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Spin-off Saturdays: Rise by Piper Lawson

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

Rise is a spin-off of Play and NSFW

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Connected to the novels Play and NSFW
Author: Piper Lawson
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single **Male POV**
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Piper Lawson!

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My Expectations?

I’m always excited to return to the lives of characters I’ve already met so I was really excited to get Riley’s story after his cameos in Play and NSFW.

What I Liked?

–Only Told Through Riley’s POV–

One of the highlights of this story is getting it only in Riley’s POV. It’s hard to find a solo male POV in romance; even harder to find one where the lead is a genuinely nice guy. Riley isn’t some player out to get as many girls as he can. He wants a serious relationship, he’s just can’t seem to find one…probably because the right girl got away 10 years ago.

–Riley’s Character Development–

For me, this story is all about Riley discovering what he truly wants in life. His career is in a critical place, his best friend and business partner just had a baby, the girl he left behind years ago is back: life is starting to change. And I really enjoyed watching him go through all those hurdles and become a stronger character.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slightly Off Pacing for Me–

I did struggle a little with that pacing at times because I felt like we got too invested in Riley’s work and that caused the romance to take a backseat sometimes.

–It Took Me a Bit to Warm Up to Sam–

We don’t get Sam’s POV and so we don’t know her thoughts or feelings unless she says something. But, the flashbacks we get of their shared past did help solidify why these two deserve a second chance and those scenes helped me to fall in love with their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy well-rounded romances that have a dash of humour, can tug at your heartstrings and feature strong characters, you’ll truly enjoy this novel!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, male POV, strong characters
Avoid if You: want erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rise (from Goodreads):

Falling is easy. Getting up is a b*tch.

When we met, we were lost.
Most seventeen year olds are.
We lifted each other up off the ground each time we fell. Until the day I let her down.
Now I have everything. A Bentley, a profile in GQ, a movie option and the company my best friend and I co-founded after school.
Until our paths cross ten years later at a gallery. The backdrop might be the same but we’ve both changed. I know it the second I see Sam standing in front of the canvas my best friend bought.
She’s more than the girl who used to draw comic book characters on my arm after class. The one I had inside jokes with. The one who taught me to be a rock when someone you love is being thrown around by the waves.
She’s beautiful. Confident. Edgy.
Sam should’ve been my first everything. God knows we both wanted it.
Now I have a second chance.
This time I won’t let her down.
This time, we’ll rise together.

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Series Review: Sheridan Hall by Jessica Calla

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

Sheridan Hall Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for She Laughs in Pink (from Goodreads):

Four years after her twin is murdered, Juliet Anderson still struggles with guilt, her parents, and her relationships. Two things keep her from falling into a deep, dark place—dancing and her best friend, Ben. So when Ben decides to play football for New Jersey University, Juliet doesn’t hesitate. She follows. Finally away from her past, there is nothing to stand in the way. Juliet will win Ben’s heart.

Then she meets Ben’s roommate, Chase.

On probation and hell-bent on adhering to a “new life plan,” aspiring artist Chase leaves his New York City home for New Jersey University and meets Juliet before even stepping foot on campus. For him, their connection is instant. She’s the most vibrant girl he’s ever seen. Her colors explode on his canvas, and he’s never been more inspired in his life.

Too bad she’s madly in love with his seemingly perfect, good guy roommate.

breakdown

Series: Sheridan Hall
Author: Jessica Calla
# of Books: 3 (She Laughs in Pink, She Runs Away, She Wants it All)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Love Triangles, College, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

She Laughs in Pink was the Read It Review It book for the month of June in my New Adult Book Club on Goodreads. While the hint of a love triangle in the synopsis frightened me, I thought it would go the way of Juliet realizing Ben is better as a friend and never really initiating anything. Juliet’s backstory was also really intriguing and I wanted to delve into that deeper.

So I prepared myself for a love triangle but had hope for the best before I picked up this book.

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt like Chase and Juliet had great chemistry, right from the start. While their romance is definitely insta-love on the part of Chase, they had this passion to their relationship that made you swoon in romantic appreciation. Unfortunately, I feel like their chemistry only got them so far, but initially I really enjoyed it.

–Sense of Community–

I really liked the idea of a close knit residence floor that is presented here. I find a lot of college New Adult romances take place in the last year when people are in their own apartments or they only have that shitty, assigned roommate in their first year residence (who promptly gets ignored as the romance develops elsewhere). It was a neat approach that really added to this story in an unexpectedly cool way.

–Ben Knows About Juliet’s Feelings; And Acknowledges Them!?!–

What really surprised me was that early on, Ben tells Juliet “no” when it comes to becoming more. Sure, he isn’t tactful about it; but it definitely was refreshing to have a male BFF who isn’t totally oblivious to the feelings his “gorgeous” female BFF has for him. I get tired of the ignorant BFF role after awhile.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Misleading Synopsis–

Perhaps it was simply a matter of me reading too much into things (something I do often) or maybe it was me just misreading the synopsis (a regular occurrence) but the plot wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. I’ll give you some examples:

“Four years after her twin is murdered”

This doesn’t get revealed until later on so it felt a little spoilery. All you know is Juliet’s twin died in high school and she feels responsible for it at the start of the novel. I feel like I would have had more sympathy not knowing she was murdered before I started the novel.

“Juliet will win Ben’s heart.”

I thought there would be more effort on Juliet’s part to get this set in motion besides her stating it numerous times.

” in love with his seemingly perfect”

That word “seemingly” implies that Ben isn’t perfect–and sure, Chase doesn’t know his new roommate before he insta-loves Juliet, but I think that statement gave me hope that Ben would be a total douche of a person and Chase would set Juliet right…and that wasn’t really the case.

–The “Seeing” Colours–

People with synesthesia often see letters or numbers as colours. I was aware of this phenomenon before I started reading but didn’t expect Chase to have something similar. The idea that he sees colours around people makes sense, he is an artist after all and he gets inspired by those around him. But I’m not sure I like how it was presented as an almost “psychic” ability. It was cool but I’m not sure I like it in my contemporary romances…

–Too Many Plots/Storylines–

I didn’t love the execution of the novel. I feel like the attempt to give these characters depth overwhelmed their development. Things definitely felt rushed at the end as all this somewhat random bits were thrown at these characters when nothing really happened in the earlier part of the novel. I like a lot going on in my novel but this was overwhelming and definitely delivered too late into the story for me to really care.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I hummed and hawed over whether or not I would pick up the next book. I read the synopsis and wasn’t immediately sucked in. Perhaps it if was another couple, I would have considered it but I’m just not feeling these characters at all.

My Rating: 2.5/5

She Laughs in Pink 2.5/5 | She Runs Away N/A  | She Wants it All N/A

overall

While I liked the concept for the rest of the series, the execution was just too much, too late. Perhaps if this series started with a different couple, I would feel differently but these two did not win me over.

Read if You Like: slower stories, love triangles, drama
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, stubborn heroines, cheating

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Series Review: Sex on the Beach

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 Between Us (from Goodreads):
I’m just a girl…

I’m a famous country star who’s spent her life cultivating a good girl persona to avoid bad press, but I’ve reached my limit. I’m going away for spring break with my two best friends from college, and we’ve vowed to spend the vacation seeking out fun in the sun—along with some hot, no-strings-attached sex. The only thing I needed was the perfect guy, and then I met Austin Murphy. He might be totally wrong for me, but the tattooed bad boy is hard to resist. When I’m in his arms, everything just feels right.

And I’m just a guy…

I’m just a bartender who lives in Key West, stuck in an endless cycle of boredom. But then Mackenzie Forbes, America’s Sweetheart herself, comes up to me and looks at me with those bright green eyes…and everything changes. She acts like she’s just a normal girl and I’m just a normal guy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My past isn’t pretty, you know. I did what I had to do to survive, and she’d run if she learned the truth about my darkness. But with her, I’m finally realizing what it’s like to be alive. To laugh, live, and be happy.

All good things must come to an end…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Jennifer Probst & Jen McLaughlin)
Series: Sex on the Beach
Author: Jen McLaughlin (Between Us); Jennifer Probst (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You)
# of Books: 6 (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You)

There is a spin-off short story called Holding On by Jenna Bennett

Book Order: Connected/Companion and Chronological

The first three books (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You) take place simultaneously, following three different characters. The last 3 books (Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You) are sequels to each of those individual stories.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Before You); Alternating (Beyond Me; Between Us)
Publication Dates: March 2014 – March 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors decide to collaborate and create a New Adult series, you can safely assume you are going to get a good read. That’s the case for me with the Sex on the Beach novella series by Jen McLaughlin, fave #1, (Between Us); Jennifer Probst, fave #2, (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You).

The Concept / Book order:

The series is a little different from other series out there. Basically, the series is six novellas focusing on one of three best friends when she is on spring break with her other two best friends in Florida. Each author has one character and writes their two respective novellas.

What is really cool about this series is that all the stories overlap. So what is happening to Mackenzie in Between Us is occurring while Carrie and Quinn’s own stories are. Between Us, Beyond Me, and Before You take place during the first spring break while Losing Us, Chasing Me and Finding You are their respective sequels. All the authors do a great job of interweaving all the stories together, having them intersect at various points yet without giving away the other stories.

This means you can technically read these stories in any order or not read one and still get a great experience. But, my suggested reading order is:

Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, and Finding You

For me, that series has the best chronological flow, especially with the last 3 books.

The Plot:

Because these are novellas, everything happens at an accelerated paced. But at the same time, I was expecting that considering this series takes place over spring break (which is a week long). So things happen fast but considering the setting and the format, I took that in stride. Normally it would bother me but I really enjoyed it. It could have been really superficial but I felt like it was pretty grounded all considered. You’ll understand why when I get to the romance review.

Beyond Me and Between Us are your typical New Adult romance plot-line (not that that is a bad thing); Before You is more romantic suspense which was exciting albeit very predictable (Finding You had a much stronger plotline I feel like). But what really surprised me was that I felt like I was getting full stories from start to finished. They never felt underdeveloped like most novellas do so it made them very easy and addicting to read.

The Characters:

I liked all the characters we meet. I thought the girls all had their unique personalities which made it fun and enjoyable to read. My least favourite character was probably Cassie from Before You because I just didn’t like her personality or thought process (her story was painfully predictable). However, her sequel book (Finding You) was a lot more intriguing for me and I liked her character more in that book.

The Romance:

Things happened fast but in all cases, I felt like the relationships that were developed did have genuine emotional connections. Sure, they were rushed because of the time constraints but I was satisfied that I could see where things would be going if they had more time together. Which is why I appreciated the follow-up stories. It was nice to see how things developed and how things were worked out several months later.

Series Rating: 4/5

Between Us 4/5 | Beyond Me 4/5| Before You 3/5

Losing Us 4/5 | Chasing Me 3.5/5 | Finding You 4/5

overall

If you want great summer (or spring break reads) that are quick, fun and sexy, this is a great novella series!

Read if You Like: novellas, connected/interweaving stories, new adult
Avoid if You: don’t like insta-love, want a longer story

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Series Review: Sixth Street Band by Jayne Frost

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

Sixth Street Band

book3 book4 book5

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Gone for You (from Goodreads):

As the guitarist for the rock band Caged, I know the rules: no relationships. No complications. Leave ‘em smiling when you go, but always go. Besides, it’s not like I’m ever in one place for more than a few days at a time. As the next hottest thing out of Austin, the band and me are riding the wave, and the music is all that matters.

Until her…

Lily Tennison has “complication” written across her beautiful face. But I can’t get involved. The timing’s all wrong. But she’s under my skin, and I can’t resist her troubled eyes and sweet smile. And I do have a little time to kill. Not much, just a few days in Dallas.

So I’ll scratch the itch and move on, like I always do.

Simple, right?

Note: You won’t need to turn up the heat—Sixth Street Bands Romances have plenty of steamy fun. This story can be read as a stand-alone but is part of the Sixth Street Bands music scene.

breakdown

Series: Sixth Street Band
Author: Jayne Frost
# of Books: 4 (Gone for You, Fall with Me, Missing From Me, Lost for You, Down to You)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Down to You is to be published Spring 2018
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Rockstars, Music, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Male POV), Alternating (Book 2 onwards)
Publication Date: April 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author/Read It & Review It–eARC   Thank you so much for the opportunity!

disclaimer

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:

I actually saw a review for Gone for You on another blog and planned to add it to my TBR. It wasn’t very long after that that I was contacted to read a copy and so I eagerly accepted!

Rockstars are my new Highlanders–meaning they are my latest reading obsession. I’ve read a lot of musician based stories spanning Young Adult to New Adult to Adult recently so I was more than ready to add another to the mix!

What I Liked:

-The Male POV-

I totally went into this book thinking I was going to get alternating POVs but I was very happy to see that it was just a straight POV–and a male one at that! Not very many authors attempt this and for Jayne Frost’s first novel, I applaud her for the risk and effort. It was an interesting place to be inside a male rockstar’s head and I actually didn’t mind not having Lily’s POV as much as I expected and I think it was because Cameron was so refreshing to read as a character!

It gets a little tiring reading about rockstars who are really normal guys or who have hearts of gold beneath their bad boy personas. I mean, I like those guys but it was nice to read about a rockstar who lives up to the name. Cameron is a bit of a jerk but that’s what makes the story so great–you get to watch him grow as a character and mature. I really appreciated that aspect.

-The Flow-

I actually read this book in a day. Partly because it is on the shorter side but more accurately, I just loved the flow the plot had. It moves at a great pace, keeps your attention and has a few little twists along the way. It truly is a great summer read when you have a few hours to spend on your patio reading (like I did!).

What I Didn’t Like:

-The Insta-Relationship-

I’m a little mixed on this. This relationship definitely started as insta-lust and I loved that. They have a connection, they act on it and they establish the base of a relationship: that all works for me. That is exactly what I expected.

And I even expected the fast connection and the insta-relationship but I wanted to see more! I really wanted to root for this couple but was just short of rooting for them. I feel like we barely scratched the surface of who they are and I wanted to see them learn more about each other. Because I really liked them as a couple, I could see how they would work, I just wanted strong character growth–something that I think will be present more in the sequels because we have been introduced to the characters I assume will be the next set of leads.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see who the next set of leads will be. I have my suspicions but I could be completely wrong. I’m excited to delve deeper into this rockstar world!

updates

–April 24, 2017– Book #2: Fall With Me

I was so happy that Fall With Me built upon the potential I saw when reading the first book in the series. While Gone for You seemed rushed in its delivery, this one had perfect pacing.

It definitely helped that the Mel and Christian had great chemistry from the start. It was easy for me to see why they would be drawn to each other. They are both geeky in their own ways and that served as a nice foundation for their romance. They actually talked instead of just exploring their physical chemistry.

I also liked Mel’s story. Her situation is so realistic and one that doesn’t get highlighted in novels let alone romantic ones and I really appreciated that. It added to the story in a strong way.

I’m excited to see if the momentum will keep up in the next book!

–October 13, 2017– Book #3: Missing From Me

This novel is the classic second chance romance that you always get in a rockstar series–but this story easily stands out on its own.

The plot never felt stale to me when it easily could have. The bumps along the way are ones that are super common to the second chance trope but they just worked so well for this unique story that I didn’t mind. It had my full attention from the start.

The journey these two have to take to find each other again is fascinating to read. Sean in particular has a lot of growth he needs to accomplish and it was such a joy to watch him transform before your eyes. He makes quite a few mistakes on the way but they help to ground the story and provide a backbone for the plot to move forward. The lesson of learning from the past to make a better, healthier future is always a winning attribute in my books.

While I loved these two as a pair and could see their obvious love for each other, I wish we saw more of them “back in the day”. I’m a reader who likes to be shown how two people fall in love, not necessarily told so that was a slightly “disappointing” aspect. Then again, this story isn’t about their past but how they are going to start the rest of their lives and I will say, it was rather refreshing to have this as the focus.

–January 14, 2018– Book #4: Lost for You

I really loved the journey of these two characters. For me, this was a story about two people finding themselves with a little dash of romance thrown in and I couldn’t get enough!

Both characters have their everyday struggles and that made them so real to me. Their struggles are so human and humbling that you truly connected with them. They have a lot of stuff to work through as people and they show that the path isn’t always straightforward or simple. I was so invested in the outcome, whatever it might be, and I had a hard time putting this book down.

I’m a huge romance fan and I like to see my relationships spelled out for me. I find this series has plenty of steam and the characters have great chemistry but the development of said romance takes a bit of a back seat to the character development. I knew to expect that with this book as well though I would have loved to see them establish that connection a little more for the romantic in me.

However, I appreciated the obstacles they had to overcome and realized that is the whole point of this story. It isn’t necessarily about finding love but overcoming your past to build a better present so you can embrace the future.

It’s a beautiful story.

This series just gets better and better the further we delve into it and I can’t wait for the next book!

Series Rating: 4/5

Gone for You 3/5 | Fall With Me 4/5 | Missing From Me 4/5 | Lost for You 4.5/5

overall

This series just gets better and better! The greatest strength of this series is the unique character stories we get. Each book focuses on character growth and development. You truly get invested in the characters and their stories. Plus, there are plenty of steamy moments between characters with fantastic chemistry!

Read if You Like: rockstar leads, character centered stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story, don’t enjoy instalove romances

similarreads

  • Mayhem by Jamie Shaw (Mayhem Series #1)
  • All Access by Karolyn James (Brothers of Rock Series #1)
  • Wicked White by Michelle A. Valentine (Wicked White Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Confess 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 Confess (from Goodreads):
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary 
Heat Rating
: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think by this point it’s fairly obvious that anything Colleen Hoover publishes, I will be reading it. But even if she didn’t write this one, I would have picked this book up for the concept alone. It just seemed like a book that would be filled with secrets and–obviously–confessions and I needed a good drama filled contemporary romance when I picked this up. It’s just an added bonus that Colleen Hoover writes this because I just know there are going to be some AWESOME plot twists.

The Concept:

In Slammed, the focus is Slam Poetry; in Maybe Someday we get a music soundtrack. But in Confess, the focus is art–and you betcha, there is actually photos of the artwork in the text! I recommend you either get this book in print or at the very least look at the eBook on your computer or tablet because the photos look great in black and white (like your eReader) but they look even better when in colour! I just love these additions Colleen Hoover adds to her works and it’s what makes her a must read author for me.

The other cool concept this book plays with is confessions. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the community project Post Secret but the idea is that you mail in your secret/confession on a postcard anonymously. A few years ago, the band All American Rejects used postcards from the site in their video Dirty Little Secret. Anyways, Owen’s artwork is inspired by similar confessions which is a interesting spin and really grounds this book and makes it more realistic to me.

The Plot:

Don’t go into this book expecting a cheery and light romantic read–it’s actually kind-of depressing. Which is why it took me a while to get into it. I cried three pages in (you’ll understand why if you read it) and I cried at the very end for the same reason. While some aspects of the plot I figured out before they were revealed, in classic Colleen Hoover style there were some great twists which kept the plotline from getting too predictable. As I was reading, I really didn’t know what was going to happen next and, even better, I had no clue how everything was going to wrap up.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the Broadway musical Once but this book gave me similar vibes in the sense that two people are exploring their connection despite external forces and secrets driving them apart. But instead of music, we get artwork.

The Characters:

I really liked all the characters we meet in this book–even the ones you are supposed to hate. Hoover writes great characters that always feel developed yet still manage to grow at the same time. I find they are consistent in their convictions (ie they don’t flop like fish) but they still have flaws and they try to fix it. So while these character might not be gracing a list of my all-time favourite characters, I still enjoyed reading about them.

The Romance:

As I said before, this isn’t a happy-go-lucky type of romance book. It’s also a bit of a insta-connection / “must be fate” kind of romance which I don’t really like. However, I didn’t mind it in this case because you watch these characters struggle with that connection. It isn’t like they dive into bed together as soon as their eyes connect and forget the rest of the world. In fact, it is the complete opposite. It also helps that the focus of a majority of the book is on individual character growth and dealing with the world around them rather than their romantic connection. There were definitely enough “romantic” scenes but there was just the right amount to balance the “drama” portion of the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This may not be my favourite Colleen Hoover book but I still really enjoyed it! I thought it had a great execution and unique attributes that made this different from your everyday romance novel. It kept my attention from beginning to end and I loved the fact that it still surprised me at the very end. Another great book by Colleen Hoover!

Read if You Like: romantic fate, drama, a dash of suspense, artist heroes
Avoid if You: dislike insta-connection, want a more “upbeat” romance
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Series Review: Sutton College by Rebecca Paula

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

Sutton College Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Between Everything and Us (from Goodreads):
Matisse Evans is determined to make her sophomore year of college successful after failing out of a prestigious art school and spending a horribly boring gap year at home. Despite her focus, time isn’t on her side as she struggles to hold down three jobs so she can afford her first apartment while juggling course work. In the chaos of it all, Beau Grady moves in and shakes up her world. A college dropout and tattooed bad boy, the rumors about Beau mean one thing for Matisse—trouble. Paralyzed by the fear that she’s missing out on life, Matisse discovers plans may unravel, but what rises in their wake can be worth the uncertainty.

After spending the summer couch surfing, Beau Grady moves into an empty room at his ex-girlfriend’s Portland bungalow, skipping his senior year of college to spend his days working at a Vietnamese food cart instead. Once a star hockey player and gifted student, he’s put his life on hold after receiving a life-altering diagnosis, complacent to live in the moment. Hiding behind false rumors and bad habits, Beau falls for Matisse, letting her believe the worst until their relationship blooms into something they both can’t ignore. Falling for her means having to face a future he’d rather forget, but loving her just might be worth it.

breakdown

Series: Sutton College
Author: Rebecca Paula
# of Books: 2 (Between Everything and Us, Anything More than Now)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2015 – January 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley –eBook  Thank you Rebecca Paul for the opportunity!

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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:

The cover of this book drew me to click on it when I was browsing Netgalley after creating my account but the synopsis is what made me want to read it. It sounded like it would be a book filled with sexual tension but great character growth–plus who can resist a bad boy hockey player? (I’m Canadian, what can I say!?)

The Plot:

While this book is a romance, I love that both Beau and Matisse grow individually. The vast majority of this book is spent with these characters trying to find out what the next steps in life will be in terms of school, health, career paths, parental relationships and, of course, their relationship. It isn’t always a happy story and that means it isn’t the easy novel to read because it is a little depressing at times. It’s raw and it makes you think about life.

However, I felt like the book focused too long on their unhappiness with their everyday life and not enough time on the romance (or dealing with Beau’s condition). The last 50 or so pages when that becomes the focus was the best part of the book to me. That is what I thought I was going to be reading and that appealed to me the most. That was when I got sold on Beau and Matisse being a couple and saw how/why they would care for each other. Up until that point I didn’t really get the connection between the two of them (besides the physical attraction).

The Characters:

Both Beau and Matisse are flawed characters which made this book enjoyable because you really get to watch them grow and mature. But I never fell in love with them. I think it was the overall tone of the book, which is slightly depressing and sad, that just stopped me from really enjoying their characters. I warmed up to them by the end but by then it was just too late.

It also didn’t help that I started to get a little more interested in the secondary characters, specifically the two that are the leads in the next book. I felt like their stories and relationships weren’t fully explained and were left unresolved so I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store next.

The Romance:

After reading the synopsis, I thought we would start the book right when Beau moves into the house but it actually starts about a month after. So by that point, they’ve established a bit of a relationship, though it is fair from romantic. However, I had a hard time seeing why they liked each other at the start because I didn’t see them build their initial relationship. I definitely started to see it as I continued to read because they actually spend some time together but it took far longer than I expected to get on bored with their relationship.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I plan on reading Anything More Than Now just because these two characters peaked my interest in this novel. I felt like there were some unresolved plot issues with each lead so I’m want to see where their story goes next.

but

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I appreciated Between Everything and Us more once I finished it because I appreciated the realistic, raw edge it had to it. I just feel like if there was more focus on some plot aspects and less on others, this would have been a great read. So while it missed the mark, I’m still continuing on with the series because it has some potential. If you want a true coming of age new adult read, this is the one you want!

Read if You Like: slower stories, characters in a dark place of mind, realistic romance
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

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Series Review: Heart of Stone by K.M. Scott

Series: Heart of Stone Trilogy
Author: K.M. Scott
# of Books: 3 (Crash Into Me, Fall Into Me, Give in to Me)

There is an epilogue novella called Ever After to be published

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes, though the novella is yet to be published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Suspense, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person (later books alternate POV)

Thoughts:

I was hesitant to buy Crash Into Me and read it but I hoped it would be like the Fixed Trilogy so I eventually caved and bought it.

The first chapter of Crash Into Me almost made me stop reading. It was one of the most frustrating opening to a book that I have ever had to endure. I encountered some stupid and naïve heroines but Nina is definitely in a league of her own. The best word I can think to classify her as is “delusional”.

warning

WARNING: this is a bit of a spoiler but seeing as it happens in the first chapter, I’m not going to hide it.

Of course like all cliché contemporary erotica romances, it all starts with a glance at a stranger across the room. I don’t fault the girl for being attracted to him–but what I can fault her for is her stupidity. She gets into his car and is simultaneously wondering if he is going to kiss her or kill her and chop her into tiny little pieces as he takes her outside the city. Um–what?! Why do you want this man who essentially kidnapped you to kiss you? I don’t care how good looking he is! Have some pride you stupid broad!

There are a few other prize winning Nina moments where she wonders if they are going to continue dating after meeting him for the second time; another is when she signs a contract without reading every page despite the fact that she knows something is up. Oh and keep in mind that up until this point she has probably only heard 20 words from him that weren’t a yes or no answer.

I tell you, the number of times I had to put down the book to take a big breath and pull my hair out is astounding–I’m surprised I still have hair.

Tristan isn’t any better. He is the stereotypical alpha male billionaire who sweeps her off her feet. I personally found it extremely creepy and I would be begging Nina to run if I was her friend Jordan–who, of course, thinks it is a brilliant idea to do all of this with a strange but rich man. Emphasis on the “rich” man part because his wanting to take care of her is all that her friend will need to be happy in life. *eye roll* I also found his character to be really unstable in the sense that he would appear one way and then another. His character and personality is never consistent throughout the book which is frustrating. I suppose it is attributed to his past but it really came out of nowhere at times.

*End Of Possible Spoilers*

Considering my rant, it is probably a surprise that I actually continued to read this book. I thought about giving up, but kind of like a train wreck, I just had to keep going. Eventually, it got better once some time passed in the plot. The relationship between Nina and Tristan got to be a lot healthier and I could sort of see their connection together. Near the end of Crash Into Me, we get more plot than their “intense” romance and it makes the story more interesting. I was still pulling my hair out and eye rolling as I read the last half of the book but I was “enjoying” the book I suppose.

Fall Into Me starts right after Crash Into Me but this time we are offered an alternating POV between Nina and Tristan. I welcomed this because it allowed for more insight into Tristan as a character. Even with the added perspective I still feel like I don’t know him too well but I suppose part of his appeal is the “mysterious” part of him. I felt like parts of Fall Into Me were added simply for the sake of making it “risqué” (just like a scene in Crash Into Me which was completely unnecessary). I could have done without them and I think the book would be better off without them. Overall,  the book was interesting and kept my attention though parts just felt like rehashes of the first book.

Give in to Me didn’t do much for me. There was only so much “I love you”‘s and sappy bits I could take before it started to take its toll. I just found it to be dull and even when the “suspense” part of the plot picked up, I just didn’t really care. Some good little twists at the end but not enough to wow me in any way.

I will be reading the novella, Ever After, when is comes out just for the sake of closure though I did like the way Give in to Me ended. I think the epilogue is just a bit of a treat for readers.

Conclusion:

While this series isn’t the worst contemporary series that I have read, it definitely isn’t the best. A promising plot just a poor execution and it really isn’t anything that I haven’t read before. I personally wouldn’t recommend this series to my friends because it irritated me at times; but it you want a story that is heavy on physical attraction and has a bit of a mystery to it, this series might be worth your time. Otherwise, pass.

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: Release Me by J. Kenner (Stark Trilogy #1); Down to You by M. Leighton (The Bad Boys #1) and Fixed on You by Laurelin Paige (Fixed on You Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Crash Into Me (from Goodreads):
What would you give up for everything?

Tristan Stone was powerful, commanding, sex incarnate. And he wore it all so well. From the moment his mesmerizing gaze met mine, I had no choice but surrender to everything he was. His power. His decadence. His passion. He was all I never knew I needed.

He wanted to possess me, and I wanted to be his everything. All I had to do was accept what he offered. But everything has a price.

The world he gave me fulfilled my wildest dreams, but would that be enough when the past crashed into the present?