Tag «Contemporary»

romances set in today’s time

Spin-off Saturdays: Rise by Piper Lawson

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:

Rise is a spin-off of Play and NSFW

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Connected to the novels Play and NSFW
Author: Piper Lawson
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single **Male POV**
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Piper Lawson!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’m always excited to return to the lives of characters I’ve already met so I was really excited to get Riley’s story after his cameos in Play and NSFW.

What I Liked?

–Only Told Through Riley’s POV–

One of the highlights of this story is getting it only in Riley’s POV. It’s hard to find a solo male POV in romance; even harder to find one where the lead is a genuinely nice guy. Riley isn’t some player out to get as many girls as he can. He wants a serious relationship, he’s just can’t seem to find one…probably because the right girl got away 10 years ago.

–Riley’s Character Development–

For me, this story is all about Riley discovering what he truly wants in life. His career is in a critical place, his best friend and business partner just had a baby, the girl he left behind years ago is back: life is starting to change. And I really enjoyed watching him go through all those hurdles and become a stronger character.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slightly Off Pacing for Me–

I did struggle a little with that pacing at times because I felt like we got too invested in Riley’s work and that caused the romance to take a backseat sometimes.

–It Took Me a Bit to Warm Up to Sam–

We don’t get Sam’s POV and so we don’t know her thoughts or feelings unless she says something. But, the flashbacks we get of their shared past did help solidify why these two deserve a second chance and those scenes helped me to fall in love with their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy well-rounded romances that have a dash of humour, can tug at your heartstrings and feature strong characters, you’ll truly enjoy this novel!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, male POV, strong characters
Avoid if You: want erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rise (from Goodreads):

Falling is easy. Getting up is a b*tch.

When we met, we were lost.
Most seventeen year olds are.
We lifted each other up off the ground each time we fell. Until the day I let her down.
Now I have everything. A Bentley, a profile in GQ, a movie option and the company my best friend and I co-founded after school.
Until our paths cross ten years later at a gallery. The backdrop might be the same but we’ve both changed. I know it the second I see Sam standing in front of the canvas my best friend bought.
She’s more than the girl who used to draw comic book characters on my arm after class. The one I had inside jokes with. The one who taught me to be a rock when someone you love is being thrown around by the waves.
She’s beautiful. Confident. Edgy.
Sam should’ve been my first everything. God knows we both wanted it.
Now I have a second chance.
This time I won’t let her down.
This time, we’ll rise together.

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Blog Tour: Let Me Love You by Jessica Jayne

Synopsis for Let Me Love You (from Goodreads):

Twenty-three year old Ren Haynes returns home after graduating college with two goals–start his engineering career and claim the heart of his parents’ thirty-one year old divorced neighbor, Stacey Williams.

Stacey is nursing her broken heart and shattered ego. Not only did her ex-husband have an affair, he got the woman pregnant. Picking up the pieces of her life isn’t easy, so when Ren taps into her need to feel desired again, she finds herself in a position she never imagined.

Can Ren help to rebuild her confidence and convince her that age is just a number?

breakdown

Author: Jessica Jayne
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 18, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In romances, age difference can play a huge factor in the relationship and so I always enjoy books that explore this situation because it can cause some tension. I was particularly drawn to this novel because it is an older woman/younger man relationship–one that we don’t often see in novels (as it always seems to be the reverse). So I couldn’t wait to explore this scenario and get some great sexual tension along the way.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the fact that this story was all about the romance. We don’t get any unnecessary drama along the way. It’s focus is all on Ren seducing Stacey and showing her that he is serious about her and in turn, Stacey reacting to his feelings and deciding if she wants to pursue a relationship with him. I found that this singular plot helped to develop the characters a little more and focus on their hopes and fears about the relationship. It made the story more character focused–which is what you want in a romance.

The Characters:

I really liked this small cast of characters. Stacey is a great heroine. I found her wants and fears to be believable given her past. I loved watching her self confidence grow as the story progressed.

As for Ren, he’s a good lead. He’s mature and driven but a nice guy. He was really sweet with Stacey so I understand her hardship in trying to resist him.

But what I really liked about all these characters (including the side ones like Ren’s parents) was their honest and upfront conversations. They didn’t beat around the bush so to speak. I enjoyed their candid conversations and how they laid everything out. It created some great dialogue and helped progress the story in a positive way.

The Romance:

While I really liked Ren and Stacey as a couple, I wanted a little more build-up to the revealing of Ren’s intentions. We get told a lot that they had this great connection before the novel started; that they’ve talked and shared a lot over the last few years and consider each other friends. And while I never doubted Ren’s intentions (ie that he wanted Stacey as a forever girl), I think it would have sold me sooner on the romance if I had seen some of that tension build between them. If I got to see them fall in love instead of being told they were in love. Regardless, they did have great chemistry so I enjoyed their scenes together.

My Rating: 3/5

overall
This is a very quick albeit sweet romance about pursuing love and learning to love again after a betrayal.

Read if You Like: “off-limits” romance, romance focused plot
Avoid if You: want a longer read

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Jessica Jayne

Jessica is a born and raised small town Ohio girl, who moved to the Sunshine State after graduating from college. She graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English. What college major could possibly be better than one that makes you read novels and write about them! Now she is thrilled to be able to share all the hot stories floating around in her head!

Jessica loves to travel and travel often! She shares her love of travel with her husband and children. She’s a huge sports fan, especially football. She ❤ the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ohio State Buckeyes! She’s a wine-making (and wine-tasting) aficionado. She loves all music. And nothing is better than sunset at the beach!

In the journey of life, she also married a wonderful man and had three beautiful (and sometimes crazy) children. Life is always an adventure!

Author Links: Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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Blog Tour: Rules of Rebellion by Amity Cross

Synopsis for Rules of Rebellion (from Goodreads):

1. Skinny dip (her idea)
2. Prank someone (his idea)
3. Stargaze (her idea)
4. Kiss someone (his idea)

Leo Zimmerman has had a crush on his curvy best friend Kylie Jenkins since forever, so When he discovers the girl with a flair for baking has a newfound plan to rebel against her overbearing parents, he’s determined to be the one to help her carry it out. Who better than a self-proclaimed rebel like himself to show her the ropes of letting loose?

Sure, taking her to her first high school party, helping her sneak out of the house, or watching a sunset together isn’t exactly a hardship, but much harder is masking his feelings the more time they spend together. And when he suggests adding “kiss a boy” to Kylie’s plan and she accepts…suddenly all his dreams seem to be coming true.

But Leo’s got a secret that could change everything between them, and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to the surface.

breakdown

Series?: This is a Spin-Off of The Rules of Persuasion
Author: Amity Cross
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date:  April 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you Entangled Publishing!

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Entangled Publishing

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

For a girl who used to be afraid of the YA contemporary genre, I’ve been hitting all the right notes lately! I couldn’t resist signing myself up for this book when I read the synopsis. I’m a sucker for “secretly in love with” scenario–especially in high school settings–and I loved the idea of Kylie and Leo completing a high school bucket list of sorts. So I couldn’t wait to read this!

The Plot:

I think the synopsis is a touch misleading because it implies that Kylie and Leo are already good friends–or at least that’s how I read it. It’s more like they are within the same friend group but don’t know that much about each other. Which honestly, just makes this story even sweeter because you get to see them form that deeper bond of friendship…and watch it bloom into something else.

The pacing for this novel was fabulous. It simply strikes the right balance between romance, character growth, the “to-do” list plot as well as the “big secret”. I’ll admit, I had totally guessed that secret wrong so I liked the twist that provided as well.

The Characters:

What I love about Kylie and Leo is that they are genuine people. They have big hearts, care about their families and are just nice people. You really want them to succeed in whatever they set out to accomplish in this story.

But they are also human and have their flaws. It was great watching them grow a little more confident in themselves as the story progressed thanks to their relationship. They both have some solid character development throughout the story and I always like to see that in my YA contemporaries.

The Romance:

Well, I found myself a new book boyfriend with Leo! Swoon! He was just adorable and immediately stole my heart by the end of his first POV chapter. He is so in love with Kylie and watching him try to win her over was as sweet as it was fun.

The romance here was positively charming and everything I wanted it to be when I picked this novel up.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This book will definitely melt your heart and put a smile on your face!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, swoon-worthy heroes
Avoid if You: want a darker story

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Amity Cross

Amity lives in beautiful northern Minnesota with her two sons, two cats and their Rottweiler.

She has a degree in elementary education and worked in that field for ten years before deciding to self-publish.

Her first self-published novel, Twisted, was listed by Amazon as a Top 100 Kids & Teens Kindle Book of 2012. It hit Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance Best Sellers List in several countries. Truths and Dares held the #1 position on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks in the UK.

If she’s not writing or spending time with her boys, she’s most likely reading.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Single Sundays: Savage Love 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 Savage Love (from Goodreads):

I hate him.

He’s made my life a living hell every day since we were five years old. We’ve been enemies since the day he cut off my pigtails in first grade and I retaliated by drawing on his face with a sharpie.

Our hate of each other grew stronger as we got older. We grew more savage in the way we dealt with each other. We broke bones in fights, sabotaged each other’s dates, and ruined any chance each other had at happiness.

We went our separate ways after college. I never thought I’d have to deal with that asshole again.

But I’m out of a job, so when the opportunity to compete for one of the highest profile PR jobs presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Even if it means I’ll have to compete with Carter for the job. I’ll be more than happy to crush him on the way to my dream job. I’m willing to do anything, savage things, to ensure I win.

There’s just one problem. I forgot how much my body betrays me every time I see Carter. Because despite all the horrible things he’s done, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to do naughty, unthinkable things with him. Will my savage heart be enough to resist his charms?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 26th, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of Ella Miles and her darker contemporary works. So I was really excited to see what she would do in a more contemporary, slightly lighter romance.

I’m a huge fan of the hate to love you trope and when it’s linked to the “in love with brother’s BFF” one? And you add in some pranks? I’m so there!

The Concept:

It definitely lives up to the “Savage” title with some of the ways these two try to out smart each other!

These two go to the extremes in their efforts to out match each other. Being a seasoned Ella Miles reader, I know that she will take things to that next level and that’s the case here. It makes the read entertaining though and keeps you hooked because you have to know what will happen between them.

The Plot:

I loved the back and forth nature of this story–it’s one of my favourite aspects of the hate to love you story. The characters would have these moments where they want to rip each other apart and then they want to rip each other’s clothes off. I love that type of drama and this book had it in spades.

My only complaint was with some of the dramatic elements that came as a result of the job they were competing for. They both are PR “fixers” but their solution to the situations just didn’t seem plausible to me. Plus, it resulted in some drama that I wasn’t a fan of.

The Characters:

I really liked these leads. I loved how driven Victoria was. How she wouldn’t stay down for long because she’d come back fighting.

It helped getting Carter’s POV as well because you start to understand his rational for his actions and thoughts. I’m not sure if I would have liked him as much if his POV was omitted because I really appreciated that insight into his mind. I did think he changed his tune a little too quickly but I enjoyed watching him trying to make things right.

The Romance:

For me, it was so easy to see why these two have been at ends with each other for years: they are too similar and so stubborn that they clash whenever they meet. I always love watching leads who are so perfect for each other fight the obvious and this was no exception. Their romance was definitely a highlight of the story and met my every expectation.

My only complaint was with some of the dramatic elements that came as a result of the job they were competing for. They both are PR “fixers” but their solution to the situations just didn’t seem plausible to me. Plus, it resulted in some drama that I wasn’t a fan of.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you love dramatic “hate-to-love-you” stories with plenty of steam, pick this up now!

Read if You Like: hate to love you, rivals, second chances
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes, dislike lots of drama

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Blog Tour: The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder (from Goodreads):

In the south, everyone has a secret–and murder is served with sweet tea.

The word’s out: Ethan Wilder’s coming back to town, and the people of Bowie, Georgia are in a southern tizzy. Everyone knows the story. He shot and killed his sister four years ago, and people say his father, Jim Wilder, the biggest holy roller this side of the Mississippi, sent him packing for just that reason. Even if her death was unofficially ruled a suicide, Ethan’s return has everybody talking.

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Doherty can’t go anywhere without hearing his name. Born and raised in Bowie, Delilah knows firsthand about the gossipmongers and how they love a good scandal. The daughter of a wild child and niece of the local psychic, she’s also the only one who doubts Ethan’s guilt.

After Ethan saves her life, the two start a slow and steady burn neither can deny. But when Bowie’s spiritual leader is nearly murdered, it rocks the small southern town to its core. Delilah and Ethan are caught in the crossfire, their relationship threatened before it’s even begun. Someone has it out for Ethan’s family. With everyone convinced of Ethan’s guilt, it’s up to Delilah to unravel the mystery before someone else gets hurt or worse…dead.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a fan of Cookie’s since her first novel, Adorkable and her second novel Ninja Girl made me add her to my “must read” author list soon after. So I was excited to see what she would write next.

I’ll say that a mystery wasn’t what I was totally expecting her to write next (though technically, she wrote this first) but the title and synopsis definitely had me curious. So I couldn’t wait to see what this ridiculous truth about Ethan Wilder really was.

The Plot:

This book has a slower start to it as it sets up the exposition and introduces all the characters. This is a trend I often see when I read books set in the South. We get swept up into the mundane everyday lives of the small towns and the small cast of characters. Cookie has a talent for writing intriguing characters so I didn’t mind as much as I usually would.

We get a bit of a double mystery here. You have the infamous Ethan who has just returned to town and seems to keep to himself–except for a those interactions with Delilah. And then you have the incidences involving his family –which don’t really start until the 30% mark. I thought this would start a little early and become the main focus of the story but it doesn’t really. It’s more of something that runs in the background while Delilah carries on with her everyday life in this small town.

However, the introduction of the mystery does add this tone of suspense to the novel and that suspense carries you through the rest of the novel. As for the mystery itself, I definitely didn’t figure it out so that always gets bonus points in my eye!

The Characters:

As I said before, Cookie has a great talent for creating characters. She has quite the eclectic cast here and they really do work for this story.

I liked Delilah as a lead. She’s got a great heart despite all the stuff people throw her way. Sure, she’s a little oblivious to boys liking her but that’s part of her charm in a way.

What I really liked is that Ethan is kept a total mystery to us. We don’t get his POV, just whatever interactions happen with Delilah or ones she hears secondhand. He’s got that bad boy appeal but also has his swoon-worthy moments as well so I liked whenever he was in a scene.

The Romance:

Well, Ethan became a book boyfriend for me so I think it goes without saying I thought this was totally cute. Again, I just love the romances Cookie creates! This one was really sweet and very subtle. So when you got those cute moments between them, it just made you smile.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
This was a slow start for me so it took me a while to get truly invested. But once the pieces of the mystery start to reveal themselves, I found myself spinning various theories and eagerly awaiting the big reveal. Another great novel by Cookie O’Gorman.

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, books set in the South, mystery
Avoid if You: dislike slow starts, need lots of action

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE and NINJA GIRL are out now! Her third book, THE UNBELIEVABLE, INCONCEIVABLE, UNFORESEEABLE TRUTH ABOUT ETHAN WILDER, will be released April 5, 2018!

Author Links:

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Series Review: Damaged Hearts by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Her Defiant Heart (from Goodreads):

Life can feel like a cruel joke. I grew up poor and motherless, with a father who never got over his wife’s abandonment. But now he’s gone too, and I’m dead set on finding the woman who so carelessly tossed me aside when I was a baby.

I want revenge. And I’m going to get back at my mother any way that I can.

I change my name. Start my new life in college, and just happen to cross paths with the gorgeous, ultra-rich Rhett Montgomery. He’s immediately interested in me, not that I’m surprised.

You see, I planned it that way. I meant for him to find me. He’s the one connection to my mother, and I’m using him, so I can destroy her. But I didn’t plan on Rhett being so charming. Sweet. Sexy.

And I definitely didn’t plan on falling for him either…

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Defiant Heart Trilogy
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Her Defiant Heart, His Wasted Heart, Damaged Hearts)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, His Wasted Heart, will be published April 26, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty -Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 29, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC via iTunes

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thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I say anytime I review a Monica Murphy novel, she’s a favourite of mine in everything she writes, but especially her New Adult romances. And when I saw that she was going to be writing a revenge story? One of my all time favourite tropes to read—I nearly croaked in excitement!

What I Liked:

–The Revenge Plot–

The revenge plot in any book is one of my favourites because it provides so many opportunities for an addicting story. It provides this level of anticipation as you watch the pieces fall into place; it gives the romance a dash of danger; and you always get some great twists along the way. But one of my favourite aspects is the character’s realization that perhaps revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the subsequent character growth we get as a result.

This book had all of that and that’s what made it so addicting to read. You’ve got the anticipation of learning Jen’s full plan for revenge and everything she’s done to get to that point. You’ve got her mixed feelings towards her target Rhett (who definitely packs on the charm). And along the way we get these little plot twists that you know are setting the foundation for something more to happen.

But the best part is:

–Our Heroine–

When we first get introduced to Jen, she’s a bit of a cold-hearted chick to say the least. She’s methodical in her plan for revenge and has her “eye on the prize” so to speak. But I was shocked how quickly my heart melted for her. Thanks to flashbacks we get to see what has driven Jen to this point and why she feels she needs to complete this path for vengeance. Add to that her inner monologue of struggles as she executes her plans and you really start to sympathize for the girl. She’s a complex lead in a sticky situation and I loved the character development that happens as a result.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I have to wait for the sequel–

Thank goodness it’s only a few weeks away! I was so hooked that I didn’t realize I was near the end and I need to know what happens next!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I can see that bigger things are to come — and knowing Monica Murphy they are going to be worth the wait! I’m also really excited to learn more about Rhett by getting the sequel, His Wasted Heart, from his POV. It’ll be nice to get some more depth to his character!

updates

–April 16, 2018– Book 2: His Wasted Heart

First: I loved the fact that this book was told entirely from Rhett’s POV. Having only had Jensen’s in the previous one, I was excited to get into the inner workings of this playboy-charmer. While I wanted a little more character growth from him, I loved the various secrets that were revealed by seeing Rhett’s family first hand. Jensen’s lack of a POV also gave this novel an air of suspense because you don’t know what Jensen’s plans for revenge are or is she honestly trying to foster the connection she and Rhett share.

These two do share an intense connection for sure. I found the first half of this book almost focused a little too much on the physical chemistry between these two. Their sexual chemistry was something we had already established in Her Defiant Heart so I wanted more character development from Rhett and some expanded upon plot development as well. That being said, Monica Murphy sure does know how to write some steamy scenes!

And I will say that this book gets it together by the end. We get some fabulous twists in the last few chapters that have me itching for the sequel ASAP!

My Rating: 4/5

Her Defiant Heart 4/5 | His Wasted Heart 3.5/5 | Damaged Hearts TBP

overall
This series has everything I love about a Monica Murphy New Adult series. It’s got a jaded but likeable lead, a swoon-worthy love interest and just the right flare of drama to keep you hooked until the very end!

Read if You Like: revenge plots, quicker reads, New Adult
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike revenge

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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

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Fresh Fridays: Dirty Obsession (Dirty #1) by Ella Miles

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:

Dirty Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Obsession (from Goodreads):

Arlo Carini saved my life, only to destroy it.

When I first met him, he was the wealthy, powerful, sexy stranger giving me and a dozen other art history students a tour of his mansion. But he soon became my everything.

My savior. My lover. My obsession.

He tried to warn me. Every chance he could, he tried to get me to run far, far away. But it only made my obsession grow stronger. Until I made the worst mistake I could. And ended up trapped forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Dirty
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Dirty Obsession, Dirty Addiction, Book 3)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Beginning included in Dirty Obsession

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Dirty Addiction will be released April 2018
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles never fails to disappoint me when it comes to her books. I always think I’m going to get one story but I end up with another–one that never fails to entertain and surprise me.

I love a good dark romance and after reading the novella, Dirty Beginning, I was curious to see what was in story next for these characters.

What I Liked:

–Dark and Twisted–

This is probably one of the darkest romances I’ve ever read. It’s deliciously dark and twisted which means it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t enjoy dark erotic romances, don’t pick this up! But if you do, you are in for a treat!

This story did keep me on my toes. You always get the sense that there is more lurking underneath with all the characters involved and I loved the tension that brought to the story. I became a little obsessed (pun intended) trying to figure out what was happening and why. And the twists when everything is revealed (and how it ties back to the novella, Dirty Beginning): awesome.

–The Characters–

I really enjoyed the main characters we get to meet. You’ve got your very evil villain; the mysterious hero and a strong heroine. Nina is very likeable, more so in this book than in the novella I think. She has some solid character growth from start to end which I always appreciate!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Allusion to the “Game”–

I do wish the “game” was allude to more than it was throughout the novel. Just some little hints along the way would have been great. Even though the game is always afoot, I felt like we got a little too wrapped up in the sex scenes at times and I wanted a little more insight into the “why” of it all.

When to read the Prequel Novella: Dirty Beginning?

Definitely before you read Dirty Obsession! It gives you context for the first novel and introduces you to all the key players. You could get by without reading it but seeing as it is included in the Dirty Obsession, just read it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the next set of leads. I have a particular soft spot for our hero so I can’t wait for him to meet his match!

My Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Beginning 3/5] | Dirty Obsession 4/5| Dirty Addiction TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Perfect for fans of truly dark romances and sexy times! But if you don’t enjoy erotica or more graphic scenes, don’t pick this up!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike erotica, love triangles

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Single Sundays: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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 Tell Me Three Things (from Goodreads):

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

breakdown

Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like most titles, I don’t know how this one crossed my radar but I know a lot of my friends on Goodreads have read (and enjoyed) it since its release.

I was really excited to read it though because it sounded a lot like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda–the idea of a secret pen-pal that helps the lead cope with the current situation. I had heard this book was funny and charming, so I was eager to dive into the audiobook.

The Concept:

I definitely think people can relate to this book–and Jessie–in some way or another. She’s going through a lot of changes in her life and she’s just doing the best she can to adapt. I related to her because I’ve totally been that new kid at school, trying to navigate life in a new place. But meeting her new step-family and grieving the loss of her mother are other aspects readers will gravitate towards as well.

The whole concept of Somebody Nobody (SN) reminded me a lot of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda where the characters interact and bond with someone online. But instead of Jessie dealing with her sexuality like Simon in a place he is familiar with, she’s dealing with grief and living in a whole new city. Both are charming leads that will have you laughing out loud and feeling their pain throughout their respective novels.

The Plot:

I liked that there was a lot going on in this book. You aren’t focused solely on Jessie and her grieving–which is important, don’t get me wrong. I just mean that there are other things happening that add to the overall experience and makes everything that little bit richer. It also gives the book a lighter tone in between those moments of grief.

Also, the mystery of SN was fantastic! It truly keeps you invested and has this addicting quality to it. I couldn’t tell if it was just wishful thinking on my part or if it was obvious who SN was. Either way, it was still an enjoyable aspect of the story.

The Characters:

Like I said before, Jessie is a very relateable character and hilarious. Some of her comments had me laughing out loud for quite a while. I loved her wit and sass–usually I only find that in contemporaries with male leads.

But I also loved her character development. Watching her get that self confidence back was fabulous.

Why this book doesn’t get 5 stars though is because she is also frustrating at times. Her assumptions about who SN was were maddening to listen to. I swear, she would purposely miss things to meet an end. As I noted at the 78% mark:

“Maybe he doesn’t act like he’s SN because he ISN’T SN! I swear, Jessie is a little dense sometimes -.-“

And again at the 97% mark:

“Girl, for the love of all, stop assuming things and just ask or wait for someone to tell you!”

I just wanted to give her a smack and say THINK ABOUT IT! Her biggest fault is her inability to communicate. However, thanks to her character’s story and development, I understood why that would be the case so I cut her some slack. Still didn’t make it easier to listen too at times.

The Romance:

This was super cute and I liked that it wasn’t a huge focus of the book either. I don’t want to give too much away but I think readers will be happy with this.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook and I think that positively impacted my rating. As a reader, I have a better time understanding wit and sarcasm when it’s spoken instead of simply words on a page. But there is also something about listening to someone pour their heart out. You feel so connected to the character as they tell you their story and I definitely felt that with Jessie.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a YA contemporary that hits all the right notes. It’s charming, funny and sweet–readers will love this! Plus, it has heart waffles on the cover! Waffles!

Read if You Like: realistic YA contemporary, witty heroines
Avoid if You: dislike realistic contemporary fiction

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Series Review: Maybe by Ella Miles

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 Maybe Yes (from Goodreads):

Her future is already set, all she has to do is marry a complete stranger.

Kinsley Felton has everything. Money, a loving family, and a modeling career. She graduates from Yale in just days, but unlike a typical college student she doesn’t have to spend hours looking for a job when she graduates. Kinsley will inherit the multi-billion dollar gaming and hospitality company her great-grandfather started. The only problem is she has to do everything her family asks for in order to get that money. That includes marrying a man of her family’s choosing. That’s not a problem since Kinsley has been following her family’s orders all her life. Until a phone call from her grandfather changes everything.

Will she marry the man her family chooses or will she decide her own future?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Dark Romance 2017
Series: Maybe

There is a spin-off series called Definitely.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Maybe Yes, Maybe Never, Maybe Always)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: getting hot (Kink: mild in Maybe Always)
Point of View: First Person, Single (Maybe Yes), Alternating (Maybe Never onwards)
Publication Dates: March – July 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Amazon freebie box set)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found out about Maybe Yes but I marked it on my TBR around the time it was first published in March 2016. And then I really lucked out when the trilogy boxset was listed as a freebie read on Amazon in February 2017. It’s not often that a book I mark as a TBR gets a reduced price let alone the entire series is marked as free so I immediately grabbed a copy.

This was a romance right up my alley! I like to read about unorthodox relationships in my romances–I find they keep things interesting between the usually romantic fare. And the “arranged relationship” trope is one of my faves as well. So to find one that seemed to combine both was awesome! However, I was hesitant that I wouldn’t like Kinsley’s character (I don’t like indecisive heroines) but went in with an open mind and was really excited to start this series when I pulled it from my TBR jar for my #ShelfLove Challenge!

The Concept:

The disclaimer for this series actually supremely helpful in preparing the reader for what to expect. Because the story we get in Maybe Yes (book 1) is nothing like the story we get in Maybe Always (book 3).

Warning: Three book series. Contains hot sex, a female that finds her strength, and dark pasts that turn very dark as the series progresses. Only for those that love dirty romances, edge of your seat suspense, twists, and a little bit of darkness.

That first part about a “female that finds her strength” is key when it comes to meeting Kinsley for the first time. She’s a naive girl who has her whole life controlled by her family–and for some unknown reason–so it makes her seem like she isn’t the brightest girl on the planet. But that also provides the perfect opportunity for character growth. More on that below. My point is, thanks to that disclaimer, I was able to have some patience with her character in that first book. I was able to get some understanding for why the situation is what it is.

The same thing goes for the “dark pasts” aspect. This isn’t just a story about a girl deciding if her arranged marriage will work for her–there is so much more going on and this story goes in a direction I never expected. It’s not your everyday contemporary romance (despite how the synopsis for book 1 reads) and that’s what I loved about it.

The Plot:

Like I said, this book always had me guessing! The plot is never what it seems and the twists are fabulous! I was absolutely hooked on this story and easily could have read all three books in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way.

But like the disclaimer said, this series moves in a direction you probably aren’t expecting when you pick up Maybe Yes. It has an edge of danger to it that I think some readers might not enjoy if they prefer their lighter romances that focus on the sexy times and everyday dramatics. There’s nothing “everyday” about this series at all.

The Characters:

The Kinsley we have in book 1 is by no means the Kinsley we get in book 3. Her character progression was fabulous to read. She truly gains her independence and learns that she is more than the beauty her family has told her to bank on her entire life. And what I really loved is that she doesn’t become co-dependent on her romantic interest either. You could have easily removed his role and you would still get this strong heroine at the end.

This series is really about Kinsley becoming her own woman but you need a strong partner as well. I’m not going to name her romantic interest because I think it is a slight spoiler; but I will say that I really loved his character and the role he plays. He was a great partner for Kinsley’s journey because he has one he has to complete as well.

The Romance:

While this happens pretty fast and doesn’t seem like it has too much depth to it, I think it’s easy for the reader to see why these two would work together. Like I said above, they were a great partnership and had fantastic chemistry to boot!

Series Rating: 4/5

Maybe Yes 4/5 | Maybe Never 4/5 | Maybe Always 4/5

overall

Take the disclaimer to heart. If you don’t like suspense or darker romances (like the ones in my similar reads section below), avoid this! But if you want a story that is always twisting with a heroine that truly grows as the story progresses, check it out!

Read if You Like: dark romances, suspense, danger
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, want a lighter read

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Single Sundays: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

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 Challenger Deep (from Goodreads):

Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.

breakdown

Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve never read a Neal Shusterman novel–never even heard of the guy either–but apparently he is “one of today’s most admired writers for teens”. So that both excited and scared me when it came to this novel. Excited me because he is (apparently) known for writing captivating stories; scared me because promotional hype can easily heighten expectations and leave you devastated.

I really had no idea what to expect. I don’t even know how I found out about this book. And when I started listening to the audiobook, I didn’t read the synopsis so I was going in completely blind.

The Concept:

I think if I had read the synopsis before starting the audiobook, I would haven’t felt as lost as I was at the start. See, all I remembered when I started this book was the part about the ship. I missed the rest of the synopsis so I was a little confused as to why were were jumping back and forth between Caden’s life at home and his life on the ship.

This is a book about mental illness and I think it is important to know that going in so you can get into the right mindset. Because honestly, I was confused until I figured that out. That’s when you can start putting things together and figure out what Caden is describing and how he is feeling.

The Plot:

As I said above, the plot shifts a lot at the start and it can be a little overwhelming. But once you start to delve a little deeper, you start to see how everything is working together.

I love stories that have you continuously working it out in your head. Honestly, I would love to study this book in school and dissect every moment of it because it is beautifully crafted. It’s one of those books that you really don’t appreciate until you finish it and see how everything blends together.

The Characters:

I think everyone can relate to Caden’s story in one way or another. Whether you know someone who suffers from a mental health condition or you yourself have one, you’ll connect with this story in some capacity.

This book does a fabulous job of delivering Caden’s thoughts and reasonings in a way readers can understand and experience for themselves. There’s a part where Caden switches to the 2nd person POV and you really get to put yourself in his shoes and see what it feels like to be in his current situation. I’ve never had that connection to a character that I didn’t share some trait with and it was a refreshing experience for me as a reader.

The Romance:

I’ve read a lot of really great YA contemporaries in the last year that focus on mental health but they’ve all been a little hindered by the romance. So I was really happy when this book never took that turn. This story is all about Caden’s journey and it never shies away from that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m very glad I read this as an audiobook: the production was fabulous! Every character had their own unique voice and that made it such a treat to listen to. It also forced me to pay attention too (not that I don’t normally pay attention to my audiobooks–I just mean I paid particular attention to remembering the story) so that I could make sure I knew what was happening and why that particular chapter was important to remember later on. It was like listening to a mystery that you only get clues to along the way but you can’t look backwards. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book captured my full attention and the audiobook experience was very immersive.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Easily one of the best books I’ve read about mental health in the YA genre. Ever.

Read if You Like: books about mental health, books with allusions
Avoid if You: want a romance, can’t handle shifting narration
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