Tag «adult»

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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Fresh Fridays: Killing June (Saved by Sin #1) by May B Bridges

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:

Saved by Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Killing June (from Goodreads):

SEDUCED BY PAIN
At night I’m June, dominating with the whip, even as I crave the hot, searing blow of the cane, myself. I loathe this side of who I am, but I can’t deny it or escape it. And as my clients cry out for me, begging for mercy, I can’t help but want June dead.

By day, I’m Alex Ryan, the good, successful Southern woman everyone thinks I am. I’ve compartmentalized my life to make it bearable, and to get what I want most: revenge. I can have a future with June dead, as soon as I confront the man that terrorized my past.

SAVED BY SIN
Cade Brannon is the local gun for hire, part of the seedy underworld of Dallas, but he may also be my savior. I want his help and he wants me. But Cade refuses to play by my rules and is forcing his way into every one of those compartments that I want to lock away. Now the parts of my life I’ve fought so hard to keep separate are bleeding together and it’s tearing me apart.

I just want to go back to being Alex Ryan. But at what cost am I willing to kill June?

breakdown

Series: Saved by Sin Trilogy
Author: May B Bridges
# of Books: 3 (Killing June, Binding Hope, Revealing Rose)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, Binding Hope, is to be published
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: High \ Kink: Major)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 4, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Killing June at 63%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always a sucker for the line “perfect for fans of ___” and this time it was for fans Laurelin Paige. Specifically, her dark erotic suspense series First and Last. Paige is one author I absolutely adore and read everything for so finding works like hers is a bonus. She has a great blend of suspense, romance and danger and I couldn’t wait to see if Killing June had that too.

What I Liked:

–Air of Danger Throughout–

This story was great at establishing the suspense early on by giving you little tastes of danger. Alex has a mysterious past that slowly gets revealed; Robert is a character who has no limits and Cade is an enigma. It also doesn’t shy away from violent situations–which always gives the reader the feeling of uncertainty in terms of what will happen next. Nothing is predictable.

–Alex–

I really liked her as a character. She has so many layers to her and watching her develop as a character was a treat.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt Like Nothing Was Happening–

Frankly, I just wanted a little more from the plot. Once you get past the exposition, I felt like the story just moseyed along, keep its focus on the sexy times. There was just so much untapped potential here!

You have Alex’s mysterious past and her need for vengeance. And I’m all for a delayed reveal but I needed a little taste here and there to keep me interested. What happened to her?! Why is she targeting this guy and why does everyone tell her it isn’t a good idea?

Robert’s character definitely had my attention but I felt like he was a little under utilized. I think I needed a little more conflict from the “villain” instead of just “waiting it out” and avoiding his antagonism by our “heroes”.

Will I Finish It?

I’m not sure. I don’t think it helped that I was working a particularly busy shift schedule at work so I really needed something to keep me interested. But I really did like the characters and I really did enjoy the idea of the plot so I’d like to see how it all ends.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you want an erotica romance that focuses more on the sexy times and character development, this is it. But if you want more suspense than sex, perhaps look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: erotica, character based stories, dark romance
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Series Review: Surrender by Lauren Smith

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 Gilded Cuff (from Goodreads):

Every passion has its price . . .

Journalist Sophie Ryder has been following Emery Lockwood’s story since she was a little girl. There has always been something in his haunted eyes that she couldn’t resist and now, when she’s certain he holds the key to solving a string of kidnappings, she’ll do anything to speak to him. Even if it means venturing deep into the seductive world of the Gilded Cuff, a luxurious BDSM club on Long Island’s Gold Coast and Emery’s personal playground.

From the moment Sophie enters his shadowy, sensual domain, Emery Lockwood knows this tantalizing new little sub was meant to belong to him. However, Sophie wants more from Emery than just pleasure . . . she wants his past. And that is something he isn’t willing to give—no matter who is asking. But every moment he spends with Sophie, Emery feels his control slipping and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he surrenders to her heart, body, and soul.

breakdown

Series: Surrender
Author: Lauren Smith
# of Books: 3 (The Gilded Cuff, The Gilded Cage, The Gilded Chain)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: A 4th book may be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Suspense
Heat Rating: hot (BDSM: high, Kink: mild)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: Februrary 2015 – November 2015
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read and LOVED Lauren Smith’s Her British Stepbrother Series last year. She writes addicting romances and I couldn’t wait to see what she could do with a full length trilogy.

I’m slowly getting into the world of romantic suspense but haven’t been overly successful. Either you get a thriller that is more thriller than romance or the complete opposite, with an erotica that only has a dash of a plot. So trying to find that perfect series was seeming like a fruitless effort but this one seemed more than promising.

The Concept:

I don’t overly enjoy BDSM novels. Alpha males are something that–obviously–come with the territory and they more often than not irk me. However, BDSM novels are the ones that have the exciting and dangerous plotlines that I adore so I pick them up and hope for the best.

This one had the right balance between sexy times and suspenseful ones. I’d say the first 20% is dedicated to the sexual tension, the next 50% is a mix of plot and romantic developments and the last 30% is the suspense. It has that little bit of everything to satisfy the various audiences that will be drawn to this title.

The Plot:

The first two novels have an overarching plotlines so it was exciting to watch it develop. Whereas the third has its own suspenseful plotline though I didn’t find it as dangerous as the previous two.

Regardless, as I said before, this one had the right balance between romantic developments and dramatic ones. I found these books to be really addicting and I enjoyed them immensely.

The Characters:

I really liked all of these characters–even the alpha males. They all have their flaws and their strengths and that just made them all seem genuine to me. I also liked that they were all unique. I didn’t feel like I was reading carbon copies of the previous leads–they all have their own personalities and thought processes so I never got bored with them.

The Romance:

While these romances are based on insta-connections, I really didn’t mind them as much as I usually do when I come across insta-love stories. All these pairs just work together and I think knowing the characters’ histories as you do really helps to establish these romances. Sure, I would have liked the characters to have known each other more than a few days before they are professing their love for each other, but their fast feelings made sense to me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really hoping a certain character will be getting his own story sometime soon!

Series Rating: 4/5

The Gilded Cuff 4/5 | The Gilded Cage 4/5 | The Gilded Chain 3.5/5

overall

I finally found a contemporary romantic suspense novel that strikes the right balance between romance and plot line!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM based novels
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DNF Review: Mr. Right Swipe by Ricki Schultz

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Mr Right-Swipe (from Goodreads):

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–Realistic Approach–

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

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

What I Didn’t Like:

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

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

–Hard to Root for Rae–

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

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

Which brings me to her:

–Lack of Maturity–

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

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

–Not as Funny as I Wanted it to Be–

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

Will I Finish It?

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

My Rating: DNF

overall

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

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

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Fresh Fridays: A Stardance Summer (Eternity Springs #13) by Emily March

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I usually review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. But this week I’m talking about a new book in an already published series.Here is this week’s offering:

Eternity Springs Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Stardance Summer (from Goodreads):

Lili Howe took a leap of faith when she decided to join the Tornado Alleycats, her elderly landlady’s all-female glamour-camping club. Lili’s always given everything to her career, putting herself on track to become her CPA firm’s youngest partner. But now that Lili’s carefully planned future is shattered, she’s willing to let summer work its magic on her―at all costs.

There’s never a dull moment at Stardance Ranch, the Colorado resort Brick Callahan built from the ground up. Still, a late night skinny-dipping session involving a bunch of “glamping” grannies. . .with his best friend’s kid sister Lili among them? He couldn’t have made up such story if he tried. The undeniable mutual attraction between Brick and gorgeous, spirited Lili is a reminder that life is full of surprises. But when Brick’s ex-girlfriend suddenly shows up, he’s faced with a desperate choice: Do right by a woman he once loved or take a chance on Lili. . .and do everything he can to win her heart?

breakdown

Series: Eternity Springs

This is a spin-off of the Callahan Brothers Series.

Author: Emily March (aka Geralyn Dawson)
# of Books: 13 ( Full Reading List Here )
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2011 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St Martin’s Press!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not one to dive into a series that is 13 books long by reading the most recent release but I was drawn to A Stardance Summer when I read the synopsis. I’m a sucker for the heroine who is in love with her older brother’s BFF and second chance romances are always sweet. I’ve also been looking for a new small town romance series since I finished the Cottonbloom Trilogy last summer and one that is 13 books strong like this series, AMAZING! Plus, the whole premise of Lili joining a senior camping group sounded like a lot of fun.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

First off, the RV camping crew did not disappoint! I loved Patsy in particular. I want to be her when I grow up, seizing life at every opportunity!

I also loved the town! It’s a very close knit community and I think if I was more familiar with the previous novels I would have soaked up all the little mini cameos former book leads make.

–The Character Development–

Lili is in such a tough place in her life that it was nice to see her grow from that. She takes her time to find out who she is on her own and isn’t heavily influenced by others. I loved seeing her develop from start to finish.

–Sweet Romance–

While I don’t mind some sexy times in my novels, it’s nice to read a romance that didn’t focus on the physical chemistry between the leads on every other page.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Almost Too Slow of a Burn–

While I love slow burn romances, this one seemed a little off to me. I felt like it took too long to get the passion started. It seemed like the relationship took too much of a backseat to Lili’s character development. The sexual tension is there, but I wanted to see this relationship grow a little bit more than the implied past connection.

Will I Pick Up Other Books in the Series?:

Yes! I got a taste of some of the past stories and they sound super intriguing! Eternity Springs has such a fun cast that I’m looking forward to learning more about them all.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for fans of character-focused romances who like their romances to be sweet and not spicy. A fabulous small town series with an eclectic cast of characters you can’t help but love.

Read if You Like: sweet romances, small towns, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want spicy romance
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Single Sundays: Illicit by June Gray

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

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

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

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

He was my mother’s.

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

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

The Concept:

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

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

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

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

My Rating: 3/5

overall

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

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

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Single Sundays: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for It Ends With Us (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

But boy, was this book worth the wait!

The Concept:

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

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

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

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

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

You feel every range of emotions while reading this.


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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 5/5

overall

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

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, strong characters
Avoid if You: dislike books about mature subject matter
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Single Sundays: Halo by R C Stephens

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Halo (from Goodreads):
I fell in love with Thomas Wells and knew he was my forever.
I was sixteen when I gave him my heart.
Our love was the kind to last a lifetime.

But Thomas was broken.
The first day we met he told me he was going to become a Navy SEAL.
At nineteen he enlisted.
At twenty he married me.
At twenty five he left me pregnant and didn’t turn back.
I knew he was suffering….
I also knew I couldn’t save him.
He left me broken.
I was scared and alone.
Until I met Ryder St. John a wounded soldier…
He was lost.
I was lost.
Together we made sense.
I fell in love again…
What Ryder forgot to mention was that he held a secret so explosive that it could shatter both our worlds.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: R C Stephens
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Military
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source & Format: Read It, Review It (New Adult Book Club)–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While this novel looked like it could have a love triangle, I really, really wanted to know what the ” secret so explosive ” was. Plus, I’m a sucker for military heroes in my novels. If I need a good mini-cry, those heroes always get me.

I didn’t know that R C Stephens was Canadian so that also swayed my decision. I love supporting my fellow Canadians <3

New Adult or Adult:

I heard about this book in a New Adult Book Club. But after reading it, I felt more comfortable labelling it as an Adult Contemporary Romance. Primarily because the lead characters are 25+ which is that cut off for me, especially if they aren’t in a “college” setting and are living in “the real world”.

However, it almost reads like a NA read so it’s one of those bridging reads that straddles the line in between.

The Plot:

This story is told through a series of past and present chapters, which is a brilliant way to execute this story. The story builds as you go and you start to put all the pieces together. And even then, I didn’t see the reveal coming at all–which is fabulous! Major bonus points for me for that!

However, this story seemed a little lop-sided as a whole. I felt like so much of the time was used to build up the relationships–which you have to for sure–but that it lacked a little more “drama” post-reveal.  Not that the ending was rushed by any means; it’s just that it could have been flushed out a tad more I think. There was definitely a lot you could do with that reveal and I felt like it never truly reached its potential in that respect.

The Characters:

I really liked Halo. She’s a strong girl but she has her weaknesses too. While she is raised on a pedestal by the guys and her family, she does have her flaws and personal struggles that she has to endure. She was a much more rounded character than I expected going into this story.

Thomas and Ryder irked me a little with their constant high praise of Halo (like I said, she’s on a pedestal) but I liked that they too had developed personalities and growth.

The Romance:

The flashbacks of Thomas and Halo in high school are sickeningly sweet; you know that couple that just sees nothing past their love? It leads to very long “sexy time” scenes which I wasn’t totally expecting. So that particular aspect I wasn’t a fan.

But what I did like is how they loved and supported each other through all their difficult times. In my books, I love seeing romantic leads that are partners in life and that definitely shows at times in this novel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this novel! Once the “secret” was revealed, I had a hard time putting this one down. It’s just a solid romance that makes you believe in the power of love.

Read if You Like: military heroes, big twists
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries romances

similarreads

  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin (Out of Time Series #1)
  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick
  • Trapped by Beverley Kendall (Trapped Series #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Hellion (Billion Dollar Bastards #1) by Emmy Joel

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:

Billion Dollar Bastards Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Hellion (from Goodreads):

Prison darkens their past. Ink colors their skin. Vengeance fuels their ambition.

Addiction has a name.

Once a coldhearted brawler who ruled the streets with his fists, now a billionaire contractor who rules society with his wealth, Malcolm Bradshaw has only one priority: Pharaoh Construction. Built on lies and ghosts that need to stay silent, it’s his gateway to Texas elite. But when he agrees to restore a centuries-old estate for the wedding of American royalty and long-buried human remains are found during excavation, his self-made kingdom is put in jeopardy. He’ll walk through hell before he backs down from anyone–especially Cate Lois, the introverted archeologist sent to look over his shoulder. From the shyness of her smile to the secrets in her eyes, she’s a drug he knows he shouldn’t touch.

It looks like sin. It talks like temptation.

Mysteries of the past and backroom business dealings don’t faze Cate. Taking what she needs and walking away was never a challenge before. But shadowing Malcolm, who beneath his expensive suits and easy charm is a tattooed son of a bitch, rattles her. What started as a plot to appease her blackmailer and steal a collection of rare artifacts becomes irrevocably complicated the moment Malcolm strips her down to bare skin and naked lust.

And what it doesn’t destroy, it turns into pure, decadent ecstasy…

breakdown

Series: Billion Dollar Bastards
Author: Emmy Joel
# of Books: 3 (Hellion, Rival, Saint)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Rival, is to be published in May 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley via Author–eBook | Thanks so much Emmy Joel!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I was interested in reading Hellion, I was drawn to the description for a few reasons. One being the mystery behind the human remains and the jewels. That sounded positively juicy! Recently, I’ve found myself drawn into the world of romantic suspense (something I never really enjoyed before) thanks to a new fascination with mystery novels (last year it was fantasy novels, I guess 2017 is all about the mysteries). Add to that the danger of 3 criminally-convicted male leads and I was very excited to see what danger this series would bring.

What I Liked:

–Reads Like a Soap Opera–

I don’t know how many people know about the Soap Opera, The Bold and The Beautiful, but it’s this 30 minute soap opera with a tiny cast of larger than life characters. Their lives are all intertwined through romances, family and work, which means there is a ton of drama and secrets.

Reading Hellion reminded me of that show in the sense that you have these characters that are all linked together but you aren’t quite sure how. Everyone is looking out for themselves and everyone has a secretive past. Add in some drama about the jewels, the intrigue about the body and a dash of somewhat forbidden romance and you’ve got yourself one non-stop story.

–Not Full-Blown Erotica–

I don’t mind sexy times in my novels but I wouldn’t say I am a fan of full-out erotica (you know the ones with very little story and a whole lot of sex). So I was a little worried when I saw this labeled as “erotica” and looked at the page size. I didn’t want to read 125 pages of smut and then get a few pages to quickly wrap up the mystery plot (and no shame if you do want that!).

But there was a great balance between the sex scenes and the mystery. It switched the narrative to the actual plot when it needed to and returned to the romance at the appropriate times.

–The Mystery is Woven Throughout the 3 Novels–

I like that the mystery aspect is something that is continued throughout all the novellas. I feel like it just helps tie the books all together besides having the 3 men all be good friends and business partners.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Novella Format–

Obviously from my above comments this story has a lot of positives to it. It has all the right components to make for a great trilogy. However, it does suffer greatly from the novella-size format.

Everything just felt a little underdeveloped to me.

I wasn’t really sold on the romance because I hardly felt like these two interacted with each other. I felt very little chemistry between them and that made their hasty romance even more of an insta-love situation (which I’m not a fan of even though I was expecting it here).

And while the mystery is going to be carried out over the next two stories, I do feel like it was very “rushed” here. I would have enjoyed it being a little more layered and developed.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to find out the conclusion for the mystery and there is one particular couple that has me curious to see what is in store for them. Maybe the next two will be longer…

My Rating: 3/5

Hellion 3/5 | Rival TBP | Saint TBP

overall

This (will be) a great summer weekend binge series once all the books are out for fans of shorter stories that pack a lot into them.

Read if You Like: romantic mysteries, bad boys
Avoid if You: dislike novella format, want straight-up erotica
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Single Sundays: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (from Goodreads):
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Adult Contemporary 2016
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first came across this book when reading Sils’ guest post @ Dani Review Things in August 2016 when she was discussing her favourite NA Romance Tropes. Like me, Sil shares a love of fake marriages/relationships in her NA reads and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was her pick for this trope.

I had never heard of this book before despite the fact that it has the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the title (not many things do) and it would have probably never crossed my radar otherwise. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t tell you that they create a fake relationship–and telling you that isn’t a spoiler because it is the main plot point in this very long novel–so I would never have known.

Regardless, this one peaked my interest and when I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I needed to make my mistake worth it and decided to use this novel to get my money’s worth. And I sure am glad I did!

Is it Adult Contemporary or New Adult Contemporary?

Ok, Sil listed this as a New Adult read and I can see why. It reads very much like a New Adult read in terms of the character conflicts and stories (both have some darker backstories).

But for me, this is an adult read with some NA qualities. My primary characteristic for Adult/New Adult/Young Adult classification is the age of the characters; my secondary “requirement” for NA classification is whether or not it takes place in or shortly after college. In the case of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Vanessa is 26 and has been out of school for a couple of years. I usually classify anything with the youngest lead above the age of 25 as adult and because she is out of school, that just reaffirms that for me.

Nevertheless, this book with appeal to fans of both adult contemporary and NA contemporary.

The Plot:

I think this is one of the longest romance novels I have ever read! The Kindle edition is just a little more than 600 pages–that’s crazy! Most Kindle reads average 200-300 pages; especially in the romance genre.

But surprisingly, this book didn’t really feel that long! It has such a constant pacing that it makes it really easy to read and get involved in the story. New plot points or events are added along the way that keeps everything fresh and the plot moving.

The Characters:

The characters really make this story I think. I really got addicted to seeing how these two interacted with each other. Vanessa was strong and determined; Aiden you just instantly love and want to see succeed.

But what I truly enjoyed about these characters was their growth. These two are flawed in their own ways but what was fantastic was watching these flaws transform. Vanessa and Aiden both evolve so much from the start to the end of the novel. But at the same time, they still remain the same characters underneath. Meaning they don’t become these unrecognizable characters; they just become better versions of themselves thanks to each other.

The Romance:

If you want an example of a slow burn romance, this novel is the very definition of that trope!

As someone who complains a lot about romances being underdeveloped in stories (more tell than show nowadays it seems), this book was uber refreshing. It was great watching these two slowly develop their relationship. It wasn’t focused on the sex or the passion; it focused on the partnership and friendship which is always important in establishing a believable relationship.

These two learn to love and support each other; and I just love when people finally see what has been in front of them the entire time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for adult contemporary enthusiasts who want a taste of a New Adult romance. And if you want to experience a true slow burn romance–look no further!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, sports, New Adult romance
Avoid if You: want a quick read

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