories with crazy twists that build and build, you will love this!

Read if You Like: dramatic stories, lots of twists, crazy characters
Avoid if You: want a more traditional romance read

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ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Boys on the Brink
Author: Jamie Deacon
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order:  Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, LGBT, MM Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had tremendous luck with gay romances; specifically, adult sport ones. So when Jamie asked me to read his newest YA sports novella, it just seemed like an obvious “yes” to me.

The Plot:

I always worry when I pick up a novella that things will seemed rushed or underdeveloped; but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here! This was a quick read but one that packs a lot of punch and love into it.

And it is also so genuine! I could easily see this story happening in real life and I think that’s part of the charm of it. The problems and insecurities these characters have could happen to anyone and are likely happening right now. It’s just a beautiful story that doesn’t rely on overdramatic plot devices to be an entertaining read.

The Characters:

I loved watching Davey become confident in himself. I think his story is one many people (boys and girls, regardless of sexual orientation) can relate to–finding the confidence in who you truly are. He transforms before your eyes and I always appreciate that in my stories.

Adam is this great counterpart to Davey’s story in so many ways. He isn’t perfect–he too has had some bumps along the way–but I think that makes this story all that more charming by showing off those all too human qualities. It would have been great to get his POV as well but I learned enough about his through Davey to be satisfied with his character.

The Romance:

Simply put: adorable! I loved the slow burning tension this one had! It starts as a friendship and slowly becomes more. It was the perfect vessel to get the point of the story across.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This is the only story I’ve read in the series, but it has definitely impressed me so I can’t wait to further explore this series!

My Rating: 4/5

Caught Inside N/A | [Defensive Play 4/5]

overall
A sweet, realistic read that will no doubt charm your heart!

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, LGBT stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.

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Jamie Deacon

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

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Series Review: Irresistible by Stella Rhys

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 Sweet Spot (from Goodreads):

I’ll be the first to admit that I live at extremes. After going ten years locked in what felt like a dysfunctional marriage, I’m now decidedly boy-free. In nearly three years I’ve had no boyfriends, no flings, no dates and no sex. For the sake of my dream career, the sacrifice has been easy.

At least it was.

Until he came along.

Lukas Hendricks. He’s rude, gorgeous, arrogant – a stone-carved wall of muscle and distraction. He’s everything I know to avoid but there’s no avoiding your next-door neighbor. Oh yeah. The man now lives three steps from me and to make matters worse, he crashed into my life while I was relaxed in the tub – mortifying to say the least and it went something like this: I was exposed. He looked. He laughed.

And then I locked myself out.

In short, Lukas Hendricks was trouble from the start. And me?

I was – for the first time in years – about to be screwed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Watch Author 2018
Series: Irresistible
Author: Stella Rhys
# of Books: 4 (Sweet Spot, Bad Boss, Dirty Deeds, Hothead)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook; Hidden Gems–eARC (Hothead only)

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually read this series a little out of order by picking up Book #4, Hothead as a review copy. Little did I know that I had already marked Books 1 & 2 on my library’s audiobook collection to read so it was a happy coincidence. I ended up loving Hothead so I couldn’t wait to see this series from the beginning!

The Plot:

After loving Hothead (Book #4) for its great blend of romantic chemistry and drama, I have to say I was a little disappointed in Sweet Spot (Book #1) when I got around to reading it. It just seemed like every contemporary romance novel I’ve read with a similar premise (in love with the neighbour). But, it did a great job introducing the rest of the cast so I was excited for the remaining sequels.

I find each book gets stronger with plots as the series grows. We start getting more original stories and better balance between character development, romance and drama. There were definitely things I could have done without in some of the books (like obvious communication assumptions, etc) but for the most part, I was able to overlook them and I found they got less and less as the series progressed.

The Characters:

With the exception of Lucas and Leah in Sweet Spot (#1), I loved all the characters in this series. It wasn’t that I had something against those two, I just felt like they are the most underdeveloped in the series. Everyone else has great backstories and has some great growth as a result in their individual stories.

But everyone as an ensemble has fantastic chemistry so it was fun to see them interwoven through everyone’s story.

The Romance:

I felt like the sexual chemistry between the characters improved in the sequels as well. Again, I think that goes hand-in-hand with strong character development and allowing the reader to get to know the characters to their core. Everyone was a great match for each other and it showed throughout the many obstacles they faced.

My Audiobook Experience (Books #1-3):

The audiobooks started a little rough for me with Sweet Spot (#1). I found the female narrator had a choppiness to her voice that irritated me but went away when I increased the speed. So I was a little nervous when I saw it was the same narrating duo for the other two novels. But I found that they changed up their presentation in the subsequent novels so it wasn’t a reoccurring issue.

Series Rating: 4/5

Sweet Spot 3/5 | Bad Boss 4/5 | Dirty Deeds 5/5 | Hothead 5/5

overall

This was a series that only improved as we spent longer with this ensemble cast of characters. If you enjoy sexy romances with great pairings and drama, you’ll definitely enjoy this! Stella Rhys has made it onto my “authors to watch” list thanks to this fun series!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexual tension
Avoid if You: dislike romances
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Series Review: Reverie by Monica Murphy

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 His Reverie (from Goodreads):

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Not.
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (His Reverie, Her Destiny)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read pretty much anything by Monica Murphy so it’s no surprise that I had the first book sitting on my Kobo shortly after its release. And like many books I own, I don’t get around to them until years later (thought it’s no fault of their own).

I was eager to start this forbidden “New Adult” love story and I made sure to pick up the sequel from my library as my card was expiring to binge read the series.

The Concept:

First and foremost, I would classify this story as Young Adult and not necessarily “New Adult”. To me, “New Adult” stories take place the summer after high school to the first year after graduating college. These characters are still in high school and to me, it reads like your more dramatic YA contemporaries.

One thing I enjoyed about His Reverie is that it is mostly told through Nick’s POV with the occasional diary entry from Reverie along the way. It’s not often that you get a romance novel told solely (or close to) from the male POV so I enjoyed that fresh take.

The Plot:

This story centers itself on a very dramatic first love. Monica Murphy has a knack for writing dramatic YA and it definitely shows in this series. It reads almost like a soap opera but the characters are pretty grounded so it isn’t as over the top as you expect.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Nick is trying to do his best given the crappy hand life has dealt him but his heart is in the right place. You really want to root for him after all the stuff he has gone through.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure about Reverie at the start. I’m not always the biggest fan of the “innocent” heroine and their accompanying naivety but she really grew on me as the series progressed. I think she has the best character development in the series of the two.

The Romance:

If you enjoy stories about all consuming first loves, this is one for you! I thought these two were cute together but I needed to see more substance to their relationship. To me, they are in lust not love for a majority of His Reverie. It’s a very insta-love connection, one that is mostly based in attractiveness and this unspoken connection. Later on in the book it is implied that they talk and bond over other things but I felt like their feelings developed much too fast for me to be completely convinced it’s true love.

Series Rating: 3/5

His Reverie 3/5 | Her Destiny 3/5

overall

If you like lots of drama in your YA contemporaries and stories about first loves, this is a great (and shorter) series to pick up!

Read if You Like: stories about first love, lots of drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: dislike lots of drama

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Series Review: Hearts by Claire Contreras

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 Kaleidoscope Hearts (from Goodreads):

He was my older brother’s best friend.
He was never supposed to be mine.
I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.

One of us did.
One of us left.

Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.
He broke my heart last time.
This time he’ll obliterate it.

breakdown

Series: Hearts Trilogy
Author: Claire Contreras
# of Books: 3 (Kaleidoscope Hearts, Paper Hearts, Elastic Hearts)

There is a novella that is a prequel to Book #2 Paper Hearts called Torn Hearts

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Second Chances, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar. I can only assume the cover of Kaleidoscope Hearts caught my eye on a Goodreads widget or perhaps Kobo recommended it to me.

Regardless, I tend to enjoy second chance romances and this series is all about them. I like the secrets and tension that happens and Kaleidoscope Hearts with its “in love with brother’s BFF” trope had me eager to start it.

The Plot:

I went through the same cycle with all these books. The start had my attention because there was so much tension and animosity between the leads. The mystery to their past relationship(s) had me eager to learn more. But by the midway point, my interest started to wane. I felt like we kept cycling the same drama back and forth. The push and pull of the romance just kept tugging and tugging but not making any positive progress. It got tiring to read because I got it you know? Of course their are obstacles in the way but we don’t need to rehash those every other chapter.

And it also drove me nuts that a lot of the unnecessary drama was the result of these characters purposefully being uncommunicative. We’d get their thought process in their inner monologue but they’d never tell their partner that. For example (I’m going to keep this pretty general to avoid spoilers), in Elastic Hearts, all Victor has to do is tell her that they can’t be seen together for a few weeks until everything blows over and the consequences are no longer at play. Instead, he essentially breaks up with her and tells her nothing about how his plan will secure a future for them so she assumes (rightfully so) the worst of him and that he doesn’t want to be with her.

SO FRUSTRATING!

The Characters:

I never fell in love with any of these characters. Part of the problem was their lack of maturity. For people well into their 20s, they acted like high schoolers at times. This was particularly apparent in Paper Hearts (which I actually DNF’d at 13%) where our heroine goes off on the littlest of things at our hero. I mean, I understand her hurt and anger towards him given their past, but she could turn a simple comment into something else completely with a snap of her fingers. Ugh. Everything was way more dramatic than it needed to be.

I also found that these characters were all over the place in terms of their personalities. They would act one way and then be something else entirely in the next chapter. So I could never get a good read on them or who they were. There is quite a bit of potential for development but we don’t really get any or enough to impress me.

The Romance:

I thought all the leads had good physical chemistry. You could feel the tension that flowed between them when they were in a room together. However, I felt like the emotional connections could have used some work.

It’s hard to craft a good second chance romance. You’ve got characters who have already established a relationship and usually the reader only sees them attempt to reestablish it after something has torn them apart. Which is the case here. I mean, you do get little flashbacks to the past so you know they had this great chemistry years ago but nothing showed me that the pairs were soulmates without a doubt, you know? It was almost like an unspoken connection that just convinced them that that person was the one and I would have enjoyed seeing more of the partnerships come to life.

When to Read #1.5 Torn Hearts:

This novella is included at the start of Book 2, Paper Hearts. It serves as a good introduction to the lead characters in Paper Hearts, giving a context for the situation they find themselves in. I don’t know if knowing why these two split before I started Paper Hearts “ruined” a bit of the mystery of the second chance story or not. I don’t think I would have enjoyed that story regardless.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

Kaleidoscope Hearts 3/5 | [Torn Hearts 3/5] | Paper Hearts DNF | Elastic Hearts 2/5

overall

I’ve read better second chance series. While all the right ideas were there, the execution could have been better.

Read if You Like: second chance romances
Avoid if You: dislike longer romance stories

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