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Companion Novel: takes place at the same time as the inaugural book but features two different leads

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Series Review: Grad Night by Molly E Lee

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Love in the Friend Zone (from Goodreads):

The only thing worse than not being able to tell your best friend you’re head over heels in love with him? Having to smile and nod when he enlists your help to ensnare the girl of his dreams.

Braylen didn’t even want to go to Lennon Pryor’s epic graduation-night party, but when Fynn begs her to be his “wingwoman,” she can’t deny him. Talking up her BFF—how he’s magic behind a camera, with a killer sense of humor and eyelashes that frame the most gorgeous blue eyes in the history of forever—is easy. Supporting his efforts to woo someone so completely wrong for him? Not so much.

Fynn knows that grad night is his last shot before leaving for college to find true love. And thanks to Bray, he gets his chance with the beautiful Katy Evans. But over the course of the coolest party of their high school careers, he starts to see that perhaps what he really wants has been in front of him all along. Bray’s been his best friend since kindergarten, though, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend than not at all.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two best friends whose sexual chemistry is off the charts…if only they’d succumb to it

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Couple (Love Between Enemies)
Series: Grad Night
Author: Molly E Lee
# of Books: 3 (Love in the Friend Zone, Love Between Enemies, Love Beyond Opposites)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2017 – May 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Love in the Friend Zone); Netgalley (#2 & #3)

Copies of Love Between Enemies & Love Beyond Opposites only

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was actually alerted to a sale for Love in the Friend Zone and that’s how I discovered this series. I also read the synopsis for Love Between Enemies and just had to learn more. These books sounded like a lot of fun and heartwarming, so it seemed like a no-brainer to try them out.

The Concept:

The idea is that each book follows a different couple on the night of their high school graduation. With college looming on the horizon, each character has their own set of “goals” they want to accomplish before the summer starts and college begins and they all see this final high school party as the opportune time to get things done.

So essentially, you have 3 stories running simultaneously in the setting (hence the “companion” label I give this series). You get little inklings of the other stories while you read a single novel but not enough to completely ruin the surprise of what is happening with the other couples. It entices you to want more while also bringing back some nostalgia of the other stories. It’s a very cool atmosphere to have in a series.

The Plot:

Considering these books all take place within a 24 hour span or so, nothing ever felt rushed to me. Every scene has a purpose in driving the narrative forward so I really enjoyed the lack of petty drama. It focuses on the characters and establishing that hidden to them (but obvious to everyone else) connection that will steal your heart.

This book was a lot of fun too. All the silly stuff that happens at the party definitely gave me a few chuckles as I read.

The Characters:

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Fynn and Braylen (Love in the Friend Zone). I feel like we get thrown into their story since they are the first couple we meet and as such, we don’t get those little moments throughout the story like the other couples do. But I have to say, as the story progressed, I really grew to enjoy them as characters.

It was a different situation in Love Between Enemies. I felt like that novel gave us a little more background about the rivals and helped set the stage for their motives. I had a much better grasp on them as characters before the party even started and I think that helped my enjoyment of the story overall.

The Romance:

These are all such sweet romances! They are exactly what I love to see in my romantic reads: great partnerships. All the couples have this great understanding of each other. They get each other’s quirks and they love them more for it. I just adored watching all of them fall in love and showing that vulnerable side to the other.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, I am so excited for Lennon’s story! After getting little hints in the previous two books I am dying to find out what happens to him on graduation night.

updates

–May 6, 2018– Book #3: Love Beyond Opposites

These two were completely adorable–I seriously had butterflies in my stomach the entire time I was reading this. Lennon is so in love with Jade that he had me wrapped around his finger by the end of the prologue. Reading his inner monologue about why he thought the world of her had me on the floor in a puddle. It was the cutest thing; especially when there were little slips about his true feelings to Jade.

Jade is equally charming in this story as well. It was great watching her build up her confidence–not just with her feelings towards Lennon but with respect to her own talents and personality.

With this series, Molly E Lee has been able to put into words the adorably awkward feelings of first love–and this book is the best example of it by far. These two are so perfect for each other and watching them discover that put a smile on my face from start to end–with a few swoons along the way.

Series Rating: 4/5

Love in the Friend Zone 3.5/5 | Love Between Enemies 5/5 | Love Beyond Opposites 5/5

overall

This series has some of my favourite tropes and executes them perfectly! The whole concept of three romances that come to life at the last party of their high school lives is a fun premise that will have you wanting more!

Read if You Like: high school romances, companion novels
Avoid if You: want steamier scenes

similarreads

  • Just Friends by Monica Murphy (Friends Series #1)
  • Lace Up by Shae Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)
  • Bully by Penelope Douglas (Fall Away Series #1)

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Series Review: Every Day by David Levithan

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 Every Day (from Goodreads):

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

breakdown

Series: Every Day Trilogy
Author: David Levithan
# of Books: 3 (Every Day, Another Day, Someday)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Six Days Before

Book Order: Companion (Another Day), Chronological Sequel (Someday)
Complete?: No, Someday, will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

David Levithan writes one of my all time favourite novels, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. But despite that, I’ve never read any other title by him.

Every Day is a book I’ve seen floating around over the years so it caught my eye when I was browsing new audiobook series to read. I immediately loved the concept and was excited to see what would happen in this story.

The Concept:

This is such a cool idea for a story and I’ve never read anything like this before. I like the feeling that there is something bigger happening in this world and there is a bit of a mystery to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get elaborated on too much (this is more of a romance with extenuating circumstances than the other way around).

What’s cool is that this story had me thinking about ethics and morality and what it means to live your life. It had me thinking about how we treat and view others, especially when we focus on outward appearance.

The Plot of Every Day:

As I said above, this is a romance that has some extreme circumstances. Finding out why A moves from body to body, or how, takes a back seat to A’s obsession with Rhiannon and being with her. Which is fine, but as you’ll read below, I kinda wanted more.

The Characters in Every Day:

I really didn’t empathize or sympathize with A by the end of Every Day. A does some pretty silly things without truly thinking about the consequences and that annoyed me. By the end, it seemed like A didn’t matter what he did to those other lives so long as he got to be with Rhiannon and I just didn’t agree with that.

Rhiannon is also a bit of a dud if you ask me. I never grew to like her character but I think part of the reason is that she is never elaborated on other than as the object of A’s affections. She also does some pretty questionable things (in my opinion) but I did appreciate her candor near the end of the story.

The Romance in Every Day:

I was not sold on this; which really sucked because this is definitely the whole premise of this story. I just didn’t see the connection between these two. They share one day and they start this all-consuming romance that just irked me.

It also seemed to me that Rhiannon was trading one unhealthy relationship for another–never a good thing.

Why I Won’t Be Reading Another Day:

Another Day is Rhiannon’s companion novel and seeing as I didn’t love her, I’m not going to listen to 9 hours of her drab inner monologue. It also doesn’t look like it is going to answer some of my burning questions in terms of A’s life so I’ll just wait for the third novel.

My Expectations For the Rest of the Series:

I still have a lot of questions about why A changes from body to body so I hope we get those!

Series Rating: 3/5

Every Day 3/5 | Another Day N/A | Someday TBR

overall

A very cool concept that unfortunately gets overshadowed by an angsty teenaged love.

Read if You Like:  YA contemporary, teen romances, magical realism
Avoid if You: want more of a fantasy/mystery plot

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Series Review: Family Matters by Liana Key

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nothing Matters (from Goodreads):
Nathan
I should never have fallen in love with her. I was just an ordinary boy from the wrong side of town, I’d never be good enough for her. But she didn’t see it like that. She loved me, I loved her. This was the real thing.
And then one night, one event changed everything. Now she can’t even bear to look at me. I lost the love of my life…and now nothing f**king matters…

Magdala
If ever there was a love at first sight moment, it was when I saw Nathan. I didn’t care where he lived, what car he drove, nothing mattered other than our love. Our love was unexpected, but it was real, it was true. He made me crazy, he made me laugh, he made me dream…
And then It happened…and everything we had was lost.

Flynn
She was the girl I never thought I could have, sweet, beautiful, perfect. Why she fell for someone like me, shy, inexperienced, scarred, I couldn’t work it out. A brief summer romance, that’s all it would ever be.
But circumstances brought us together again and the hardest lessons of love and loss were yet to be learned…

Three lives learning about love and life the hard way
Love, pain, truth
Finding out what really matters…

breakdown

Series: Family Matters
Author: Liana Key
# of Books: 4 (Nothing Matters, All that Matters, Book 3, Book 4)
Book Order: Companion + Chronological
Complete?: No, there will be a 3rd novel in the series
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm – hot (All that Matters) *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC  |  Thanks so much Liana Key!

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Liana contacted me about reviewing her series, I was definitely intrigued. Normally, I’m not one for love triangles and when I saw 3 names in the synopsis of Nothing Matters, I’ll admit I was hesitant. BUT, I thought there might be more to the surface (like what was this “one night, one event”?) and wanted to give it a shot.

The Series Order:

Just a quick note on the series order. Nothing Matters is Magdala’s story and Book 3 will be a continuation of that story. All that Matters is Cassian’s story and takes place simultaneously as Nothing Matters (therefore a companion novel of sorts) and Book 4 will be the continuation of that story.

Because of that, I’m going to split the remaining categories by story arc because they are both so different and have completely different plot lines.

The Plot:

Nothing Matters

This one had a slow start for me because it was a little too much high school romance. Insta-love, mushy feelings and all that jazz. I got a little worried that this story was going to be petty romance moments but that quickly turned once the “big event” happens.

From that point on, the story gets deeper and gritter–and I really, really liked that. The shift from romance to coming of age was fantastic and very addicting. Watching these characters deal with everything and in a fairly realistic way was awesome.

All that Matters

This novel was definitely more romance focused than its predecessor, giving it an entirely different feel. The forbidden romance plot was definitely intriguing but I felt it lacked the depth of Nothing Matters. Which is A-ok but I just wanted it to give me a little more.

The Characters:

Nothing Matters

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t particularly care for either Nathan or Magdala when I first met them. They were a little too one-dimensional for me at the start of the novel. But, all this changes later on in the book when everything gets set into motion and I loved watching them grow as characters.

Surprisingly, I instantly loved Flynn. He was so unique and I felt like he was well developed from the get-go.

All that Matters

The characters here are what really gave me mixed feelings. Having met Cassian in the previous novel, I had a good handle on him and I did like him. But Paola was a lot harder to like. She was super immature given her age and the like. She made it super hard to root for the two of them because she seemed so juvenile. I just wanted more depth to them (and their romance).

The Romance:

Nothing Matters

Like I said earlier, this one started a little too high-schooler to me but it quickly morphed into something I really enjoyed. I feel like the romance takes a back seat for the last half of the book while the characters developed but I’m curious to see what will happen in the next instalment.

All that Matters

I’m a sucker for forbidden romance and I was really excited by the premise of this one when I finished Nothing Matters. But this one fell a little flat. For forbidden romances, you have to prove to me why these two people belong together; why they should even fall in love and defy all convention to be together–and I didn’t totally get that here. Like I said before, Paola really dampened this for me with her immature attitude. But it didn’t help their romance was based on physical attraction and very insta-love. Not what I wanted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super curious to see where each story goes from here! Their stories are so intriguing to me, taking paths I never really expected and so I want to know what happens next!

Nothing Matters

All That Matters

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Nothing Matters  4/5 | All that Matters  3/5

overall

It takes a while for these stories to build, but once you get everything established, they take you on an enjoyable journey that somehow becomes super addicting to follow!

Read if You Like: high school new adult, love at first sight, first love
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love, don’t want sexy time scenes

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Series Review: The Dream War Saga by Erica Cameron

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 Sing Sweet Nightingale (from Goodreads):
Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

breakdown

Series: The Dream War Saga
Author: Erica Cameron
# of Books: 2 (Sing Sweet Nightingale, Deadly Sweet Lies)
Book Order: Connected / Companion
Complete?: Yes–from what I can find
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook | Thanks Spencer Hill Press!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Note: I only read the first book, Sing Sweet Nightingale, of this series. Find out why…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly stumbled upon this book when browsing NetGalley and decided to wish for it. I’ve read a few great books over the years that have a “dream-world” premise and so I was intrigued by the concept of Sing Sweet Nightingale. I really didn’t know what else to expect though heading into it.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I found the world was really easy to understand and get into. When it comes to magical things, I sometimes struggle with the limitations of the world (I like my magic to be clearly defined) but that never happened with this one. Everything made sense and I didn’t feel like there was copious amounts of information to read.

The world itself is pretty interesting too. The idea that there are creatures contacting people in their dreams and manipulating them–very cool and also a little scary. I’m thankful my exam schedule tired me out or else I might have had a few interesting dreams about Orane coming for me…

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Really Happened–

While the world is cool, I felt like nothing happened in the plot. There really is only one plot line and it’s convincing Mariella that the dream world is more of a nightmare. Everything is focused on that and everything that happens is because of that. Which is fine–I mean, it is the premise of the story–I just wanted something more. And I often felt like the same scenes were being repeated over and over again (now some things were and had a purpose so that is fine). I just needed a great twist or a subplot to make me go “wow”.

–The Lack of a Romance–

Not ever book needs a romance but when you have a plot that is rather dry like this one, it sure doesn’t hurt. I almost thought we were going to get a platonic relationship between Hudson and Mariella–which excited me–but that turned out to be false hope…

Will I Finish It?

Sweet Deadly Lies focuses on two different characters and that has me mildly intrigued to read it but at this moment it’s a pass. I need a little something more to my story and I’m not sure the sequel will provide me that.

Series Rating: 3/5

Sing Sweet Nightingale 3/5 | Deadly Sweet Lies N/A

overall

If you like very linear, uncomplicated plots, this is a great one for you. I think younger YA fans will enjoy this more so than adults. If you want something more intricate when it comes to the plot, check out my Similar Reads.

Read if You Like: dreamworlds, linear plots
Avoid if You: want more romance, want a faster plot

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Series Review: Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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

Illuminae Files Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Illuminae (from Goodreads):

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav YA 2015
Series: Illuminae Files
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
# of Books: 3 (Illuminae, Gemina, Obsidio)
Book Order: Chronological Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Emails, Files, Chats, Reports
Publication Date: October 2015 – March 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere before it came out! Those who had ARCs loved it and so my interest was peaked. I’ve been looking for a great Science Fiction YA Thriller since I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis and Illuminae seemed right up that alley.

What I Liked:

–Format–

Originally, I tried to get the eBook of this from my library but they kept delaying the release date for it. I didn’t really understand why until I picked up the hardcover in person. When I first heard of the book, I totally missed the paragraph that told you this book was told through “hacked documents” etc. So when I opened it up and saw how everything was formatted, I simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief (because the size of the book scared me a little) and grinned in excitement!

You would think a story told like this would suffer from underdeveloped world building and the like but it’s the exact opposite! Because you can include pictures and reports about everything in the world, it really makes it easy for the reader to see and understand what is happening. It also makes reading go a lot faster since the pages aren’t loaded with text.

–The Plot–

I loved that there were so many elements at play! From the romance (which was there in just the right amount) to the plague to the actual escape: it was just plain fun and addicting to read! I really wanted to get to the bottom of everything and there were great twists along the way.

–The Humour–

I just have to say that there were quite a few times I laughed out loud during this.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing?–

Nothing immediately comes to mind when I think about what I didn’t like. I didn’t like how heavy the hardcover novel was to hold when I was reading in bed but that can’t be helped. I will admit though that it took me a little while to warm up to Kady but I was a total fan of hers by the end!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think it is really interesting that the next book will feature completely different characters. While I love Kady and Ezra’s story (and really grew to like them as characters), I definitely want to see what else is happening in this world at the same time!

updates

–November 24, 2016– Book #2: Gemina

Illuminae was going to be a tough act to follow–but Gemina is more than a worthy successor!

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Hanna’s character. Like Kady, I had to learn more about her character and see how she handles herself before I could call myself a fan. I think it’s hard to get to know these characters sometimes because the narration is just documents and chats. You don’t get the inner emotions you would if it were a first person narration; more outside looking in. But despite that, these are really well developed characters, it just takes a bit of time to establish it all.

I loved the action-suspense vibe we got in this book! Illuminae has some high-risk situations but this one really seemed more life-and-death to me and that made it a lot more thrilling to read. Add to it the great plot twists along the way and you have yourself a pretty addicting book!

–April 12, 2018– Book #3: Obsidio

I’m so torn over my rating for this book! I think my love of the concept (and format) for this series often clouds my rating because it truly isn’t like any other book I’ve read before.

However, I had the hardest time becoming invested in this story. At the 30%, I found that the plot finally started to build. But it wasn’t until I reached the 50% mark that I started enjoying this novel. Parts were a touch predictable but I still enjoyed watching how everything unfolded as the end neared.

I thought Asha and Rhys would be a bigger focus of this novel–and they weren’t. This book is all about bringing everything together so it was nice to see our past leads take part in the events of this book. But at the same time, I think this stifled Asha and Rhys a bit as characters and left them a little underdeveloped.

So while I think this book is a great finale, I wasn’t as “wowed” with it as I was with the first novel.

My Audiobook Experience:

I was only able to briefly listen to the audio version of Illuminae but it was a huge treat. It has a full cast of narrators and they do a great job of bringing this story to life. It’s a completely different experience listening to the audio and something I definitely recommend to audiobook lovers (or those wanting to give audiobooks a try!).

My Rating: 4/5

Illuminae 5/5 | Gemina 4.5/5 | Obsidio 3.5/5

overall

One of the coolest reads ever in terms of its formating! If you want to try Science Fiction but are scared to jump into the complicated worlds, this is a great introduction!

Read if You Like: unique POVs, world-building, Science Ficiton
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: Madison Sisters by Lynsay Sands

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 Countess (from Goodreads):

THE FAIRY TALE COURTSHIP DID NOT TURN INTO A HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER …

Not until her husband dropped dead, that is. He had been horrible enough to Christiana during their short marriage, and she was not going to allow the traditional period of mourning to ruin her sisters’ debuts as well. So she decides to put him on ice and go on as if nothing’s happened …

Until the real earl appears. Richard Fairgrave had every intention of confronting his villainous twin who had robbed him of his name and title … only to discover that he had died. Quietly assuming his identity, Richard must now deal with a maddening desire for his ravishing inherited wife — certainly a gold digger and possibly a murderess. And Christiana must deal with an unwanted new husband … and they both must figure out what to do before the ice melts.

breakdown

Series: The Madison Sisters Trilogy
Author: Lynsay Sands
# of Books: 3 (The Countess, The Heiress, The Husband Hunt)
Book Order: Companion (The Heiress), Connected (The Husband Hunt)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Source & Format: public library–eBooks

thoughts

I first came across Lynsay Sands during my Highlander novel phase when I read her Devil of the Highlands Series. After my Highlander phase Regency/Historical Romances were my thing (perhaps it was more concurrent than I remember) and I came across the synopsis for The Countess and immediately had to read it. Her husband dies and she tries to hide it? Plus it turns out her husband was posing as his twin? It has all the makings of a great comedy so I was totally there.

I really enjoyed The Countess. It was a lot of fun to read and the characters were entertaining. I find Lynsay Sands writes really light-hearted stories that lean more towards “cheesy” romance than “erotica”. So of course you get your assumptive communication scenes and a lot of back and forth, but I was highly entertained when reading The Countess.

The Heiress is a true companion novel as most of its events take place congruently with The Countess. The problem with this is that if you The Heiress immediately read after reading The Countess, the first half of the book seems redundant. The first half is a rehash of what happens in The Countess but with a different perspective. I didn’t mind that much because I always forget what happens in previous books but I think it would bother some people. The last half or so is completely new scenes and those are fantastic!

I read these books years ago so I don’t remember my exact feelings but I do know I was disappointed in The Husband Hunt. The characters just weren’t what I was expecting and I didn’t love the romance because of it. I liked getting that closure but it just didn’t meet my expectations.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a light-hearted Regency read, this is a great series for you! It’s light on the sex scenes but is very entertaining. The concept of the first book, The Countess, is one I have never encountered and that made it a refreshing read.

Read if You Like: fun regency reads, light romance, humour
Avoid if You: like more erotica in your regency reads

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Series Review: Real by Katy Evans

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

book book book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Real (from Goodreads):
A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…
Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.
He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .
But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.
I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.
If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

breakdown

Series: Real
Author: Katy Evans
# of Books: 6 (Real, Mine, Remy, Rogue, Ripped, Book 6)
Book Order: Real and Mine are Chronological, Remy is the alternate POV sequel to Real the rest of the series is Connected
Complete?: No, Book 6, will be published Fall 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (Real, Mine, Remy); Alternate (Rogue, Ripped)Publication Dates: April 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Real is one of those books that has been haunting me on my Kobo account’s recommendation list since it was published. And while I was intrigued by it and all the positive reviews my Goodreads’ friends had given it, I simply can’t afford to shell out $10 a book to read the series. So when my library got copies of the book, I immediately added my name to the hold list.

I knew that the males were going to be top alpha dogs before I even started and while that usually doesn’t appeal to me, I was going to keep an open mind. I also figured these books were going to be more erotica than contemporary romance so I didn’t expect thrilling, complex plot lines either.

How to Phrase this…

My feelings on Real (both as a book and as a series) are mixed and I can understand why some people might give it an extremely low rating after reading it while others love it. In all honesty, I was enjoying it until I started to write this review (because I was writing this as I was reading it) and after I creeped some of the reviews on Goodreads to see what others thought of it. Reading this book after I did that was like when you notice someone’s bad habit for the first time and then that is all you can notice in the future.

I found that all the books in this series were kinda like that: the more I thought about them, the more I disliked them. It was weird because when I started to read the book, I was really enjoying it. But when I returned to reading it later, I didn’t like it that much and the same can be said for the subsequent times I picked up these books. There are two reasons I think this happened to me: 1) is the development of the heroines; and 2) the repetitiveness of the writing. And they both go hand in hand at times.

The Plot:

So, the plot isn’t really anything stellar, especially in Real. They definitely improve in the subsequent novels where we get some more “suspense” romance plot lines but for the most part, these books are just the heroines describing the virility of their men.

Yup, you read that right: virility.

The entire first half of Real is literally Brooke describing how the primal instincts in her are attracted to the “virile” man Remy is (It’s the same situation in the other books as well, though the page count is a little less). Honestly: there is a paragraph describing how the “female” in her wants to “mate” with Remy because she wants his genetics for her babies–I kid you not. And while the scientist in me appreciates that fact that this is a true human reaction, it just seemed a little over the top to me.

Personally, I could have done without all the redundant descriptions of how Remy turns her on–I got it after the first two times thank you. Brooke uses the worst words possible to describe their sexual encounters and often repeats them numerous times within a paragraph. Some are just hilarious to me and even now I have a silly grin on my face because I can’t believe that anyone would refer to their private parts like that.

But it also seems to dampen the flow of the book because you will be getting narration about where they are and then suddenly, BAM–Brooke’s describing how hot Remy makes her for two pages before BAM–you get shoved back into the actual scene narration. This gets better in the sequel books but they definitely have the same vibe.

It’s a shame because Remy’s story is actually interesting and it kinda takes a backseat to Brooke’s descriptions of his eight-pack. Same in the other books with the other leads. And when we do get the drama, it is over the top and a tad ridiculous but I guess that is the consequence of fiction.

The Characters:

I really struggled with these heroines. Heroines really make or break a series for me. I think it’s because I am a female so I can easily put myself in their shoes as opposed to a male character. And I’ll be honest: the primal alpha male heroes we get in this series really do nothing for me but I came into this series knowing that I wouldn’t particularly love them so it didn’t necessarily bother me.

What bothered me was that Brooke has the maturity of a 16 year old fangirl–which means she has very little. Even when we switch narrators in the other books in the series, I found that the delivery was much the same. The heroines become those immature girls who don’t see their self-worth without a man in their lives. And as soon as they do find their partner, they get immediately clingy. Basically, it’s the grown woman’s condition of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome and it is just plain annoying. (Though to be fair, Pandora’s story, Ripped, doesn’t completely fall into this scenario.)

The Romance:

As I said before, these are basically books about acting on your lust. Two of the three couples have an insta-connection type of romance; the exception is Ripped where it is a second chance romance. I appreciated that one a lot more than the other two in that respect.

What I did love was the chemistry and the sexual tension. That is definitely one nice thing about insta-love stories because there is always so much frustration and close encounters before the big consummation.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really have no idea who the next story in the series is about though I have a pretty good guess. I’ll read it just for the sake of finishing this series but it’s not high on my “have to read it now!” list.

Fun Fact:

Before I read Real I never knew that “scent” could be used as a verb–and after reading it 10 times as a verb I understand why: it’s annoying and awkward!

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I’m not sure what everyone else was reading but I don’t think I read the same thing. If you don’t mind clingy heroines, alpha males and over the top dramatics with lots of sex scenes, this is a good series for you! It just didn’t live up to the expectations I had in place and I found that I felt more frustrated than happy when reading these books.

Read if You Like: alpha males, over dramatics, lots of sex
Avoid if You: can’t tolerate petty heroines, crude language

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Series Review: College of Charleston by Kate L. Mary

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

College of Charleston

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The List (from Goodreads):
The List. Twenty things every girl must do before she turns twenty. . .

Body piercing
Get drunk
First kiss

But thanks to her crazy, over-protective father, Annie Roth is way behind schedule. Good thing it’s her first semester of college, because Annie is more than ready to start checking off items. . .

Fake ID
Skinny dipping
Road trip!!!

Where it gets complicated? Ryan and Chris. Best friends. Both sweet, funny, totally hot, and totally into Annie.

But there are some things on The List that Annie only wants to do with Ryan. . .

Lose it
Get Heart Broken
Fall in love

breakdown

Series: College of Charleston
Author: Kate L. Mary
# of Books: 4 (The List, No Regrets, Moving On, Letting Go)
Book Order: Companion (No Regrets); Connected (Moving On, Letting Go)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm; warm (No RegretsMoving On)
Point of View: First Person, Single; First Person Alternating (Moving On)
Publication Date: May 26 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley & Author–eBook  Thank you Kensington Books & Kate L Mary for the opportunity!

thoughts

Note: This was originally published as a Fresh Friday Post on May 29, 2015 where only The List was reviewed. As of March 18, 2016 it is now the Series Review Post.

Why I Picked Up The List / My Expectations:

I love making lists–I make them for everything! Whether it’s books to read to tasks I need to do in a day, I constantly make them. So when I saw this book was about a girl making a list of things to do for college–yeah, I was so there!

My only hesitation was the promise of a love triangle–I really hate those! But, the synopsis lead me to believe that it really was going to be one sided so I went in hoping for the best!

The Plot (The List):

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much going on besides Annie flip-flopping between the two guys–more on that particular situation later. It’s a shame because I think if the focus was on Annie finding herself as a person WITHOUT a man, it would have been a great story. More of a coming of age instead of a “why doesn’t he love me” type of situation.

There is also the mystery of Annie’s mother’s death and why it had such a huge impact on her upbringing. Again, I wish it was elaborated more because it really would have helped develop Annie’s character and maybe garner some sympathy from me as a reader because Annie sure wasn’t getting any from me!

The Characters (The List):

I didn’t really like Annie; she irritated me for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t understand her. I’ll touch on it in a bit in my romance section, but I really didn’t like how she treated one of the guys. It was like he would say one thing honestly and she would just snap at him; but if the other guy said it to her she was like “oh, ok”. It just rubbed me the wrong way as did some of her other actions. She is a very selfish, reckless character who really didn’t think about the consequences of her actions and did things simply because she could. Which, I get given her home life and all but these were just poor decisions.

The two love interests, Ryan and Chris, weren’t anything special either. They were your typical love interests: the super nice guy and the off-limits sensitive boy. And I really didn’t understand why they instantly loved Annie besides her looks because she wasn’t any prize in my eyes and they really didn’t talk to each other much either.

As for the rest of the cast, I was far more interested in Annie’s BFFs situation than Annie’s which isn’t really a good sign…

The Romance (The List):

My only hesitation picking this book up was the vibe of a love triangle in the synopsis. But I also got the impression that this wasn’t going to be a full blown love triangle; rather, it was more of a situation where two love interests are present but really only one is in contention. And this story definitely leaned more that way well sorta kinda maybe…

Because you knew that she really didn’t like the other guy and the worst part is that SHE knew she didn’t like him the same way but she kept toying with his emotions anyways and didn’t truly feel guilty about it! UGH! So FrUsTrAtInG! (Thus why I dislike Annie so much!)

And so begins the saga of Annie flopping like a fish between the two guys (the worst part of a love triangle ever!). Whining that the guy she likes, and who likes her back, is too “honourable”/weak to tell his BFF that he likes the same girl he likes because he is sexually attracted to her.

The whole situation I found to be extremely immature and annoying. I also didn’t know why the boys liked her so much because they really didn’t interact all that much or really spend that much time together to warrant such strong feelings. It just didn’t add up for me which is very disappointing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Despite not liking this book, I do want to read No Regrets. I really liked these characters and want to know their story. I’m undecided about Moving On–I’ll have to read the full synopsis when it’s released to make a decision though I feel like the unresolved events in The List will cause me to read it anyways.

updates

disclaimer

–March 18, 2016– Book #2: No Regrets

I was looking forward to reading this story because I’m a sucker for the “forbidden” romance trope. Not that this romance was forbidden, more like it was “off-limits”.

It took me awhile to like Cami. She’s a bit of a rambling person and it makes her come across as an airhead (and I think she is to a certain degree) but I knew that she was going to have some strong character development as the story progressed.

Unfortunately, I wanted to read about her falling in love. I wanted to actually see it happen and not have it neatly summarized as “we talked everyday for the next week and I couldn’t stop thinking about him”. So I had a hard time understanding the connection between these two beside physical attraction. Their relationship seemed like a side plot which is fine, just not what I was expecting.

If I had to give an overview of the whole novel, I would say it was all about Cami growing up. Which is why I would label this story as a coming of age story more so than a romance. Cami is dealing with some pretty heavy stuff and I did like that her character grew up a bit as you read. It took a while for me to get comfortable with that idea because I wanted it to be a romance. But once I realized the direction it was taking, I enjoyed the latter half of the book.

I also didn’t realize that this novel would be a companion novel (ie. taking place simultaneously with The List). I actually liked that a lot because it helped me keep the pacing of everything and answered some of the questions you have while reading The List when it comes to Cami and Liam’s relationship.

–March 20, 2016– Book #3: Moving On

Having just finished No Regrets the day before, I was better prepared for the type of story I was going to get with Moving On. I knew it was going to be more of a slow burn romance story, with the romantic passion coming on in the end. And that was exactly what we got.

What I enjoyed about this novel was the alternating perspectives and their character development. I liked watching these two form their bond of friendship first and getting to know each other. I understood why they liked each other and how their feelings developed. Again, the story is more about them growing as people and coincidentally finding love along the way. It’s a quick, cute read and by far the best of the series.

(Fun Fact: This book has the two lead characters from Diana Gardin’s Falling Deep [Nelson Island #2] in it!)

–February 1, 2017– Book #4: Letting Go

I will not be picking up the 4th book in the series.

My Rating: 3/5

The List 3/5 | No Regrets 2.5/5 | Moving On 4/5 | Letting Go N/A

overall

The List was too much love triangle for me and not enough character development. Whereas the opposite was true for No Regrets. Moving On had a great slow burn romance but if you are looking for loads of passion and sexual tension, there are other New Adult Series that would suit you better.

Read if You Like: slower stories, coming of age stories
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, don’t like reckless rebellious characters, want a hotter romance

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Series Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

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

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav New Adult 2015; Must Read Author
Series: Hopeless
Author: Colleen Hoover
# of Books: 2 (Hopeless, Losing Hope)

There is a FREE standalone novella after book 2 called, Finding Cinderella

Book Order: Alternate POV Sequel; The novella is Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

When I first got into New Adult novels, Hopeless graced every recommended read list I encountered. So I purchased it for my Kobo but didn’t end up reading it until much, much later. And truth be told I probably wouldn’t have picked up for a little while longer if I hadn’t read–and loved–Hoover’s other YA novel, Slammed. Once I read Slammed and saw what Hoover was capable of, I made sure I had the entire Hopeless series in my grasp before I moved them to the top of my to-read pile.

I loved Sky from the moment we met her. I just loved her attitude about things and I loved her interactions with Holder. Their chemistry together was awesome throughout the entire book. One thing I love about these YA/New Adult crossover books is that the leads don’t usually jump right into bed together. You actually get to see them form a relationship that is more than physical chemistry and that is what we had here.

But the best part about this series is the many layers to this story. I really wasn’t sure what the underlying plot was going to be based on the synopsis of Hopeless but once I started reading I thought I had it all figured out based on the little tidbits we get here and there. Well, I was completely wrong! Eventually all these clues add up to be the BIG secret reveal and once it was revealed, all my expectations for the plot were out the door. These big twists are something I commend Colleen Hoover for because I never see them coming in her works and I love how she blows away my preconceived notions so easily. Rarely am I surprised when I read a novel, so when I do get surprised it quickly elevates the book from a 4 star review to a 5. And Hopeless is definitely a book worthy of 5 stars and endless praise. This book is a must read for New Adult fans!

Losing Hope is the alternate POV sequel to Hopeless. This time we get Holder’s take on things and it really does add to the story you get in Hopeless because if fills in some of the blanks about Holder’s actions (not that they weren’t complete in the original story, they are just further elaborated on). It starts a little before Hopeless and ends a little after as well. Like its predecessor, its simply well done. Not only to we get to see some added events but all the events that you want to see from Holder’s POV are included. I know that sometimes it is tempting to read alternate POV sequels congruently with the first book but I highly discourage it because it has major spoilers and will absolutely ruin Hopeless for you!

Finding Cinderella is a novella (FREE on most major eBook sites) about two characters we meet separately in Hopeless and Losing Hope. You could definitely read this book before you read Hopeless because these characters don’t have major roles and Hoover did a great job of not revealing anything about Holder & Sky’s story in the novella. It was super cute, the perfect length and had an unexpected twist (well, it was an expected twist but what the twist actually was was unpredictable). And because it’s FREE you can’t really go wrong with reading it!

Conclusion:

From the two books straight to the novella, this series blew me away. Definitely a favourite series for me and has officially moved Colleen Hoover into must-read author series. For those who like books with lots of layers and don’t mind more mature subject matter, this is an EXCELLENT series for you to grab.

Rating: 5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: HELL YES!!!

Similar Reads: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1) and Wait for You by J. Lynn (Wait for You Series #1)

Synopsis for Hopeless (from Goodreads):
Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

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Series Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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 Just One Day (from Goodreads):
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

breakdown

Series: Just One Day Series
Author: Gayle Forman
# of Books: 2 (Just One Day, Just One Year)

There is a followup novella to the previous books called: Just One Night

Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Coming of Age, Travel, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Adventure, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Just One Day); Alternating (Just One Year)
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

What I Expected / Why I Picked It Up:

While Gayle Forman’s most well known novel, If I Stay, isn’t my particular cup of tea, I’ve heard good things and decided to read this series instead.

The Concept:

I went into Just One Day thinking it was going to be a book that focused on “just one day”. So I was braced to emerge myself into a novel filled with love-at-first sight moments and the many sights in Paris. But that isn’t what I got.

Instead, Just One Day–and its sequel/companion novel, Just One Year–focuses on the growth of the respective characters (Allyson in Just One Day and Willem in Just One Year). Which is fine and dandy–just not what I was expecting.

The Plot:

This series is really about finding yourself–and what I really like is that each character works independently to accomplish this (ie they don’t become co-dependent “I can’t live without him/her” type of people). It gets a little dull at times because the journey it takes to reach this growth isn’t always a happy one. (I found it was a little blah during the middle of Just One Day because of this–it was a little too long for my tastes whereas Just One Year was the perfect length by being 50 pages shorter).

It’s a good blend of “fantasy” vs realistic fiction.  “Fantasy” isn’t really the right word–what I’m trying to say is that this series takes an unrealistic situation (I don’t know too many people who would go off to Paris with a random stranger for the day) and makes it realistic by having two characters learn from that situation in a truly real way. Perhaps that is the message of the series: seize every opportunity and don’t be afraid to make that leap that may seem like “fantasy” to the real world because you may grow from it. (Enough philosophical thoughts for this review).

The Characters:

These books are essentially about that one life defining moment many young 20-somethings will find themselves in and I think a lot of readers can identify to this and with these characters. I think the vast majority of us have been in Allyson’s shoes trying to bridge that gap between our teens and adulthood and managing our relationships with our parents as we do so. The same can be said for Willem’s book.

Anyone who has been to the places that are described in the book will have a lot of fun reading about them. I found that the tours around each place were just as interesting as the actual story. I liked Just One Year a bit more because I’ve never been to any of the places described in the book and I found Willem’s personal story more interesting.

The Novella–Just One Night:

All I can say is thank goodness for the enovella, Just One Night. I was a little peeved at the abrupt ending of Just One Year (though I understand why it ended the way it did) so I’m glad to get some closure with the novella. Make sure you have it on hand right away when you finish Just One Year 😉

Series Rating: 4/5

Just One Day 4/5 | Just One Year 4/5| [Just One Night 5/5]

overall

If Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill and Finding It by Cora Carmack had a child together, it would be this series. While the romance plays a big role in the grand scheme of things, this series is really about finding the true you given the circumstances life deals you and the journey to take to get there. Fans of coming of age novels and/or travel novels will love this.

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