Tag «crime»

Series Review: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (from Goodreads):

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Mystery Read 2017
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
# of Books: 2 (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line; Mr. Kiss and Tell)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I didn’t watch Veronica Mars during its initial airing (long story but I missed the premiere and this was before the days of easy internet streaming) but I marathoned the entire series just before the movie came out and LOVED IT!

The wit, the intelligent writing and the amazing characters: there’s a lot to love about this series! So I was really excited to see that the creator of the show was writing series novels because who better to write a spin-off series than the visionary himself?

When I started my new job, I wanted to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and I thought what better than a novel set in a world I am already familiar with? It also didn’t hurt that mystery/thrillers were my current obsession at the time and so I decided to give The Thousand Dollar Tan Line a shot.

The Concept / Time Line:

These books take place a couple months after the movie (and the movie takes place 10 years after the TV series ends).  Which is great because it ties up some of those lingering questions you likely had at the end of the movie. I felt like I got a lot more closure reading these two novels than I did by just watching the movie.

And these books read like you are watching the TV show. Maybe that was just because I was listening to the audiobooks (one is narrated by Kristen Bell herself) but I felt like I was watching the TV show.

The Plot:

In true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery introduced is rarely cut and dry. There are twists on twists and it’s fabulous. You don’t want to know how many times I freaked out in my car when some plot twists (curious? more than 10 for sure).

The plot is always moving! I thought there was a great balance between the mystery, the character drama and Veronica’s character growth. There’s always something to pique your interest and everything just blends so well together.

The Characters:

Ok, I had so many great fangirl moments reading this series. There are so many returning characters that I freaked out many times. I adore all of these characters, but Veronica especially. She’s such a strong and independent female lead. I love her wit but I also love how she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Image result for veronica mars gifs

The Romance:

I don’t want to spoil this but this was one of the many reasons for my fangirling 😉

Audiobook Experience:

OK, this series made me fall in love with fiction audiobooks!

I love that Kristen Bell (Veronica) narrates the first novel. It made me feel like I was watching the TV show and immediately got me comfortable with the story. She also does an AMAZING job when she narrates the other characters. She manages to capture their personalities in her delivery and it’s perfect!

Unfortunately, the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell (I think she was pregnant at the time) so I missed the true Veronica sass but the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line 5/5 | Mr Kiss and Tell 4/5

overall

I will say, I think it helps if you are familiar with the series in some complicity but the mystery is great regardless and I think if you aren’t a fan before you start this, you will be when you finish!

Read if You Like: Veronica Mars, thrillers, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike modern mysteries, crime
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Fresh Fridays: No More Heroes (Heroes #1) by Roo I MacLeod

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:

Heroes Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for No More Heroes (from Goodreads):

On the crime ridden streets of Old London Town the law has been subcontracted and justice awarded to the highest bidder. But from the dark depths of despair and chaos, a hero is born.

A murder on the streets of Ostere isn’t headline news
A vagrant running from conscription is common place
But this vagrant was witnessed fighting with the deceased
So now the police want a word
As do the killers
Ben Jackman, 20 year old vagrant by day, hunter of road kill by night, isn’t the man to take the fall
Proving his innocence is obvious
Finding the killer is crucial
But Ben needs a gun, a big gun with lots of bullets, because the seedy streets of Ostere have a new breed of criminal and they aren’t looking to take prisoners

breakdown

Series: Heroes
Author: Roo I MacLeod
# of Books: 1+ (No More Heroes, Book 2)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Suspense, Crime
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 27, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC  |  Thank you Roo I MacLeod!

disclaimer

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading No More Heroes at 10% (start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Roo contacted me to see if I was interested in reading his book, I was willing to give it a shot. It was something I wouldn’t have picked for myself but I was intrigued by the dark and gritty feels I was getting from the synopsis and cover. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but I was curious to see how everything would unfold.

What I Liked:

–The World Vibes–

While I was reading this, I got all sorts of vibes from other novels as well as movies. The scorned, chip on his shoulder lead reminded me of Sam Spade from the classic, The Maltese Falcon. And the setting itself reminded me of the worlds of Judge Dredd and Sin City–dark, desolate and gritty. AKA, places I would never want to be on my own…or ever. It was amazing how quickly I created the world in my mind.

Image result for sin city gif

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Many Characters–

I just got a little lost in who everyone was while I was reading. They all had uncommon, nickname like names that I couldn’t keep straight. Add to that the street name and areas that also sounded like people…I got confused pretty early. I’m sure if I kept reading, it would have sorted itself out in time but I just felt overwhelmed.

–It Really Wasn’t my Cup of Tea–

MacLeod has an interesting writing style. I’m not sure how to describe it. I found that the narrator jumped a little all over the place and so I got lost in what was actually happening vs what was in the past etc.

I’m not really one to read crime stories, I prefer to watch them, and I think this book reaffirmed that I’m not as ready as I thought to leave the safety net of New Adult and Young Adult fiction.

Will I Finish It?

I stopped reading right when the main plot starts to unfold and while I’m curious to see how it all plays out, this story just couldn’t keep my attention.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you like crime novels and/or stories with a unique writing style, this is a great novel for you to check out!

Read if You Like: crime noir, unique writing style
Avoid if You: don’t like adult crime novels

 

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Movie Mondays: Room

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Room by Emma Donoghue (2010) | Movie: Room (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Crime, Contemporary
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Borrowed–Paperback

thoughts

Room was everywhere when it first came out. I saw it every time I passed a book store or browsed online. At the time, I didn’t understand the premise. I honestly thought it was some abstract book about a boy and his mom who live within a single room. I blame the simple back-cover description for giving me that impression because when I read the synopsis now, it makes a LOT more sense.

I’m a huge Criminal Minds fan so I was intrigued by this premise when a friend mentioned this book to me again around the time its movie was premiering at TIFF.

This book took me a long time to read. Mostly because I’m a busy student and had lots of library books I had to read and return; but also because it is a very tough book to get through.

Jack, the 5 year old boy, is your primary narrator and it’s hard to get used to his narration style. He is the very definition of an unreliable narrator but I don’t know how else you would tell this story. It offers a unique view of the situation Ma and Jack find themselves in. I think most people would assume that it would be Ma who tells the story but I liked the fresh perspective Jack offers instead. His curious innocence gives this story a more positive vibe than if we were stuck in the darker, fully aware place of Ma’s mind. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to understand what is happening at times.

The other reason this book is hard to get through is the subject matter. Though Jack isn’t aware of the situation, you as the reader totally are and that makes it hard to read. This book tugs on your heartstrings in every way possible. It will also make you frustrated and cause you to cringe. But just a few pages later, you will get a big grin on your face because it is so hard not to like Jack and his attitude towards life.

overall

When a book evokes every emotion in you, it’s hard not to give it 5 stars. This book is simply well done. Jack’s narration is brilliant and I think the book is super realistic, even if the topic is one we don’t want to think about often.

Rating: 5/5

similarreads

  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  • Still Alice by Alice Genova

Were My Expectations Met?

Yes and they were even surpassed if I am going to be honest. My friend who saw the premiere at TIFF (where it won the People’s Choice Award) said everyone was in tears at the end. And while I didn’t come close to crying in the the book, the movie definitely evoked some high emotions in me and I will admit that I nearly cried.

How Close is it to the Book?

It’s pretty close actually and the main things from the book are present in the movie. I was also really worried from the trailers that they would cast Ma in a more “self-sacrificing” light than the slightly “selfish” tone she gives in the book. But I feel like the movie captured her character perfectly. You were still sympathetic to her situation and her, but it kept the very realistic tone of a bratty 5-year old Jack and an isolated mom who has her patience tested that is present throughout the book.

Did I Like the Cast?

Brie Larson was fantastic in the movie and definitely deserves all the award nominations and praise she has been getting for this role. She was flawless and made even more so by her young co-star.

Jacob Tremblay (Jack) really stole the show for me. It still feels very much like Jack’s story despite the fact that you aren’t seeing into his mind specifically like you are in the book because Jacob is so real and a natural actor. He really makes you feel everything and it was a joy to watch him in this role. I really think he has a great career ahead of him–even though he was totally snubbed of a Oscar nomination in my humble opinion!

thewinneris wintie

I feel like both compliment each other so well. Bringing a book like Room to life takes a lot of skill and class and this movie has it in buckets. I think the book provides readers with a unique experience but the movie just wraps everything up together in a way that is so approachable and real.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Room (from Goodreads):

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Trailer:

Series Review: Made Men by Sarah Brianne

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 Nero (from Goodreads):
Nero is the king of Legacy Prep, living a life of power.
Elle is the school’s punching bag, living a life of fear.
The only good girls Nero knows jump in his bed when he tells them to.
The closest Elle has come to a bad boy like him is in the cafeteria line.
The mob boss gave him orders to find out what she knows.
Her mouth is sealed.

I just want to be a fu**ing made man.
I’m just a fu**ing waitress.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Guilty Pleasure 2015
Series: Made Men
Author: Sarah Brianne
# of Books: 3 (Nero, Vincent, Chloe)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Chloe will be published in 2016
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Bad Boys, Dark
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t remember how I found this series. I think it was recommended to me by Kobo from my previous purchases OR I found them when I was buying other books. Regardless, the synopsis sounded intriguing. I love reading about player bad boys who get turned around by a girl they never expected and that’s what Nero looked like it was going to be given what I read.

Also, those covers! I’m not just talking about the attractive models, there is just something so visual striking about both of them. So I picked both Nero and Vincent up for under $5 and put them on my TBR.

The Concept:

I always really enjoy Mob/Mafia Family stories. While I’m normally not a fan of romantic suspense stories, I enjoy the complex nature of mafia-orientated stories. You have family loyalty tested and the perfect setup for forbidden love.

The mafia in this story is pretty stereotypical but that’s exactly what I expected. I also like how there is an ongoing plot regarding the family that links all the books together despite their focus on a different set of lead characters.

The Plot:

Hmmm…where to start…When I first started Nero, I almost put it down. You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story. I had to remind myself numerous times that these characters were 17 and in high school–not 24 and in college. Everything was really melodramatic and over the top. Some of the things Nero and his crew do blew my mind and had me shaking my head to make sure I was reading everything correctly. The plot in this series is definitely over the top…but the weird thing was that I kinda grew to like it.

Reading Nero reminded me of watching Secret Life of the American Teenager for the first time. You watch one episode to see what it is about and then you find yourself 5 episodes in because it is so cheesy and ridiculous you can’t wait to see what crazy stunt they are going to make the characters undergo next.

This series reads like a soap opera but with a lot of suggested violence and descriptive sex scenes. It really isn’t unlike anything you might see on your typical teen TV soap nowadays but everything was just taken to that little bit too far for me.

Basically, this series was so bad it was good–in a total guilty pleasure kind of way. I feel like if I hadn’t bought these books (thus feeling a compelling need to read and finish them), I would have DNF’d Nero and never picked up Vincent. And now that I am two books in, I feel the need to read Chloe when it comes out because I need to know what happens next…damn.

The Characters:

I like a confident guy but, as you can already guess, Nero was a little too much for me. He did have some really sweet moments but for the most part, I wasn’t a huge fan. He seemed too wish-washy in his personality (sometimes he would act like a teenager and other times he acted like a 40 Christian Grey) and that made it hard for me to get a solid grasp on his character. Elle was the same way. I liked her desire to protect her friend but I didn’t like her character development too much. In Vincent, I didn’t really care for either of the leads for the exact same reasons.

The girls in both Vincent and Nero really bothered me and I explain why in the Romance section.

The Romance:

This is where my mixed feelings about Nero come in. Near the end of the story, I really started to root for Elle and Nero. Like I said before, I have a soft spot for forbidden love and stories where the bad boy falls for the nice girl.

However, at the same time, their relationship really disturbed me. Again, part of the problem is their young age and how I felt like they were playing pretend adults throughout the story. I thought their relationship dynamic had its moments where it just wasn’t healthy. It really upset me how easily Elle fell into a submissive role and it worries me that young girls will read this and find Nero’s possessive and dominating attitude “sexy”. Some moments boarded on abusive, making it hard for me to love their relationship.

It was the exact same situation in Vincent, even if the heroine of that one did seem to be aware of the situation. And given the potential characters in Chloe, I know it is going to be the exact same. My hope is that people will read this romance and see that it is FICTION--not realistic or reflects romance in the real world.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Chloe is going to focus on a love triangle–normally a huge turn off for me and to be honest it still is here. However, I’m curious to see how it will play out. I’m not dying to get my hands on it, but I will consider picking it up if I come across it after its release and the price is reasonable.

Series Rating: 2/5

Nero 2/5 | Vincent 2/5 | Chloe TBP

overall

If you like over-the-top, melodramatic books where teens try to be adults, you will really like this series! For me, it was just too much and I had a hard time taking it seriously. In the past, I’ve read a lot strong YA/NA series that have a similar tone but a better execution.

Read if You Like: melodramatic series, high school new adult
Avoid if You: dislike alpha males, dislike soap operas

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Fresh Fridays: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (Once Upon a Crime Family #1)

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:

Once Upon a Crime Family

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Hold Me Like a Breath (from Goodreads):
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

breakdown

Series: Once Upon a Crime Family
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
# of Books: 2 (Hold Me Like a Breath, Break Me Like a Promise)
Book Order: Connected? (Not sure)
Complete?: No, Break Me Like a Promise, will be published May 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

First off, I love the cover! That’s mostly why I even considered reading this book. Tiffany Schmidt has a few books on my  TBR list but the promise of a mafia/crime family book stole my attention. Add to that the fairy tale retelling, I’m sold!

I was hoping this book would be faster paced and grittier than Nicole William’s Crossing Stars (which was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with modern day crime families). So I was really excited to read it but some “meh” reviews made me lower my initially high expectations.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what the fairy tale element of Hold Me Like a Breath was until I read the author’s note at the end. That’s when everything clicked into place. So don’t go into this thinking it is a straight fairy tale retelling: it’s simply influenced by one particular fairy tale and that’s about it.

On the other hand, I loved the organ black-market aspect. It was nice to read a a story about a crime family that doesn’t deal in drugs or loans. It also added an interesting ethical/moral debate to the book (though it isn’t a highly philosophical book by any means).

The Plot:

I found this book took a long time to build up to the main plot. It definitely has a slower vibe to it but it always held my attention. I won’t lie: I definitely wanted more physical action when it comes to crime family conflicts but that really didn’t happen. It’s there in little spurts but nothing crazy.

While this book did have the gritty parts to it that I wanted, the majority of this plot is about Penelope growing up and becoming independent. Which is great but not entirely what I was expecting.

This book kept me on my toes. While I had predicted some plot elements (they were super obvious) there were other aspects that stopped me from knowing the ending right away. I really had no idea how everything was going to wrap up and I liked that a lot.

The Characters:

Penelope is exactly what you would imagine from a girl in an overprotective family; she’s struggling for independence and wanting to rebel. This can get really annoying in a character but I really warmed up to Penelope and loved watching her grow.

The rest of the cast is pretty typical and perhaps borders on the cliche; however, they really worked for this story and truly supported Penelope in a way that didn’t take away from her development or overshadow her.

The Romance:

While the romance is really important in terms of the plot, it isn’t some grand romance novel. For me, it left a little something to be desired (I LOVE romances) and I wasn’t sold on it. I think it is was how it was executed (which is one of the twists I talked about earlier) and how I had my heart set on one outcome but it didn’t play out like I expected.

So while I don’t love how everything unfolded (that’s just the romantic in me), I think it worked for this story and liked that it took a backseat when it needed to.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have NO clue what is in store for the rest of the series. I assume it’s going to follow a different set of characters but I have no idea. It isn’t high on my priority list to read but I’m curious to see what the sequel’s spin will be.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I enjoyed reading Hold Me Like a Breath even if it wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s not a high action, fast paced adventure rather, it is a coming of age story with a small fairy tale basis. Unfortunately, it just didn’t WOW me. I’m interested in the sequel but I’m really have no idea what to expect so I’m not counting down the days; hence, time will tell!

Read if You Like: slower stories, coming of age stories, crime families
Avoid if You: want a integrated fairy tale retelling, don’t like coming of age stories, want more action

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Single Sundays: Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

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 Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator (from Goodreads):
Guy Langman can’t be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren’t expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they’re assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy’s mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father’s past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He’s going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .

Review:

As you may or may not know, I am taking part in Books and Iced Coffee’s Everything YA Challenge this year. This month’s (March) mini-challenge is to read a book someone ELSE has picked for you. Sad truth is I didn’t really know who to ask but then I got a great idea to “ask” my local library. First, I decided that I would see what books the library recommended for me based on my eBook check-outs but because I have been taking out more adult romances lately, it wasn’t really suggesting YA novels or ones that I haven’t already read. So I browsed their recommended reads list and came across one that was called “What’s So Funny? Hilarious Books for Teens”. I wanted to read a standalone because I was long overdue for one and I recognized this title as one I came across years ago put never picked up. And luck was on my side when I saw that the eBook version was available for check-out.

What drew me to this book was the Crime Scene Investigation portion. Back when CSI was big, I was a fan and because I am a science student (plus a huge Sherlock Holmes fan!) I love the forensic science aspect of it all.

So I felt like I was a little mislead by the synopsis because we really don’t get the mystery aspect of the “crime” until well over halfway through the novel. Instead, the focus is on Guy dealing with his father death–which is fine and dandy, just not what I was expecting. This book definitely had a more “coming of age” vibe to it than it did mystery.

When we do get to the murder (which is just a little over halfway through), I thought the book picked up in its pace. Despite the clues, I really didn’t put everything together until it was revealed so I appreciated the twists we got.

As for the humour, the primary reason why I picked up this novel, it wasn’t as great as I was expecting. I found a lot of the lines were odd or a little on the rude side; some were funny though, especially near the end–I thought his mom had some good lines 🙂 To be fair, I had just finished reading the 4th Tangled book, Tied, by Emma Chase which was freakin’ hilarious so I had higher humour standards going into this one. As I said, I though the humour got better near the end and I did laugh a few times after that.

Conclusion:

Nevertheless, I was entertained reading this book. I wish there was more focus on the crime aspect of the synopsis and if I had known that it wasn’t going to be the main focus of the novel, I probably wouldn’t have felt as let down by it as I was. But if you are looking for a coming of age novel told by a boy with a dash of forensics, this is a great one for you!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Teen, Coming of Age, Mystery, Crime, Grief
Recommended for: 15+ (boys will like this one!)
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Similar Reads: #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler; Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Trust Me Series #1) and Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein (Cold Fury Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Welcome to the Point by Jay Crownover

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

Better When He’s Bad by Jay Crownover | Welcome to the Point Series

 

Series: Welcome to the Point Series

The last 3 books to be published will be under the The Breaking Point series title.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 3 (Better When He’s Bad, Better When He’s Bold, Better When He’s Brave)
Book Order: Connected but chronological
Complete?: Yes — the next 3 books are with a different set of characters
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Bad Boys, Crime, Suspense
Heat Rating: Getting Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

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

So, I jumped on the Marked Men bandwagon a little late–and now that I have read them, I agree that they are not to be missed. From just that series alone, I have easily decided that Jay Crownover is an author to watch because I love her writing, her characters & their stories plus I absolutely love that she writes introductions where she explains why she wrote plots/characters/etc the way she did. That is something I truly appreciate in an author and something that not a lot of authors do–so kudos!

Take for example the author’s introduction to Better When He’s Bad: I love how she explains the “difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad.” When you see it written like that you go, “well duh,” but I think it is something that readers often overlook. I know I certainly do because I totally have the tag “bad boys” for my Marked Men review when they aren’t really “bad boys” other than the fact that they are a tad rebellious and have tattoos. Maybe I’m just blowing something out of proportion but I thought it was pretty insightful when all was said and done 😛

Better When He’s Bad is more of a light crime novel with a dash of romance than it is a romance novel with suspenseful elements. While the romance gets adequate screen time, the plot (especially the first third of the book) focuses on finding out the truth of the situation the two find themselves in. So if you are hoping for a steamy romance novel with little plot, I would look elsewhere; because there is lots of steam but it isn’t a book with only steam and a small plot line. The balance is really well done I think and it made the romance have more substance to it.

This series isn’t a super dark one like some crime/criminal focused novels are which is rather refreshing to me. If you want the really dark side of criminal activity I suggest the Gypsy Brother Serial instead. But if you like reading about boys who aren’t afraid to throw punches and get their knuckles a little dirty yet still have chivalry, this is looks like the series for you!

I’m really excited to read the next two books based on this one. I think we have an interesting set of characters at play and I can’t wait to see what trouble they get into next!

updates

–February 21, 2015– Book #2: Better When He’s Bold

Because I put my hold on Better When He’s Bold ASAP at my library, I got the brand new copy in my hands a few days after it’s release date–and I’m so glad I did!

It was a great sequel and was everything I thought it would be. I would say the romance happens a lot more quickly than in “Bad” because the characters have met before. However, I still felt like the romance balanced well with the suspenseful plot-lines.

I think I enjoyed the story more in the first book because it was more mysterious to me and had a few more twists. But this story was just as exciting and I really didn’t figure everything out until I was supposed to so I really didn’t mind. It set up everything perfectly for the next book and I can’t wait until I can read Better When He’s Brave!

–October 15, 2015– Book #3: Better When He’s Brave

I was really excited to read this one and it didn’t disappoint. I found myself absorbed in this story because I enjoyed these two leads as characters. They were a good match and I really wanted them to succeed. This book reminded me a lot of Sin City–in the sense that it’s a darker, true grit feel to it. I think Jay Crownover does a good job with her introduction to get you to understand what she wants you to get out of this book. It’s a bit of a fantasy in the sense that things are over the top but it is still highly entertaining and somewhat realistic. It works the stereotypes and expectations really well.

Overall, a great way to wrap up this triplet of stories. I’m SUPER excited for the next 3 books that will be published under The Breaking Point Trilogy title.

Series Rating: 4/5

Better When He’s Bad 3.5/5 | Better When He’s Bold 4/5 | Better When He’s Brave 4/5

overall

As I said before, if you like true bad boys that are chivalrous towards women, this is probably the series for you. A great blend of suspense, crime and romance. It’s darker and more “fantasy” based than the Marked Men series but it has all the aspects of a great Jay Crownover novel.

Read if You Like: bad boys, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: don’t like books with crime/drugs; don’t like books with killing

similarreads

Synopsis for Better When He’s Bad (from Goodreads):
Welcome to the Point

There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad . . . meet Shane Baxter.

Sexy, dark, and dangerous, Bax isn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks, he is the wrong side of the tracks. A criminal, a thug, and a brawler, he’s the master of bad choices, until one such choice landed him in prison for five years. Now Bax is out and looking for answers, and he doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get them. But there’s a new player in the game, and she’s much too innocent, much too soft…and standing directly in his way.

Dovie Pryce knows all about living a hard life and the tough choices that come with it. She’s always tried to be good, tried to help others, and tried not to let the darkness pull her down. But the streets are fighting back, things have gone from bad to worse, and the only person who can help her is the scariest, sexiest, most complicated ex-con The Point has ever produced.

Bax terrifies her, but it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize that some boys are just better when they’re bad.

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Novella Serial Review: Naked by Kelly Favor

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

Series: Naked
Author: Kelly Favor
# of Parts: 7 (Naked, Bad, Wild, Wrong, Ache, Raw, Scar)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

I think if you going to read this series you have to remember that it is a serialized FICTION series–or else you are going to roll your eyes right out of your head at how fast everything progresses in this series and how rashly the characters act. And that line right there–about rolling your eyes–is probably going to give you the wrong impression of this series. Because nothing is really THAT over the top with this book–it’s actually surprisingly realistic in some parts of its delivery–but I just want to remind readers that the romance in serialized stories moves fast and often on the basis of an “insta-connection” (which if you are like me will normally drive you nuts reading a full sized novel).

That being said, I really didn’t mind their insta-connection. As I said before, I found the series to be fairly realistic in terms of the situations Caelyn and Elijah found themselves in–though there were of course moments that were a little too “fantasy” for me (especially how they meet). BUT, I was open going into the book knowing it was a FICTION series so I decided to have a little fun with it.

It helps to have all parts of the series with you when you read because it is a little addicting. Most parts end with a cliffhanger so you really want to see what happens next. But, don’t buy all of the series at once until you are sure that you like it. Naked, part 1, isn’t the most accurate representation of the series as it has a different feel to it. I think a lot of people will enjoy it but not necessarily like Bad, which is part 2. In Bad we learn more about Elijah and the book progresses into its more “dark” aspects.

By “dark” I mean that this isn’t your typical New Adult read with characters that have tragedy filled past. While both characters have tragic pasts there is also more going on with the plot that we don’t see in other reads. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say that Elijah is the definition of a bad boy (and I’m not just saying he is a playboy that sleeps with a lot of girls like some other books try to sell).

I was getting a little tired of the “but I love him” bits by the end of the series though. I didn’t particularly love Caelyn as a character either but I liked Elijah. However, I was always entertained as I was reading it because the plot moved in a direction I never thought it was going to go.

Conclusion:

I don’t think the majority of people will like this series because it is a little on the darker side in terms of plot events. It’s an insta-connection romance that doesn’t have much substance to it. But, the plot is always moving with lots of interesting spins so it is entertaining if you are looking for a break from the usual New Adult fare.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Wanted by Amanda Lance (Wanted Series #1) and Heartless by Catou Martine

Synopsis for Naked (from Goodreads):
Caelyn Murphy is broken.

She’s broken because of something that was done to her–something she can’t even bear to think about. So she does the only thing she can think of…she runs. Away from her Ivy League college, away from her perfect life, and away from the man who hurt her. Only she runs straight into…

Elijah.

Elijah Daniels is hardened from a life that’s seen the worst the world has to offer. But when he meets Caelyn, he knows there’s something different about her. She’s been through hell and back, but she hasn’t given up.

Caelyn can see that Elijah is gorgeous on the outside, but she also knows he’s dangerous. And the last man she trusted hurt her so badly, she may be beyond repair.

But the harder she tries to resist, the more Elijah’s persistence strips her of her armor and leaves her naked and vulnerable.

In the end, neither of them will be able to predict just how far they might have to go to save themselves…and each other.

Series Review: Wanted by Amanda Lance

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Freebie Series 2014
Series: Wanted
Author: Amanda Lance
# of Books: 2 (Wanted, Conviction)

The book, Outlaw, is Wanted retold from Charlie’s POV

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Dark, Crime, Suspense
Heat Rating: gets warm
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

One of my favourite books is a novel called Stolen by Lucy Christopher. It’s about a girl who gets abducted by a boy and the novel is told as a letter to her captor. It was so intriguing and unlike anything I have ever read and it’s always in the back of my mind. So when I saw the premise for Wanted one day when browsing the free bestseller’s list on Amazon, I immediately grabbed it (and eventually its sequel when it was available for free as well).

I’ve read a lot of crappy free books but this wasn’t one of them. The writing was well done (though it would be nice to have some page breaks when things change to keep things straight) and Ms. Lance does a great job describing the scene and how Addie is feeling. I really liked Addie as a character and I enjoyed the rest of the cast as well.

I was worried about the romance between Addie and Charlie but I have to say it really grew on me. I saw their connection and liked how they interacted. But, I didn’t like how quickly everything happens (but I’m not surprised because it is an extreme situation and things always escalate quickly in those situations) and the age difference between them. Addie is extremely mature for her age (even before the whole abduction thing) but she is only 17 and I think I would have had an easier time with things if she was 19 years old instead.

I was excited to see where Conviction was going to go and I quickly dove into it. I didn’t love it as much as I liked Wanted but I did enjoy it. I just didn’t find it as exciting and suspenseful but it does pick up near the end. And while I was more accepting of their relationship in Wanted, I found myself a little uncomfortable with their relationship now. The inner psychologist in me found a few things unsettling and I just didn’t like Addie as much as I used to. But, don’t let that discourage you from reading the series because it does compliment the story well.

I will be picking up Outlaw because I’m intrigued to read why Charlie does what he does in Wanted so I’m looking forward to that.

Conclusion:

This series isn’t for everyone and I think a lot of people will have a hard time accepting the relationship between Charlie and Addie. It isn’t the normal everyday relationship between a heroine and a hero and that is why I liked it, but I know others won’t.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Stolen by Lucy Christopher and Addicted to Him by Lauren Dodd

Synopsis for Wanted (from Goodreads):

Considering she’s a girl who calculates everything, Addie Battes knew the statistical probability of being abducted in her lifetime—too bad she never analyzed the odds of falling in love with her captor.

While stopping at a crowded rest area one summer night, seventeen-year-old Addie accidentally catches a truck hijacking in progress. Desperate to rid the crime of its only witness, one of the thieves kidnaps Addie. Yet surprisingly, when a renegade thief attempts to silence her for good, Addie is saved by the very man who abducted her. Now, forced on board a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean, Addie finds herself surrounded by international smugglers who want nothing more than to throw her overboard.

All except the artistic and intriguing Charlie Hays, whose strange protectiveness convinces Addie to trust him, even when common sense tells her otherwise. Yet, despite her doubt, and his unrelenting temper, their relationship develops into something much more. But, Charlie’s scorned colleague has stowed away, and as he seeks revenge against his coworker, Addie and Charlie are forced to put their new love—and lives—at risk.

Series Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Author
Series: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
# of Books: 3+ (Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, Perfect Scoundrels)

There is a novella that is a cross-over with the Gallagher Girl series that takes place before Perfect Scoundrels

Book Order: Chronological (but they could be read in any order)
Complete?: Technically YES, but Carter has expressed interest in writing more in the future
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Suspense, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

I love stories that feature intricate plots that build to a bigger picture. Most of the time, you see it in movies like Ocean’s Eleven or the Italian Job so I was excited to come across it in a Young Adult novel and that was why I decided to pick up Heist Society. (FYI: Heist Society has been optioned for a film which would be really awesome!)

I wasn’t disappointed in Heist Society. I will admit I was a little thrown with the third person narration (most of the time young adult novels are first person) and it did confuse me at times, but there really isn’t another way to do this type of story. It has a brilliant setup and execution and I enjoyed reading it very much.

I was let down by Uncommon Criminals. It just wasn’t as exciting as Heist Society and I went in with high expectations considering it had nearly been 2 years and I really enjoyed Heist Society. It was good, but not as good as I was hoping.

Because I didn’t like Uncommon Criminals as much, I lowered my expectations for Perfect Scoundrels and I think that worked in my favour. I enjoyed Perfect Scoundrels a lot more than Uncommon Criminals and I think it’s because there was a bit more character development. When I was reading Ally Carter’s FAQ on her website, she stated that part of her goal in creating this series was to write a series that has books that can be read in any order (ie has no overarching plot for the entire series). Which is why all of these books can be read independently. While I can understand the goal, I feel like these books lack character development because of this and that harms the series at times. Perfect Scoundrels reveals a bit more about the characters and I hope to see that more in future books (if they get published).

If Perfect Scoundrels was the last book, I think I would be happy with how the series ends but I’m looking forward to reading more about Kat and co. in the future.

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a strong female lead who kicks some serious butt, this is a great series for young adults. It features a great cast of characters, unpredictable twists and crazy hijinks. Overall, very enjoyable for young adult fans and Ally Carter fans!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: I’d Love to Tell You, But Then I Would Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #1)

Synopsis for Heist Society (from Goodreads):
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way