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Series Review: The Rule Breakers by Jennifer Blackwood

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Rule Book (from Goodreads):

Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide

1. Don’t call your hot boss the antichrist to his face.
2. Don’t stare at hot boss’s, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!)
3. Don’t get on the malicious first assistant’s bad side.
4. Don’t forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.
5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.
6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In.
7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed.
8. Don’t break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.
9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.
10. Never forget the rules.

breakdown

Series: The Rule Breakers
Author: Jennifer Blackwood
# of Books: 2 (The Rule Book, The Rule Maker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Workplace, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person Single; Alternating (The Rule Maker)
Publication Dates: May 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Kobo had been recommending this series to me for forever, so I decided to pick up The Rule Book one day. Of course, I didn’t read it right away but when my “big city” library card was expiring, I decided to read my copy so I could read the library’s copy of the sequel and save myself so cash 😛

I love a good contemporary romance in the workplace. But seeing as I read this on the cusp of the #metoo movement, I went in a little hesitantly. This promised to be funny and light so I went in optimistically.

The Plot:

Both books are pretty simple in terms of their plot execution. It mostly focuses on the girls fighting the forbidden feelings they have for their respective boys but failing at it spectacularly. That leads to some funny moments that definitely had me chuckling along.

These books have a lot of build up to the “main event” (ie the characters giving into their feelings and starting a romance) and not a lot happens. Then suddenly the relationship starts, the big conflict arises and the book is wrapped up within a chapter or two. For me, it just made everything seem rushed and I wasn’t a fan.

This was the case in particular with The Rule Book. It really irked me that the drama at the end of the novel was caused by simply omitting something. I put my complaint in spoilers below because it is hard to explain but I kept it pretty general so it isn’t a major spoiler.

My Problem with the Ending of The Rule Book

When Brogan accuses Lainey of the breach, she makes no effort to defend herself whatsoever. Perhaps she feels like it’s a waste of breath because Brogan is completely convinced but she just takes it as is and leaves. While I understand that that is part of Lainey’s character flaw (look how the other assistant treated her and how she just let him), her inability to even try to right the situation really bothered me.

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The Characters:

I liked all the characters and their humor. It provided a lot of great scenes and witty remarks. They’ve all got their flaws that they have to work at so I appreciated their vulnerability.

In some ways I wish Brogan had his own POV in The Rule Book because it would have been nice to get to know his character a little more. But on the other hand, I enjoyed slowly learning about him as Lainey did. There is something to be said about a little bit of mystery!

The Romance:

This was definitely stronger in The Rule Book (#1) than in The Rule Maker (#2) I really struggled with the romance in The Rule Maker because I never saw that deeper connection between them nor did I feel the tension brimming. It just made the whole story seem a little lackluster and I felt myself getting a little bored.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Rule Book 3.5/5 | The Rule Maker 3/5

overall

If you’re looking for a lighter read that doesn’t focus on sexy times and has a dash of humour, these books are great, quicker reads!

Read if You Like: workplace romance, light reads, humour
Avoid if You: want erotica, want longer stories, want more emotion

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Spin-off Saturdays: Found Duet by Laurelin Paige

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Found Duet is a spin-off of the Fixed Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Found Duet

This is a spinoff of the Fixed Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Free Me, Find Me)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, Fixed this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was super excited for Gwen’s story after I finished the original Fixed Trilogy years ago. There was a lot of mystery to her character and her past and I couldn’t wait to uncover it all. Of course, I didn’t read this book until years later and I so I specifically forgot why I was so excited to read her story.

However, it didn’t take me long to reemerge myself into the Fixed universe once again. I didn’t realize that Free Me takes place about a year before we meet Gwen in the Fixed Series so that took some adjusting. But once I got the timeline sorted, I enjoyed learning more about her character.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

One of the things I loved the most about the original series is its great character development. You’ve got complex characters who literally evolve before your eyes as you read. Even with the male characters lacking a POV and being somewhat of a mystery, they have this great depth to them that really adds to the story.

As for the plot, you still have those fabulous hidden secrets and twists along the way. It’s easy to get sucked into the drama and suspense of these stories. You can tell these series are well thought out and planned in advance thanks to its delivery.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Book 2, Find Me, was terribly slow for the first half. It just didn’t have any significant drama or character development to keep my full attention. It definitely picks up though in the latter half of the novel and I really enjoyed that.

When to Read This?

I actually read Chandler (Fixed #5) before I read this and it does have some spoilers about this series. So my reading order recommendation would be:

Fixed #1 (Fixed on You) thru #4 (Hudson), Free Me, Find Me, Chandler (Fixed #5), Fixed Forever (#6)

Series Rating: 4/5

Free Me 4/5 | Find Me 3.5/5

overall

I think fans of the original series will love getting Gwen’s story and returning to the world. Those new to the world but like their romances with a little suspense will enjoy this series as well.

Read if You Like: romances with lots of sex scenes, character development
Avoid if You: don’t like erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free Me (from Goodreads):

I wasn’t supposed to be working the night I met JC.

Before him, I’d been content with the daily grind, managing one of NYC’s top nightclubs. So what if my life didn’t have a happily ever after? I didn’t believe in that anyway.

Then JC showed up.

Sexy, rich and smooth-talking, JC is nothing more than a distraction. I’m not interested in a night-in-shining latex so it’s easy to push the playboy away. Or it is until my life spins unexpectedly out-of-control. Then he’s there for me, offering a new method of survival, one based on following primal urges and desires that requires me to abandon my constant need for control.

His no-strings-attached lessons obliterate my carefully built walls. And as I discover freedom, I start to feel things for him that I shouldn’t. Things that make me fear for my newly vulnerable heart. Because JC has secrets of his own, and his secrets don’t want to set him free.

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Series Review: Never 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 Never Tear Us Apart (from Goodreads):

A long time ago, when I was fifteen and a completely different person, I saved a girl’s life. I spent only a handful of hours with her, but somehow, we connected—and I’ve never been the same. No one understands what we went through. No one knows what it’s like to be us. We survived, yet I don’t feel like I’m really living—until now. Eight years later, I find her. I want to make her mine. I need to make her mine. But she’ll hate me forever when she finds out who I really am.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Never
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (Never Tear Us Apart, Never Let Me Go)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – May 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to read this as I’m a huge Monica Murphy fan. I’ve had great success with her New Adult titles and this was one I’ve kept my eye on for awhile. I thought the concept was intriguing as I love unorthodox love stories–even the ones that are a little darker in nature.

The Concept:

Lots of readers will likely struggle with some of the subject matter. It isn’t overly descriptive but you definitely understand everything that happens to Katie when she was a child.  Having that back and forth from the past to present helps establish everything for these characters. Some of the scenes broke my heart.

Take Monica’s Author’s Note at the start of the novel to heart and don’t pick this book up if you don’t want to read some of its sensitive subject matter.

The Plot:

This series is all about Will and Katie learning how to move on from their past into the future. It’s a very character driven story and I liked the tone it took. You don’t get caught up in petty drama because these two have serious obstacles to overcome.

I fell in love with Monica’s works after reading One Week Girlfriend and this novel’s tone really reminded me of that series. The focus is on broken characters and a romance that seems unconventional to everyone but the pair involved (and the reader thanks to the inner monologue). It just makes for a great and addicting story.

The Characters:

These two absolutely tugged on my heartstrings with their individual stories. This book almost reads as a coming of age in the sense that these two really find themselves throughout this series. They truly grow before your eyes and you can’t ask for more as a reader.

The Romance:

These two have great chemistry from the start. Both are tentative about romance but they know there is something so strong between them.

wanted to see more communication in the first book–I wasn’t totally sold that they were a good match despite the physical chemistry and the shared past. But the second book really works out those other details and establishes that these two are able to see the person beside the tragedy and the amazing person they are underneath in spite of everything.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Never Tear Us Apart  4.5/5 | Never Let You Go 4.5/5

overall

This is a great story about overcoming your past to embrace your future. I think some people with struggle with the sensitive subject matter of the first novel but for those who enjoy darker, unorthodox relationships, this is a great one!

Read if You Like: dark romance, character driven romances
Avoid if You: are sensitive to subject matter regarding children

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Fresh Fridays: Warcross (#1) by Marie Lu

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:

Warcross Duology

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Warcross (from Goodreads):

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 2 (Warcross, Wildcard)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wildcard, to be published September 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After reading (and positively adoring) the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, I always make an effort to read her books when they come out. While I enjoyed The Young Elites Trilogy, I found that I enjoyed the concept behind it more than the actual story.

So I was a little apprehensive when it came to Warcross. As someone who has played a few Massive Multiplayer Games, I was definitely curious to see what this world was all about. But the synopsis didn’t give much away in terms of the type of story it would be and reviews from other bloggers had me going in with slightly lowered expectations.

But if anyone can surprise me, it’s Marie Lu.

What I Liked:

–Emika–

What a great heroine she is! I just loved her tech savvy-ness and drive. She thinks outside the box and gives everything her all and how can you not love that in a heroine?

–The Games in the Tournament–

I LOVED the actions scenes where Emika is in the game with her team. Perhaps it was just the fact that I could hear the enthusiasm and expressions of the narrator as she read the scenes in the audiobook, but they were enthralling to say the least. It was reminiscent of those scenes in some of my favourite books like Red Rising and The Hunger Games.

–The Romance–

I don’t want to give much away but I thought it was super cute and definitely impacts the plot in a way that not every romance does.

–Not Overly Predictable–

While I had the identity of  Zero figured out, I was definitely wrong about what was actually happening which was a great twist!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I always find it hard to tell when I listen to audiobooks to determine if it’s actually the narrator’s style/delivery that impacts the pacing of the book or the actual writing itself. (Some narrator’s talk at a slower speed plus reading something out-loud takes longer than reading it with your eyes.  So most audiobooks take twice as long to listen to as they would to read). I do know that I sped up the delivery to 1.5X because I found her cadence to be on the slower side (my default is usually 1.25X).

But I did find it took us a while to get into the thick of things. Not that we spend too much time following Emika’s life before the tournament but the first half definitely lacks the suspense of the latter half.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t WAIT to see how all of this is going to play out! This series went in a direction I didn’t anticipate so I’m really curious about what Marie Lu has up her sleeve.

My Rating: 4/5

Warcross  4/5| Wildcard TBP

overall

You don’t have to be a fan of video games to get hooked into this page turner!

Read if You Like: stories set in the future, video games, action
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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Series Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

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 A Wicked Thing (from Goodreads):

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

breakdown

Series: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
# of Books: 2 (A Wicked Thing, A Kingdom of Ashes)
Book Order: Chronologocal
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2015 – 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I’ve said many times before, my favourite fairy tale princess is Sleeping Beauty. Why? I’m not sure because her damsel in distress situation is one I don’t enjoy (I hate when the heroine has to wait for a hero to save her). I think it’s because I love the Disney movie and its beautiful animation.

But in the same breath, I love seeing what other authors will do with the story in various retellings. So I was curious to see what this one was all about; in particular, the focus on HEA.

The Concept / The World:

What I really enjoyed about this story was that it focused on what happens after Aurora wakes up. She finds herself in a world she doesn’t know and one where she is a pawn in schemes she doesn’t fully understand. Watching her navigate this new political world and coming to grips with the fact that everyone she has ever known is dead, was an interesting take. I don’t think it was used to its full advantage but it was an element at play.

And like I say with most retellings: forget the Disney version! You’ll always end up a little disappointed because the Disney version is just a retelling of the origin story and not the source material.

The Plot:

Have you ever read a book where everything seems to be happening around the lead and the lead just seems to sit there and take it? That’s how I felt for 90% of A Wicked Thing. Aurora did absolutely nothing and I get why. She is literally in a world where she knows no one and it’s not like anyone is telling her what is happening either. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t know what is going on yourself. But it was just frustrating as a reader because she’d get these little moments of courage and then they would fizzle out.

This story needed something else to keep it going. I feel like so much time is wasted in both novels rehashing everything we’ve previously encountered. With so many people wanting things from Aurora, it should be a more suspenseful read than it actually is. But it takes Aurora nearly the entire 2 novels to finally get the backbone to do something and by then it is far to late to keep me invested.

The Dialogue:

When I contemplated DNFing A Wicked Thing, I read a few reviews on Goodreads and quite a few mentioned the dialogue. I definitely see where they are coming from after reading this. One of the contributing factors is that they don’t use contractions in the narration. It’s just not the way we talk (I mean look at how many I’ve used in this review so far) so it comes across as stiff.

But Aurora isn’t saying anything inspiring or profound either. No one is. So everything comes across as flat and it does dampen the reading experience at times.

The Characters:

Aurora was extremely dull. Like I said, I get why she lacks the confidence–I would act the same way if I woke up 100 years in the future. But I wish she gained the confidence a hell of a lot earlier than the 90% in A Wicked Thing.

The rest of the cast is kinda “meh”. I didn’t gravitate towards anyone but I think that’s because we don’t get to delve deeper into anyone’s character.

The Romance:

Three love interests is wayyyyy too much for me. And when you have an uninspiring heroine like Aurora, it’s hard to get the appeal of her for the potential suitors. I guess you can say I never picked a “team” to cheer for.

However, I will say that I like that the romance wasn’t the sole focus of this series. Other things are at play and this series could have easily been about Aurora and her “true love” and not the world she lives in.

My Audiobook Experience:

I don’t have anything against the audiobook production because you can only do so much when your source material isn’t fabulous. However, I will say that I found the dialogue delivery to be super slow. See, I’m not one to speed up the audiobook but I had to with a Kingdom of Ashes because it had a glacial pace. I first bumped it up to 1.25X and then 1.5X and the crazy thing is that the dialogue sounded much more natural at this faster pace! It was so much easier to listen to and stopped the awkwardness of the narration.

Series Rating: 2/5

A Wicked Thing 2.5/5 | A Kingdom of Ashes  2/5

overall

I’m still in search of that great Sleeping Beauty retelling. This one was terribly dull and too basic for my tastes.

Read if You Like: sleeping beauty, slow stories
Avoid if You: want action, want more romance
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Novella Serial Reviews: Past Life Chronicles by C K Brooke

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

booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

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

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

similarreads

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

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Series Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenselle

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 Daughter of the Pirate King (from Goodreads):

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2018
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King Duology
Author: Tricia Levenseller
# of Books: 2 (Daughter of the Pirate King, Daughter of the Siren Queen)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Adventure, Pirates, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library & Own–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book a lot in 2017 and it sounded like something I would enjoy. I love a good pirate story; I’m usually not a fan of the adventure story but with pirates, something just works for me. So while the hype around this scared me a little, I was very excited to pick it up and dive right in!

The Concept / The World:

I loved the ordered chaos of this world. The whole hierarchy of the pirate world here was fascinating and very straightforward to follow. It has all those elements you expect when it comes to pirate tales, including the sword fights and death. It’s not overly violent by any means but you do have some blood and life loss so I liked that it didn’t sugar coat those aspects.

The Plot:

I think I ended up liking Daughter of the Pirate King more than I thought I would because it wasn’t your typical pirate adventure. Instead, it felt like more of a battle of wits between Alosa and Riden as Alosa tries to complete her mission. It’s a pretty stationary setting (as opposed to sailing from destination to destination) and things happen quickly as a result so I was never bored. Even if the plot seemed a little slow, Alosa’s sass or scenes with Riden had me eager for more. I easily became addicted to the story.

But that wasn’t the case for the sequel and finale, The Daughter of the Siren Queen. I had the hardest time getting invested into this story. Honestly, if it wasn’t the sequel I would have likely DNF’d it. It isn’t because it’s bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I found things got off to a slow start and we kept rehashing the same sentiments again and again (mainly Alosa struggling with her true nature). Which is fine but I needed more to keep my full attention. The last quarter does pick up and there was some great romantic development but this definitely wasn’t the sequel I had anticipated.

The Characters:

I immediately loved Alosa because she is exactly the type of sassy pirate I want to read about. Her wit and kick-ass attitude had me from the start. She also had a surprising amount of character growth later on in the book (and series) and I liked that a lot (even if it did get a little dry in the sequel).

Riden is a great adversary for her as well. He’s her match in every way and I loved every scene that they had together. I love battles of wit and banter and these two don’t disappoint.

Everyone else is what you want them to be. You’ve got your villains and the shifty crew members and they all add to this fantastic atmosphere and story.

The Romance:

Clearly I was a fan. Like I said, these two had great chemistry from the start and I loved all their scenes together. I felt like the romance only got stronger in the sequel and it really became apparent to me why these two were such a great match.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think I enjoyed this more as an audiobook than I would have as a physical book. Actually hearing Alosa’s sass and witty remarks aloud had me laughing out loud throughout. But it also allowed her emotion and conflict to show too which made her a more complex character than I originally thought. Highly recommend the audiobook!

Series Rating: 4/5

Daughter of the Pirate King 5/5 | Daughter of the Siren Queen 2.5/5

overall

Despite my less than stellar experience with the sequel (I really think it was just a “me” thing), this is a great series for those who love pirate adventures. It’s got a strong heroine who does have her own flaws but learns along the way who she truly wants to be. It’s a great duology!

Read if You Like: pirates, kickass heroines, banter
Avoid if You: dislike adventure stories, want more romance

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2018 Take Control

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ARC Audio Review: Man Hands (#1) by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

ARC Audio Review: I share my review of an audio release:

Man Hands Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Man Hands (from Goodreads):

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2018 Audiobook
Series: Man Hands
Author: Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby
# of Books: 2 (Man Hands, Man Card)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: I think
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: AudioBoom–Audiobook (via Audible)

thoughts

Please Note: This is just a review of Book #1, Man Hands!

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Of course the cover caught my attention but the synopsis had me going YES PLEASE! I’m all for humourous books and now that I’ve discovered my love of romance audiobooks, this seemed like a great one to try next!

The Plot:

I really wasn’t sure what the plot was going to be given the synopsis but this book surprised me in the best way. These two find themselves in some crazy situations and hilarity ensues. But it also has its touching moments as well where these two connect on that deeper level I love to see.

The Characters:

It helps that the leads are who they are; this story wouldn’t be the same without them. Brynn is a bit of an oddball but still utterly charming. I loved watching her rebuild her confidence after her divorce and discovering her own self-worth as the story progressed. And Tom is a great complement to her character as he too has to rebuild his confidence in the romance department.

The Romance:

Watching them fight (but never really succeeding) their fabulous connection made for an epic read. Seriously. I’ve never laughed so hard during a sex scene before while still finding the entire thing to be sexy. Their chemistry is palpable and their inner monologue about the other person had me swooning throughout. These two are just the cutest!

My Audiobook Experience:

Like I said before, I had so much fun listening to this book! The narrators totally made it this awesome experience because I honestly don’t think I would have enjoyed the humour as much otherwise. Erin Mallon as Brynn managed to capture this quirky character and bring her to life in a very humourous way. She made me love Brynn instantly as soon as her inner monologue started. And Luke Daniels as Tom is perfection! He sounds exactly like I’d expect a manly TV handy man to sound–like a sexy Ron Swanson (which is something I thought I’d never say) but it totally works for this book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next duo’s story! Their scenes together in Man Hands had me dying for more so I’m very excited to read their story!

Series Rating: 5/5

Man Hands 5/5 | Man Card TBA

overall

I had an absolute BLAST listening to this audiobook! This book was this wicked combination of sweet, sexy and absolutely hilarious. I honestly don’t think I have laughed so much while reading book in a long time.

Read if You Like: quirky humour, sexy reads, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike slapstick comedy, dislike crude language

similarreads

  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Cocktail Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • You’ve Got Fail by Celia Ahren
  • The Score by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus Series #2)

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Fresh Fridays: He Wants It All (#1) by Marilena Barbagallo

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:

He Wants it All Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for He Wants It All (from Goodreads):

Krum Botev has never had anything in life apart from himself. He knows only what he has been taught. Hard, selfish, insensitive, but faithful to the Father, the one who raised and educated him according to the values of the secret society he is part of. No one has ever succeeded in knocking down his armor. No one can touch him outside or inside; no-one except her, who is part of that past Krum cannot forget.

Ambra Livori, a beautiful and wealthy heiress, has always had everything. But nightmares don’t give her a break. They go on showing her the man who ruined her life when she was only sixteen. The memory of him, over time, has become a perverse feeling she cannot tolerate. Just when Ambra decides to learn how to control her emotions, she receives a strange call. Her origins will be questioned and the past will become a terrible present from which she won’t be able to escape. Fighting for herself will be the only solution.

What links Ambra and Krum? But most of all, can two different souls be able to touch each other outside and inside? A secret organization, an uncontrollable passion, a man and a woman destined to clash.

breakdown

Series: He Wants it All; Lui vuole tutto (Italian)
Author: Marilena Barbagallo
# of Books: 2 (He Wants It All, She Wants It All)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released in English
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild | BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 8, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good dark romance. I can’t get enough of the secrets, the sexual tension or the drama. They keep me on my toes and I love that.

After reading the synopsis for He Wants It All, I just had to give it a try. The whole notion of a secret organization had me curious to know more about the story and the link between our two leads.

What I Liked:

–The Flashbacks to the Past–

I had a hard time putting this book down! I was completely enthralled by the characters and the situation they find themselves in. We only gets bits and pieces of their shared past at a time and that pushed me to keep reading. It was great putting together all the hints we get along the way to see the bigger picture.

I also liked the character development it provided for our leads, specifically for Krum. It was nice to get the insight into his character and his motivations instead of having him be a complete enigma. Understanding his character helped me appreciate his struggles with Ambra and his back-and-forth nature when it might have otherwise annoyed me.

–The Sexual Tension–

Ambra is a great complement to his character and I loved all their scenes together. They have fantastic chemistry from the start. Their whole “I hate to love you” routine is electric throughout the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle–

I will say that the middle of this book did get a little slower for me. Most of that time is spent between Ambra and Krum fighting their attraction–which is all fine and dandy. As I said above, I loved their scenes together.

But I do wish we would have had a little focus on Ambra and the society. Just some little inklings that remind you that there is a bigger story than these two fighting their attraction. We do get those pieces near the end which I appreciate but they could have been hinted at earlier I think.

Notes on the English Translation:

I do want to comment briefly on the English translation of this book. This book was originally written in Italian and the author decided to translate it into Italian. I read the English version.

Unfortunately, I do think a few things were lost in translation along the way and that did alter my reading experience. Some of the sentences were awkward or didn’t make complete sense based on the words they used in the translation. Technically, the sentence is correct but isn’t the way a native English speaker would say it so it makes sentences seem wordier or slighter alters the true point the character is trying to convey.

I had to reread a lot to get a solid grasp on what the characters were trying to say and that ruined the flow of the book for me. All this book needs is a thorough edit in English and it would knock readers socks off! Because everything else is on par with great dark romances!

Note: It looks like a new English Translation is in the works so be on the lookout for an updated version!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While some of my questions were answered, I had about 50 more by the time He Wants it All wrapped up. I can’t wait to see what is next!

My Rating: 4/5

He Wants it All 4/5 | She Wants it All TBP

overall

This was a great dark romance! I loved the secrets and the tension between the leads. It kept me hooked from the start

Read if You Like: dark romances, tragic character pasts, secrets
Avoid if You: dislike dark romance

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Series Review: Crazy Love by Stacey Lynn

Synopsis for Fake Wife (from Goodreads):

This marriage is strictly business… until the temptation gets way too real.

Corbin: I loved my grandma, but I don’t need her money. All I care about is keeping the house—the only place that’s ever felt like home. That, and screwing over my dad, who wants to turn the property into a mall. There’s only one catch: To receive my inheritance, I have to get married within six months. Me, the guy who’s never dated a girl for more than six minutes. Now I need to find a woman I can trust. So when I’m rear-ended by a Prius, I figure it’s a sign that I’m supposed to meet gorgeous, down-to-earth Teagan Monroe.

Teagan: First I lose my job. Then I come home and find out—in the most graphic way possible . . . yeah, that way—that my boyfriend is a cheating jerk. And then I speed off and nearly kill Portland’s sexiest bachelor. Corbin Lane should be pissed. Instead, he offers me more money than I’ve ever seen in my life to marry him and live together in a mansion for two years. No sex. No feelings. Just cash—enough to make all my dreams come true. Then we go and break all our rules . . . and I realize I’m falling in love with my fake fiancé.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Crazy Love
Author: Stacey Lynn
# of Books: 2 (Fake Wife, Knocked Up)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 9, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR via Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Nook / Google Play

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had made note of this book in the summer of 2017 when the promotional post for the cover reveal was announced. I ADORE fake relationship romances and this one had everything I love about them in its synopsis. From their unorthodox meeting (a fender bender) to the unexpected feelings that arise, I just knew I had to read this book!

The Plot:

One of the standout things about this book is its approach to the dramatic plotline. Compared to others in the genre, the plot wasn’t overly dramatic or too over the top. It has it’s dramatic moments for sure but it all just worked for this story.

You don’t have these unnecessary scenarios thrown at them simply for the sake of stirring up drama. These two had real problems to work out (albeit during extreme circumstances) and I loved watching them do that with each other. It was nice to read a story that focused on the romance and keeping the drama simple but effective for their journey.

The Characters:

These two are just genuine characters that I instantly liked.

Teagan is such a caring girl who has really defined (and subsequently lost) herself by her previous relationship. It was nice to see her come to terms and realize that her wants and needs are just as important as her partner’s and that she doesn’t need to be the only one to sacrifice who they are for the couple’s success.

Corbin is just a sweetheart! Unlike Teagan who has only ever seen herself as a duo, he doesn’t see the need for a partner. Watching him see the benefits of having a partner you can trust and care for was such a treat. He has is own baggage to workout which is fantastic in terms of watching the romance grow.

The Romance:

I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters to fully get on board with these two. While I liked them as individuals, I was worried their connection was only skin-deep initially (albeit great sexual tension!). But as they spent more time together, I was rewarded with what I love the most about fake relationship stories: a fantastic connection between two unlikely people.

Despite the quick nature of the story, I really could feel the strength of feelings they shared. They had this comfort with each other that just amplified the longer they spent time together. And seeing as they are just great individual characters, it was awesome to see them come closer the more they learned about each other. They complement each other so well so I adored their story together.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The two leads in the next book are unfamiliar to me but the premise looks like a lot of fun! I’m excited to see what Stacey Lynn will come up with next!

updates

–September 25, 2018– Book #2: Knocked Up

Read my full review here!

 

My Rating: 4/5

Fake Wife 4/5 | Knocked Up 5/5

overall
This is a great contemporary romance that fans will no doubt devour!

Read if You Like: fake relationship trope, quick but sweet reads
Avoid if You: want lots of drama, want erotica

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Stacey Lynn

Stacey Lynn currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. When she’s not conquering mountains of laundry and fighting a war against dust bunnies and cracker crumbs, you can find her playing with her children, curled up on the couch with a good book, or on the boat with her family enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful, yet too short, summer.

She lives off her daily pot of coffee, can only write with a bowlful of Skittles nearby, and has been in love with romance novels since before she could drive herself to the library.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Newsletter

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Nook / Google Play

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