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Series Review: The Jackson Boys by Jen Frederick

Series Review: The Jackson Boys by Jen Frederick

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 Charlotte Chronicles (from Goodreads):

Charlotte Randolph was only fifteen when she fell in love with her best friend’s gorgeous older brother—but she wasn’t foolish enough to hope he could ever love her back. Nate Jackson always viewed her as a pesky kid…until the day she got sick. The one bright spot during her illness? He realized she was all grown up. But just when she allows herself to believe that dreams can come true, Nate disappears from her life, taking her heart with him.

Nate knows he lost more than his best friend when he deserted Charlotte to enlist in the Navy. He thought he was doing the right thing, sparing the girl he loves from the shame and humiliation of his actions. Nine years later, it’s time to right his wrongs. He returns home determined to win back his first love…only to find that Charlotte’s moved on without him.

But if there’s one thing that being a Navy SEAL has taught Nate? Never give up, even when all hope seems lost. And Nate’s never going to give up on Charlotte. Ever.

breakdown

Series: The Jackson Boys

A Spin-off of the Woodlands Series

Author: Jen Frederick
# of Books: 2 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2014 – October 2018
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few Jen Frederick books on my TBR and on my eReaders thanks to freebies and great deals, but The Charlotte Chronicles was the novel I really wanted to read. So when I saw I could read it as a part of Kindle Unlimited, I jumped at the chance.

It sounded like a super cute story and I was really intrigued by premise. Character illness isn’t something I come across too often but I have really enjoyed them when I do find them.

The Concept:

Each novel actually started as a “weekly episode” type of story where Frederick would post an episode one week at a time on her website/newsletter. She then compiled it into one full novel.

The Plot:

At times, I think it shows that this series was written as one little bit at a time. The pacing was a little weird for me: it focused longer on some things and shorter on others.

For example, in The Charlotte Chronicles (#1), I didn’t expect to get so much of their past. I thought this would be more of a second chance novel were we would learn about their past through memories or just have a chapter or two at the start. Instead, we get solid percentage of the book dedicated to seeing these two in the early days of their relationship. Which is great because you really fall in love with these two and it brings major heartbreak when you know they break up sometime in the near future.

The first book made me super excited for Be Mine because of all the inklings we get along the way. This book was a solid 4/5 (I was flying through it!) but I didn’t particularly like how the drama came to the forefront near the end.

The Characters:

I really liked all our leads and the cast of characters we meet in these two stories. I love the power of friendship that gets exhibited in all of them. Yes, each story focuses on the romance but the friendships are equally as important.

The Romance:

In The Charlotte Chronicles, the thing that irked me the most was that I didn’t understand why they were separated for as long as they did. Like, I understood the foundation for the separation but it seemed like everything was blown out of proportions–especially when you see how they were as kids.

As for Be Mine, I liked the slow burn of their relationship and the tension it brought to the story. I’ll be honest and say that I wanted a little more substance to their romance. It seemed like some innate connection that wasn’t overly elaborated on. Like the two of them spend a lot of time together and I think a lot of their bonding happens side stage to the rest of the story.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Charlotte Chronicles 3/5 | Be Mine 3/5

overall

There’s a lot to like about these novels and the writing is addictive. But the pacing is slightly off and I wasn’t a fan of how some of the drama unfolded.

Read if You Like: contemporary reads, second chance romances
Avoid if You: dislike drama

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Fresh Fridays: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1)

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:

The Heartbreaker Chronicles

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Heartbreakers (from Goodreads):
“When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Netgalley Read 2015
Series: The Heartbreaker Chronicles

This series is linked with her other novel, My Life With the Walter Boys

Author: Ali Novak
# of Books: 2 (The Heartbreakers, The Queen of Hearts)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Queen of Hearts is currently being published on Wattpad
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Music, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  |  Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Fire!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well of course, the cover drew me in, and it was a cover that kept popping up everywhere I turned. So, I read the synopsis and knew I IMMEDIATELY had to read it. Average girl falling in love with a popstar? That’s right up my alley (Rockstar romances are my favourite trend this year). But what really captured my attention was the ill sister–this was an aspect that promised a heartwarming (possibly heartbreaking) plotline.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I was a approved to read this and couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

– The Romance –

Boy, I was swooning within five seconds of meeting Oliver! He was charming and genuine–basically everything you want in your favourite pop-punk crush. Watching Stella and Oliver interact had me wanting more and I couldn’t put this book down! (It was torture being at work when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and read this!)

– The Family Dynamic –

Stella’s family situation was perfectly balanced with the romance. I enjoyed watching her grow as a person; learning what her fears were and how to conquer them. The situations she faces in her everyday life–a sick sister, a brother leaving home for college, herself leaving for college–really grounded this book in realism, making Stella relatable in an otherwise unorthodox situation. It added a depth to Stella’s character that I appreciated.

What I Didn’t Like:

– The required Romantic “Drama” Scene –

I was LOVING this book until this one romantic plot element that I could have done without. Now, because I don’t list spoilers, that previous statement makes it seem like some unfathomable event happened that ruined the entire book.

That isn’t what happened!

I saw this particular plot device a mile away but I had really hoped that wouldn’t happen. I see why it was added but for a book that was pretty logical and flowing, it really put a not-so-great kink in things. It made my love for the characters diminish just a touch BUT, it was really just one small aspect in an otherwise great novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I didn’t know this was going to be a series when I picked it up so I am ecstatic! I loved the rest of the band and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the boys!

+

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

It has been a long time since I wanted to put everything on hold just to finish a book! Normally, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary YA romance but this one had so many great elements that I loved. Can’t wait for more!

Read if You Like: coming of age stories, musicians, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: don’t like YA contemporary

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Single Sundays: One Last Song by S.K. Falls

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 One Last Song (from Goodreads):
I was seven when I swallowed my first needle.

My mom freaked out and rushed me to the emergency room.

She stayed by my side all night.

I never wanted it to end.

When you spend your whole life feeling invisible-when your parents care more about deals and deadlines than they do about you-you find ways of making people take notice. Little things at first. Then bigger. It’s scary how fast it grows. Then one day something happens that makes you want to stop. To get better. To be better. And for the first time, you understand what it’s like to feel whole, happy . . . loved. For the first time, you love someone back.

For me, that someone was Drew.

Previously published as IPPY award-winning novel, Secret for a Song.

breakdown

Author: S.K. Falls
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Dark, Mature Subject Matter
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly found this book among my library’s recent eBooks additions and decided to put myself on the hold list.

What intrigued me about this book is the very first line of the book synopsis. I’ve never read a book about someone with Munchausen syndrome (Munchausen syndrome is a mental disorder that is characterized by the sufferer causing or pretending to have physical or psychological symptoms in his or herself.) though I’ve heard of it before so that really interested me.

The Concept:

For myself, as someone who is entering the healthcare field, it was hard for me to read about Sayor’s condition for two reasons. One is that this book is written in such a real way that it’s hard to read Saylor’s perspective on things because of her mental condition. You really understand what she is thinking and why and that is hard to stomach at times.

The other reason I found this book hard to read is that our healthcare system truly fails people suffering from this condition and other mental health conditions. In recent years, mental health is getting talked about more and more but there is still a huge stigma surrounding it and I like that this book brings more obscure disorders to the forefront.

The Plot:

The best way I can thing to describe this book is if The Fault in Our Stars had a love affair with Fight Club. Now this might seem like an odd combination but if you’ve read both of those books and then this one, you would understand where I am coming from. The Narrator from Fight Club really reminds me of Saylor as they both suffer from conditions that results in them attending a support group. While is why it also reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars because instead of the crazy, soap-making ride that is Fight Club, Saylor learns what it means to live by hanging out with people her own age suffering from their medical conditions.

This book is really about Saylor living with her condition and her personal growth. There are definitely little plot lines along the way that contribute to the plot and keep it from being too heavy but this really is about Saylor’s personal growth.

The Characters:

The characters in this book are extremely well-developed though some might come across as cliché. However, I thought they complimented each other well.

Drew reminds me a toned down Augustus Waters (TFIOS). I really liked him and I was just as interested in his journey as Saylor. I also really liked Saylor. She wasn’t funny like Hazel (TFIOS) but I found her very intriguing and I loved watching her develop.

The Romance:

This book is light on the romance. It definitely plays a key role in the plot but it isn’t a main focus by any means. I really didn’t mind because I felt like it complimented the story in the right way. Just don’t go into this thinking it is a straight romance because there are so many other factors at play.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I think some people will have a hard time reading this book. It deals with some serious issues and doesn’t hold back. However, I encourage everyone who is interested to try it because I think it tells an important story and starts the conversation about mental illness.

Read if You Like: narrators suffering from illness, light romance, books dealing with more mature subject matter
Avoid if You: don’t like books dealing with death or mental health; want more passion to your romances
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Movie Mondays: The Fault in Our Stars

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Fault in Ours Stars by John Green | Movie: The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK 

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Illness
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I won’t lie: the only reason I read this book was because the movie was coming out. See, I initially had no desire to read this book until I kept seeing the movie trailer everywhere I looked and it grew on me so I decided to read it.

And I’m so glad I did!

I loved this book! I haven’t read a book like this since The Perks of Being a Wallflower (PBW). A “book like this” is a book filled with witty characters and funny moments but still has heartwarming moments that make you cry.

I had the same thoughts going through my head when I finished this as I did with PBW: an appreciation for my life and all who are in it. This book has great messages about life, love and death which is refreshing compared to the usual Young Adult genre books that I normally read.

Conclusion:

There really isn’t too much to say without giving away the plot or the awesomeness, but this book was beautifully crafted and I will definitely be reading more from John Green in the future! If you want a break from melodramatic romances, this is a read for you!

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

The Movie:

I had every intention of seeing this movie when it was out in theatres, but the summer just flew by for me and I never got a chance. It’s probably for the best because I would have looked like quite the mess if I had walked out of the theatre after this movie.

This is one of those great book to film adaptions. It captured the story beautifully and I laughed and cried just like I did when reading.

The cast was FANTASTIC! I can’t stress enough how great they were. Ansel as Augustus was perfect–everything I wanted Gus to be an more really. He had all the charisma and charm and every time he was on screen it brought a smile to my face. If you read my review of the Divergent film you know that I was a little bit hesitant of Shailene Woodley taking on the role based on my experience with The Secret Life of the American Teenager. But after seeing her in Divergent, I knew she could pull this role off and she did. She played Hazel to a T and it made for some great chemistry on the screen between her and Ansel. I also have to shout out Nat Wolff as Isaac. I developed a bit of a crush on Nat when watching the movie Stuck in Love so I was really excited to see him in this role. Isaac was one of my favourite parts of the book so it was awesome to see him come to life.

I was worried about the movie before I saw it because part of the charm of the book is Hazel’s inner thoughts. I wasn’t sure how they were going to convey these in the movie in a way that is true to the book but I think overall they did a great job by having Hazel narrate certain parts.

Final tissue count: 5

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is TIE, but a slight edge to the book. This one was super tough. I really loved the movie because it was so true to the book. But I give the edge to the book just a tiny little bit because I loved Hazel’s commentary about life and the banter between her and Augustus and that has more presence in the book than in the movie. Nevertheless, both are worth your time!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Fault in Our Stars (from Goodreads):
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Trailer:

Series Review: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

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 On Dublin Street (from Goodreads):

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

breakdown

Series: On Dublin Street
Author: Samantha Young
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are a number of novellas (See Here)

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Family, Tragedy, Abuse
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2012 – June 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

My Expectations:

This series has been on my to-read list for a really long time so I pounced when they were available at my library. After a blah start with Samantha Young’s Into the Deep series, I was really excited to see where these books would go because I have heard very good things.

Book 1: On Dublin Street

First up is On Dublin Street. I didn’t know what to expect with this book but I was hoping for a cute read with a dash of excitement and sexual tension. Unfortunately I feel like this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I enjoyed reading it but I just didn’t LOVE it.

I’m not sure where things went wrong because I did enjoy the first few chapters. The initial chemistry between Braden and Jocelyn was great but I found it wasn’t enough to carry the book for me. Part of the reason is their character personalities. I had a hard time liking Jocelyn despite her having characteristics I usually love in a heroine like wit and independence. I think she was just too extreme in her independence and that drove me a little nuts. Also, given her past her outlook on life is a little bleak and seeing as that the POV given is only hers, it makes it a sad place to be. As for Braden, I did like him but he was just on that cusp of being too alpha male for my personal tastes. (Read my full review of the novel here)

The plot was also a little lackluster in my opinion. It didn’t really get exciting until the last 50 or so pages. It just seemed to go through the motions and even the little petty drama things weren’t that exciting. It also didn’t help that I liked the relationship between Ellie and Adam a lot more than these two (which is thankfully the focus of the novella Until Fountain Bridge). (Bit of a side note: I have to hand it to Samantha Young for leaving the little tidbits about the next couple in each of the books. It always makes me super eager to get my hands on the next book.)

But I decided not to give up on the series because I really wanted to read Until Fountain Bridge and Down London Road because I liked those characters from On Dublin Street a lot more than I liked Jocelyn. And in the end I’m really glad I stuck with the series.

Books #1.5 to #4:

Until Fountain Bridge is listed as a novella and it’s about half the page length as On Dublin Street. Before reading it I was upset that Ellie and Adam’s story wasn’t going to be longer but once I read it, I realized it was the perfect length. I really liked its delivery which is a series of flashbacks as Ellie reads her diary–you basically get all the great romantic highlights but without all the angsty whining about the partner. It was super cute and super quick so I really liked that.

Down London Road started slow like On Dublin Street. But unlike its predecessor, I felt like the plot got a lot more exciting a lot quicker and didn’t really stop. It was a good blend of romance, drama and we get just enough of a taste of the next two leads that I was really excited to read the next two books. I also liked the tension between the two leads a lot more as well and loved their interaction and connection to each other. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot more though I wish the first 100 pages or so were cut down to make things move a little faster.

Before Jamaica Lane was the perfect length and had a great execution. It wasn’t as “dark” (and by dark I mean depressing) as the previous two novels. It definitely had a serious side to it but I found it a lot more fun to read. I LOVED the male lead in this one and it was everything I expected it to be and a little bit more. I devoured it and it only made me more excited to read Fall from India Place and Echoes of Scotland Street.

In fact, I was so excited to read Fall from India Place that I immediately read it after Before Jamaica Lane despite having other books to read. It was sweet and not what I was totally expecting but I enjoyed reading it. I didn’t love it as much as I wanted or hoped but, I would take it over On Dublin Street any day.

updates

–November 9, 2017– Book #5: Echoes of Scotland Street

I was super excited to read Echoes of Scotland Street. I think I’ve been anticipating this book since On Dublin Street, even more so since Before Jamaica Lane since we first met Cole. It was great! The story was interesting, the leads were great and it was the perfect length. Those who have been waiting for this book won’t be disappointed. 

Turns out, it isn’t the last in the series! I’m actually really excited that we will be getting at least one more book in this series. Although the next lead is someone we were just introduced to in Echoes of Scotland, I’m intrigued to read about his story and will be looking forward to its release this coming summer.

–February 5, 2018– Book #6: Moonlight on Nightingale Way

I was very excited to read this book but clearly time got away from me!

I had very high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint!  I had high anticipation for Logan’s story and I loved it. The slow burning tension kept me hooked. I loved the plot too! It was so sweet! But I really loved the character development. Both our leads are so complex and they have a lot of growth to do independently.

Not only was this a great book (I literally couldn’t put it down!), it was a fantastic way to wrap up the series. Seeing everyone again was just awesome.

Series Rating: 4/5

On Dublin Street  3/5| [Until Fountain Bridge 4/5] | Down London Road 4/5 | Before Jamaica Lane 5/5 | [On Castle Hill 4/5] | Fall from India Place 4/5 | Echoes of Scotland Street 5/5 | Moonlight on Nightingale Way 5/5

overall

These books definitely got better as the series progressed. If you don’t like On Dublin Street, I encourage you not to give up on the series until you read another novel in the series. They get shorter but also better because you get more involved in all the characters lives. Each character is different and I find all their respective stories are different as well. A great contemporary romance series that I finally understand what all the fuss is about.

Read if You Like: adult contemporary, complicated characters, Scotland
Avoid if You: dislike longer romance novels

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Single Sundays: Lovely by Beth Michele

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 Lovely (from Goodreads):
A moment can change everything…

Ashton Taylor. Six foot one, Dark hair, chiseled jaw, riveting hazel eyes, and a body cut in all the right places. He’s a natural. Things just come easy to him. He’s used to getting everything he wants, excelling at everything he does. The grades, the recognition, the beautiful women.

His path was set. A girl, a full scholarship to UC San Diego, and a bright future. To others, his life seemed perfect. But, things are never what they seem, and life, well, at any moment, something or someone can come along and turn it upside down.

That something…the death of his father.

That someone… Cara Hayward. The girl with the hypnotic eyes, melodic voice, enchanting smile, and lips sent straight from heaven.

The girl who doesn’t want to be seen.

So what happens when a guy who everything comes easy to, meets a girl who doesn’t come easy?

Can he crawl through all the broken glass to find her? Will the girl he discovers deep down be able to see past his perfect exterior?

Together, do they have the power to heal one another? Or, could the very thing that brings them together, be the one thing that tears them apart?

Review:

I bought Lovely as an impulse buy during a mass purchase because it seemed like it would be a cute read and had everything I enjoyed in a New Adult novel: a playboy lead, shy heroine and an interesting family dynamic.

This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. For one thing, it was told entirely from Ashton`s POV. I haven’t read a New Adult read that is only from the male`s POV so that was refreshing. I didn`t find him overly annoying with his descriptions of Cara and he isn`t a huge alpha male either so that was nice. I also went into this book assuming that Ashton`s father had just died–when in actuality it has been 4 years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–in fact I think it worked to its advantages but it just threw me for a bit of a loop at first.

I found the book a little slow and it felt too long to me at times. There wasn`t too much else to the plot other than the two meeting and falling in love. Although Ash`s attraction to Cara borders on insta-love, I really liked that they didn`t dive right into a relationship and they actually took the time to get to know each other. I really did like their relationship and chemistry but I didn`t feel like it was strong enough to carry the whole book. Things get more interesting near the end drama wise but one scene in particular seemed a little forced to me and at that point I felt like the plot was dragging.

Conclusion:

It`s a slower New Adult read that doesn`t focus on over the top drama but on the emotion connection between two people. If you want to try reading a New Adult read told entirely from the male`s POV, this is a good one to check out! But this book didn`t wow me: it wasn`t anything I haven`t read before. It`s well done however so I think if you go in expecting a slower read, you will like it.

Rating: 3.5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No — I would recommend one of the novels below before this one.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Recommended for: 18+
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person — Male POV
Similar Reads: Charade by Nyrae Dawn (Games Series #1); Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn; and Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin Series #1)