Tag «Conclusion: staying tuned»

Staying Tuned: This is a new series I have decided to keep following because I really enjoyed the first book!

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

Fresh Fridays: I, Guinevere (Mythic Maids #1) by C K Brooke

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Mythic Maidens Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for I, Guinevere (from Goodreads):

If you think you know the story of King Arthur and his mythical sword, think again. Your legends have it wrong. Here’s the truth: I was never married to Arthur, and he wasn’t a king. Because Arthur never pulled that sword out of the stone. I did.
I, Guinevere.

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword in a stone appears in the churchyard. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives it a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: she is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was born royalty. Now, between apprenticing the eccentric wizard, Merlyn; swordplay lessons with an abrasive—albeit, attractive—boy named Lance; and clandestine, magical meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by the barbarous Saxyns and visitations from mysterious dark forces continually warn that she may be in over her head. Can Guinevere defend the kingdom from the darkness and deception that threaten to seize it? Despite her doubts and the sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

From the unstoppable pen of C.K. Brooke comes a fresh and unforgettable new retelling seeped in Arthurian mythology. Queen Guinevere has her own tale to share, and it’s nothing like what you thought! Experience the magic and myth of Camylot, Avalon, Merlyn, and Exkalibur like never before as, in the vein of Brooke’s award-winning SECRETS OF ARTEMIS, this legendary maiden of lore recounts her side of the story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Mythic Maidens
Author: C K Brooke
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 14, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last few years, I’ve really become a fan of C K Brooke’s work. She writes some really intriguing, entertaining stories that I’ve had a hard time putting down. So when I was asked to read her new Arthurian Legend based novella, I was so there! I love anything and everything to do with King Arthur (I’ve seen the musical Camelot at least 3 times) so I couldn’t wait to see what unique spin she’d give Guinevere.

What I Liked:

–I Saw Guinevere in a New Light–

Guinevere is one of those legendary characters that we all have a preconceived notion of–and I know for me, I have a not so favourable one. (Unless we are talking about Gwen from the TV show Merlin–she’s the best!).

I feel like she is one of those characters that is often defined by the men she is involved with but that really wasn’t the case here at all. It was nice to read about her in a more positive, independent light and based on the merits of her own character. In the author’s note, Brooke explains her main goal for writing this story was to allow readers to see Guinevere in a different way and she most definitely succeeds in doing that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing was Slightly Off–

While I enjoyed this story and the blending of classic Arthurian elements, there was just something about the pacing that caused this book to lose the momentum for me. I felt like nothing happened for the vast majority of the pages and everything was rushed together at the end. The twists (both in the plot and the character roles) were great but I almost feel like they happened too late to truly allow me to appreciate them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I got a little hint about who the next book will be about and I CANNOT WAIT! I love the concept of this series so much and I’m excited to see what will happen to our next heroine!

My Rating: 3/5

I, Guinevere 3/5| Book 2 TBP

overall

It’s an enjoyable read and C K Brooke never fails to deliver fresh, entertaining YA reads so fans of her work will no doubt enjoy this!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, novellas, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy/magic, want more romance

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Fresh Fridays: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L Demeter

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Fairy Tale Retellings Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beauty of the Beast (from Goodreads):

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

breakdown

Series: Fairy Tale Retellings
Author: Rachel L Demeter
# of Books: 1+ (Beauty of the Beast, Book 2)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No, Book 2 is in the works
Genre: Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: Hot **mature subject matter**
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 15, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this book after seeing a review for it by Raven @ Dreamy Addictions. Most of the fairy tale retellings I read are from a YA perspective so I was curious to see what an adult version of a Beauty and the Beast retelling would be. Thanks to her review I knew that there was some darker scenes but overall it was an enjoyable read and I quickly marked it for my TBR.

What I Liked:

–No Magic–

I suppose you could argue that the magic involved in the Disney version adds to the charm of the story but I really liked the lack of magic here. The idea of the rose dying and imposing a time limit almost rushes the romance between the two–almost forcing them to be together. But without that in this story, we get to focus on the characters and their connection. It gives the story a realistic tone that simply adds to this story in a positive way that very few Beauty and the Beast retellings can achieve.

–Slow Burn Romance–

I enjoy slow burn romances because they usually take the time to show you how great a couple can be together. You see everything that draws them together and you see them start to change their mind about the other person as they fall deeper in love.

That’s entirely the case here. While these two seem to have a basal attraction to each other, their relationship really blossoms over time thanks to conversation and mutual understanding. You saw their chemistry come to life as you read and as time passed and I loved that.

Nothing ever felt forced between them or simply a result of being the only two people in the house (the biggest argument people have about this fairy tale). Their relationship was healthy and mature which is not always the case in this type of retelling. It’s starts as friendship and slowly becomes something more.

–Great Leads–

What I really liked is that both of these characters are strong yet flawed in their own way. It’s not just the “perfect” heroine taming the beast. Both leads had to work on becoming better people and letting someone else into their world. Throughout the novel they each had great character development and I loved watching them evolve as people while falling in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle Lagged a Little Bit–

All in all, the pacing of this book was pretty great. I found myself completely absorbed into the world. But I did find that the middle did get itself stuck in a bit of a lag. There was a point where the secondary plot just got shoved aside so it made the resurgence almost seem a little rushed. And some scenes felt slightly repetitive. However, I really just loved watching these two so I never felt bored with the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

According to a Goodreads Q&A, the next book in the series might be a Little Mermaid or Aladdin retelling so I can’t wait to see what is done next!

My Rating: 4/5

Beauty of the Beast 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is a great fairy tale retelling series for adults. Please do take the disclaimer to heart (though it is just an isolated scene) but know that this isn’t some dark erotica. It focuses on the great characters and the connection between them while weaving your favourite tales into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, adult fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want erotica, want magic, are uncomfortable with sexual assault

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Fresh Fridays: Warcross (#1) by Marie Lu

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Warcross Duology

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Warcross (from Goodreads):

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 2 (Warcross, Wildcard)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wildcard, to be published September 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After reading (and positively adoring) the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, I always make an effort to read her books when they come out. While I enjoyed The Young Elites Trilogy, I found that I enjoyed the concept behind it more than the actual story.

So I was a little apprehensive when it came to Warcross. As someone who has played a few Massive Multiplayer Games, I was definitely curious to see what this world was all about. But the synopsis didn’t give much away in terms of the type of story it would be and reviews from other bloggers had me going in with slightly lowered expectations.

But if anyone can surprise me, it’s Marie Lu.

What I Liked:

–Emika–

What a great heroine she is! I just loved her tech savvy-ness and drive. She thinks outside the box and gives everything her all and how can you not love that in a heroine?

–The Games in the Tournament–

I LOVED the actions scenes where Emika is in the game with her team. Perhaps it was just the fact that I could hear the enthusiasm and expressions of the narrator as she read the scenes in the audiobook, but they were enthralling to say the least. It was reminiscent of those scenes in some of my favourite books like Red Rising and The Hunger Games.

–The Romance–

I don’t want to give much away but I thought it was super cute and definitely impacts the plot in a way that not every romance does.

–Not Overly Predictable–

While I had the identity of  Zero figured out, I was definitely wrong about what was actually happening which was a great twist!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I always find it hard to tell when I listen to audiobooks to determine if it’s actually the narrator’s style/delivery that impacts the pacing of the book or the actual writing itself. (Some narrator’s talk at a slower speed plus reading something out-loud takes longer than reading it with your eyes.  So most audiobooks take twice as long to listen to as they would to read). I do know that I sped up the delivery to 1.5X because I found her cadence to be on the slower side (my default is usually 1.25X).

But I did find it took us a while to get into the thick of things. Not that we spend too much time following Emika’s life before the tournament but the first half definitely lacks the suspense of the latter half.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t WAIT to see how all of this is going to play out! This series went in a direction I didn’t anticipate so I’m really curious about what Marie Lu has up her sleeve.

My Rating: 4/5

Warcross  4/5| Wildcard TBP

overall

You don’t have to be a fan of video games to get hooked into this page turner!

Read if You Like: stories set in the future, video games, action
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire #1) by Heidi McLaughlin

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Vegas Billionaire Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stripped Bare (from Goodreads):

They don’t call it the Strip for nothing. . . .

In this sinfully sexy Las Vegas romance from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, a man who has it all reunites with a woman who takes it all off.

Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

breakdown

Series: Vegas Billionaire
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
# of Books: 1+ (Stripped Bare, Book 2)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be announced
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across Stripped Bare on Netgalley but I never had a chance to request it. But when I saw it was at my library, I decided to check it out. I love unorthodox love stories and the idea of a single mom stripper reuniting with a one-night stand in Vegas? I couldn’t wait to see what was in store!

What I Liked:

–The Plot–

As expected, given the circumstances of how these two meet, this story has some drama. But what I really liked is that it never goes over the top. It’s dramatic enough to give this story some drive but not enough that had me rolling my eyes or being frustrated by the unnecessary flare. I thought everything had an adequate amount of time to fester and resolve so I was very fulfilled in that respect.

–Easy Read–

I really got into this story. The pages just turn so easily and I found myself entertained start to finish.

–That Their Past Wasn’t Glorified–

While these two have a shared past, I liked that it wasn’t glorified into being this ultimate love story. It’s pitched as a bit of a missed moment for both so I it was a nice approach to the “second chance” romance.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Physical Chemistry than Emotional–

These two have a great chemistry but its more physical than emotional. I really felt like these two didn’t talk to each other besides vocal sexy times. So the relationship fell a little flat for me. Having the duel POV helped a lot because we do get to see the inner thoughts of our leads but I still needed more from them to totally convince me these two were falling in love with each other and not just the sex.

–Super Obvious Plot Twist–

I had the one twist figured out before I even started this book. It just seemed very obvious to me. I will admit, I did second guess myself for a chapter or two but I still knew in my gut I was right. Perhaps the twist is supposed to be that noticeable–if it is, it gives this story a different tone. But I found it to be underwhelming overall as nothing else really surprised me in this novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea who the next novel(s) will be about. I know I have a few characters in mind that I would like to know more about but I guess we have to play the waiting game!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Stripped Bare 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

While this one had its cliche and obvious moments, I was still entertained by the premise and enjoyed the drama that played out.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexy chemistry
Avoid if You: want more emotional connection, want more surpises

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Fresh Fridays: Secret Heir (Dynasty #1) by M J Prince

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Dynasty Trilogy

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Secret Heir (from Goodreads):

Since the beginning of time, tales have been told about Eden. But all the stories are wrong.

Running parallel alongside Earth, but never touching, there exists not just a garden, but an entire world of vivid colours and breathtaking beauty where the Seraph reside.

Jazmine has lived in ten different foster homes, in ten different towns and all her life she has felt like she doesn’t belong – not in the trailer park which happens to be foster home number ten, not anywhere on Earth.

After a universe shattering revelation, she discovers why. Far from being the nothing and no one, with no past and no future, that Jazmine had always believed herself to be, she discovers that she is in fact an heir to one of the seven remaining Seraph Dynasties.

She is Jazmine Evenstar, the last heir to the sovereign Evenstar Dynasty.

Thrust into the world of wealth and privilege in which the impossibly beautiful and equally cruel Dynasty heirs reside, Jazmine is forced to manoeuvre the tangled web that holds the Dynasties together.

Against the backdrop of breathtaking star filled nights, sweeping coastlines, grand marble halls and decadent palaces, Jazmine tries to find her place in this beautiful new world whilst fighting not to lose herself in the process.

But the fairy tale quickly unravels.

Half human and the illegitimate daughter of the late suicide King of Eden, the other Dynasty heirs make it clear that Jazmine does not belong in their world.

Raphael St. Tristan, heir to the rival sovereign St. Tristan Dynasty and next in line to the throne of Eden, the guy with the face of an angel but who is as wicked as the devil himself, promises to break her.

Jazmine quickly learns that the beauty of Eden is nothing but a deception as she uncovers the secrets festering at the heart of it. But can she disentangle herself from the web of deception and intrigue that the Dynasty heirs have spun? Can she stop herself from falling into Raphael St. Tristan’s trap before he can fulfil his promise to shatter her completely? Or are those stories about Eden true after all and will she be foolish enough to taste the forbidden fruit that is Eden itself?

breakdown

Series: Dynasty
Author: M J Prince
# of Books: 3 (Secret Heir, Shattered Heir, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Fantasy, Non-Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 27, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It & Review It–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book over at Darque Dreamer Reads when she did a review of it in January 2018. I’m always on the lookout for more non-contemporary New Adult reads and with the parallel universe of this one, I was curious. So I marked this book as one to keep my eye out for when it was released in February.

When the opportunity to review it came up with my New Adult Group on Goodreads, I jumped at the chance! I couldn’t wait to dive into all the drama and watch this “hate-to-love” you romance unfold!

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

That synopsis is long! Usually that deters me but it had me hooked with all its various tropes and features. Forbidden love–check. Family Feuds–check. An Alternate Universe–check. So many great elements are present and I couldn’t wait to see how they would all weave together.

I’ll admit that it takes a while for all these aspects to come into play. But we slowly get them a little bit at a time and this book starts to build at an addicting pace. I always wanted to read more and get more from the story and the characters. It’s like a really great TV drama that you can’t help but binge watch.

–Jaz and Raph’s Relationship–

I ADORE the enemies to lovers trope and this one is a great example of that.  Their dynasties are rivals in nearly all aspects of Eden and so the tension between them is important. They have a pretty tumultuous relationship at the start but once it reaches its turning point, I was hooked!

I loved watching their scenes together. They have such a strong tension between them that it jumps off the page at you. Once the story began to focus on those two learning more about each other, that’s when it really started to shine.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Repetitive Start–

As I mentioned above, this book started a little slow for me. Part of the reason is that the first few chapters seemed a touch repetitive. I felt like Jaz kept reiterating the same sentiments again and again so it made for a duller read than I anticipated. But once she learns about her destiny and goes to Eden, things pickup and never stop.

–Overdramatic Antics–

It’s easy to forget that the main setting for this novel is Jaz’s new high school in Eden. In the world of Eden, the dynasty heirs we see for a majority of the novel seem to be much older given their lifestyle. And especially later on in the novel when things become romantically heated.

I found some of the earlier antics between Jaz and Raph were very over the top. Things get escalated very quickly and it just takes things to the next level. Once I reminded myself that Eden isn’t Earth–that things are a little different thanks to the powers and such–it became easier to reconcile the character actions. And I found that things tapered off as the novel progressed. Yes, we get some of that petty drama but I feel like that comes with the territory of feuding family dramas so I didn’t mind so much.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

That finale was GREAT! I can’t wait to see what unfolds in Book 2! I have my own theories and suspicions but it looks like we are in for a wild ride regardless!

My Rating: 4/5

Secret Heir 4/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If you like dramatic TV shows but in a non-contemporary setting, this will be a great juicy read for you!

Read if You Like: parallel universes, family feuds, hate to love you
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult/Young Adult drama, want more action

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Fresh Fridays: Challenge Accepted (Cleat Chasers #1) by Jacqueline Snowe

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Cleat Chasers Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Challenge Accepted (from Goodreads):

Most college girls ‘swipe right’ to meet the right guy—Callie meets All-Star pitcher Zade while he’s buying tampons. College is all about learning, right?

How often do you meet your dream guy buying tampons at Target? Never, right? For Callie, a baseball-loving, closet chef, hardworking college student, it happened just once. The magic was too real, too fast, and too much so, she left the store without exchanging names. Fate worked in wonderful ways, right?

Zade Willows, the All-Star pitcher rumored to be drafted his senior year, gets what he wants. He has a fan club named after him who follow his every move but when he meets Callie, the game changes. She knows all his plays and knows how the game always ends: in heartbreak. Zade doesn’t back down and is willing to try anything. He’ll eventually get the girl, right?

breakdown

Series: Cleat Chasers
Author: Jacqueline Snowe
# of Books: 1+ (Challenge Accepted, Book 2)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Baseball
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a good sports romance and this one had me as soon as I read the synopsis! This one looked like it would have great banter between the leads with some potential for some solid character development.

What I Liked:

–Immediate Chemistry Between Leads–

The tension between these two is palpable the minute they meet. They are the perfect match for each other and it was fun watching them discover that the more they interacted. As a result, we get some great back and forth banter between them.

What was also a huge plus for me was that we weren’t getting pages and pages of sexy times either. There are maybe two described sex scenes in the entire novel so I liked that it focused more on the social side of the romance.

–They Challenge Each Other–

It probably goes without saying given the title of the novel, but I liked how these two made each other stronger characters. Zade is a sweetheart underneath his playboy persona and Callie brings that out in the best way. And it works the other way as well. Zade’s patience and willingness to be his best self allows Callie to move on from her painful romantic past and see that she can’t label all athletes the same way and that Zade is worth the risk.

What I Didn’t Like:

–We Spent a Little Too Long Playing Hard to Get–

I get the resistance for the romantic relationship between these two and as much as I loved the tension it brought, I found the first half of the novel felt repetitive as we watch these two go back and forth. I’m all for some good “will they or won’t they” action but I was ready for the next step earlier than it happened. I wanted to see the challenges their relationship would have unfold.

–The Random Subplots–

I really wanted a more solid plot here for this story. As I said above, I felt like so much of this book was spent watching these two fight the inevitable but once they gave in, you just get everyday life. Which is fine but not as entertaining as I wanted it to be. Zade gets an interesting twist near the end but I wish it was introduced earlier to utilize it a little more for his character development.

Add to that some random dramatic plots with some side characters and the plot seemed a little aimless at times. I’m all for little Easter eggs for what will happen next in the series by introducing you to the potential leads and their backstories but it just felt out of place to me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have some ideas of who future books might follow and I’m definitely curious to see what will happen next. This group of characters is a lot of fun and I definitely want to learn more about them.

My Rating: 3/5

Challenge Accepted 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

A fun and flirty new adult romance read that focuses more on character interactions than sexy times.

Read if You Like: college sport athletes, banter between leads
Avoid if You: dislike new adult romance, want more sexy times

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Series Review: The Hook-Up by Isla Madden-Mills

Synopsis for I Dare You (from Goodreads):
I DARE YOU!

Badass Athlete: I dare you to…
Delaney Shaw: Who is this?

The late night text is random, but “Badass Athlete” sure seems to know who she is…

Delaney Shaw.
Good girl.
Lover of fluffy kitties and Star Wars.
Curious.

His dare? Spend one night in his bed—a night he promises will be unforgettable—and she can solve the mystery of who he is.

She knows she shouldn’t, but what else is she going to do with her boring Valentine’s Day?

One sexy hook-up later, her mind is blown and the secret’s out.

Maverick Monroe.
Bad boy.
The most talented football player in the country.
Just ask him.

Too bad for him Delaney’s sworn off dating athletes forever after her last heartbreak.

But Maverick wants more than one night and refuses to give up on winning Delaney’s heart. She isn’t one to be fazed by a set of broad shoulders.

Will the bad boy land the nerd girl or will the secrets they keep from each other separate them forever?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Hook-Up
Author: Isla Madden Mills
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 28, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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:

Over the last two years, Isla Madden-Mills has become a must read author for me. I just love all the stories she writes thanks to her ability to write unique stories and characters. While she has a definite style to her writing, it never comes across as formulaic which I greatly appreciate as a reader.

I’ve been dying to read I Dare You ever since I read about it in her newsletter. The whole concept is one of my favourites to read and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen when sports jock meets witty nerd.

The Plot:

The synopsis is slightly misleading in the fact that it makes it sound like Delaney only has one interaction with “Badass Athlete” before she jumps into his bed. But what actually happens is a series of interactions and flirty texts over a good amount of time before the prospect of sleeping together happens.

It’s these interactions that I loved reading about. These two have such great banter and watching them tests each other’s limits with the texts was a treat. It just brought so much tension to the story that I just couldn’t put it down.

But once the “big reveal” is done, I found some of the momentum was lost as they focused on the secrets. Perhaps if the reader didn’t know Maverick’s secret already thanks to his POV, that tension would still be there. But that isn’t the case. However, I really did like how they handle all the “secrets” and the like so it wasn’t a huge impact on my rating.

The Characters:

I loved Delaney and Maverick. They are just great people and the type of characters you really want to see succeed in whatever it is they do. Together, they just complement each other as leads and this story wouldn’t be half as entertaining as it is without them.

The Romance:

SWOON! I definitely found a new book boyfriend in Maverick. He just says all the right things–but is a totally sweet guy too so you know it’s sincere. I loved all their scenes together and couldn’t get enough of their amazing chemistry.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I know what characters I want to see more of and I can’t wait!

updates

–November 4, 2018– Book #2: I Bet You

I really enjoyed this romance! Madden-Mills writes great banter and these two had it. The chemistry is instant. I think I wanted a little more from the plot and a little more from Ryker as a character (most povs are from Penelope). But I enjoyed every page of this book!

Read more of my review in my Blog Tour post!

My Rating: 4/5

I Dare You 4/5 | I Bet You 4/5

overall
With swoon-worthy heroes and entertaining characters to boot, this is an addicting series to read!

Read if You Like: college romances, jock heroes, hot romance
Avoid if You: dislike sport romances

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Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Fresh Fridays: He Wants It All (#1) by Marilena Barbagallo

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

He Wants it All Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for He Wants It All (from Goodreads):

Krum Botev has never had anything in life apart from himself. He knows only what he has been taught. Hard, selfish, insensitive, but faithful to the Father, the one who raised and educated him according to the values of the secret society he is part of. No one has ever succeeded in knocking down his armor. No one can touch him outside or inside; no-one except her, who is part of that past Krum cannot forget.

Ambra Livori, a beautiful and wealthy heiress, has always had everything. But nightmares don’t give her a break. They go on showing her the man who ruined her life when she was only sixteen. The memory of him, over time, has become a perverse feeling she cannot tolerate. Just when Ambra decides to learn how to control her emotions, she receives a strange call. Her origins will be questioned and the past will become a terrible present from which she won’t be able to escape. Fighting for herself will be the only solution.

What links Ambra and Krum? But most of all, can two different souls be able to touch each other outside and inside? A secret organization, an uncontrollable passion, a man and a woman destined to clash.

breakdown

Series: He Wants it All; Lui vuole tutto (Italian)
Author: Marilena Barbagallo
# of Books: 2 (He Wants It All, She Wants It All)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released in English
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild | BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 8, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good dark romance. I can’t get enough of the secrets, the sexual tension or the drama. They keep me on my toes and I love that.

After reading the synopsis for He Wants It All, I just had to give it a try. The whole notion of a secret organization had me curious to know more about the story and the link between our two leads.

What I Liked:

–The Flashbacks to the Past–

I had a hard time putting this book down! I was completely enthralled by the characters and the situation they find themselves in. We only gets bits and pieces of their shared past at a time and that pushed me to keep reading. It was great putting together all the hints we get along the way to see the bigger picture.

I also liked the character development it provided for our leads, specifically for Krum. It was nice to get the insight into his character and his motivations instead of having him be a complete enigma. Understanding his character helped me appreciate his struggles with Ambra and his back-and-forth nature when it might have otherwise annoyed me.

–The Sexual Tension–

Ambra is a great complement to his character and I loved all their scenes together. They have fantastic chemistry from the start. Their whole “I hate to love you” routine is electric throughout the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle–

I will say that the middle of this book did get a little slower for me. Most of that time is spent between Ambra and Krum fighting their attraction–which is all fine and dandy. As I said above, I loved their scenes together.

But I do wish we would have had a little focus on Ambra and the society. Just some little inklings that remind you that there is a bigger story than these two fighting their attraction. We do get those pieces near the end which I appreciate but they could have been hinted at earlier I think.

Notes on the English Translation:

I do want to comment briefly on the English translation of this book. This book was originally written in Italian and the author decided to translate it into Italian. I read the English version.

Unfortunately, I do think a few things were lost in translation along the way and that did alter my reading experience. Some of the sentences were awkward or didn’t make complete sense based on the words they used in the translation. Technically, the sentence is correct but isn’t the way a native English speaker would say it so it makes sentences seem wordier or slighter alters the true point the character is trying to convey.

I had to reread a lot to get a solid grasp on what the characters were trying to say and that ruined the flow of the book for me. All this book needs is a thorough edit in English and it would knock readers socks off! Because everything else is on par with great dark romances!

Note: It looks like a new English Translation is in the works so be on the lookout for an updated version!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While some of my questions were answered, I had about 50 more by the time He Wants it All wrapped up. I can’t wait to see what is next!

My Rating: 4/5

He Wants it All 4/5 | She Wants it All TBP

overall

This was a great dark romance! I loved the secrets and the tension between the leads. It kept me hooked from the start

Read if You Like: dark romances, tragic character pasts, secrets
Avoid if You: dislike dark romance

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Fresh Fridays: The Songs in Our Hearts by Chantal Gadoury

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Songs in Our Hearts (from Goodreads):

High school junior Charlie Blake has never seen anyone quite like Micah Jacobs in her small town of Grand Lakes. With his carefree spirit, rough-around-the-edges personality, and handsome grin, Charlie is transfixed.

But Charlie’s been burned before with her first crush, at the hands of an ex-friend and a cruel joke. Because of those scars, Charlie keeps her guard up when it comes to boys. But a class project – that may or may not involve kissing for the camera! – forces her to not only confront Micah, but her true feelings.

While prepping for the assignment, Charlie finds herself in Micah’s car accompanied by the music of Journey, Elvis, The Cars, and Peter Gabriel. Between slushies, burning rafts, pizza, and great music, Charlie and Micah bond as she learns the importance of letting go of the past and opening herself to new people.

When their project comes to an end, Charlie wonders if she should finally confess everything she’s been denying before she loses the chance. When words fail, will the songs in her heart be enough?

breakdown

Series: Songs
Author: Chantal Gadoury
# of Books: 2 (The Songs in Our Hearts, The Songs We Remember)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Songs We Remember is to be released October 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Chantal Gadoury!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge music fan of the 70s and 80s so when I saw Journey and the Cars listed in the synopsis for this book, I was totally on board! I love when books incorporate something else and music especially. After all, most songs are a story of some sorts so they just seem to go hand and hand to me.

But I also love when school partners fall in love and the coming of age vibes in the synopsis had be curious to see what would happen between Charlie and Mica.

What I Liked:

–The Music Soundtrack–

What drew me to this book was the music. I loved the way that music was incorporated in the chapter headings to parallel what was happening within them. You could definitely make this a super interactive experience by listening to each song before the start of the chapter just to get that little bit more from it. (I recognized most of the songs by heart so I immediately got the connections which was awesome)

Truthfully, I thought the bond over them listening to music would play a bigger role than it does but that’s ok. They bond in other ways which works well for the story and strengthens their relationship. The music does play a substantial role though just know that it isn’t only about the music between these two.

–Charlie’s Family–

One of the biggest highlights for me was Charlie’s family. It was so nice to have such a positive, real family in a YA read. She has a super close relationship with her older brother that I found to be charming and realistic. I also liked that her parents were supportive but stern when they needed to be. It was just refreshing to me to see a family actually get along and support the lead.

–I Got The DUFF Vibes When Reading–

The relationship dynamic between Charlie and Micah reminded me of the relationship between Bianca and Wesley in The DUFF. It’s slightly antagonistic and full of banter at the start but evolves into something more as they get to know each other. They take their time getting to know the other on a deeper level just by listening or doing everyday things together and I loved that.

Charlie and Bianca have similar stories too in the sense that they are working on becoming confident in themselves and learning to not care what others think.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Development from Micah–

For me, I just wanted a little more character growth. This is a story about the characters since there isn’t too much going on in terms of the dramatic plot as it is a coming of age story. In particular I would have liked Micah’s character to develop a bit more than he does. I know the focus is on Charlie and her getting over her fears but I think it would have added some depth to their relationship if we learned a little more about Micah. We get little tidbits that maybe there is more to his character and I wish those were elaborated on a little more.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

What I’m really looking forward to is the character growth of these two moving forward. Navigating their feelings, friends and everyday with the change in their relationship has me intrigued to see what will happen next.

My Rating: 3/5

The Songs in Our Hearts 3/5 | The Songs We Remember TBP

overall

This is a charming and cute read that YA fans will enjoy. In particular, if you enjoy books that incorporate music or have a soundtrack to them, this is definitely the perfect read for you!

Read if You Like: music, YA contemporary, girls getting their confidence
Avoid if You: want soap-opera like drama

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Fresh Fridays: Flame in the Mist (#1) by Renee Ahdieh

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Flame in the Mist Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Flame in the Mist (from Goodreads):

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Must Read Author
Series: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (Flame in the Mist, Smoke in the Sun)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you asked me what my top 3 Disney movies are, I would say without hesitation: Aladdin, Mulan and Hercules. I loved Mulan as a young girl because she is like every girl you will ever meet. She’s bound by family duty and love and pressured by society to be a certain way. What girl doesn’t feel that at some point or another? And her transformation to assert her independence is inspirational for any young girl who watches it.

So I think it goes without saying, I was very, very excited to pick this book up. Even if this story wasn’t based on Mulan, I was eagerly awaiting Ahdieh’s next series after I completely fell in love with her The Wrath and the Dawn Duology last year.

Best Advice: Forget Disney’s Mulan & Keep to the Basics!

I know I just touted Disney’s Mulan (and I could write a very long post praising the movie) for its awesomeness, but I think it important to go into this remembering that that movie is based on the Chinese legend Hua Mulan–as is this book.

So expect plot differences and new characters; don’t expect songs and a talking dragon.

What do they share? A heroine who has always struggled with her place in society and her family. A girl who is smart in ways people don’t expect; who has a knack for crafting military devices that save her friends. A young woman who begins a journey to learn that she is more powerful and independent than she ever thought.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I love everything about Japan, particularly feudal Japan. I just find its history and culture to be fascinating. So having the novel set here immediately hooked me in. Ahdieh has a great power to weave worlds and it shows here. It’s rich and layered and even though it is influenced by another source, she makes it her own.

–The Politics–

I’m a sucker for political intrigue in my reads. It’s one of the reasons I adored The Wrath and The Dawn series so much. I love when you don’t know who you can trust; when there is more at play than you can ever imagine. This book has that thanks to the multiple POVs we get. You have this 360 degree view of the world and everything that is at play and I loved it.

–Mariko’s Character Development–

Mariko really blossoms before your eyes in terms of her growth. She’s shy and reserved at the start but slowly begins to break out of her shell. Her journey isn’t without fault, and she sure isn’t perfect but she continues to learn as she goes. Definitely a heroine you can root for.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place for it, but its appearance just seemed so sudden and abrupt that it took me a long time to realize what was happening. (It’s hard to elaborate without spoilers).

I genuinely grew to like the two of them together by the end but I just didn’t like how this was handled at the start. I guess I wanted a little more build-up.

–Slower Start–

I’m not sure what I was expecting at the start of the novel. I thought it was action but when I thought about it, I think I knew that there wasn’t going to be physical action immediately. Mariko’s character definitely isn’t at that point at the start and you know that thanks to the synopsis. So what was my problem?

Truthfully, I think it just takes the reader a few chapters to get acquainted with the world. Like I said above, this world is rich and layered and you don’t really get the full picture of what is happening until you are a few chapters in. It needs to build, and it definitely does as you go, just give it some time to get there.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! This start has so many great inklings to lead into the sequel. It’s building up to a fantastic climax that I can’t wait to see!

My Rating: 4/5

Flame in the Mist 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This story kept my attention from start to finish; from the rich setting to the intriguing characters, there’s a lot to like about this retelling!

Read if You Like: feudal Japan, world-building, Mulan
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action

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