Tag «conclusion: hits and misses»

Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

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 Trade Me (from Goodreads):

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

breakdown

Series: Cyclone
Author: Courtney Milan
# of Books: 2+ (Full Reading Order Here)

There are multiple novellas — see Reading Order.

Book Order: Direct Sequels & Connected
Complete?: No, Find Me is to be released
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Owned & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Trade Me from a NA Recommendation Post by Sil at Dani Reviews Things. I was drawn to it for its premise of a fake romance but also because our heroine was Chinese and the emphasis on family.

I didn’t get around to it for years–which turned out to be an ok thing since Courtney Milan is notoriously known as a slow writer so the rest of the series has yet to be published–but I made it an addition to my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2020.

The Reading Order:

Everything follows a chronological order of events so it is important to follow the publication order of the series even if some books focus on different people. Books #1, #2.5 and #3 focus on Tina and Blake with the other novels focusing on other characters we meet along the way.

What I Like:

–Character Diversity–

In December of 2019, there was a big uproar with the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Courtney Milan was at the centre of it. There is a great article about the controversy here by the New York Times for those who missed it. The gist is, Milan called out another author on Twitter for her “racist mess” of a novel and how it personally offended her as a woman of Chinese descent.

One of the things I loved the most about this series is its inclusivity. You’ve got a lead of Chinese decent in Trade Me and a trans woman lead in Hold Me. And the best part is, she makes it all seem so natural—BECAUSE IT IS! I never once felt like she was putting these character traits in for shock and awe. Everything about these stories felt so organic.

–Very Character Focused Stories–

Yes, there is a romance in these novels but I think the larger focus is on the characters and navigating their lives. All the characters we meet go through some drastic growing pains in these novels and who we start the novel with isn’t who we end up with. So if you love character-focused stories, this is a great series for you!

What I Didn’t Like:

Hold Me (Book #2)–

I was really excited to read Maria’s story in Hold Me but I ended up DNFing it at 30%. There was just too much “hate” in the hate-to-love you aspect that I didn’t see how these two would ever rectify their differences. And even as someone with a BSc, their science banter was way too hard to follow for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m actually super invested in Blake’s dad’s story (you’ll understand once you read the books–I promise!) and that’s the one I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for!

Series Rating: 3/5

Trade Me 3.5/5 | Hold Me DNF | [Year of the Crocodile 3/5] | Find Me TBR |[What Lies Between You and Me TBR] | Keep Me TBR | Show Me TBR

overall

If you like stories that take their time to evolve and you enjoy books featuring a diverse cast of characters, this is a great NA romance series for you to try!

Read if You Like: diverse characters
Avoid if You: more erotica based romance

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Series Review: Stage Dive by Kylie Scott

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 Lick (from Goodreads):

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is certain, being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.

breakdown

Series: Stage Dive

There is a spin-off series called Dive Bar

Author: Kylie Scott
# of Books: 4 (Lick, Play, Lead, Deep)

There is a novella, #4.5 Strong

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Lick); Audiobook; eARC (Strong)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

We all know that rockstars are my kryptonite so of course I would pick this up! I’ve heard great things about Kylie Scott’s works as well so I was excited to start this series.

The Plot:

There isn’t too much else to the plot besides these budding romances and the obstacles in the way, which worked for me. You get your typical drama but I never felt like things were overly dramatic.

I will say that because these are faster reads, some of the plot issues are resolved quicker than I like to see. But I was always entertained when reading to I can let that slide.

The Characters:

One of my biggest complaints about Lick (Book #1) was that the characters didn’t seemed as developed as I wanted them to be. They go through the motions of evolving as characters but we don’t get below the surface with them. But I didn’t feel that way with Lead (Book #3). I thought we had some great insight into the characters and their pasts. Unfortunately, Deep (Book #4) had the same problems as Lick did so that was disappointing, especially after I loved Lead as much as I did.

I also have to say that I did not like our hero at all in Play (Book #2). He was wayyyy too much for me to handle and I found him to be super annoying.

The Romance:

It was the lack of chemistry between the leads in Play (Book #2) that had me DNFing this book just after the first quarter mark. I just didn’t see how those two meshed at all and so watching their scenes together was just painful for me. It felt forced and a dash overly dramatic as well. Even watching their interactions in later books had me feeling good about my decision to not finish their story.

I also struggled with the romance a bit in Book #4, Deep. I just felt like our leads interacted for very little of the book and so I missed seeing that deeper connection form. And that’s a shame because I really loved the chemistry and slow burn romances that Lick (#1) and Lead (#3) had and I wished that transferred through.

When to read the novella, #4.5 Strong:

I would read this after you read Deep (#4) just because the romance is alluded too more in that book than any others (though our heroine is introduced in Lick [#1]).

>> You can read my full review of Strong here as a part of the release Blog Tour!

My Audiobook Experience:

I managed to read the eBook copy from my “big city” library before my card expired and then had to rely on my local library for copies. But they only had the audiobooks–which worked for me because I am becoming a huge audiobook listening. Andi Arndt does the narration for the entire series and she is fabulous! Definitely one of my favourite female narrators for audiobooks. She managed to have unique voices for all the girls from book to book.

Series Rating: 3/5

Lick 4/5 | Play DNF | Lead 5/5 | Deep 2/5 | [Strong 3/5]

overall

I was really all over the place with this series but those looking for cute, quick romances featuring rockstars and strong heroines will likely find themselves entertained.

Read if You Like: quick romances, rockstars
Avoid if You: want deeper characters
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Series Review: On the Edge by Elizabeth Hartey


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

book3 book4

Synopsis for Cross Stroke (from Goodreads):

Tracey…

One night left my heart shattered and my reputation ruined, and now my only hope is to transfer to another university far from home. Although I’m a champion figure skater and am used to succeeding, I can’t dump the burden of distrust and intimacy I’m carrying.

But when I literally crash into the cocky captain of the hockey team, sparks fly, and the attraction is as undeniable as it is unwanted.

No way is this arrogant hottie the one to help me move past my fears. Or is he…?

Dak…

Overwhelmed with guilt and remorse, I can’t forget the tragic accident that killed my first love. To avoid ever feeling that kind of agonizing loss again, I vow to stick with one-night stands with every puck bunny who glides my way and focus on keeping my position on the hockey team.

But after I meet a feisty figure skater and am then thrown together with her as a lab partner, I find I want to melt the icy walls we’ve built around our hearts.

If we don’t strangle each other first.

breakdown

Series: On the Edge
Author: Elizabeth Hartey
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, sequels are in the works
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 16, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Enticing Journey Book Promotions–eARC (#1-#2); Kindle Unlimited (#3)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good sports romance. I especially love the romances that have a “hate to love you” vibe to them. And throw in the “lab partner” trope and you have me sold! I was really excited to glide (see what I did there?) into Dak and Tracey’s story about learning to love again with someone you least expect.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the start because these two just kept running into each other much to Tracey’s dismay. But near the middle of the book, the pacing just got a little weird for me. That was around the time their relationship becomes more physical and the rest of the story takes a backseat. But it definitely won me over by the end again.

The Characters:

I loved Dakota immediately. He was so adorable in his attraction to Tracey. And the whole mix up at the start was fun to read. I wish it was strung out a little further because it was entertaining to read. But I also liked his backstory and how scared he was to truly care about someone again.

Tracey I had a harder time getting a read on. She has quite the backstory, so rightfully so, she’s a bit of a mess. But I found her character to be all over the place. I’m not sure if she had maybe too much on her plate and that overwhelmed her as a character. Nevertheless, she really does have some great development though near the end so I appreciated that.

The Romance:

One of the really noteworthy things about these two was their communication. I loved how these two talked about their past and put everything out there early on. It helped cement a relationship of understanding to build their relationship on. However, I needed to see more of that emotional connection in the middle of the book. By that point, the focus shifts to their physical chemistry and I wanted to see that friendship/emotional connection grow more. There’s no denying the heated chemistry between these two but I loved those moments of reflection and discussion we saw earlier in the book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am very, very excited for Nikki’s book and seeing the rest the boys get their stories!

updates

–June 11, 2018– Book #2: Cross Drop

Check out my full review here as a part of my Blog Tour hosting stop for this release!

–December 20, 2019– Book #3: Cross Crease

I made reading this book a priority when I resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited. I was so excited to get this slightly forbidden romance since it’s been brewing since the first book.

Honestly, after Chapter 11, I skipped all the chapters and just read the last chapter and epilogue. This book was a huge disappointment for me.

It all just seemed so shallow because all it seemed like these two cared about was banging each other. I got so tired of hearing Heaven moan about her virginity and how she wanted Wolfe to be the one to take it. But her reasoning seemed to be because he was hot and not because of who he was as a person. I think their BFF status was established behind the scenes and didn’t translate to the scenes we got.

I wanted something deeper, like the other two books in the series.

My Rating: 3/5

Cross Stroke 3/5 | Cross Drop 4/5 | Cross Crease 2/5

overall
I think fans of sports romances who want to dive into the world of New Adult will enjoy this take. Some books are stronger than others at delivering a solid romance read.

Read if You Like: sport romances, learning to love again stories
Avoid if You: dislike sexy times

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Elizabeth Hartey

As a lover of the northeast US, Elizabeth moved with her husband to the Poconos several years ago to open a Chiropractic Clinic. Four children and a menagerie of animals later, she has finally found time to fulfill her lifelong dream of writing novels. The wild ride of writing books is one of the most difficult things she’s ever done in her life. But the opportunity to get her stories out of her head and down on paper and send them out into the world is also one of the most wonderful things she’s ever done. A dreamer at heart, romance is the genre she spends most of her time writing and reading into the wee hours of the morning. And having readers fall in love with her characters as much as she does is almost as exciting as giving birth (just not as painful!) When not juggling work responsibilities and writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking the beautiful hills and woods around her home, swimming, knitting, watching old classic movies and travelling. As an avid hockey fan she has to compromise with her husband—one night of hockey for her in exchange for a night of football for him.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

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Spin-off Saturdays: Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach by Abbi Glines

Spin-off Saturdays: Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach by Abbi Glines

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

Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach Series is a spin-off of the Sea Breeze Series and the Rosemary Beach Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach

This is a spinoff of the the Sea Breeze Series and the Rosemary Beach Series.

Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own & Public Library & Scribd–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original Sea Breeze and/or Rosemary Beach series, this review may have spoilers!

**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, I’ve been waiting for this series since I finished the last book in the Sea Breeze Series nearly 3 years ago, before the Rosemary Beach Series was completed. You see, we got this little epilogue that features the leads of Like a Memory and I knew from those few pages that another epic series was on the way.

I didn’t expect this series to be released in 2017 but I couldn’t wait to dive in. Watching the offspring of all the couples I’ve fallen in love with over the years get their own chance at HEA? Not everyone gets that chance with their favourite series.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It’s like the perfect hybrid between the Sea Breeze and Rosemary Beach Series. You’ve got the slower, sweet nature of the Sea Breeze stories but it has that dash of over the top drama Rosemary Beach is known for.

And everything is so intricate! These character’s all intersect each other in interesting ways and it just gets you invested in finding out what happens next.

Not to mention, entirely addicting reads: just like their predecessors.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

In particular with Like a Memory, there is one dramatic twist I could have done without. I feel like it just took things a little too far and it actually caused me to rate the book lower than I would have up until that point.

I also felt like these stories did a lot more telling than showing when it comes to the romance. I wanted to see why these couples wanted to be together and not just be told that they had these deeper feelings.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Damn, I hope everyone gets a story 😛 I’m always entertained by anything Abbi Glines reads so I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

updates

–June 10, 2020– Book #3: Best I’ve Ever Had

I hate to use this word but it felt sloppy; this just felt underdeveloped to me.
I’ve been anxious for this book since our lead has been such a big part of the first two books. I was excited to get their redemption story of sorts. But we really didn’t get much. Their past (specifically the last year) was alluded to briefly before being revealed in the last few chapters to little fanfare. Flashbacks to his time away would have helped me to see how he had evolved as a person.

The romance was far too fast. They had chemistry but how the “I love yous” got tossed around after 2 encounters was a little much for me.

This might be where I part ways with Abbi Glines. I’ve loved her work in the part but my last few encounters have left me angrily disappointed.

Series Rating: 3/5

Like a Memory 3.5/5 | Because of Lila 3.5/5 | Best I’ve Ever Had 1/5

overall

Fans of (either) original series will love the next generation. But for those entirely new to Glines’ work will surely become invested in seeing the origins of this series.

Read if You Like: drama, contemporary, romance
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera-esque drama

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Like a Memory (from Goodreads):

One memory.
One special summer.
The one thing Bliss had lost herself in when the fear and sickness were too much, moments never to be damaged by the harsh reality that followed… until now.

Bliss York didn’t live a normal teenage life. She didn’t go to Friday night football games, walk the halls with her friends every day, go to her prom or even walk to receive her diploma. It had all been taken from her the fall that she was fifteen years old and she was given the diagnosis no one ever wants to hear.

She had leukemia.

Seven years after spending a summer with a girl who he knew would always be his first love and the one who got away, Nate Finlay returns to Sea Breeze to help his fiancé open her new boutique clothing store. When the new employee walks in Nate is taken back seven years to the girl he thought he’d love forever. The one who never answered his calls or returned his text. The one who shut him out completely with not even a goodbye and broke his heart.

They’ve each become someone different. No longer the young teens with stars in their eyes. But does that matter when your heart still says that’s the one.

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Series Review: Montague Siblings by Mackenzi 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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (from Goodreads):

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

breakdown

Series: Montague Siblings or Guide Series
Author: Mackenzi Lee
# of Books: 2 (Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #1.5 The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2017 – October 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (Petticoats)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t think I could escape this book if I tried in 2017. Not that I wanted to. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun but people also said that about My Lady Jane and I didn’t “love” that one either.

So I was hoping for more of a Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda type of experience going into this. I didn’t know what else to expect plotwise but I was ready to be surprised!

What I Liked:

–The Tension–

I’ll be honest, I mostly picked this up for the romance between Monty and Percy. I just love all the tension that comes from “off limits” romances. And this is a romance that is off limits in a lot of ways which makes it such an intriguing one to read. Not only are the two best friends but they are two males in a time when that relationship isn’t accepted in popular society. Add to that their ranks in the peerage, race and their own coming of age stories, you have a lot of factors telling these two to stay away.

Which makes those moments of letting go so enjoyable as a reader. These two are just so genuine with each other that you immediately want them to be together no matter the obstacles in their way.

–Slightly Dry Humour–

When everyone mentioned the humour in the book, I was worried I wasn’t going to find it funny. I’m a girl who laughs at everything but humour in books sometimes escapes me. That’s why I considered listening to the audiobook instead because I find it easier to get the sarcasm and laughs. But when I listened to the sample, the narrator didn’t sound like what I imagined Monty would sound like so I stuck with the print.

I’m glad I did because I did find myself chuckling quite a bit at this book. Monty has such an interesting perspective and his off-hand, dry comments just seemed so “British” to me.

–Felicity–

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Monty as a lead. As I mentioned above, he’s witty and dramatic and he’s a lot of fun to read about. But Felicity really surprised me as a character. I didn’t think she’d have much of a role but I loved all the little tidbits we got about her and her attitude in general. She’s a fantastic supporting character.

–Diversity & The History–

Like I said in the “Tension” section, you have a lot of social issues/topics at play here. When they are used all together you feel as though you are transported to the 1700s. It just adds this depth and realism to the world by highlighting various things.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Felt a Little Long–

I definitely missed the “manhunt that spans across Europe” in the synopsis. And while I enjoyed that plot (I’m glad there was something else at play besides the romance) I felt like it took far too long to get resolved. I just found myself getting a little bored with it near the end. While that dramatic plot was moving forward I felt like everything else went to a standstill. For me, this book could have been 50 pages shorter and I would have been more than satisfied.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Obviously I enjoyed Felicity’s character so I’m excited for her to get her own book!

updates

–November 9, 2018– Book #2: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Felicity was one of the highlights of the first book so I was very excited for her novel.

But I was pretty disappointed in this one. I think I was expecting a different type of novel. I wanted a pirate adventure (I kept reading “piracy” as “pirates”) and that’s not what this is. Not that the story we get is bad–I appreciate the science angle–but I didn’t enjoy the pacing of this novel at all. I thought we spent far too long rehashing Felicity’s constant rejections and it took a long time to get to the “adventure” part of the story.

I respect Felicity’s drive and passion to study medicine. I also liked the fact that she doesn’t really have a romance plotline either. All too often the girls who strive to defy societal norms find love–and that isn’t a bad thing–but I really respected the fact that not every girl wants or needs a romance in her life; that they can want other things and they aren’t any less (or more) of a woman because they don’t want that.

So this book was a bit of a miss. I think if I had a better idea of what to expect my review and rating would be different but this was just so-so for me.

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue 4/5 | The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy 3/5

overall

This is a great read for historical YA fans without a doubt or if you love stories that take you on a fun and heartwarming adventure, pick this up!

Read if You Like: adventure, historical, GLBT
Avoid if You: dislike adventure, historical

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Series Review: The Field Party by Abbi Glines

Series Review: The Field Party by Abbi Glines

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

The Field Party Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Until Friday Night (from Goodreads):
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Most Read Author 2015
Series: The Field Party
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 6 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Game Changer, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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:

Abbi Glines is my most read author according to Goodreads–so I think it is apparent that any books she publishes, I’ll probably be reading it even if I’m skeptical.

You see, I don’t tend to enjoy books set in the Southern part of the USA. I find the drama is a little too…dramatic for me. It’s a little over the top and seems to bring out the worst in some characters. Of course, there are exceptions. Beautiful Creatures is one of my all time favourite series and it is a TOTAL Southern novel–but oh so good. Oh, and anything Abbi Glines writes seems to work for me…though maybe not The Vincent Boys.

From reading her various posts on her blog, I know that Abbi was really excited to start this series and it is something that is really close to her heart. Needless to say, I was excited to see what Abbi Glines would bring with this series…

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Lately, I’ve been droning on and on about characters lacking an emotional connection when it comes to romance. This one did NOT have that problem!

I really loved watching West and Maggie develop that friendship first. I love romances where the characters support each other and work as partners to move through a difficult time. Sure, everything happens really fast in this novel but that is just part of the circumstances. It didn’t bother me that their relationship was fast-tracked because I could see why it was forming and how well they worked together.

OMG, you do not know how happy I was when Maggie clearly stated that their relationship was starting to become unhealthy! I’m all for the idea that love heals but I’m also a firm believer that it isn’t the only thing that can save a person. So I really appreciated the maturity Maggie showed by looking at their relationship and stating that it was heading into a place she didn’t like. She scored major points with me after that!

–The Plot–

I thought there was a great balance between the romance and the main plot line which is dealing with grief/family tragedy. The romance wasn’t all consuming but always had that underlying tension to keep it developing. It complimented the character progression well I think.

And if you’re worried this book is only going to focus on football, rest assured that it plays a very minor role in this story. It’s more of a connecting factor for West and the rest of the characters.

We also get introduced enough to the other characters who I assume are going to get their own books later. Not a ton to make me wish I was reading their book instead of West’s and Maggie’s but enough to get me excited for their stories once they are released.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maggie’s Character Development–

I really feel like it was lacking for Maggie in this book. Looking back at the synopsis, I can see why the novel focused more on West because he really has the main, ongoing story unfolding. However, Maggie is a full POV character and I wish her situation was addressed more than it was. If the story was only told from West’s POV I would have been satisfied with her growth but I felt like more could have been done with her.

–Rushed Ending–

I know that some things were left dangling for the rest of the series but I felt like West and Maggie’s story could have used an extra 30 pages or so. Some things were wrapped up wayyyy to easily for my liking and others were just left out in the open. This was really the only time I felt like the plot focus was on the wrong aspect the entire time I was reading. I’m sure some of those things are going to be addressed in the next book but I kinda wanted a resolution to their story within their story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I’m curious to learn more about the rest of the characters and get some of my questions answered about those dangling bits.

updates

–March 19, 2017– Book #2: Under the Lights

Ok, I was really scared to read this when I read the synopsis. I detest love triangles in my stories; particularly in my YA because I can’t take all the petty back and forth drama. And I didn’t really enjoy The Vincent Boys which focuses on a girl torn between two BFFs…the same concept here.

But I should know better! Abbi’s writing over the years just gets stronger and stronger.

While the love triangle is an element here, it is never the sole focus. Instead, we get great character development which in turn leads to a strong romance.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than its predecessor for a variety of reasons. One is that all the leads had solid character development and it never felt lopsided or like one character was the focus more than the other. I also liked the dramatic plot a lot. It constantly surprised me with its development and I liked that it kept me on edge trying to figure it all out..

And of course, it sets up beautifully for the next installment.

–September 17, 2017– Book #3: After the Game

This was super cute! Their story was really heartfelt and mature in a way you don’t always see in YA contemporary romances. Watching these two learn to forgive and forget about what people think was fabulous. They’re just so likeable as characters and super sweet that you want to see them succeed.

I do wish the romance was a little more though. I just wanted to see that connection emphasized a little more at the start but they do make a great pair when all is said and done. I was thoroughly addicted to this story!

It was like the perfect hybrid between the first and second novel but with a new set of unique leads.

–October 8, 2018– Book #4: Losing the Field

To say I’m disappointed in this book would be an understatement. Honestly, this book was a 2/5 star read for me until the last three chapters when I really got angry with the direction it took.

Overall, the best way to describe this novel is underdeveloped. I can appreciate the attempted drama Glines tried to instill in this story. It’s soap opera-esque and melodramatic–exactly that I expect when I pick up this series. But I think there was too much thrown in here and it took away from the characters and romance. (Where was that plot for revenge anyways?)

As for their love? Where did it even come from? Tallulah’s worship of him over the years and her shedding a few pounds? Compared to other couples in this series I feel like we didn’t see much of them together and I failed to see the deeper connection they shared. I also think they spend more time apart then together…

But the moment that took this book from a “meh” read to an “oh wow, that’s awful”?

Why I Rated This 1/5 Stars:

When Tallulah decides not to press charges against the teacher that tried to seduce her–KNOWING he did the same thing to two other girls–that irked me to no end! In this time of assault awareness (#metoo movement) I’m so upset that her response was simply “It’s OK. It’s over now.” No, it’s not and you should be doing everything in your power to prevent it from happening again if you can; especially when there is a child involved.

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I hated that response and how it comes across to readers, especially younger readers. I’m all for fiction being fiction but I think there was a great opportunity for a strong lesson and it just didn’t happen.

–July 4, 2020– Book #5: Making a Play

While this was a definite improvement over the last novel in the series it was still just an “okay” read for me.

The subject matter of race is a timely one and so I appreciated that the romance explored the difficulties multiracial couples can face, particularly in smaller traditional towns. And having a heroine who is deaf was also a great way to explore prejudices as well.

However, while I am a romantic at heart, I struggled with the love at first sight we get here. These two make some very important life decisions based on a 5 day interaction. But fast and dramatic romances are Abbi’s style so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

My Rating: 4/5

Until Friday Night 4/5 | Under the Lights 4/5 | After the Game 4/5 | Losing the Field 1/5 | Making a Play 3/5

overall

It isn’t my favourite Abbi Glines series, but it was exactly what I was expecting. I cried and swooned so mission accomplished. This is perfect for those who want to try an Abbi Glines’ novel but don’t like New Adult.

Read if You Like: high school drama, stories about grief, books set in the South
Avoid if You:  don’t like football players, high school drama

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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

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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: Toasty; 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!

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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: 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

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booksynopsis

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.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read Author
Series: Lost and Found
Author: Nicole Williams
# of Books: 5
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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