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Single Sundays: Crossing Stars by Nicole Williams

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 Crossing Stars (from Goodreads):
While the city of Chicago sleeps, a war wages in the streets between two powerful families. While the public assumes organized crime is nothing more than a chapter torn out of America’s history, the Costa and Moran families battle for territory and domination.

Caught up in the middle of this sinister world is Josette, the only child of Salvatore Costa, the ringleader and notorious godfather of Chicago’s Italian mafia. After the Irish Morans attempted to assassinate her when she was a child, Josette’s parents hid her behind the walls of their sprawling estate and kept her contact with outsiders to a minimum. But now Josette’s eighteen, and she’s questioning if a long life behind walls is worth trading for a potentially short one filled with excitement and adventure and all the things she’s only lived in her dreams.

On the night she decides to risk becoming just an anonymous face in the crowd, Josette realizes that death isn’t only a possibility—it’s a certainty. Yet when a young man comes to her rescue, the turbulent waters between life and death are further muddied.

Review:

I love Nicole Williams other works so when I read that her next standalone novel was going to be a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, I was excited and immediately put it at the top of my to-buy list. I loved the Romeo + Juliet movie with Leonardo DiCaprio all those years ago and Crossing Stars seemed like it was going to have that same edge to it with the two rival mafia families.

And for the most part it did have that interesting modern edge. The rivalry between the two families was well done and kept my attention. I also liked that this book wasn’t just a modern, word-for-word retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It did have its own plot events that weren’t necessarily parallel or occurred in Romeo and Juliet.

But that modern edge wasn’t enough to save this book. It really dragged in parts for me (the last two chapters were really fast-paced). Part of the problem was Josette. She was a dull heroine who couldn’t manage to capture my attention throughout the novel. Rylan was a bit more exciting to me but I think it was because he was more of a mystery to me because his POV is not given. I understand why it wasn’t but I wish it was because I think it would have made things more interesting.

I know Romeo and Juliet is the classic example of a love-at-first-sight story but I just had a hard time grasping it in this one. I think it was because Josette had just finished reading it and seemed to know that everything about it was crazy with her and Rylan but still did it anyway. It might have also helped to have Rylan featured more because he was missing for a good majority of the book. Perhaps that is the whole “romantic” part of the story but it’s not my cup of tea (even though I love Romeo and Juliet as a play).

Conclusion:

This story just didn’t do it for me. I’ve read better Romeo and Juliet stories. It had a few interesting twists but nothing outstanding. If you read anything and everything about Romeo and Juliet OR insta-love stories, then you will probably want to read this. Otherwise, watch the 1996 movie instead.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Romeo and Juliet
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Authors, Worst Standalone Reads 2014
Similar Reads: Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman (Son of the Mob Series #1)

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Series Review: Lost and Found by Nicole Williams

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

Lost and Found by Nicole Williams | Lost and Found Series


Other books in the series:
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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read Author
Series: Lost and Found
Author: Nicole Williams
# of Books: 3 (Lost and Found, Near and Far, Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers, Heart & Soul)
Book Order: Lost & Found, Near & Far + Heart & Soul are chronological

Finders Keepers + Losers Weepers are connected but chronological to each other

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, coming of age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Lost & Found, Finders Keepers; Losers Weepers); Alternating (Near & Far)
Publication Dates: May 2013 – June 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

Thoughts:

Nicole William’s book Crash from the Crash Trilogy is what introduced me to the world of New Adult reads, so I think it is safe to say her books will always hold a special place in my heart–and this one is no exception.

Unlike Crash, with Lost and Found we get the outcast girl falling in love with the golden boy. When I first read that in the plot synopsis, I was worried that Lost and Found would just be a retelling of sorts of Crash but with the characters in opposite roles. I’m happy to say that this is not the case, and this book does differ in its plot and characters from the Crash Trilogy wholeheartedly.

I really liked Rowan. She is the classic example of someone who appears strong but internally struggles with herself and I enjoyed watching her grow into herself. This book just really had the “feel-good” attitude about it. There were two moments though when I didn’t like Rowan as much. One was not cluing into the whole Garth-Jesse problem–I think it was fairly obvious so that was a little disappointing because she seemed a little smarter than that. The second moment also deals with that first one. Throughout the whole novel Rowan complains that people always assume things about her without hearing the whole story and then she goes and does the exact same thing to Jesse. I thought it was a little hypocritical but given her jaded character I could see why she might not follow the “treat others like you want to be treated” motto when it comes to others. It just irked me a bit 😉

Jesse was totally swoon-worthy. There isn’t too much to say about him as this novel is really more about Rowan (from what I have read about the synopsis for book 2, I think we will get more about Jesse there) but he is a solid character and I enjoyed his wit an banter with Rowan.

My only real peeve about this book was how fast the “love” happens. I just felt like they didn’t really know each other that well to warrant those feelings so soon, but I do feel like after that point, they work on creating a healthy relationship so I feel like it redeems itself in that respect.

updates

–July 24, 2015– Book 2: Near & Far

This book was your typical romantic sequel. Lots of jealousy inducing situations, relationship questioning and cute moments. And that isn’t a bad thing; I actually think it was mildly realistic given the situation the two find themselves in. But at the same time, it got a little tiring despite being expected. And it really was reminiscent of The Crash Trilogy’s Clash.

–May 16, 2016– Book 3: Finders Keepers

Hmm, I wasn’t overly impressed with this novel. I thought it was really predictable–partly because I guessed most of Garrett’s story thanks to his role in the previous two novels–but it was a lot of clichés wrapped up into a typical New Adult package. There were some unique aspects with Garrett’s character that kept me interested and made me happy I picked it up. But I didn’t fall in love with Garrett like I expected to nor did I really care for his female counterpart.

Not sure what is going to happen in the sequel but I’m a little worried given Near & Far…guess I’ll see!

–May 23, 2016– Book 4: Losers Weepers

The plot for this story really surprised me. It wasn’t your typical romantic sequel in that the relationship wasn’t being tested by some unnecessary love triangle or other stupid, petty reasons (like in Near & Far). Instead, it challenges the characters with a realistic situation that really surprised me. Sure, it had its soap-opera moments BUT I really enjoyed the concept and the test these characters undergo. Definitely the strongest of the series in terms of character development.

–December 10, 2016– Book 5: Heart & Soul

This book was such a disappointment and waste of my time. I almost DNF’d it but decided to skim the rest of the novel to get a general idea of what happens.

This is a continuation of the story arc in Lost & Found (#1) and Near & Far (#2) but takes place after the events of Loser Weepers (#4). Which is fine–it just really isn’t necessary if you ask me. I liked how everything was wrapped up in the respective novels.

The first 30% of the book was Jesse whining about the situation and waxing on and on about Rowan. I get it, it’s cute (I’m a huge Jesse fan) and it helps establish the characters’ feelings to the situation at hand. BUT, nothing was happening?! And I have better things to read than a character lamenting on and on about their love for their significant other–I get it!

This was just a dull book. I think if it was a novella it would have been better.

Series Rating: 3/5

Lost & found 4/5 | Near & Far 3/5 | Finders Keepers 3/5  |  Losers Weepers 4/5  |  Heart & Soul 2/5

overall

A great “feel-good” novel that fans of New Adult will love. It isn’t particularly “steamy” but it is swoon-worthy at times. Oh, and Jesse is a cowboy if that does anything for you 😉 Some books are definitely better than others but their shorter length means you aren’t spending a ton of time reading them.

Read if You Like: slow-burn romances, cowboys, tortured pasts
Avoid if You: want more “heat”; don’t like tough heroines

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Synopsis for Lost and Found (from Goodreads):
There’s complicated. And there’s Rowen Sterling.

After numbing pain for the past five years with boys, alcohol, and all-around apathy, she finds herself on a Greyhound bus to nowhere Montana the summer after she graduates high school. Her mom agreed to front the bill to Rowen’s dream art school only if Rowen proves she can work hard and stay out of trouble at Willow Springs Ranch. Cooking breakfast at the crack of dawn for a couple dozen ranch hands and mucking out horse stalls are the last things in the world Rowen wants to spend her summer doing.

Until Jesse Walker saunters into her life wearing a pair of painted-on jeans, a cowboy hat, and a grin that makes something in her chest she’d thought was frozen go boom-boom. Jesse’s like no one else, and certainly nothing like her. He’s the bright and shiny to her dark and jaded.

Rowen knows there’s no happily-ever-after for the golden boy and the rebel girl—happily-right-now is a stretch—so she tries to forget and ignore the boy who makes her feel things she’s not sure she’s ready to feel. But the more she pushes him away, the closer he seems to get. The more she convinces herself she doesn’t care, the harder she falls.

When her dark secrets refuse to stay locked behind the walls she’s kept up for years, Rowen realizes it’s not just everyone else she needs to be honest with. It’s herself.

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Series Review: Crash by Nicole Williams

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: A top New Adult Read
Series: Crash Trilogy
Author: Nicole Williams
# of Books: 3 (Crash, Clash, Crush)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Sports, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Crash & Clash: warm ; Crush: Really Warm

Thoughts:

This series will forever hold a special place in my heart as it is the first New Adult read I have ever picked up and I credit it with introducing me to the genre. It’s a great series and a great way to get a feel for the New Adult genre but without all the sex that seems to accompany some books in the genre (there isn’t very much in the first two books).

I went into Crash with very low expectations. It was my plan when I started it to finish it ASAP so I could start another book but I quickly got into the story and finished it super quickly anyways 😛 I think the book summary for Crash is a little deceiving (it’s posted at the end of the blog post FYI). I went into this book thinking it was going to be your typical bad boy-good girl relationship but it wasn’t. I also thought it was going to focus more on Lucy’s dancing but it doesn’t–which is a good thing in my opinion, dance isn’t really my thing to read about. There isn’t a ridiculous plot that the characters go through, it’s more focused on how their pasts effect their futures but that is what I liked about the story.

Throughout the series, I had a love-hate relationship with Jude and Lucy, the main characters.

I’ll start with Jude. You could tell her adored Lucy so I liked that. In Crash, he reminded a lot of a young Christian Grey minus the need to dominate his woman (ie no BDSM). He is very possessive which is really attractive and I know that makes girls swoon but it is also scary because it could have been too much. Actually, at some points in the book I felt like the relationship bordered on unhealthy (it’s actually alluded to in later books which I thought was ironic). My mind often drifted to another book I had read this year, The Taming by Teresa Toten, where a teen relationship turns into an abusive one. I really feared that this was going to happen here but I’m glad it didn’t.

I think part of the reason it didn’t border on unhealthy was because of Lucy–which is why I liked her. She was a strong character who was also independent and intelligent enough to realize when Jude needed to turn it down a notch. She freely expresses her thoughts on his actions and makes sure she is heard by him as well. Though sometimes I found her to be a little contradictory in what she said/did so that caused me to like her a little less as the books went on. But to her credit, she does grow considerably as the series progresses so that is nice to see.

Which is another thing I like about this series: it’s relatable to its readers. A majority of what Lucy and Jude go through, especially once they reach college, is something that a majority of young adults go through. The series was definitely a more realistic New Adult series than what I am used to reading which is refreshing.

Clash was great. I read it in a day–which sucked because I had to wait 4 months for Crush. Crush was great also. I always get worried with romance trilogies that follow the same two characters because often times the story gets dragged out and the last book ends up being disappointing. I am happy to say that wasn’t the case here. Crush was a fantastic end to the series.

Conclusion:

For those just starting out in the New Adult world, this is a great bridge to reach there! For those who want a less “sex-focused” New adult read, grab this! Or if you just want to read about a couple growing individually while within a relationship, check this out!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: The Perfect Game (Perfect Game Series) by J. Sterling

Synopsis for Crash (from Goodreads):
Jude Ryder and Lucy Larson are this generation’s Romeo and Juliet: Explosive. Sizzling. Tragic.

A steamy summer encounter with bad boy Jude means trouble for Lucy. Her sights are set on becoming a ballerina, and she won’t let anything get in her way . . . except Jude.

He’s got a rap sheet, dangerous mood swings, and a name that’s been sighed, shouted, and cursed by who knows how many girls.

Jude’s a cancer, the kind of guy who’s fated to ruin the lives of girls like Lucy—and he tells her so.

But as rumors run rampant and reputations are destroyed, Lucy’s not listening to Jude’s warning. Is tragedy waiting in the wings? This racy romance is hot, hot, hot!