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DNF Series Review: Youngblood by Liz Reinhardt

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 Fall Guy (from Goodreads):

Evan Lennox is going nowhere fast. She’s living with her grandparents after her parents bailed on her, she got kicked out of her posh private school, her ex-boyfriend proved to be the biggest sleaze imaginable, her former best friend is a back-stabber, and her current best friend is stuck in backwoods NJ. To top it all off, one teeny, tiny fire she lit to burn some memories of her ex goes a little out of control and winds up igniting a good piece of a very powerful family’s pecan orchard.

Evan lands her pampered behind in court and gets sentenced to community service. Which she knows she deserves. But the hard labor and humiliation may be her undoing.

Until she meets Winchester Youngblood on the site.

Everything about him is tricky, confusing, not at all what it seems, and so sexy, Evan can’t resist pulling closer. But every step she takes to get to know him gives her more of a reason to back up and put him as far out of life as she possibly can. Because Winch is one hundred percent complicated, and Evan isn’t looking for that. At all. She needs to meet a nice, responsible guy, not share searing kisses with the charming hustler she met after they both got sentenced in court.

But Winch is so much more than what he seems, and Evan finds out that she’s falling hard for the guy everyone underestimates and writes off. And Winch realizes that Evan is the one person who’s ever challenged him to ask for more out of his life, and her courage inspires him to try to be the person she sees when she looks at him. With every single odd stacked against them, Evan and Winch need to find out whether they have what it takes to fall for each other.

breakdown

Series: Youngblood

This is a spinoff of the Brenna Blixen Series.

Author: Liz Reinhardt
# of Books: 2 (Fall Guy, Perfectly Unmatched)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September – December 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Fall Guy at 17% (Middle of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I came across this one years ago. I bought The Fall Guy in September 2013, around the time I became interested in the New Adult genre and was getting my hands on anything in the genre so I can assume that is the reason why.

What drew me to this title is the concept of these two meeting in community service after committing crimes. I like romances that start in different ways and I hadn’t come across something like this before.

What I Liked:

–Alternating POVs–

I like my romances to have alternating POVs because it provides better character development. It gives you insight into both characters and allows you to get a better understanding of who they are.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Set in High School–

I thought this was going to take place in college, not while Evan was still in high school. I kinda missed the “kicked out of her private school” part of the synopsis so it threw me for a loop when in the next chapter she talks about going to school. And while Evan is in high school, I think Winch is actually in his 20s. Which is fine but it rubbed me the wrong way because he acts like he is in high school sometimes. He just lacked that much needed maturity.

And you know when high schoolers start acting like they are privileged 30 year olds? Totally got those vibes here and it makes everything seem so over the top.

–I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you Tug of War–

I’m all for sexual tension but this was a little too much for me. They were constantly eyeballing each other’s body parts and getting ready for sexy times between tiny bouts of banter. Then, when they would try to progress further, one of them would pull away knowing that they shouldn’t let this relationship develop any further.

I read some other reviews while contemplating whether or not to continue and lots of people stated this was something that continues for the rest of the novel. I don’t mind back and forth for a small portion of the novel, but the entire thing, it’s just too repetitive for me.

Will I Finish It?

Never mind the fact that I can’t get the second novel through any eBook store in Canada, but this one just isn’t for me any more. So I will not be finishing it.

Series Rating: DNF

Fall Guy DNF | Perfectly Unmatched N/A

overall

If you like over the top YA/NA contemporaries, this is a good one for you!

Read if You Like: soap operas, lifestyles of rich
Avoid if You: want more depth to your romances
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Fresh Fridays: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

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:

Dance Off Duology

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Take the Lead, Dance With Me)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Dance With Me will be published December 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me TBP

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
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Fresh Fridays: Empress of a Thousand Skies (#1) by Rhoda Belleza

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:

Empress of a Thousand Skies Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Empress of a Thousand Skies (from Goodreads):

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

breakdown

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
# of Books: 2 (Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood of a Thousand Stars)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Blood a A Thousand Skies will be published February 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. I marked it on my wishlist at my local library simply because I love the cover. The synopsis was intriguing enough but it seems like every plot in a science fiction novel lately has had a similar premise (I get why though: race and class divides are a part of the science fiction backbone so of course there are similarities) so I wasn’t overly eager to read this. Add to that the somewhat mixed reviews on Goodreads and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Note on Empress of a Thousand Skies Synopsis:

What I’m about to say may be considered by some to be a spoiler but I actually think it is better labeled as a warning because it is important to know what you are getting into and what type of story to prepare yourself for. So read this section if you want a little guidance for the type of story you are picking up or avoid and continue down to the next section.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding

When you read those lines from the synopsis, you think the plot will be Rhee and her accused killer meeting and proceeding to save the world together. The key word there being “together”, implying that they actually get introduced to each other. That is not the case.

The best way to describe this story is as two parallel stories that contribute to the overall plot of the world. Maybe there is some suspense in wondering if they will ever meet but for me, knowing that they weren’t going to meet helped me starve off some of the disappointment of discovering that they won’t…yet.

What I Liked:

–The Plot is Always Moving–

I don’t like stagnant plot lines and this one never felt like it got stuck or dwelled too long on one thing or another. I think it helps that we get both Aly and Rhee’s POVs too since you get that back and forth plot development. New secrets and alliances are constantly being revealed so something is always grabbing your attention. It helps to build the story and subsequently the finale.

–Not Afraid to Take Risks–

Not that you need to kill off characters to keep a story going but I like the suspense that happens when you aren’t sure who is safe and who isn’t. The action scenes we get here–while sometimes few and far between–had me paying attention because who knows what could happen next!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

While there were definitely plot twists that surprised me, I think the one big twist in this novel was super obvious. So that dampened the reading experience a touch but I still found myself interested in what would happen next.

–Slightly Lackluster Ending–

Because of the obvious plot twist, the ending was definitely lackluster in my opinion. I really needed something big to happen to “wow” me to take my experience to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

For a third person POV narration, I had a very easy time following what was happening. The narrator kept my attention and she was really expressive which helps. I think I would have liked a male narrator to do Aly’s parts simply to remind me when I stopped mid-chapter who the POV was following. Otherwise, it was a solid narration.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I wasn’t wowed with this novel, I did enjoy it. I’m curious to see what will happen in the finale and how everything weaves together.

My Rating: 3/5

Empress of a Thousand Skies 3/5 | Blood of a Thousand Stars TBP

overall

While not a standout novel in its genre, this series will definitely keep readers interest throughout.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building
Avoid if You: dislike slower stories, want more romance

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DNF Series Review: Silent by N E Henderson

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 Silent No More (from Goodreads):
She thought silence was her best option…until the past threatened to ruin her future.

Shannon Taylor has it all: great friends, her dream career, a loving fiancé, and a best friend that’s like the sister she never had. Life couldn’t get any better—or so she thought.

Just when you think you have it all, add in a little betrayal and a few lies and you have the
perfect mixture for a storm, strong enough to send you spiraling into a life full of unknowns—or could that have been the point? When traveling down the wrong path sometimes we need to be blown into a different direction.

Now unsure of everything she had planned for herself, Shannon is on a mission to forget, but
what she isn’t expecting to run into is the arrogant, womanizing, control freak that clearly thinks he’s a gift to all women. That may be for most women, but not this one.

Meet Nicholas Lockhart.

He’s sexy, domineering, and has a temper that is easily triggered, but those things are a must when in the business environment that he is. To be successful means to be the best, the alpha, controlling all others. Meeting a woman who can turn his world upside down is not in the cards, not part of the plan. Why have one woman when there are so many appetizing ones to taste? A renowned eligible bachelor is the person he likes to be, that is until the defiant, redhead turns his head and puts him in his place.

Their quick and intense passion takes them both by surprise, eliciting a relationship neither expected. When her past collides with her present, Shannon is forced to confront it head on, tangling her in a web of lies and twisted truths that soon leave both bare and vulnerable.

Sometimes the only option is to be silent no more…

breakdown

Series: Silent Duet
Author: N E Henderson
# of Books: 2 (Silent No More, Silent Guilt)
Book Order: Chronological, Connected (Silent Death)
Complete?: Yes but there are other books that may be released
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2013 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Silent No More at 13% (Start of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought this book nearly 3 years ago…and I don’t really remember why. I’m sure I came across it while I was looking for New Adult reads. Maybe Kobo suggested it?

Anywho, I knew what Shannon’s betrayal was going to be based on the synopsis. It’s a common trope but I was curious to see what they were going to so with it all. And Nicholas’ character intrigued me. I have a soft spot for the player turned monogamous man. It is fiction after all 😉

What I Liked:

I didn’t really find anything I liked…that’s why I DNF’d it so early…

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing I Haven’t Encountered Before–

Everything seemed pretty cliche to me: ie it wasn’t anything new to me as a frequent reader of the New Adult genre.

Like I said, I knew that Shannon was going to find her fiance cheating on her in the first chapter. The betrayal was pretty easy to pinpoint from the synopsis. And I could get past that; but even the prologue from Nicholas featured the typical rich boy cliches.

And there really is nothing wrong with those tropes/characteristics. I mean, they’re tried and true tropes for a reason. But I wasn’t in the mood for your everyday NA read. Especially with a title like “Silent No More”, I expect something epic to happen in the plot, not just go through the motions.

–Wish it was Alternating POVs–

I had a hard time connecting with Shannon who was the main POV for the first three chapters I read. I’m not sure if Nicholas POV comes into play later or if he was just featured in the prologue.

Regardless, Shannon was a little too angsty for me. Even if I understood the reason for her anger (the “betrayal”), she read like a broken record because that’s all she moaned about for those first 3 chapters. She just bored me.

So I think having Nicholas’ POV would have given me something else to focus on besides her drama and kept me interested in this story.

Will I Finish It?

Probably not. While I hate having unfinished titles on my eReaders, I just don’t want to commit myself to two books that I’m just not feeling.

Series Rating: DNF

Silent No More DNF | Silent Guilt N/A | Silent Death TBR | Silent Fall TBR

overall

If you like dramatic reads and are newer to the NA genre, this is probably a great book for you to read. But for fans who have read a lot NA books over the years, this might be a little too basic for you.

Read if You Like: drama, contemporary
Avoid if You: want a “fresh” NA read
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Fresh Fridays: Flame in the Mist (#1) by Renee Ahdieh

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:

Flame in the Mist Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Flame in the Mist (from Goodreads):

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Must Read Author
Series: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (Flame in the Mist, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you asked me what my top 3 Disney movies are, I would say without hesitation: Aladdin, Mulan and Hercules. I loved Mulan as a young girl because she is like every girl you will ever meet. She’s bound by family duty and love and pressured by society to be a certain way. What girl doesn’t feel that at some point or another? And her transformation to assert her independence is inspirational for any young girl who watches it.

So I think it goes without saying, I was very, very excited to pick this book up. Even if this story wasn’t based on Mulan, I was eagerly awaiting Ahdieh’s next series after I completely fell in love with her The Wrath and the Dawn Duology last year.

Best Advice: Forget Disney’s Mulan & Keep to the Basics!

I know I just touted Disney’s Mulan (and I could write a very long post praising the movie) for its awesomeness, but I think it important to go into this remembering that that movie is based on the Chinese legend Hua Mulan–as is this book.

So expect plot differences and new characters; don’t expect songs and a talking dragon.

What do they share? A heroine who has always struggled with her place in society and her family. A girl who is smart in ways people don’t expect; who has a knack for crafting military devices that save her friends. A young woman who begins a journey to learn that she is more powerful and independent than she ever thought.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I love everything about Japan, particularly feudal Japan. I just find its history and culture to be fascinating. So having the novel set here immediately hooked me in. Ahdieh has a great power to weave worlds and it shows here. It’s rich and layered and even though it is influenced by another source, she makes it her own.

–The Politics–

I’m a sucker for political intrigue in my reads. It’s one of the reasons I adored The Wrath and The Dawn series so much. I love when you don’t know who you can trust; when there is more at play than you can ever imagine. This book has that thanks to the multiple POVs we get. You have this 360 degree view of the world and everything that is at play and I loved it.

–Mariko’s Character Development–

Mariko really blossoms before your eyes in terms of her growth. She’s shy and reserved at the start but slowly begins to break out of her shell. Her journey isn’t without fault, and she sure isn’t perfect but she continues to learn as she goes. Definitely a heroine you can root for.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place for it, but its appearance just seemed so sudden and abrupt that it took me a long time to realize what was happening. (It’s hard to elaborate without spoilers).

I genuinely grew to like the two of them together by the end but I just didn’t like how this was handled at the start. I guess I wanted a little more build-up.

–Slower Start–

I’m not sure what I was expecting at the start of the novel. I thought it was action but when I thought about it, I think I knew that there wasn’t going to be physical action immediately. Mariko’s character definitely isn’t at that point at the start and you know that thanks to the synopsis. So what was my problem?

Truthfully, I think it just takes the reader a few chapters to get acquainted with the world. Like I said above, this world is rich and layered and you don’t really get the full picture of what is happening until you are a few chapters in. It needs to build, and it definitely does as you go, just give it some time to get there.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! This start has so many great inklings to lead into the sequel. It’s building up to a fantastic climax that I can’t wait to see!

My Rating: 4/5

Flame in the Mist 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This story kept my attention from start to finish; from the rich setting to the intriguing characters, there’s a lot to like about this retelling!

Read if You Like: feudal Japan, world-building, Mulan
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action

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Series Review: Red by Isabelle Ronin

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

Red Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Chasing Red (from Goodreads):

HER HEART MIGHT BE THE ONE THING HE CAN’T WIN…
When cynical straight-A college student Veronica “Red” Strafford gets kicked out of her apartment, notorious basketball player Caleb Lockhart offers her a place to stay. Intensely drawn to her, Caleb wants something for the first time in his life. But Veronica’s painful past makes trusting difficult, and her heart might just be the one thing Caleb can’t win.

They said she was going to be my ruin…then let her ruin me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2017 New Adult Fave, Canadian Author
Series: Red
Author: Isabelle Ronin
# of Books: 2 (Chasing Red, Always Red)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 5 ,2017 – November 7, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Sourcebooks Casablanca!


thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday 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:

When I was browsing upcoming releases, Chasing Red immediately caught my eye for a few reasons. One: is that cover–it’s just so colourful! Two: is the fact that Isabelle Ronin wrote this story on Wattpad–I’ve had great successes with stories that were first published there. Three: I love when the “popular guy” meets his match in a girl he never expected. (And I later learned that this book is set in Canada and is written by a Canadian Author! Bonus!!!)

I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel!

What I Liked:

–Veronica–

Red/Veronica is such an endearing heroine. She’s strong yet flawed and such a hard worker. You really get a great grasp on who she is and why so I never got annoyed with her actions. I fully understood everything she did because I knew her that well.

–Caleb–

Swoon! New Book Boyfriend Alert!

He knows all the right things to say but he is also so genuine about it as well. What a fantastic complement his character is to Veronica.

–Their Friends–

I also loved all of their friends and I truly hope we learn more about them in the sequel to this novel OR they each get their own story because I would love to read it.

–The Perfect Slow Burn Romance–

I had butterflies the entire time I was reading this–in like a totally awesome way. They have fantastic chemistry together, right from the start.

This romance had this amazing ability to feel like a slow burn romance but give you all the passion you expect in an already established romance. I loved watching these two explore their connection and building a relationship together. Besides physical attraction, they had that deeper bond. It was such a joy to watch them fall for each other.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really thought everything worked really well for this story. At first, I wasn’t sure about a particular plot line but I realized (as I was writing this review) that what I thought was a little unnecessary was necessary. I guess my biggest disappointment is waiting for the sequel!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to see how Red and Caleb’s story concludes! And maybe some more insight on their friends as well?

updates

–October 27, 2017– Book #2: Always Red

I didn’t love this book as much as Chasing Red for a few reasons. The main one is that all the drama got to me. It was a touch over the top but I kind of expected that given then ending of Chasing Red. The focus shifts from character development to navigating a relationship with all this added drama which is totally fine! It’s just that the character focus and growth was what charmed me in the first book.

The other reason is Caleb. He was just too much for me. His alpha male tendencies were overwhelming to say the least. Which is a shame because I really loved him in the first book. His approach made the relationship seem toxic at times. One positive though is that they do discuss his attitude and how it is impacting their relationship so that pleased me.

But I was still totally invested in this book! I loved having all these characters back in my life. I can’t wait for some sequels to be churned out and get the complete stories of everyone I’ve met so far. I think fans of Chasing Red will be pleased with this finale.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Chasing Red 5/5 | Always Red 4/5

overall

This story had everything I love in a great New Adult romance: genuine characters, great chemistry and a solid plot line. Completely addicting from start to end.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, new adult, books set in canada
Avoid if You: dislike slow burn
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Series Review: A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston

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 Thousand Nights (from Goodreads):

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Canadian Author
Series: A Thousand Nights
Author: E K Johnston
# of Books: 2 (A Thousand Nights, Spindle)

There is a FREE short story, #1.5 called The Garden of Three Hundred Flowers

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes — I think
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2015 – December 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like most people, the cover is what drew me to this series. They are gorgeous!

But A Thousand Nights was everywhere the year it came out, gracing a ton of lists for one reason or another. It is also a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights–a story I’m still not acquainted with despite reading The Wrath and The Dawn last year and noting that I probably should read it because it is a popular base tale for retellings.

The Concept / The World:

It’s hard not to compare two similar things and I’m going to do my best to stop comparing A Thousand Nights to The Wrath and The Dawn before I even begin this review.

This series is a world layered with a darker power. Whether that power actually exists or not: I’ll discuss that in The Writing Style section below. You have a king murdering women for some unknown reason and people are suffering because of it. There is this air of mysticism to the story and it makes the circumstances so much grittier as a result. You truly get transported to this other world within the first chapter and that was definitely a highlight for me

The Writing Style:

I think you will either love or hate E K Johnston’s writing style. It has an old fashioned feel to it often seen in your classic stories; the words flowing like you are reading an epic.

It took me awhile to get comfortable with her style because books just aren’t written like this nowadays (or at least what I usually read isn’t). Personally, it’s a touch wordier than I like, though I found it had a great flow.

But I think my biggest issue was the fact that I couldn’t tell what was real vs what was just allusion. What I’m trying to say is that I had a hard time deciding whether the magic of it all was actually happening or it if was just the result of the narration. As a result, I often had a hard time understanding the progression of events and that in turn caused me to lose interest at times.

The Plot:

I was really disappointed in the plot for A Thousand Nights. I truly felt like nothing was happening until the last 50 pages or so. It seemed to be more stories about the Heroine’s life back home and I just didn’t care–that wasn’t the story I wanted to read. I wanted to see how she was going to save the king. Instead, you spend most of your time reading about stories within the story and that just has no appeal to me. I needed a little more stimulation and the book just seemed to drag.

Spindle started off a little more promising but it lost that momentum around the 45% mark. I’m not a huge fan of adventure stories and this one felt like that at times. Again, my interest waned and I found myself skimming the last half of the book. It just couldn’t keep my attention.

The Characters:

I think this is one of those rare cases where the worldbuilding overshadows any character development. Johnston spends so much time weaving tales of this land that she fails to really build up her characters. Yes, you get their histories thanks to the various stories but because you spend so much time in the past, their growth in the present is lackluster.

I also think because of the writing, I felt distant from the characters. You weren’t getting a lot of inner monologues because not a lot was happening in the present.

The Romance:

As a romance fan I like it in my stories and it really isn’t present here. That isn’t a bad thing but when you don’t have much going on, it would have served as a nice distraction.

The Novella–A Garden of Three Hundred Flowers:

This is supposed to be a bridging novel of sorts between the two stories and it does serve that purpose. I really found it to be more of an extended epilogue of A Thousand Nights so I like that it brought me some closure in that respect.

It is a free eBook so if you like this series I do recommend you pick it up before you read Spindle.

Series Rating: 3/5

A Thousand Nights 2.5/5 | [A Garden of Three Hundred Flowers 3/5] | Spindle 2/5

overall

If you are a fan of worlds filled with stories and love the weaving of tales, you’ll enjoy this series. But if you like action, romance and adventure in your retellings, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: story telling, retellings
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action
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Series Review: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

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 Thousand Dollar Tan Line (from Goodreads):

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Mystery Read 2017
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
# of Books: 2 (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line; Mr. Kiss and Tell)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I didn’t watch Veronica Mars during its initial airing (long story but I missed the premiere and this was before the days of easy internet streaming) but I marathoned the entire series just before the movie came out and LOVED IT!

The wit, the intelligent writing and the amazing characters: there’s a lot to love about this series! So I was really excited to see that the creator of the show was writing series novels because who better to write a spin-off series than the visionary himself?

When I started my new job, I wanted to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and I thought what better than a novel set in a world I am already familiar with? It also didn’t hurt that mystery/thrillers were my current obsession at the time and so I decided to give The Thousand Dollar Tan Line a shot.

The Concept / Time Line:

These books take place a couple months after the movie (and the movie takes place 10 years after the TV series ends).  Which is great because it ties up some of those lingering questions you likely had at the end of the movie. I felt like I got a lot more closure reading these two novels than I did by just watching the movie.

And these books read like you are watching the TV show. Maybe that was just because I was listening to the audiobooks (one is narrated by Kristen Bell herself) but I felt like I was watching the TV show.

The Plot:

In true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery introduced is rarely cut and dry. There are twists on twists and it’s fabulous. You don’t want to know how many times I freaked out in my car when some plot twists (curious? more than 10 for sure).

The plot is always moving! I thought there was a great balance between the mystery, the character drama and Veronica’s character growth. There’s always something to pique your interest and everything just blends so well together.

The Characters:

Ok, I had so many great fangirl moments reading this series. There are so many returning characters that I freaked out many times. I adore all of these characters, but Veronica especially. She’s such a strong and independent female lead. I love her wit but I also love how she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Image result for veronica mars gifs

The Romance:

I don’t want to spoil this but this was one of the many reasons for my fangirling 😉

Audiobook Experience:

OK, this series made me fall in love with fiction audiobooks!

I love that Kristen Bell (Veronica) narrates the first novel. It made me feel like I was watching the TV show and immediately got me comfortable with the story. She also does an AMAZING job when she narrates the other characters. She manages to capture their personalities in her delivery and it’s perfect!

Unfortunately, the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell (I think she was pregnant at the time) so I missed the true Veronica sass but the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line 5/5 | Mr Kiss and Tell 4/5

overall

I will say, I think it helps if you are familiar with the series in some complicity but the mystery is great regardless and I think if you aren’t a fan before you start this, you will be when you finish!

Read if You Like: Veronica Mars, thrillers, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike modern mysteries, crime
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Series Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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

The Crown’s Game Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Crown’s Game (from Goodreads):

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

breakdown

Series: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
# of Books: 2 (The Crown’s Game, The Crown’s Fate)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday 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:

This book EVERYWHERE last year, and so the hype (and curiosity) was inevitable. But it was also on my radar because it is set in Imperial Russia–the kryptonite of book settings for me. I LOVE that setting and I try and read any book that uses this time period.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Like I said, Imperial Russia is one of my favourite book settings and this one was pretty perfect. You could tell that Evelyn Skye had done her research before writing this book. She really brought this setting to life in nearly every aspect: clothing, royalty, perception of magic. It hit all the marks.

–Multiple POV–

I LOVE having multiple POVs in my novels. It just gives you a full-circle view of the world I think and adds dimension to the plot and world. This one succeeds in that. It kept the story moving, added suspense to the plot and just gave you more insight into the characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard Time Picturing Magic Scenes–

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t in the best headspace to start reading this book. I was studying for my licensing exams and was a little pre-occupied in my brain. So maybe take the next two paragraphs with a grain of salt and read another review to get another perspective.

For a third person POV, this book flowed wonderfully. It’s easy to get lost in the 3rd person narration when pronouns are used liberally; but I never found that to be the case here.

What I did struggle with is the scenes where magic is described. I had a hard time visualizing it. I think I missed the part about the purpose of the Enchanter and how the Game works so I didn’t get why these two were doing what they were doing when it was their turn. Again, I think I just wasn’t in the right place to read this.

–The Romance–

While I don’t enjoy the aspect of a love triangle in any book, that isn’t my sole issue here. My issue: the insta-love. I can forgive Vika and Nikola’s insta-connection because of the magic. That makes sense. But love? Stretching it a little. And Pasha hardly interacts with Vika before he is swooning at her feet. I just wanted a stronger romance here or at the very least, pick a team to root for and I never did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There was a rush of things that happened at the end and so I’m excited to see what will happen next. There’s so much potential moving forward.

updates

–June 25, 2017– Book #2: The Crown’s Fate

I think I might be in the minority but I fully believe that this book was better than the first one. I found the plot to be much more engaging and interesting than it was in The Crown’s Game. Despite some slight monotony in the middle of the book with one plot aspect, I found that this story always kept moving and developing in a way that was rather addicting to read. I was flying through the pages.

The character development was also great. When you have essentially 3 key players to keep tabs on, one or more will inevitable fall to the wayside in terms of growth. But I felt like everyone had a great story to tell and I’m glad we got to see them all.

This series is still missing that something to make me give it a 5/5 though.  And truthfully, I was leaning more towards a 3.5/5 rating for this particular book because I did find the middle of the novel to be a little stale. But I really liked how everything was brought together in the latter half of the novel and I did feel like this was a much stronger showing on Evelyn Skye’s part. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her in terms of her writing and I’ll be keeping an eye on what she writes next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Crown’s Game 3.5/5 | The Crown’s Fate 4/5

overall

I enjoyed myself while reading this novel, I just wasn’t blown away. (Maybe the hype monster killed this one for me?) It’s a solid series and definitely worth a read if you love alternate history with a dash of magic!

Read if You Like: fantasy, Imperial Russia, alternate history
Avoid if You: dislike magic, want more romance
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Series Review: Find You in the Dark by A. Meredith Walters

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 Find You in the Dark (from Goodreads):
How do you keep going when you feel like your life is over?

Maggie never thought she’d see Clay again. So, she attempts to put her life back together after her heart has been shattered to pieces. Moving on and moving forward, just as Clay wanted her to.

Clay never stopped thinking of Maggie. Even after ripping their lives apart and leaving her behind to get the help he so desperately needed. He is healing…slowly. But his heart still belongs to the girl who tried to save him.

When a sudden tragedy brings Maggie and Clay face to face again, nothing is the same. Yet some things never change. Can the darkness that threatened to consume them be transformed into something else and finally give them what they always wanted? And can two people who fought so hard to be together, finally find their happiness? Or will their demons and fear drive them apart for good?

The thing about love, is even when it destroys you, it has a way of mending what is broken. And in the shadows, you can still see the light.

breakdown

Series: Find You in the Dark
Author: A Meredith Walters
# of Books: 2 (Find You in the Dark; Light in the Shadows)

There are two novellas: Cloud Walking (#1.5); Warmth in Ice (#2.5)

Book Order: Chronological

Cloud Walking (#1.5) is a connected story

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2012 – March 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Light in the Shadows (Book 2) at 55%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t remember how I came across this series. I think Kobo recommended it to me and I had seen it on a few blogs.

What grabbed my attention was the focus on mental health. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am a huge supporter of mental health initiatives and I love books that explore situations dealing with mental illness and the consequences of it going untreated.

So, I was looking forward to seeing how a high school romance would handle mental illness and I wanted it to be done in a thought provoking way.

The Plot:

I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember too much about the plot of Find You in the Dark (FYITD). I read it in November of 2013 and didn’t pick up the sequel, Light in the Shadows (LITS), until November 2016 for my Rock My TBR Challenge. I had tried to read LITS after finishing FYITD but just couldn’t get into it…

I do remember that I enjoyed the mental health aspect of the story in FYITD. It’s handled in a great way and in a way that is pretty realistic. It tugs on your heartstrings; making you empathetic to the situation at hand.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the plot of LITS. It was a lot of mooning and just didn’t seem to be going anywhere to me. It was just so boring even if I could appreciate what was attempting to be done. So I had to DNF it at 55% and I haven’t regretted it once.

The Characters:

When I composed my draft to write this series review in November 2013, all I wrote about the characters was:

“hard to like Maggie at times”

While I could sympathize with Clay’s situation (Walters does a great job at that I think), I didn’t really like Maggie at all. Over time, I’ve developed less tolerance for high schooler actions and I think that is what happened here. She just made decisions and thought in a way that I didn’t like or agree with. So that made it hard to me to want to root for this couple at times.

The start of LITS seemed promising in term of Maggie’s character development, but I felt like nothing really happened with her. I would have liked her going to some therapy sessions as well–especially with everyhting that happens in  FYITD.

The Romance:

The romance in FYITD was one of those all-consuming teenaged romances. And it has to be for this story to work.

But overall in the series, it becomes one of those romances that asks the question: can love truly heal? And I liked how the book when about it in theory, and for the most part, in its execution. I think I’m just past the stage of enjoying high school romances that can be a little over dramatic and so it didn’t really work for me.

Novella–Cloud Walking:

This was really cute and probably something most readers of FYITD will enjoy. It isn’t necessary to read it but it does provide that little extra backstory to events that happen with some side characters in FYITD.

Series Rating: DNF

Find You in the Dark 4/5 | [Cloud Walking] 3/5 | Light in the Shadows DNF’d | [Warmth in Ice] N/A

overall

This is one of those “great concepts; poor execution books” for me. Walters hits the mark right on the head with the mental health aspect. Probably one of the best I’ve ever encountered. It really just was the characters that fell flat for me. They bored me and I found it hard to root for them.

Read if You Like: mental health focused stories; realistic contemporaries
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy high school aged characters

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