Tag «Conclusion: missed the mark»

Missed the Mark: My expectations were high going into this series/book but fell short or I consider the book/series a disappointment. Usually these books have great concepts, just poor executions.

Other Conclusions:
Downhill | End of the Road | New Favourite | Not for Everyone | Only Gets Better | Slow Start | Staying Tuned | Time will Tell | Worth a Read

Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Forbidden Wish (from Goodreads):

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

breakdown

Author: Jessica Khoury

There is a prequel novella on Wattpad: #0.5 The Jinni

Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My all time favourite Disney movie is Aladdin. The music is great, the animation is superb, the Genie is one of a kind, Jasmine is kickass and Aladdin is a street rat who grows up along the way. So I was very excited for a retellling where things were a little different than that.

The Concept / The World:

So before I start any retelling of a story that has been done by Disney I try my best to clear all my preconceived notions. It’s easy to forget that the Disney version isn’t always the “true” version because it usually the most well known. Disney has taken some artistic licence to great a story to appeal to its audience and that’s what authors do too.

I liked this world we get here a lot. It’s rich in politics and turmoil. You’ve got some villains and magic so that gives a bit of a darker edge to the story. Jessica Khoury’s writing prose is lush and has a great flow (honestly, if you like Renee Ahdied’s writing you’ll love hers!) so it’s a pleasure to read (or in my case, listen to).

I really enjoyed the rich history of the Jinni and the everyday people. And Zahra’s backstory was also great.

The Plot:

I’ll admit I probably wasn’t in the best headspace when I started this book so I might have just missed some key sentences while listening to the audiobook. BUT, some of the logic for the dramatic events escaped me so I had a hard time fully understanding what was happening and why.

I will say that all of the events that I thought would be “big deals” didn’t have as large of an impact as I expected but perhaps my focus was on the wrong devices.

The Characters:

While I enjoyed Zahra’s lush history as a Jinni, I found her to be kinda bland as a character. I know why–she’s been trapped in her lamp for centuries, lamenting over past mistakes–but I still wanted a larger than life character.

Aladdin was about as thrilling as a wet blanket and had the personality of one too. I found him to be super underdeveloped and shallow. Not the charming clever street rat I wanted him to be.

Caspida really stole the show for me. I could have easily read a whole book about her, she was fascinating!

The Romance:

People (other readers) rave about this but I was seriously underwhelmed. Besides a physical attraction and being within a certain radius of each other (seriously, while Aladdin had her lamp, Zahra couldn’t be a specific distance away from him) I didn’t get the love between these two at all! Not even the forbidden nature of a jinni and a human could get me interested.

When to Read The Novella?

I didn’t read the novella but it is noted that there are some minor spoilers in it if you do decide to read it first. So perhaps, read it second.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Leave your ideas at the door and go in with a fresh mind.

Read if You Like: retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance
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Spin-off Saturdays: Co-Ed by Rachel Van Dyken

Spin-off Saturdays: Co-Ed by Rachel Van Dyken

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:

Co-Ed is a spin-off of the Wingmen INC Series

breakdown

This is a spinoff of the Wingmen INC Series.

Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I didn’t even know there was a spin-off of the Wingmen Inc series; I just stumbled upon this book when I was browsing a Kobo sale and somehow discovered the link to the original duology.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

What I loved about the original Wingmen Inc series is that they were charming and not overly dramatic. It focused on the characters and growing the as the romance blossomed into something more.

But Co-Ed, it was just lacking something to make it a touch more cohesive. I really loved the start, it was so reminiscent of the original series with the premise of Shawn trying to seduce Knox. Yet that storyline disappears (unfortunately) as quickly as it is mentioned. Instead we get this jumble of repeating, predictable sentiments that fail to fully flesh out the romance or the characters and I was left feeling a little “meh” about the whole experience.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I really thought I wasn’t going to enjoy the reverse harem aspect. But then I remembered it was a staple of some anime I used to watch so I got over it. It was well done all things considered. It was nice to not have every guy in love with the heroine.

The one thing that really irked me was something I have to put in spoilers because it talks about the ending:

The Moment I was Over this Book

It really bothered me that Shawn opted not to press charges against Jessica even though the girl literally tried to kill her. WHAT!? Why would would let the girl get away with it!

Rating: 3/5

overall

Lately, Rachel Van Dyken’s works have been misses for me. I’m not sure if my tastes or changing or what but this one just didn’t work for me.

Read if You Like: new adult romances, reverse harems
Avoid if You: dislike drama

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Co-Ed (from Goodreads):

Four guys.

Constant moaning.

And a revolving door across the college suite I somehow ended up in because my first name is Shawn.

They don’t discriminate. Girls. Guys. Grandmas. Plants (okay maybe not plants) all walks of life stroll in stressed to the brim, and leave so satisfied I’m wondering what sort of talents lie behind that door.

My roommate calls them the pleasure ponies.

But the rest of the college campus?

They just call them the new face of Wingmen Inc. A paid for relationship service that makes big promises.

Breakup? They’ll glue you back together again.

Depressed? They have the magic pill.

Lonely? Just spend a few minutes while they rub you down and you’ll forget all about it.

And broken hearts? Well, that’s their specialty. They’ll fix you.

For a price…

I swore I wouldn’t get involved.

But apparently they like a challenge, and a girl who doesn’t put up with their BS is basically like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

They. All. Charged.

But one holds my attention above the rest.

Knox Tate looks like a Viking — and getting pillaged is starting to look more appealing by the day. Though he’s hiding something — all of them are. And the closer I get. The more I realize that some things are left better in the past.

You’ve read reverse harem books before — but you’ve never read one like this. It’s not what you think, or is it? Dive in and find out…

Knox, Leo, Finn, and Slater are waiting, and they aren’t patient men.

Welcome to the new face of Wingmen Inc — You’re welcome.

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Series Review: Hudson Valley by Alice Clayton

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 Nuts (from Goodreads):

Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.

breakdown

Series: Hudson Valley
Author: Alice Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Nuts, Cream of the Crop, Buns)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I consider Alice Clayton’s Cocktail Series to be one of the best romantic comedy series in Adult Romance. I loved its humour, the unique characters and the fun but heartwarming plot lines. So I was very excited to start another series by her and was prepared to be entertained.

The Plot:

The first book in the series, Nuts, started out so promising. Roxy gets fired from her job in dramatic fashion, she meets Leo and sparks fly as hilarity ensues. I was totally on board until a few chapters later when the book hit snooze-ville.

It’s the same situation with all these books: the middle just drags. As soon as the leads start their sexual relationship the chapters become about said sexy times and repetitive inner monologues about how these girls are scared to love. And I could have tolerated that “scared to love” aspect if anything was really done about it. That’s the perfect opportunity for character development but that doesn’t happen until the very last chapter or two when the girl realizes the error of her thought process and does the “big change”. But other than that, these books failed to go anywhere.

The Characters:

I wasn’t overly impressed with our heroines. The only exception was Natalie (Cream of the Crop #2). I liked her brash personality and self confidence. But Roxy and Clara just never won me over.

The same goes for our heroes, though I will say they got better as the series progressed in terms of complexity. However, I felt like they were very under developed and I wish we got their POVs to help grow their characters a little more.

The Romance:

Because I felt like the characters were underdeveloped, it also made the romances that was as well. They all start out pretty superficially but they never dive deeper to truly establish that emotional connection. And I didn’t really feel the chemistry between our leads either besides physical lust.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the audiobooks were very well done. Each lead had her own unique voice (they used different narrators) and did a great job of bringing these heroines to life. I also liked that when they were doing the voice of a previous lead that they sounded very similar to the original narrator (if that makes sense).

I don’t know if listening to the audiobook (which took me twice as long as reading the novel would have) made this series seem prolonged but it might have been a factor. I do know that I enjoy humor more in audiobooks so I think that compensates for the somewhat longer read.

Series Rating: 2/5

Nuts 2/5 | Cream of the Crop 3/5 | Buns 2/5

overall

To say I’m disappointed is a huge understatement. I wanted to laugh and get carried away by eccentrically lovable characters but I ended up snoozing through cliches and sexy times.

Read if You Like: rom-coms, long (page wise) romances
Avoid if You: want better character development, want more plot

similarreads

  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • Caught Up in Us by Lauren Blakely (Caught Up in Love Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Wink Poppy Midnight (from Goodreads):

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

breakdown

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book seemed to be on a ton of lists in 2016 because I remember seeing it a lot. I’ll be the first to admit: I was drawn to the cover mostly–I love it so much!

I’ll also admit that I totally forgot about this book until I was browsing audiobooks to listen to last year.  I’m always up for a good mind-bending novel. You know, the ones that have this underlying mystery that changes your entire reading experience once it is revealed? I was eager to see what this one had in store.

The Concept / The World:

I’m going to quote the little blurb that is a part of the synopsis for the audiobook to give my thoughts on the concept/world of this novel.

The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the “supernatural or not” question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

I definitely did see the parallels to The Raven Boys Cycle with the setting. Wink’s connection to tarot cards and mysticism is very similar to Blue’s in The Raven Boys. (Only Wink is a lot odder than Blue). Add the aspects of school and I felt like I had returned to Blue’s world.

I’ve never read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (it’s another TBR item) but you do find yourself questioning if what is happening is supernatural or something else at play. It makes the story suspenseful in an intriguing sort of way.

The “no one is quite who you think” — yeah, that’s not really the case. Maybe because I read this line I knew that there was more to these characters than meets the eye. When you read something like that you try to put the pieces together. So while I wouldn’t say this is predictable, it is perhaps a touch cliche in its character twists.

The Plot:

I really struggled with the plot for this novel because I really don’t think there was one. Or at least, there wasn’t one that is apparent from the start. The whole idea of this book is to figure out how these characters’ stories are intertwined by listening to them tell their side of events. Which is fine, I just wanted a little more focus.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this story seemed a little aimless in its delivery to me. It reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys where there is something happening in terms of plot but you kinda just go through the motions of everyday life for 80% of the novel. That just bores me.

The Characters:

I didn’t particularly like any of these characters. You aren’t really supposed to like Poppy so job well done there. Wink I had a hard time figuring out–literally and figuratively–so I didn’t particularly love her character. And I just felt so bad for Midnight because he is so easy to manipulate and he doesn’t seem to have a backbone.

And going back to what I said above: they all seemed a little cliche to me. That is part of the point though and its how they contribute to the story but I think I just wanted a little more substance to them.

The Romance:

I think you can assume that there is a love triangle of sorts between Wink, Poppy and Midnight just by reading the synopsis. It contributes to the story but because I didn’t love any of the characters, I wasn’t really feeling the romance.

Audiobook Experience:

One of the main reasons I picked the audiobook version of this novel was the narrators. When I picked this one up, I was fairly new to the world of fiction audiobooks. See, I was curious if I would be thrown off by a novel that had narrators I had already listened to. Kinda like the phenomenon where you see an actor from one role in another and you can only see them as that first role (no matter what they do after).

In this novel, Midnight’s voice is done by Michael Crouch who was Simon in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Poppy is Caitlin Davies who was Kristen in None of the Above. Both were novels I read a few weeks before this one.

The good news is that it only took me a few chapters to get accustomed to the narration here and associating the voices with the characters. The audiobook is fantastic; truthfully, it is one of the reasons why I gave this book a 3 instead of a 2. All the narrators do a great job bringing these characters to life.

And Michael Crouch has easily become one of my favourite voice actors to listen too. He does a fabulous job and I’ll be looking for more novels by him in the future.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I spent 80% of this book trying to figure out what this novel was trying to achieve and I’m not sure the big “twist” was worth the time. The book is definitely unique in terms of its writing style and the audiobook is very well done but there isn’t enough here to really impress me.

Read if You Like: magical realism, intrigue
Avoid if You: want a stronger plot
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Single Sundays: Finding Perfect by Ella Miles

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Finding Perfect (from Goodreads):

I want the perfect man, and Ace Knight isn’t him.

He’s a foul-mouthed, pothead, tattooed bastard.
He may have saved my life, but he also cost me my nursing career with one smug kiss.
Now I’m broke, homeless, and jobless.

I wanted a man in a suit.
Tall, dark, and handsome.
Not broken, cursing, and cynical.

Knight thinks I’m the perfect woman for him.
Perfect to help him keep his ex-wife from inheriting his millions.
I can’t refuse his offer. I need the money.

But what if he expects me to…sleep with him.
I can’t…I won’t…until he smirks and then I’m toast.
I think I need a new plan.

Bad boy + flawed girl does not equal perfect.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 24, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this novel because the synopsis doesn’t give much away. But I always anticipate that something is up Ella Miles’ sleeve so I was eager to get started.

The Plot:

This whole story felt disjointed. At first, I thought it was just the first few chapters but it continued throughout. I liked the various parts but I didn’t think they worked well together. The chemistry between the two was lacking; the timelines were a little off; and some plot points just didn’t seem logical.

Of course, you have that classic Ella Miles twist in there (where the story takes a turn you’ve never anticipate) but even that felt underdeveloped. It didn’t save this unfortunately.

The Characters:

On the surface, I like both characters. Mila has drive and strives for independence so I enjoy that in my heroines. Ace has that bad boy exterior but sweetheart interior that is irresistible. However, I wasn’t impressed by them when it was all said and done; and I think the quick, chemistry-less romance was the reason for that.

The Romance:

I just didn’t see the draw between these two besides contention and proximity. It started so promising too because they really had some conflict at the start and I love a good “hate to love you” romance. But the shift from hate to love just didn’t work for me.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This isn’t my favourite Ella Miles novel and that’s a shame because I think all the right ingredients were there.

Read if You Like: fake romances, drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: don’t like slightly over the top drama
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Series Review: Clayton Falls by Alyssa Rose Ivy

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Derailed (from Goodreads):

When you’re lost, sometimes the only place you can go is home.

Broken over the death of her fiancé, Molly leaves law school to return to her childhood home in North Carolina. Expecting to lay low until she can figure out what else to do with her life, she finds herself in the arms of her high school sweetheart, the boy who represents everything from the past she tried to leave behind.

Looking for an escape, she instead finds a way back to the girl she almost forgot existed and a future she never dreamed possible.

breakdown

Series: Clayton Falls
Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy
# of Books: 4 (Derailed, Veer, Wrecked, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: There is a Book 4 planned but no release date
Genre: Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Derailed); Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Derailed as a freebie one day on Amazon in 2013. I think I somehow knew that the “hero” was in a band because I always thought of it as a “band” novel–even though that is far from the case. I enjoy second chance stories for the most part and I thought this one had an interesting premise. I even picked up the boxset a few years later (2016) for a good price because I assumed I would want to read the sequels.

Like most books, I don’t get to them right away. If you check my activity on Goodreads, you’ll see that I moved Derailed (Book 1) on and off my “TBR” a total of 4 times over the span of 5 years. It was on my “pass” shelf until I drew the title from my TBR jar in January 2018 as a part of my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2018. So I did my best to go in with an open mind and started the book.

Why I DNF’d Derailed at 42%–but kept progressing through the series:

So I did end up DNFing Derailed at 42% (just at the start of Chapter 10) for a few reasons. The main one was that this story was not catching my attention. The romance didn’t seem to have any substance to it (I felt like they were just nostalgic for each other and the feelings they shared)–and I was 42% of the way there! And there was a bit of a love triangle which didn’t help. I also didn’t like Molly as a lead. She was so boring to read about yet she was pretty melodramatic. I just found that I couldn’t get a good read on her character.

After I DNF’d it, I went on to read the synopsis for the next two books (since I already owned them) and saw that the leads were some characters that did capture my attention so I decided to give them a shot.

The Plot:

I found it took me awhile to get into all the books. We get these weird meetings between the leads–where they seem to blow the tiniest things out of proportions in an attempt to add “tension” to the relationships–and then we slowly uncover who they are as people. The endings all seemed a little rushed to me in the sense that things I would have liked to have seen early on to provide depth are neatly wrapped up in a chapter or two. It gave the books a lopsided feel to them in that regard.

For me, a lot of the dialogue between the characters came across as stiff and I feel like a majority of the chapters are dialogue. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I found that the lack of inner monologue resulted in the drama being escalated rather quickly and in a more melodramatic fashion than I anticipated.

The Characters:

Besides not liking the leads in Book 1 (Derailed), I did like the rest of the cast. One of the nice things about this series is that it does take place in a small town so you see a majority of the same characters throughout the series.

Once we delve a little deeper into the characters, I found the stories became more enjoyable. With Book 2 (Veer) that was the case entirely. When you start to understand their actions and feelings based on their past it makes it easier to like them as characters.

However, I found the character development to be very underwhelming throughout the series. I felt like we only scratched the surface of these extremely complicated characters. It’s not enough to simply list their troubled pasts–you have to do something with that. And I feel like this series never does anything with the foundations it lays down.

The Romance:

Again, I think the romances suffer from the underdevelopment the rest of the series does. All these characters fall hard and fast; and any conflict is quickly resolved in a neat fashion. So while I could see the basic/initial draw they each had to each other, I wanted to see more conversations and moments of growth with the romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I think the premise for the 4th book is cute, after the ups and downs I’ve had with this series, it’s going to be a hard pass.

Series Rating: 2/5

Derailed DNF | Veer 3/5 | Derailed 2/5

overall

I craved more from each of these novels. But if you are looking for a straightforward, lighter romance that doesn’t feature in-depth sex scenes, this would be a good series for you.

Read if You Like: lighter reads, second chance stories, small town settings
Avoid if You: want more character development, want erotica

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Single Sundays: Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Hotel Ruby (from Goodreads):

Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

breakdown

Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this book on my TBR after seeing a “Waiting on Wednesday” post by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books  all the way back in September 2015! At that point, I had read Young’s first two novels in The Program Series and didn’t totally enjoy them. However, I loved the concept of the Hotel Ruby and quickly marked it on Goodreads.

Like many TBR books, I didn’t get to read it until years later and I saw my library had an audiobook copy. By this point, I had seen quite a few mixed reviews so I went in with somewhat lower expectations but an eagerness to uncover just what exactly is happening at the mysterious Hotel Ruby.

The Concept:

I always enjoy the idea of a “mysterious building”. (Like The Hollywood Tower of Terror anyone?). I really became enthralled by the Hotel Ruby and its mystery. I enjoyed the opulence of it all and the intriguing cast of characters. You definitely got the vibe that there was something creepy about this place.

The Plot:

I figured out the plot pretty early into the book–just before the 20% mark–though I wonder if that was its intention with the little eggs planted along the way? Regardless, there were a few links I was missing so I was interested in seeing how it all played out. I think I had bigger expectations than what I got in the end but I still really loved the whole concept of this novel even if the execution was lacking for me.

The Characters:

Audrey was a complete diva in my mind. Both her inner monologues and outer dialogues are very “ME ME ME” and it just irritated me. I mean, I get her frustration with the lack of an invitation but she was far too dramatic than I like my heroines to be.

The rest of the cast does their job well. The hotel staff and guests were particularly mysterious and that captured my attention throughout.

The Romance:

Elias is a pretty one dimensional character. He came across as such a cliché to me; simply saying all the right things at the right time. I get the allure of a mysterious rich boy but I did not get what was so swoon-worthy about him. I think the two talk a handful of times (I think they might dance more than they talk) before Audrey finds herself in love and wanting to change everything about her life–even while knowing (and saying) the whole thing is ridiculous. Ugh.

It’s a shame too that this becomes one of the main focuses of the novel and distracts from the larger story. I also think it stifles some of Audrey’s character development because she becomes to enamored with this romance and not much else.

My Audiobook Experience:

Well, I’ll just say I wasn’t overly impressed with the audiobook. I’m glad this wasn’t a book I started my audiobook experience with. I absolutely hated the way the narrator portrayed the male voices–in particular, Elias’ voice. I know it’s hard for a female to change their range to voice a male character and have multiple unique sounding ones for a single production. I totally get that. But it just threw off the entire tone of the novel for me and made me instantly dislike Elias’ character.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

For me this was a classic case of “great idea, not the best execution”. I struggled to connect to the main characters and their romance, while craving more from the plot but I enjoyed the overall vibe of this novel. I think Suzanne Young fans will like this well enough but I think others might want a little more from it.

Read if You Like: basic mysteries, more romance focused novels
Avoid if You: get annoyed by heroines easily
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Single Sundays: To Love Jason Thorn by Ella Maise

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for To Love Jason Thorn (from Goodreads):

Jason Thorn… My brother’s childhood friend.

Oh, how stupidly in love with that boy I was. He was the first boy that made me blush, my first official crush. Sounds beautiful so far, right? That excitement that bubbles up inside you, those famous butterflies you feel for the very first time—he was the reason for them all. But, you only get to live in that fairytale world until they crush your hopes and dreams and then stomp on your heart for good measure. And boy did he crush my little heart into pieces.

After the stomping part he became the boy I did my best to stay away from—and let me tell you, it was pretty hard to do when he slept in the room right across from mine.

When tragedy struck his family and they moved away, I was ready to forget he ever existed.

Now he is a movie star, the one who makes women of all ages go into a screaming frenzy, the one who makes everyone swoon with that dimpled smile of his. Do you think that’s dreamy? I certainly don’t think so. How about me coming face to face with him? Nope still not dreamy. Not when I can’t even manage to look him in the eye.

Me? I’m Olive, a new writer. Actually, I’m THE writer of the book that inspired the movie he is about to star in on the big screen. As of late, I am also referred to as the oh-so-very-lucky girl who is about to become the wife of Jason Thorn.

Maybe you’re thinking yet again that this is all so dreamy? Nope, nothing dreamy going on here. Not even close.

breakdown

Author: Ella Maise
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

There is a spin-off novel: To Hate Adam Conner

Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I only picked this book up because I saw the cover 😛 When I was browsing audiobook titles to take out, this one caught my eye and I couldn’t resist learning more. After I read the synopsis, I realized that it had some of my favourite tropes in contemporary romance (fake marriage, in love with a celebrity, childhood friends) and so I just had to read it!

The Plot:

For me, there was just something about the pacing that stopped me from loving this story. I don’t know if there were too many tropes thrown in to work through or if the somewhat over the top drama got to me–but something just stopped me from totally loving the plot.

I will say that I did love how we get to see the history between these two at the start of the book. It provides some great context for their relationship moving forward.

The Characters:

Unfortunately, I did not love Jason Thorn. Simply put, the guy’s an asshole but I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and watch him get some great character growth…but he really doesn’t. He wasn’t making me swoon (his perpetual use of the nickname “Little One” for Olive gave me the hebejebes and turned me off of his charm to say the least) and he didn’t convince me that he was worthy of Olive in the end.

As for Olive, I liked her enough but I wasn’t totally loving her character either.

The Romance:

This was a very big let down. One of my biggest problems with Jason is that I never felt like he fell in love with Olive. I definitely think he felt lust for her but I don’t know what he loved about her. Sure she’s a nice person and she worships the ground he walks on for some reason but I don’t know what he sees in her that would make him give up his manwhore ways. He never convinced me that he loved her and more than he liked what she provided for his career and image.

As for Olive, I too don’t know what she really loved about Jason. Sure, it’s cute she had a crush on him as a kid and he gave her that irritating nickname while they were growing up but what else was there? I think she was so blinded by the idea of him (and his cute face) that her inner monologue didn’t provide much substance to the relationship.

My Audiobook Experience:

I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this more if I read the printed version. Audiobooks are longer to get through than a physical book so perhaps that’s the reason the story seemed excessively long (though to be fair, I was listening to it at a faster speed so it didn’t take me that much longer). I didn’t totally love the voice for Jason–it was too deep or something–either. But the production is great overall so no complaints in that respect.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one just didn’t live up to the expectations I had in place. I wanted a swoonworthy romance but I ended up wondering why these two even liked each other by the end.

Read if You Like: in love with actor stories, second chances involving childhood friends
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy asshole heroes

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Single Sundays: Watching You by Shannon Greenland

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Watching You (from Goodreads):

Viola’s always been that girl from that family, so a scholarship to a prestigious private school in Florida was supposed to be her ticket out of poverty and into a brand-new life. But Viola’s secrets have followed her. Her relationship with the intelligent and gorgeous Riel should have been the salvation she needed—he understands her troubled past better than anyone. But then weird things start to happen.

Frightening messages.

Missing personal items.

The unsettling feeling that she’s being watched.

Viola’s never been one to give her trust easily, but she’ll need to trust in Riel if she’s going to survive her stalker. Because she’s not fighting for a new life anymore—she’s fighting to stay alive.

breakdown

Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Shannon Greenland’s other works since I read (and loved) Shadow of a Girl last year. That story was so refreshing and I enjoyed her writing style. I’m always on the lookout for a solid suspense thriller so this seemed like a no brainer for me to try.

The Concept:

I think the synopsis is slightly misleading. It makes it sound as if Viola is actively trying to resolve her stalker issue (with the help of Riel) and that is far from the case. Instead, we go through the motions of Viola’s everyday life with the occasional interference from her stalker. So I would classify this as a contemporary romance with a minor suspense aspect to it.

The Plot:

I thought the stalker aspect was well done in terms of their mysterious identity. There are enough red herrings to keep you guessing so I enjoyed that unpredictable aspect.

I also enjoyed the brief chapters we get from the stalker as well; it added to the atmosphere and raised the stakes.

The Characters:

I liked Viola’s drive to succeed. She goes for what she wants and I liked that. I also appreciated the fact that she grew as a character when her own secrets get the better of her. It gives this story the “coming-of-age” aspect which is always nice to see in a YA romance.

I also really liked Riel. He was an interesting character to learn more about and I really liked what we saw as the story progressed.

The Romance:

I think this was definitely the main focus of the book–which is totally OK because it was super cute! These two have a great slow burn romance to their relationship and I loved watching them get to know each other. My favourite romances are the ones that are unexpected for the characters. When they find themselves with someone they never anticipated and that’s what happens here a bit.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This one resulted in some mixed reactions for me though thanks to the expectations I had going into it and not getting exactly what I anticipated. Those looking for a contemporary romance with a dash of suspense (a la Sara Shepard) will enjoy this but those who want an outright thriller will want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA romances, contemporary
Avoid if You: wanted a true thriller
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Novella Serial Review: Once She Dreamed by Abbi Glines

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Once She Dreamed (from Goodreads):

Everyone in the small country town where Sammy Jo Knox had been born and raised, never left. They made their life there. Got married, had kids, lived in the same houses that were always there along the streets that never changed. The whole white picket fence and tree swing might look good on greeting cards but in real life it was boring, at least to Sammy Jo.

When Sammy Jo was a little girl she began dreaming of something bigger. Brighter. Something that wasn’t her town. She wanted to see the world and experience it all. Just how she was going to do that she had no idea. Because if her momma had her way, she’d marry one of the boys in town and be spitting out babies and going to church on Sunday with them all lined up in a row.

The day Hale Christopher Jude III walked into the bakery she worked at, she knew he was it. That part of life she was missing. He smelled of foreign places and exciting things. He represented all the bright lights she dreamed of and simply put, she hoped he was her way out of this place.

What Sammy Jo didn’t realize was things that appear perfect… aren’t. And chasing her dreams could lead to something very different.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: Once She Dreamed
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2016 – December 2016
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything by Abbi Glines–especially her New Adult stuff. So how this series slipped my radar is beyond me. Anyways, I found out that Part 1 was a freebie on Kobo and snapped it up!

At first glance, this serial has the typical Abbi Glines’ formula: rich boy falls for country-girl. But the last two sentences gave me hope that there was something more to this story so I was eager to discover it.

The Plot:

For me the plot was one of the things I struggled with the most in both installments. I found that Part 1 was terribly dull. The vast majority of that part is spent establishing the fact that Sammy Jo doesn’t want to be in Moulton. It just made the story seem so mundane and boring. We hardly get any time with Hale–or what his presence means for Sammy Jo.

Part 2 gets a little more into the drama but I still found it underwhelming. One of my favourite aspects about novella series is that things happen at a rapid pace and new things are constantly thrown your way to keep you intrigued. And I didn’t feel like that happened here.

I will say that there was one very good twist (even though I did suspect it earlier). I wish it was elaborated on more but I enjoyed it.

The Characters:

Sammy Jo is about as naive as they come. For the most part I cut her some slack because I understood why she didn’t seem to know any better. BUT, she is told by countless people what the obvious path is and she still chooses to ignore it. She never really learns from it and I found her character development was stifled.

As for the rest, I hate to say it but they were all pretty cliche.

The Romance:

I really thought this was going to be more of a romance but it is actually more of a coming of age story for Sammy Jo with a little dash of love thrown in along the way. Again, I wasn’t a huge fan thanks to the quickness of it all and the underdeveloped side characters.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This was a disappointing read for me. While I can see what was trying to be attempted, it just pales in comparison to Glines’ other work with its slow delivery and lacklustre characters.

Read if You Like: short novellas
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more to the plot

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