Tag «dark»

Single Sundays: Vanquished by S E Green

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 Vanquished (from Goodreads):

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

**Warning: For mature audiences only**

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Author: S E Green (aka Shannon Greenland)
Genre: New Adult, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: cool **sexual situations mentioned**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Lola’s Blog Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty happy in my New Adult contemporary bubble. I love my romances but I’m always looking for those non-contemporary reads.

Vanquished appealed to me because it isn’t your everyday story. It has darker vibes to it thanks to the “secret society” and Valoria’s need to fight for her life. I was curious to see what her journey would take to get off the island.

(Also, I didn’t know this until I was writing the review but S E Green is a pen name for Shannon Greenland who wrote one of my favourite NA reads, Shadow of a Girl!)

The World & a Warning:

You can definitely expect a deviant world when you pick this novel up but thankfully, Green isn’t overly descriptive in the scenes. What I mean is you aren’t subjected to any scenes where sex acts are fully described nor are the scenes of violence particularly gory. They get to the point pretty quick.

However, if you are uncomfortable with abusive situations, especially ones involving teenagers and/or children, maybe stay away from this one! Like I said, the scenes don’t go on and on for pages but they are blunt in what is happening and it isn’t always the nicest image to have.

The Plot:

I really liked the action of this novel. Many times the “fight for your life” trope is overshadowed by the politics of the situation or the romance. That isn’t the case here. You get those fights scenes throughout the novel and it gives the story a faster pace.

That being said, the story lagged for me in the middle. While I liked all the developments, I kinda wish the final “putting it all together” ending started a little earlier. It just took a little too long to get there for me.

The Characters:

I really liked Valoria’s spirit. Her drive to save her sister is exactly what I wanted to see. I also liked that she never compromises herself to give in to the temptations of the island. Once she starts to win it would have been easy for her to live a life of relative comfort by being the victor. But she sticks to her morals (as much as she can given the circumstances) and I respected that. She’s one kick ass lady.

The Romance:

This didn’t play as much of a role as I expected (especially when the island has sex slaves–I thought there would be more sexual situations for Valoria). It’s definitely has a slow burn/will-they-won’t-they vibe to it. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure why this gets a romance label on Goodreads because it is such a small factor to the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a gritty, take no prisoners New Adult action story, this is a great one to read. But if you are uncomfortable with violence, depraved sexual acts and fighting to the death, best to avoid it.

Read if You Like: dark stories, action
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance
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Series Review: Dark Desires by Zara Cox

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

Dark Desires Series

 booksynopsis

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Liar (Formerly Porn Star) (from Goodreads):
People call me many things: CEO, billionaire, bastard. Q.

I love women. I love sex. I love money. I love hot, wild nights with no promise of a future, because a future is one thing I don’t have. I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.

Nobody plans for a life like this. Some of us just end up here.
They call me Lucky, though luck has never been on my side. Before I met Q, my life was a big, twisted mess. Never enough money, never anyone to trust. No way out. With Q, the shame and fear disappear. Instead I feel pure pleasure, and that’s something I’ve never had before. But if what I’ve just learned is true, we’d better enjoy every second together while we can…before our time runs out.

breakdown

Series: I Series or Dark Desires
Author: Zara Cox
# of Books: 2+ (Beautiful Liar, Black Sheep)

Please Note: Beautiful Liar was previously published as I, Porn Star; and Porn Star

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, a novella is to be published is to be published in March 2017
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Dark, BDSM, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high  |  Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I’m not going to lie: the title drew me in. I was browsing through my blog reader when Karine @ Bookshelf Dreaming‘s Release Day Blitz for I, Porn Star (what the book was first published as) popped up. Curious, I clicked on it wanting to know more about the story for a book titled “Porn Star”.

Now, depending on what title’s summary you read (“I, Porn Star” vs “Porn Star” and lately “Beautiful Liar”), the synopses differ but the stories are the same. My first impressions of I, Porn Star were that this is a book about two people falling in love while making a series of porn videos. My first impressions of Porn Star were about the same only there was this added element of suspense with the line:

“I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.”

Hook, line and sinker.

What I Liked:

–It’s A Dark Read–

It’s been a while since I’ve read a great “dark” romance. It’s hard to totally describe what I mean here but I’ll try.

Some dark romances take things that little bit too far in the hopes they’ll achieve shock factor. I often find these attempts make things seem over the top or almost cheesy. Part of the problem is the use of one-dimensional characters that the reader only knows surface stuff about.

However, where Porn Star succeeds is in its character development. These are complex characters–Quinn in particular is extremely layered–and it shows throughout the novel. So it makes their actions seem polished and expected. I didn’t feel like anything was out of character nor did I feel like they were changing their minds on a dime for unnecessary dramatic effect.

–The Twists–

I really liked how things came out of left field here sometimes; meaning there were a lot of great twists that surprised me. There were aspects of each character’s life that are kept secret until the last minute and they really amp up the story and shock you. It’s been a long time since a book surprised me in that respect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Many Pages–

This is by no means a fast read. There are a lot of pages to get through and it makes the story lag a bit. This book could have easily been 50 pages shorter in my opinion. It just took longer than expected to get to the good stuff (ie the romance and the “mystery”) and I was losing interest just after the halfway point.

I feel like too much time was spent in the exposition. While I appreciate the time taken to get to know the characters and understand their motives, I just wanted to dive into the grittiness of it all. I wanted to start to uncover Quinn’s big plan sooner rather than later. And I also wanted what is described in the synopsis (ie their filming of videos) to happen much sooner than 50% of the way through. Not that I wanted the sex scenes (which were tamer than I expected btw); rather, in the synopsis it seemed like the sex tapes were going to be a major plot point and usually those points are introduced around the 20% mark. I mean, that’s why I am likely reading the book in the first place–that is what’s advertised.

–Insta-Connection Romance–

I’m starting to dislike this insta-connection more so than insta-love. Yes, there is a difference for me even if they do seem pretty synonymous.

Despite the longer exposition, I still didn’t see the connection between Lucky and Q all that much besides their physical attraction. Their romantic feelings seem more implied–like there is some unspoken thing drawing them together. I like things spelled out for me and I didn’t totally get that with the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is a teaser at the end of the Forever Publishing edition for the sequel Black Sheep so I expect it will come out sometime next year. The choice of character is someone we didn’t see all that much in Porn Star but from what I glanced at in the teaser, it looks like it’ll be just as juicy drama-wise as Porn Star

updates

–March 9, 2017– Book #2: Black Sheep

I went into Black Sheep expecting a dark and twisted story…and that is exactly what I got!

This book excelled in everything I wanted it to. A heartbreaking romance, lots of drama and twisted secrets. It’s probably one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read and I loved that.

For me, this book was a vast improvement over its predecessor. The romance is stronger thanks to a great backstory and it tugs on your heartstrings from start to finish. It is also a source of great drama and intrigue as well. Unlike the previous novel, I found the story never truly lagged. There were great plot and dramatic twists along the way that this book was always suspenseful.

This was a highly addictive read for me and one that met every expectation!

My Rating: 3/5

Porn Star 3/5 | Black Sheep 4/5

overall

If you want a dark erotica romance that takes its time, this is the PERFECT novel for you. But if you want something quick and dirty, try another novel.

Read if You Like: dark romance, erotica
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Kick, Push by Jay McLean

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 Kick, Push (from Goodreads):
There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere
beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the
greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being
airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Kick, Push — or Road

There is a prequel novel about two side characters called Where the Road Takes Me. Together, all 3 novels make up the Road Series.

Author: Jay McLean
# of Books: 2 (Kick, Push; Coast)

See above note regarding Where the Road Takes Me

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – June 2016
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC (Kick, Push); Kindle Unlimited (Coast)

disclaimer

(Note: I only received a copy of Kick, Push for review. I read Coast via Kindle Unlimited)

Note: Where the Road Takes Me will be reviewed separately.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw Kick, Push on the list of upcoming New Adult Club Read It Review It titles, I was excited! I’ve really enjoyed Jay McLean’s work in the past for its addicting quality. While reading the More Than Series, I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I swooned–basically all the feels you can possibly feel while reading a book and I love that.

What really stood out to me about this book was the premise of a single dad. I don’t read a lot of single parent novels but when I do, they are mostly second chance stories where the mom has raised the baby without the dad knowing and they reunite–or something of that tone. But most of the time they are single moms; which is great but what about all the single dads out there? Plus, I’ve never really read a story about a skateboarder before.

The Concept:

While I don’t think any parent should abandon their child, I feel like women who do get a lot of flack compared to men who do. Maybe society is just more comfortable with the man leaving than the person who carried the child, I’m not sure. However, I don’t like this stigma that all women are expected to be instinctively maternal. So I was worried that this series would relay that stigma throughout its narrative. But I am happy to say that I never really felt like the book took that approach. While you will likely side with Josh once you know the whole story, I didn’t feel like it shamed or glorified the situation in any way and I truly appreciated that.

The Plot:

The story is just as much about Josh as it is Becca and I really enjoyed that. Both have so much growth and depths to their characters that I liked the balancing act between their stories as you read. The mashing of romance, character development and drama make this an addicting series to read.

And like Jay McLean’s other novels, there are just enough twists along the way to keep things interesting and exciting. I didn’t expect this story to go the way it did and I loved it!

The Characters:

Josh is an absolute sweetheart so it doesn’t take much for you to root for him. His heart is in the right place and I loved reading his story.

Becca, wow, what a story she has. It’s heartbreaking and she’s so sweet that it causes you to shed a few tears on her behalf.

Everyone else was great as well. I found the supporting characters did their job to a T and added a depth to the story that makes it so much more enjoyable.

The Romance:

When I first read the synopsis and started the book, I was confused about the line:

“Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.”

Everything starts so sweet and light that when the shit hits the fan, it becomes a huge mess. So the romance definitely leans to towards the darker side of love BUT, I love how it is elaborated on and becomes an integral part of the story. It isn’t there for shock value–it’s there because it is a part of their story and it adds to the depth of who these characters are as people.

Series Rating: 5/5

Kick, Push 5/5 | Coast 5/5

overall

If you want a book series that will make you feel every emotion, look no further my friends!

Read if You Like: New Adult romances, darker romance
Avoid if You: want a lighter, happier story, don’t want to cry

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DNF Series Review: Death in Neverland (Neverland #1) by Heather C Myers

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Death in Neverland (from Goodreads):
In the Neverland, people don’t grow up. Because they’re dead.

Remy Cutler dies, and somehow escapes certain death. She returns to the land of the living with nothing but a ripped gown and a fear of heights.

Two years later, she plans to escape her arranged marriage by stowing away onto a ship in hopes to leave her home with no one none knowing. However, she is found out, and the sailors aren’t happy. Before any damage can be done, she is yanked from her predicament back to The Neverland, a place where death resides – the very place she escaped from years ago. Souls are ferried by her savior. To her, he’s known as Nick, but to The Neverland, he’s the slippery Nicholas Grey.

The more time Remy spends with Nick and his crew, however, the more she realizes he’s shockingly misunderstood. Pirates aren’t all bad the way gentleman aren’t all good. One such gentleman goes by the name of Peter, and he has nothing but power on his mind and revenge against Grey in his heart. And then there are those that are completely indiscernible, like James Hook, a Viking and ruler of The Other World, whose sole ambition is attaining more souls to rule over, no matter what the cost.

This dark retelling of Peter Pan infuses familiar characters created by J. M. Barrie with new characters and Greek mythology. It is the first in a trilogy.

breakdown

Series: Neverland Trilogy
Author: Heather C Myers
# of Books: 3 (Death in Neverland, Love in Neverland, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 has yet to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology, Retelling, Dark, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: November 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

I DNF’d Death in Neverland at 26% (just before Chapter 7). Find out why…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Peter Pan retellings have always fascinated me, especially the ones were Peter Pan is evil. It’s such a radical change from the Peter Pan of my childhood (the number of times I have watched the Disney version, I can’t even begin to count) who is a childhood “hero” to all kids. So when I saw this book had a dark twist on an otherwise light story, I was more than intrigued.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

The idea that Neverland is the Underworld is one that is really interesting to me. It was like a hybrid of Elsewhere meets the Everneath Trilogy to me. I was eager to explore this dangerous world and see the parallels between mythology and Peter Pan. Unfortunately though, I never got to get into it and see how it all plays out.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Overly Descriptive–

If you like rich descriptions of EVERYTHING in your novels, you will probably love this novel. But my mind needs to be stimulated if I am going to read something and because of the descriptions, I constantly found myself wandering. I don’t need to know every single detail of a characters appearance nor do I need to know the exact layout of the ship. Sure it helps, but they are mindless details I will forget by the next chapter that I probably don’t need to know for the sake of the story.

–Remy–

I couldn’t decide if Remy was a dull heroine or an annoying one. Her elitist attitude was annoying for sure but she also didn’t seem to have much personality otherwise. I also got confused regarding her motivation and perception of Neverland. Spoiler: Earlier in the novel she mentions she remembers dying and that her motivation for leaving her arranged marriage is because she has experienced death. Yet when she gets to Neverland again, she doesn’t seem to want to be there. I just didn’t understand what her thought process was. |

–Didn’t Seem to be Going Anywhere–

I have no idea what the actual plot of this story was going to be. Where does Peter Pan come into it or even  Captain Hook? They are briefly mentioned in an early chapter than disappear. I get the need for exposition and setting up the story but this just seemed like nothing was going to happen anytime soon. There was just too much description of the setting, too many characters introduced as once and not enough plot line to keep my attention.

Will I Finish It?

At this point, no. I even read the synopsis of Love in Neverland to see where this plot was heading and it only left me more confused. Where this story is heading, I will never know and I am A-OK with that.

Series Rating: DNF

Death in Neverland  DNF | Love in Neverland  N/A  | Book 3 TBR

overall

This book simply wasn’t for me. I’m picky with my mythology reads. I need a strong heroine I can get behind and a world that captivates me from the get-go. I also feel like this book just needed that little bit of polish to make it flow better. If you like descriptive books that a mythology retellings, than this is the perfect read for you!

Read if You Like: descriptive books, slow plots, mythology
Avoid if You: want a straight retelling of Peter Pan, want a fast plot, dislike description

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Single Sundays: Kiss a Stranger by R J Lewis

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 Kiss a Stranger (from Goodreads):
I loved him.
I loathed him.

I knew he had secrets.
I knew he had darkness in him.

And yet I took all of him. Accepted all his ugly the way he embraced all of mine.

But sometimes loving someone isn’t enough. Sometimes it breaks you apart and moulds you into somebody else entirely.

And sometimes the person you loved the most can be the one to hurt you worst of all.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav New Adult Standalone 2015
Author: R J Lewis
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book when I was browsing the bestsellers on Kindle one day and the price was totally right (I paid $1 I think). I liked the mystery behind the synopsis–it sounded like a good dark New Adult story with some good twists. I don’t read a lot of NA suspense but this one seemed like it had some promise.

The Plot:

The plot of this book really surprised me! I didn’t really know it was going to be a suspense novel until I actually started to read it. I liked that it was part mystery (what happened to Claire?; who really is Ben?) and part suspense plot line (what is Claire going to do about what she has learned?). I was really surprised with the suspense direction and that is what hooked me into this book. I really had no idea how it was going to end and that really motivated me to keep reading.

There was also a great balance with the romance and the character development as well.

The Characters:

I did not like Claire in the first chapter, but that’s the point. This story is about her growth as a person and she does have some great character development as you read. I started to sympathize with her situation and definitely understood why she makes the choices she makes.

Ben was perhaps a little too alpha male for my personal tastes BUT, I did enjoy his enigma of a character. He was mysterious enough to keep you reading but not so mysterious that I felt like he was underdeveloped. It really worked well I think.

The Romance:

I’m slightly torn about the romance and how its presented. On a personal note, I wanted to see more of a connection between these two. But at the same time, the story is “Kiss a Stranger” and so I understand that things are going to happen fast and be a little superficial.  I think it really worked for the suspense of the plot to have the romance as it was. And so, in the end, I suppose I really didn’t mind how it came about even if I wanted a little more between these two.

My Rating: 4.5/5

This is definitely an inflated rating. It’s definitely a solid 4 but I really liked how the plot progressed and so it gets bonus points!

overall

This book kept me guessing and really surprised me with its delivery. If you want to try a darker New Adult or try a NA suspense novel for the first time, this is a great introductory book to start with!

Read if You Like: suspenseful stories, character growth
Avoid if You: don’t like fast romances, darker stories

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Fresh Fridays: Tainted Love by K B Nelson

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:

Tainted Love Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Faithless (from Goodreads):
She’s a stripper. He’s a preacher. Her name is Faith and he’s been faithless since the day she went away.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know it’d end like this.
From the beginning, it could only go one way, and straight to hell it did.
My past reads like a film stuck on repeat; fall in in love, get heart broke, and then run. Just fucking run.

And run I did.
Straight back to that place I swore I’d never return.
Straight back to that place where my broken heart lies buried deep within one man’s chest.

Noah Parker was my first love. He was my only love.
The only boy that could ever make me feel alive.
The only boy who ever truly broke my heart.
The only boy who could possibly save me from myself.

But Noah isn’t a boy anymore…

breakdown

Series: Tainted Love
Author: K B Nelson
# of Books: 2 (Faithless, Blind Sided)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Blind Sided, will be published in March 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Suspense, Second Chance
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 23, 2016 – ongoing

was originally a 3 part serial that was rewritten and complied into the new edition.

Source & Format: Author–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed K B Nelson’s Bad Reputation and so I joined her mailing list to be notified of when she had new releases and review copies available. Now, Faithless isn’t exactly new. It was originally published as a 3 part serial starting in December 2014. This publication is the same story but features different scenes, a different ending and puts everything together to be a part of this new series.

I love forbidden love stories and the idea that a preacher and a stripper had some passionate romance? Colour me curious! I also loved that it was pitched with a darker theme–another trope I am a sucker for.

What I Liked:

–It wasn’t afraid to go places–

I like books that take risks with their characters and events. Nelson has no issue making this story as dark and tragic as it could possibly be, making the story completely unpredictable at times.

–The Suspense and Mystery–

I didn’t know that this was going to be a suspense novel so it took me for surprise when that’s what it turned out to be. But it really added something to this story that made me want to keep reading. The suspense plot here is so dark and twisty that it kept my attention and made the book very unpredictable.

The mystery of putting together the past was also really intriguing. I liked having the flashbacks to the past mixed with current events. It kept the story building and added more depth to the characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was more Suspense than Romance–

While I enjoyed the suspense elements, at the same time, I thought I was going to be reading more of a contemporary, second chance romance that focused on the forbidden passions between a preacher and his high school sweat heart–not the events that happen when these two reunite after years apart.

It’s more of a suspense novel that has events that occur because these two people reunite; rather than a second chance romance with a minor suspense plot. If that makes any sense.

–The “spiritual” moments–

I feel like this heading is a bit misleading because it implies that there is a lot of moments about God and/or religious faith but that isn’t what I am getting at. (For the record, this book wasn’t preachy at all about faith or the like). I’m just talking about a plot device that was used and that I wasn’t the biggest fan of it even though I understand why it was used. (I would elaborate further but I think it’s a bit of a spoiler). It just added a cheesy element to the story that I would have preferred not to have had.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is a great set-up in Faithless for what the story in Blind Sided is going to be and now that I know what to expect from this series, I’m looking forward to seeing the path Nelson takes us on with this new one.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Faithless 3.5/5 | Blind Sided TBP

overall

If you enjoy stories like Leah Raeder’s Black Iris or even stories by M Leighton, this is a fantastic series for you to start! I think people who want lighter romance will not enjoy this nor will those who want more romance than suspense. Definitely a unique series that has me very intrigued to see what will happen next!

Read if You Like: suspense, non-traditional romances, dark stories
Avoid if You: want more romance/sexual tension

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Series Review: Nocte by Courtney Cole

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 Nocte (from Goodreads):
My name is Calla Price. I’m eighteen years old, and I’m one half of a whole. My other half—my twin brother, my Finn—is crazy. I love him. More than life, more than anything. And even though I’m terrified he’ll suck me down with him, no one can save him but me. I’m doing all I can to stay afloat in a sea of insanity, but I’m drowning more and more each day. So I reach out for a lifeline. Dare DuBray. He’s my savior and my anti-Christ. His arms are where I feel safe, where I’m afraid, where I belong, where I’m lost. He will heal me, break me, love me and hate me. He has the power to destroy me. Maybe that’s ok. Because I can’t seem to save Finn and love Dare without everyone getting hurt. Why? Because of a secret. A secret I’m so busy trying to figure out, that I never see it coming. You won’t either.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Adult Fav 2015
Series: Nocte Trilogy
Author: Courtney Cole
# of Books: 3 (Nocte, Verum, Lux)

There is a novella published between Verum and Lux called Initium.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Dark, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm (Noctum); warm (Verum & Lux)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (Noctum); Single (Verum & Lux)
Publication Dates: November 2014 – October 2015
Source & Format: Provided by Author –eBook  |  Thank you Courtney Cole!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Cole’s If I Stay and so I jumped on the chance to review this series. It promised lots of twists, a passionate romance and strong characters. I couldn’t wait to see what was happening to these characters and so I dove right in…

The Plot:

“A secret I’m so busy trying to figure out, that I never see it coming. You won’t either.”

That synopsis is so true. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was happening but I was proven completely wrong. It positively floored me when everything was revealed. And the best part was that I could have figured it out if I had known what to look for in hindsight. Especially Nocte; I felt like it was executed flawlessly with respect to the mystery and that is what makes it a 5 star read.

Verum also had a great twist but I found it didn’t captivate me as much. I found it hard to be constantly told “I just can’t tell you, you have to figure it out yourself”. I don’t like when I am purposefully kept in the dark. It’s kinda like lying by omission: if I don’t know you aren’t hiding something, I’m cool with it because I don’t know better. But when I know that I could know and it simply isn’t being told to me, I get frustrated. I like where it went, I just didn’t like how I got there.

Lux was a book that left me with mixed feelings. I spent so much time confused out of my mind trying to figure out what was past/present/future/real and it was a little exhausting. In her author’s note, Courtney Cole writes that that was her purpose in her writting. She wants the reader to experience what Calla is reading and in that respect she succeeds. Once everything starts to get revealed though, I was totally on board and it was nice to see how everything came together.

Note on the Novella–Initium:

I read the novella, Initium, between Verum and Lux which is the order the books were given to me. That is probably the right order regardless and it isn’t too spoilery. It does a good job of getting your mind going and trying to link up everything you’ve learned in the previous books for the big reveal. But at the same time, but I almost wonder if it is better to read it after you finish Lux. There are a few things I think would have a bigger impact in Lux if you didn’t get that backstory you do in the novella. But even with my knowledge of what happened in Initium, I was still surprised by what happened in Lux so I think whenever you read it would be fine.

The Characters:

All these characters play their roles perfectly. They develop at a great pace but they all still have their secrets that make you want to get to know them more.

I liked Calla as a character. Her love for her brother really made me like her (as a sister myself, I understand that drive to protect your sibling). I didn’t love how she referred to Finn as “crazy” when she knows full well (and even understands) his illness but that is more of a personal issue for me (I don’t like the terms some people associate with mental illness). And at the same time, I understand how it worked for the story and the need for it. In short: Calla was an easy character to get to like and that made reading her story so addicting.

The Romance:

I really liked the romance. It compliments the story in a great way that you appreciate the more you read. I think it is more of a focus in Noctum than the other novels. The final two novels focus more on Calla trying to understand what is happening, including her romantic life but it definitely takes to the background.

Series Rating: 4/5

Nocte  5/5 | Verum 4/5 | (Initium 4/5)  |  Lux 3.5/5

overall

If you enjoy books that make you think and distort reality, this is a great one for you to read! It keeps you on your toes and constantly has you guessing what is going to happen. But if you don’t enjoyed being toyed with, then I wouldn’t pick this one up. Overall, it is one of the most intriguing New Adult reads I’ve read in a while and I liked the suspense and mystery it brought to the genre.

Read if You Like: mindfucks, psychological thrillers, rebuilding the past
Avoid if You: don’t like mysteries, don’t enjoy distored realities, want a romance driven story

similarreads

  • Unravel by Caila Reed
  • We Were Liars by E Lockhart
  • Fight Club by Chuck  Palahniuk
  • Forbidden by Tabitha Suzman
  • Black Iris by Leah Raeder
  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (Hopeless Series #1)

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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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Single Sundays: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

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 Black Iris (from Goodreads):
It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

breakdown

Author: Leah Raeder
Genre: New Adult, Suspense, Romance, Mental Health, LGBT, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember where I found this book. It was either on someone else’s blog, NetGalley, a “can’t wait for” list or through a book on Goodreads. Regardless, I wanted to try my hand at a New Adult suspense novel. Normally, I go for the more romance focused New Adult reads but this one had a darker spin, a LGBT aspect and a revenge based premise.

I was really intrigued by the synopsis (and the cover) and couldn’t wait to dive into this one when my hold finally came in!

The Concept:

This story is told completely out of order. Each chapter is clearly labelled so it is easy to keep track of the timeline…for the most part. I do recommend trying to read this book in bigger chunks than littler ones so that you can keep everything straight. Because it does move around quite a bit. For example, one chapter could be May 2015, next is Feb 2014, followed by March 2015. It isn’t a simple alternation between the past and the present…and it really works with this story and its unreliable narrator.

Also, the LGBT premise is really fantastic! I kinda forgot about it when I picked it up so it surprised me a bit when I first started. Nevertheless, struggling with one’s sexual identity is the backbone of this book. It’s very heartfelt and real and grounds the story with its very dramatic revenge plot line.

The Plot:

As the reader, you spend most of your time trying to put together what has really happened to Laney that has caused her to go down the path of revenge. Laney is an unreliable narrator and completely knows it (she tells you multiple times throughout the book). So that can make it frustrating to read at times because you know you aren’t getting the full story. But only getting little breadcrumbs at a time also makes it equally exciting and captivating. I had a hard time putting this book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It really reminded me of watching How to Get Away with Murder because we only get fragmented pieces at a time, leading up to the big reveal.

While Laney’s mental health issues as a result of her family life and sexual identity are very realistic and an important part of the plot, don’t think book is meant to be one of those realistic fiction reads about someone who is suffering a sexual identity crisis and has a major epiphany. Because it isn’t. It’s a revenge story about a girl who wants to hurt everyone who ever hurt her. Who those people are and how she is going to do it is the main plot line of this story. It’s dark, it’s gritty and it takes no prisoners and compared to my usual New Adult fodder I found it to be very refreshing.

But I also found it to be detrimental to a certain degree. I don’t mind drug and sex references in my books, I might not like it, particularly the drug usage, but I won’t let it prevent me from reading a story. And while the drug usage and sexual situations worked for this story (ie they moved the plot forward and weren’t in there just for shock factor), I think there was just too much of it earlier on, especially the drug usage, and that dampened the experience for me a bit. It shifted the focus away from the larger issue of the plot for me which is the need for revenge.

The Characters:

This book has quite the cast of characters! They are all deeply flawed and so layered that it definitely keeps things interesting.

Laney was a very complex character and because she is an unreliable narrator, I had a hard time deciphering what was real and what wasn’t in terms of who she was as a person. Part of the problem lies in the fact that she is a character going through an identity crisis, so she doesn’t even really know herself. It was cool to see her evolve into her “true” self. But the execution, at times, makes it hard to get a read on her and her true motivations.

I would say overall, I didn’t really connect with any of these characters despite understanding them. I didn’t find myself rooting for Laney to succeed like I thought. But at the same time, I’m not sure if you are supposed to or not. Laney straight up says she isn’t your typical heroine in your typical story and that is 100% true. So I think it is expected that you aren’t going to root for her but you will understand her character and her motivations. You may not agree with her motivations or methods but you get why she feels like she has to do it that way.

The Romance:

I think this is the first book I have ever read that has a “true” love triangle. What I mean by true love triangle is that all three people involved are in love with each other. Person A is attracted to B + C, Person B is the same with A + C, etc. The only one that comes close is No One Needs to Know but it doesn’t really count because two of the people involved are twin siblings with no incestuous tendencies. It makes for an interesting dynamic and one that I really enjoyed watching unfold.

I find for the most part, the romantic relationships are based on physical attraction. It’s never really elaborated (at to me) why they all shared some inexplicable connection with each other initially. But by the end of the story, it became slightly more apparent to me why these characters were drawn together. I personally just like that little bit more for my characters, especially near the start, when it comes to their romantic relationships. In the end, it doesn’t really matter because the romance is just a tool to drive the plot forward and what we have is more than enough to satisfy that requirement.

My Rating: 4/5

I really struggled to rate this book when I finished it. While reading, I would say it was at a solid 4 and then the big reveal happened and I immediately thought 5 stars! But when it came to picking my rating on Goodreads, I hesitated. I adore books that give you all the clues throughout but prevent you from putting everything together until the big reveal–which is what this book did and that was why I wanted to give it 5 stars. However, I dropped it to a 4 because I did spend a lot of the time reading confused as to what was happening and keeping the plotline straight. And the dramatics (like the drug usage) slightly killed it for me as well, especially near the end. I just felt like it was a little too much when all was said and done, thus a 4 star review.

overall

I think a lot of readers will struggle with the format/execution of this book. The flip-flopping between past and present can be difficult to follow at times. It is also a book that slowly builds up to the big reveal so you may be left scratching your head for quite awhile. But overall, I found it to be enlightening and entertaining and it’s encouraged me to pick up other New Adult suspense novels.

Read if You Like: diverse books, books with GLBT themes, books dealing with mental health
Avoid if You: don’t like unreliable narrators, stories with drug usage

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Single Sundays: Little Peach by Peggy Kern

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 Little Peach (from Goodreads):
What do you do if you’re in trouble?

When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.

This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

breakdown

Author: Peggy Kern
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Dark, Contemporary **Mature Subject Matter**
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this book on someone’s blog (I should really start noting where I find these things!) and the whole topic of child prostitution caught my attention. I’m not a huge YA contemporary fan, but I do enjoy ones that deal with mature, often darker, subject matter (like bullying, teen suicide and similar issues). I’ve never read a book about child prostitution and my knowledge of it is very limited so I looked forward to (as much as one can with a topic like this) learning more about it.

The Concept:

As I was writing this review, I decided to look into some facts about child prostitution or trafficking.

The United Nations defines it as:

the act of engaging or offering the services of a child to perform sexual acts for money or other consideration with that person or any other person

I was shocked to learn that my country, Canada, has a serious child prostitution problem! I suppose it is one of those taboo subjects that just doesn’t get talked about or, even worse, isn’t reported to authorities. You can read about the 5 countries with the highest rates of child prostitution and I highly recommend you read this list of the 10 Most Surprising Facts of Child Trafficking: it is truly eye opening and informative!

The Plot:

The plot itself alternates between the present and the past (Michelle’s journey into prostitution): and boy, is it hard to read! Michelle’s situation is so heartbreaking and shocking that I couldn’t stomach more than a few pages at a time (and this book just clocked in at 100 pages on my Kobo which isn’t very long at all!). It was hard to watch her go through everything she did because it was so realistic! I could easily see this happen to real people and that’s what made this so hard: seeing what happens when people see no other option.

I also found this hard because Michelle is a bit of an unreliable narrator–not that I entirely blame her either given what happens to her. It was especially noticeable in the “present” scenes where I believe it is intentionally left vague as we haven’t met all the characters yet. It presses you to read on but I’ll admit I had a hard time trying to figure out who the “you” was and that I didn’t exactly understand what was happening. It definitely gets clearer as the story progresses and you are brought up to current events.

The Characters:

It isn’t long before you start to develop both empathy and sympathy for her because of how this story is written. You develop sympathy because you see how this 14 year old girl has been abused from early childhood all the way up to the present. And then you develop empathy because of how this book is written; how the scenes are described and the emotions and thoughts Michelle expresses as she narrates her story.

Everyone else is written in an extremely realistic way and they all contribute to this story in their own twisted way. I thought everyone was really well developed despite the short length of this book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

You can tell that Peggy Kern has done a lot of research and interviews to write such a real characters and situations.

Read if You Like: eye-opening books, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: don’t like realistic fiction, don’t enjoy shorter stories

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