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Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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

Synopsis for The Game of Love and Death (from Goodreads):

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

breakdown

Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (via Hoopla)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobook selections at my local library, the cover of this title immediately drew my attention in. I had never heard of the book before, but I liked the premise a lot when I read it. So, I added it to my TBR and actually added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2019 as a pick for the year 2015.

The Concept / The World:

I love the idea of fate or some greater beings controlling our everyday lives. It’s a cool premise to explore in a story and one that is done flawlessly here. Death and Love are compelling characters and their motives reflect that.

I love historical fiction set in this era; it’s so culturally rich and the issues people face are so basic and genuine. It adds this layer to the story that would be lost if it didn’t take place in this time-frame.

The Plot:

I think what I liked best about this story is that despite the larger premise (a game controlled by Love and Death), it’s a human story without all the over the top theatrics. It’s achingly real and heartfelt. The essence is a timeless story, though it is enhanced by the setting.

I’ll admit that the resolution of the game was a little lost on me. Well, one aspect was at least. The flashbacks (not that there are too many) also had me a little lost because I was listening to the audio and am not the best at remembering dates when they are said aloud.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed all the characters stories–Love, Death, Flora, Henry, Ethan–just intriguing characters and stories. They truly are the heart and soul of this story. I loved getting all the different POVs and I was never overwhelmed by them either.

The Romance:

You aren’t getting copious scenes of stolen moments or kisses but it’s a romance at its core. It’s like a slow burn romance with an edge of suspense with the “will they or won’t they” vibes the story entices.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production is beautiful. The choice to actually sing the songs just brings everything to life and perfectly captures the emotion of the songs.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

It’s not your everyday story or romance but there is something compelling about this story. I highly recommend the audiobook version!

Read if You Like: thought provoking novels, classic romances
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction, want a contemporary romance

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Series Review: His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers

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 Grave Mercy (from Goodreads):

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

breakdown

Series: His Fair Assassin

There is a spin-off duology in the works.

Author: Robin LaFevers
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There is nothing more I love in the world of reading than a heroine who can kick serious butt. So it seemed like I no brainer that I would pick up this series. I don’t remember how exactly I learned about Grave Mercy, but I read it years ago (just shortly after its release) and it left such a mark on me that I refused to remove the sequels from my TBR despite the fact that I could never find the time to read them.

The Concept / The World:

I love worlds that are a mix of actual history with a little dash of fantasy–which is what we get here. These stories are inspired by true events but the timelines and the external forces involved are often altered by artistic licence. The result? You get a world filled with twisting politics (yay!), villainous characters and strong heroines you can’t help but root for.

Each book follows a different daughter of St. Mortain (Death) but they all follow a continuous story arc. It’s a great way to keep things fresh and moving throughout the series. You get to see old characters weave in and out of the story and it just gives this series a 360-degree view I think.

The Plot:

As I said above, each book features a different assassin so you get a fresh start every time in a sense. So in that regard, I found it took me a couple of chapters to get into the new swing of things and orient myself in the world. (It also didn’t help that I read Books #1 and #2 nearly five years apart…). This was especially true for Book #3, Mortal Heart that seemed to take twice as long to establish itself.

But once you are a few chapters in, you’d better hold on! I found these stories were constantly evolving and twisting and it’s hard not to be addicted. You get sucked into the heroine’s pasts; the politics are fascinating and don’t forget that dash of romance along the way!

The Writing:

Usually I don’t comment on the writing style but I do want to mention the fact that sometimes I had a hard time figuring out what was actually happening. It’s weird because this isn’t told in the third person (which can be tricky to navigate). I think it’s just that some things are alluded to; some things are “magical”/”supernatural” and with its historical setting I think the style just takes some getting used to when reading and interpreting what is happening.

The Characters:

I love that this series focuses on a different heroine in each book. You get to spend time uncovering every aspect of their character within the novel. Nothing gets drawn out between sequels or intentionalLY hidden. You just get solid characters throughout.

And each of our leading ladies is unique. Whether it’s their pasts before their time at the convent or their abilities, they each bring something fresh to this world and I loved that.

The Romance:

This is perhaps, for me, the most underdeveloped aspect of the plot because we don’t spend copious amounts of time with it. Of course, we get this great underlying tension between the characters but in the grand scheme of things, I found that the feelings developed fast (again, understandable given the circumstances) and don’t get a ton of screen time.

My Expectations for the Spin-Off Series:

I didn’t end the series on a particular high note (Mortal Heart was my least favourite of the trilogy), but I do like the idea of continuing on with some characters but getting a new cast of characters at the same time.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Grave Mercy 4/5| Dark Triumph 4/5 | Mortal Heart 3/5

overall

I’ve never read a series like this before and that only is noteworthy. But if you enjoy historical fiction that focuses on the grittier side of things, check this series out!

Read if You Like: assassins, historical fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike long books, dislike darker reads

similarreads

  • Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan (Maids of Honour Series #1)
  • Scarlet by A C Gaughan (Scarlet Trilogy #1)

 

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Series Review: Love Unplugged by Jamie Howard

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

Love Unplugged Series

book3 book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for All the Ways You Saved Me (from Goodreads):

Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.

Law school? Check.

Camera-ready smile? Check.

A dull and boring existence? Double check.

But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend’s unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.

It’s while she’s checking off her first item on the list–buy coffee for a stranger–that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he’s a complication Bianca doesn’t need but desperately wants.

With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she’s buried under what’s expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she’s willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author –> Favourite Author
Series: Love Unplugged
Author: Jamie Howard
# of Books: 4 (All the Ways You Saved Me, The Feeling of Forever, The Way Back to Us, After All This Time)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, After All This Time is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

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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:

If you’ve been following my blog at all this year, you should know that I found one of my new favourite authors in Jamie Howard. Her novel, Until It’s Right is one of my all-time favourite NA reads–like I plan on rereading it over the years to come–because it is perfection. So when I was asked if I wanted to read her latest novel, I think you know what my answer was…after I jumped around like my butt was on fire!

Image result for jumping freaking out gif

Even if Howard wasn’t the one to write this one, the premise of All the Ways You Saved Me sounded fantastic. It promised to have amazing character growth accompanied with a heartwarming romance. And given my experience with Howard’s other works, I knew that was just what I was going to get!

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

Without a doubt, this is the strongest aspect of this novel. If you want a solid NA story where both characters transform before your eyes: this is it.

Bianca was a great lead! I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with her given her family background but I didn’t find that to be the case. I think anyone who has ever dealt with others pressuring them to live their life a certain way will empathize with her. I loved her story from start to finish.

But it was really Ian’s story that really surprised me. I didn’t expect to love him as much as I did! His story is told as flashbacks to the past and I thought that was a great method. Instead of simply getting told during some “grand reveal” scene, the reader gets to experience what he went through–and let me tell you, it is a heart-wrenching (albeit beautiful) story…

–A Romance Focused on Friendship–

What I really liked about these two together was how their relationship made them better people individually. I hate when couples get so absorbed into each other that they lose sight of themselves. That really isn’t the case here. It’s easy to see why these two work together. They start as friends that challenge each other to do things they might not usually do and it blossoms from there.

It’s just a heartwarming story that makes you believe in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like. It was just a really good, solid story that captured my attention from start to finish and reminded me what I love to see in romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, there are so many great directions this series can go. I know I have a few stories I would like to see unfold…so I can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #2: The Feeling of Forever

Is it possible to rate a book higher than 5 stars? Seriously, this book deserves more than 5/5!

WOW, just WOW! This is one of the best Contemporary romances I’ve read recently. No doubt about it!

This story had it all for me: extremely likeable characters, a heart-melting romance and a heart-pounding plot. I could not put this one down!

Jules and Felix are just a great pair. Their relationship had a solid foundation right from the start. The way they communicate and interact with each other: swoon. It’s just a beautiful story. I loved these two so, so much.

As for the rest of the book, it was great. It had the perfect balance between the romance and the drama. And what fabulous drama it is! It just added another layer to this already great story but without overshadowing it.

Honestly, Howard has perfected her craft. I literally cannot wait for the next book in this stellar series!

–December 6, 2017– Book #3: The Way Back to Us

This novel was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. To say I was super duper excited to start this is an understatement of possibly epic proportions.

It was nice to get some closure for Gavin. I was super curious to learn more about the girl who captured his heart and I was not disappointed in the journey to learn all about it.

Like The Feeling of Forever, this one has a romantic suspense vibe to it. Which was a little unexpected but kept me hooked and constantly coming up with new theories for what was happening. Of course, I was totally wrong so bonus points for that twist! But the whole premise gave this story a unique feel to it and I found it to be a refreshing take on the second chance romance.

My only complaint is that I wanted to see how these two fell in love. For me, it almost read like a sequel novel to their first book where they fell in love and this was the novel to wrap it all up to see if love can conquer all. Instead of being shown why they belong together we are told why they shouldn’t be together. I’m a reader who likes to see those romantic moments where couples fall in love. It doesn’t always work for me to be told why these two love each other as they battle the dramatic plot lines.

However, it did work here in a way. Obviously, these two make a great pair and I loved them together.  As I reader I definitely got why these two would fight everything to be together. In that aspect Howard succeeds in her writing. But I wanted a little bit of that “so called” first book of theirs because I’m a huge fan. I wanted to see them meet and establish what is a great relationship and partnership instead of seeing it already exist. We get little tidbits here and there but I craved more because I just loved these two characters so much.

My Rating: 5/5

All the Ways You Saved Me 5/5 | The Feeling of Forever 5/5 | The Way Back to Us 4/5

overall

If you want a New Adult romance that is somewhat lighter on the romance but features strong characters that transform before your eyes while melting your heart: this is it!

Read if You Like: character development, books about grief
Avoid if You: want more sexual content, dislike New Adult

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Series Review: Neon Dreams by Caisey Quinn

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 Leaving Amarillo (from Goodreads):
Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.

Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.

Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Neon Dreams Trilogy
Author: Caisey Quinn
# of Books: 3 (Leaving Amarillo, Loving Dallas, Missing Dixie)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Music, Drama, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Leaving Amarillo); Alternating (Loving Dallas, Missing Dixie)
Publication Dates: March 2015 – October 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Caisey Quinn’s other two New Adult series. She is really a must read New Adult author for me at this point so I was really looking forward to reading Leaving Amarillo–though I did have some hesitations.

I really liked the Kylie Ryan Series, which is about a young woman trying to make it in the country music world. So I was worried that this series was going to have a lot of similarities…

Yeah…I was so wrong!

The Plot:

I won’t lie, I was expecting a straight-up romance when I started Leaving Amarillo. So I was a little shocked when I saw that the eBook was close to 300 pages long (the average book is about 230-250 pages long). Did that mean that the romance was going to get dragged on? I sure hoped not.

Silly me! You can tell it had been a long time since I read a Caisey Quinn novel because I really should know better!

What I love about Quinn’s novels is that she truly balances the romantic side with the character and plot development. Meaning, she really hits the tri-factor of what a great New Adult novel should be: a strong romance, growing characters and an interesting plot. In other words: New Adult Goldmine!

What I love about the plot is that it spans all the books; meaning it doesn’t get fully resolved in the first two books and there are some lose ends to tie up in Missing Dixie. Which is great! It’s been a long time since I’ve followed a journey with a set of characters in contemporary romance. Most New Adult series focus on a core group of friends but each book is dedicated to two specific people. So you don’t really get to watch the characters you meet in the first book continually grow. I mean, you see their little cameo appearances here and there but my point is that everything usually gets wrapped up within their own books and that isn’t the case here. Leaving Amarillo follows the band, but mostly focuses on Dixie; Loving Dallas focuses entirely on Dallas and Missing Dixie will be the resolution for the band.

Perhaps that’s a little frustrating because you have to wait for the next novel, but is it worth it? Definitely!

The Characters:

I really grew to like these characters. They have so much history between them that at times you feel like the new kid trying to break into their existing group, so it took me a while. Everything builds slowly with these people but by the end you go “where did the last 150 pages go?”.

I was really worried Dixie would be just like Kylie (who I love don’t get me wrong) but I was pleasantly surprised that they really aren’t anything alike. Yes, they share a similar path of finding what they want in life and moments where they take a stand for themselves but they are different. Dixie is much more timid and has to find confidence in herself; which makes her character development so great. I never got annoyed with her and she never rubbed me the wrong way.

And that’s the same with the rest of the characters–well, maybe Gavin who I wanted to give him a little wake-up smack but that’s all part of the romance–I really began to root for these characters as I read their stories which made it so much more enjoyable.

The Romance:

Gah, there was the perfect amount of focus on the romantic side of things. You have all the sexual tension and then the actual “moments” (if yah know what I mean ;)) but I never felt like you had too much of one or the other. And the romance never overshadowed the plot. It complimented it in such a great way that made these books so much fun to read.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to see everything wrap up in the finale! I’ve really come to care for these characters and I’ve really enjoyed this journey so far!

updates

–December 11– Book #3: Missing Dixie

This was a fantastic way to end the series! I felt like it started a little slow but it did build up it momentum as it went. I really like the direction this story took; it surprised me in a great way and I loved how everything had built up to this grande finale. The romance is white hot–I mean the tension is so there it is almost palpable. Sure, it was frustrating watching these characters not communicate when it would solve all their problems but I want them to succeed SO MUCH it made reading it frustrating in a fun way. Also, I definitely shed some tears with this one! I don’t think there has been a Caisey Quinn series that I haven’t shed a few tears for at some point.

Series Rating: 4/5

Leaving Amarillo 4/5  |  Loving Dallas 4/5  |  Missing Dixie 4/5

overall

If you want a New Adult story that is realistic in its approach to the music-celebrity-lifestyle, this is the series for you! This series has a great blend of romance, plot and character development. One of the best new New Adult series I’ve read this year!

Read if You Like: stories about making it big in music, sexual tension, drama
Avoid if You: don’t like overarching plots, want more romance

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Single Sundays: One Last Song by S.K. Falls

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 One Last Song (from Goodreads):
I was seven when I swallowed my first needle.

My mom freaked out and rushed me to the emergency room.

She stayed by my side all night.

I never wanted it to end.

When you spend your whole life feeling invisible-when your parents care more about deals and deadlines than they do about you-you find ways of making people take notice. Little things at first. Then bigger. It’s scary how fast it grows. Then one day something happens that makes you want to stop. To get better. To be better. And for the first time, you understand what it’s like to feel whole, happy . . . loved. For the first time, you love someone back.

For me, that someone was Drew.

Previously published as IPPY award-winning novel, Secret for a Song.

breakdown

Author: S.K. Falls
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Dark, Mature Subject Matter
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I randomly found this book among my library’s recent eBooks additions and decided to put myself on the hold list.

What intrigued me about this book is the very first line of the book synopsis. I’ve never read a book about someone with Munchausen syndrome (Munchausen syndrome is a mental disorder that is characterized by the sufferer causing or pretending to have physical or psychological symptoms in his or herself.) though I’ve heard of it before so that really interested me.

The Concept:

For myself, as someone who is entering the healthcare field, it was hard for me to read about Sayor’s condition for two reasons. One is that this book is written in such a real way that it’s hard to read Saylor’s perspective on things because of her mental condition. You really understand what she is thinking and why and that is hard to stomach at times.

The other reason I found this book hard to read is that our healthcare system truly fails people suffering from this condition and other mental health conditions. In recent years, mental health is getting talked about more and more but there is still a huge stigma surrounding it and I like that this book brings more obscure disorders to the forefront.

The Plot:

The best way I can thing to describe this book is if The Fault in Our Stars had a love affair with Fight Club. Now this might seem like an odd combination but if you’ve read both of those books and then this one, you would understand where I am coming from. The Narrator from Fight Club really reminds me of Saylor as they both suffer from conditions that results in them attending a support group. While is why it also reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars because instead of the crazy, soap-making ride that is Fight Club, Saylor learns what it means to live by hanging out with people her own age suffering from their medical conditions.

This book is really about Saylor living with her condition and her personal growth. There are definitely little plot lines along the way that contribute to the plot and keep it from being too heavy but this really is about Saylor’s personal growth.

The Characters:

The characters in this book are extremely well-developed though some might come across as cliché. However, I thought they complimented each other well.

Drew reminds me a toned down Augustus Waters (TFIOS). I really liked him and I was just as interested in his journey as Saylor. I also really liked Saylor. She wasn’t funny like Hazel (TFIOS) but I found her very intriguing and I loved watching her develop.

The Romance:

This book is light on the romance. It definitely plays a key role in the plot but it isn’t a main focus by any means. I really didn’t mind because I felt like it complimented the story in the right way. Just don’t go into this thinking it is a straight romance because there are so many other factors at play.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I think some people will have a hard time reading this book. It deals with some serious issues and doesn’t hold back. However, I encourage everyone who is interested to try it because I think it tells an important story and starts the conversation about mental illness.

Read if You Like: narrators suffering from illness, light romance, books dealing with more mature subject matter
Avoid if You: don’t like books dealing with death or mental health; want more passion to your romances
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Series Review: Beau Rivage by Sarah Cross

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

Series: Beau Rivage
Author: Sarah Cross
# of Books: 2 (Kill Me Softly, Tear Me Apart)

There are two novellas: After the Ball and Twin Roses

Book Order: Connected but follow chronological events
Complete?: So far–but more books could be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retellings, Romance, Drama, Fantasy, Dark
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple

Thoughts:

I read Kill Me Softly a long time ago (before a sequel was ever announced) and I really don’t remember all that much about it. I know I didn’t love it but I enjoyed the world Sarah Cross created and was open to the idea of read its sequels.

I think it should be a big disclaimer that these fairy-tale retellings are true to the original tales: meaning they are gory and not always that happy as they primarily focus on the curses. Don’t go into these books thinking you are reading some light-hearted, Disney-esque fairy tale retellings (like any of Alex Finn’s novels) because you will be sorely disappointed! The best way to describe it is like a darker Into the Woods (the movie/play) as a book featuring teenaged characters.

So I went into Tear You Apart not really remembering anything about Kill Me Softly.You really definitely don’t have to read Kill Me Softly to enjoy Tear You Apart but it does help you to be more familiar with the world of Beau Rivage. but I found that Tear me Apart brought me up to speed quickly enough…it just wasn’t enough to keep my attention for long.

I actually read Tear You Apart in two installments. The first time I read it I was away on vacation and I found that the book couldn’t keep my attention. To be fair, I was reading it when I was tired and had found a spare moment to pick it up. However, I really did feel like the story moved too slowly for me to actually enjoy it. I loved the premise and I really didn’t mind all the angst but it just took too long to get somewhere. So I stopped reading it when I was about a third of the way through and decided to try it again later when I could give it a fair shot.

When I picked it up the second time, I found it much easier to read and I think that was the case because the plot actually starts to move somewhere. Instead of focusing on one girl’s curse we get multiple curses at play and that just made things much more interesting to me. It gets a little darker as well and I really had no idea how it was all going to end.

While there are no immediate plans for more novels in this series I would be open to reading them if they ever do get published. The biggest reason I rate this series on the lower end of the spectrum is because I haven’t found any characters that I truly like. I love the world and I love the incorporation of multiple fairy tales but I just have a hard time finding characters I want to root for. And perhaps that is part of the charm or goal for this series–who knows?–but I just haven’t made that strong enough connection to bump up my rating.

I do want to read the novellas since I think I might like those characters more and they sound interesting. My library has yet to get them so I have no immediate plans to read them. But if given the chance, I would read them.

Conclusion:

For those who like darker stories, especially fairy tales, this is a great series for you!

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

Similar Reads: Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Synopsis for Kill Me Softly (from Goodreads):
Mirabelle’s past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents’ tragic deaths to her guardians’ half-truths about why she can’t return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who’s a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren’t pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own . . . brothers who share a dark secret. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

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Series Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

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

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Synopsis for Slammed (from Goodreads):
Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: New Favourite Author 2015
Series: Slammed Trilogy
Author: Colleen Hoover
# of Books: 3 (Slammed, Point of Retreat, This Girl)
Book Order: Chronological but This Girl is an alternate POV of Slammed
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Despite finishing Hoover’s other series Hopeless before this one, Slammed was the first book I read by Hoover. When I first picked up Slammed from my library, Hopeless had been sitting on my Kobo for probably 2 years unread. I think it’s vague synopsis and all the hype made me hesitant to read it. But I have always heard really good things about Slammed so when they added new eBooks at my library and this series was one, I made sure I was near the top of that holds list. (Afterwards, it encouraged me to pick up Hopeless and I am so thankful that I did!)

My Review:

Slammed started out like any other Young Adult/New Adult where the lead moves to a new town after the death of a parent. Enter the angst-driven heroine and the cute boy who notices her right away and you’ve got the basis of many New Adult novels out there. But this book is nothing like those other books and it quickly sets itself apart through its characters, plot lines and poetry.

Layken is angsty–but not in annoying way. Obviously she is upset about what has happened to her family and it shows. I don’t think anyone can blame her for feeling and thinking the way she does. So this is well-done (read: valid reasons for) angst and I wish all authors did angst like this. However, she isn’t my favourite heroine ever. Her stubbornness bothered me a bit and because I didn’t love her, it stopped me from giving Slammed a 5/5. Will is a great character though: he had me smiling and charmed from the minute we meet him. And I loved watching them together because it was more than a physical attraction that drew them together and I could see why they liked each other. Despite not loving Layken, I really did feel like they were a good pair.

Then comes the “shocking revelation” and it really was shocking! I had no idea what was going to happen and when it did, my attention was grabbed. It’s not often that I get surprised by a plot line: so when I do, the book gets major points and this one does for sure!

As for the poetry aspect, like most people (in my classes at least) it was my least favourite subject in English. That definitely changed when I got to university and studied English and read a variety of poems. I don’t like writing poems but I don’t mind reading them. However, Slam Poetry is something that I have no experience with–just those clichéd bits on sitcoms and I watched a YouTube video one time of a Dad’s message “To the Boys Who One Day May Date My Daughter” (it’s really well done!). Reading this book almost made me wish that I was listening to the audio books because it would really add to the reading experience–though it really isn’t necessary as Hoover bolds/italicizes words so you get the gist of how it would be performed. So while poetry really isn’t my thing, it was refreshing to read (I find most people choose music lyrics instead of poetry) and added to the story in a way I didn’t expect.

I didn’t really think Point of Retreat was a necessary sequel per say, but it sure was icing on top of an already awesome cake. I really felt like Point of Retreat tied up some loose ends from Slammed that weren’t necessarily left dangling but it was nice to have them neatly wrapped up nonetheless. Of course there was a great twist along the way that I didn’t see coming (I should honestly know better by now).

What I love about Hoover’s work is that she doesn’t stretch out her character’s stories by publishing more books than necessary. Two, plus an alternate retelling is the perfect amount for this series. It might be tempting to read This Girl right after Point of Retreat or even congruently with Slammed but I wouldn’t. It actually chronologically follows the events of Point of Retreat and is told like as flashbacks to the past (ie Slammed). So read it as if it were a Book 3 or else you read major spoilers 🙂

(Though I enjoyed reading This Girl and appreciated how it told a different side of the story and provided some insight into Slammed‘s events, it was a little nauseating to read. You know, like that couple that is overly in love and always shows it? It was kinda like reading that at times. BUT, I enjoyed reading it and thought it was a great way to wrap up the series).

Rating: 4/5

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It may not be my favourite YA to New Adult series ever but I loved every minute I spent reading these books! They are just so well done with touching characters, amazing plot twists, poetry and great messages about family and love. I laughed, I cried and I smiled throughout the entire series. I will definitely be picking up anything and everything by Colleen Hoover in the future!

  • Charade by Nyrae Dawn (Game Series #1)
  • Someone to Love by Addison Moore (Someone to Love Series #1)
  • On Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #2)

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Single Sundays: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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 Thirteen Reasons Why (from Goodreads):
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Review:

This book is one of those books that always graces “Must Read Teen” Lists and while I maybe 7 years late to the party, I have to agree whole-heartedly. Everyone should read this book--not just teens– because it has a strong message that everyone needs to know: our actions, even the really small ones, can drastically impact another person’s life and we may not even know it.

I think anyone at any age can relate in some way to this story. It takes place in a high school but the scenarios we read about can really take place at work or in the neighbourhood or basically any place in society. I had tears in my eyes at multiple times and I cringed at some of the scenarios Hannah had to endure. I actually felt like I was Clay, reading about a classmate of mine because I could see how true this story could be and that really upset me. It is a very real story with real, everyday scenarios and that often makes this book hard to read–but that’s the point. This isn’t a subject to joke about and society needs to remove that stigma against mental health illnesses and bullying so that this book doesn’t become an everyday reality.

This book makes you think. It makes you think about how you treat others, how you react to rumours and how you lead your life. But it also made me appreciate all the people I have in my life and how thankful I am for the support system I have. I know a lot of people don’t have that support system and feel alone but I think the other important, often overlooked, message of this story is that you a not alone. There is always someone who loves you. They may not always be prominent, they maybe hidden in the background like Clay, but there is someone who cares for you and wants to be there for you so you are never alone.

This book is beautifully written and the delivery is fantastic. It grabbed my attention and held onto it throughout the entire novel. It was just very well done and it has been a very long time since a book has impressed me as much as this one has.

Conclusion:

This book will draw every emotion from you and really make you think about who you are as a person. This isn’t a novel for just teens, it’s a novel for a human beings.

Rating: 5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: HELL YES! I would recommend this to everyone!

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health, Mature Subject Mature, Death High School 
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Reads 2014, Everyone Must Read
Similar Reads: You Against Me by Jenny Downham, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and Stolenby Lucy Christopher

Series Review: Flight & Glory by Rebecca Yarros

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

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Synopsis for Full Measures (from Goodreads):
Three knocks can change everything…

“She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead.”

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare

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Series: Flight & Glory
Author: Rebecca Yarros
# of Books: 4 (Full Measures, Eyes Turned Skyward, Beyond What is Given, Hallowed Ground)
Book Order: Connected, Direct Sequel (Full Measures + Hallowed Ground)
Genre: New Adult, Army, Realistic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Eyes Turned Skyward onwards)
Publication Dates: February 2014 – January 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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**This post was originally posted as a Toonie Tuesday 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:

I picked up this book because of the cover and the price; but I was also interested in the hockey player aspect. I find books dealing with the army are a little hit or miss for me. I absolutely loved the Out of Line series by Jen McLaughlin, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Something Like Normal. But I went into this book hoping it would be like Out of Line and that I would enjoy it.

The Plot:

Overall, I really liked this book but it wasn’t what I was really expecting. The first half of the book is really about Ember finding herself after her father’s death. I would almost describe it like she is undergoing a midlife crisis at the age of 22–and being the same age I could totally see why she is given everything that happens to her. But once she gets a grip on her life, that is when the romance begins to take center focus. This isn’t to say that there isn’t sexual tension for the first half of the book, because there is, I just felt the focus was on Ember trying to navigate her life.

The book I feel is really grounded and realistic. It’s not over the top and you can tell that Ms Yarros has experience with the military life as it is shown in the writing. I felt like I was actually experiencing all of that with my family and I shed a few tears while reading.

The Characters:

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 4/5 was Ember. I’m not sure why I didn’t like her as much as I should have. It’s weird because I totally got her character and her thought process but I just didn’t have that connection with her I usually develop with the heroines. She basically had everything I like about a female lead but I guess she came across as a little cold at the start which rubbed me the wrong way. Given everything that happens I totally understood why but I wonder if my first impression of her just never left my mind.

I really hope that there will be a spin-off book with some of the characters we meet here–especially Sam or Jagger. From what I can see nothing it planned but I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author.

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–February 11, 2017– Book #2: Eyes Turned Skyward

It has almost been 3 years since I read the inaugural novel but I had no problem getting back into this world.

This was just a really enjoyable romance novel. The story was so heart-felt from start to finish. Both leads are trying to navigate their complicated lives and it was great watching them grow.

The romance is more of a slow burn but definitely on point. Yes, it is a little cheesy at times but it just worked so well when you looked past the cheesiness. It’s such a sweet story that the cheese is worth it.

Series Rating: 4/5

Full Measures 3.5/5  |  Eyes Turned Skyward 4/5  | Beyond What is Given TBR | Hallowed Ground TBR

overall

For those new adult fans who enjoy military reads and watching love & acceptance heal, this is a read for you. It’s got enough awe moments mixed with hot moments to make a reader happy. But just be aware that it is a little darker (ie not so happy-go-lucky) at times so just be prepared.

Read if You Like: military romances, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want a lighter story
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Series Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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

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Synopsis for Pushing the Limits (from Goodreads):
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Series
Series: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
# of Books: 5 (Reading Order Here)

There are 3 novellas.

Book Order: Connected*

The exception is #1.5 Breaking the Rules which is a direct sequel to Pushing the Limits (#1)

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Drama, Mental Health, Dark
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

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I’m actually slightly embarrassed that it has taken me this long to write a review on this series. I totally thought I already had so I was shocked after I finished reading Crash Into You that I didn’t have to just update a previous blog post, rather I had to create one!

I read Pushing the Limits approximately one year ago. Although it had been out for a while it had just captured my attention one day at the library and I decided to pick it up. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but after reading it I’m glad it wasn’t because I enjoyed it way more than I expected and it was so much better than I had hoped.

Young Adult or New Adult?

This series is one of those that straddles the New Adult — Young Adult line. Because they are in high school, I would tend to classify it as Young Adult but the subject mature is very mature and so are the characters so I don’t have a problem calling it New Adult (Katie McGarry classifies it as Young Adult however with Breaking the Rules as more New Adult). There is also a lot of mature subject matter that gives these books a dark edge to them — but it done extremely well and so beautifully.

My Review:

Pushing the Limits was probably one of the darker Young Adult/New Adult reads I had read up until that point in time. It deals a lot more with mental illness than other books but does so in a mature and respectful way. Echo and Noah are a great pair (as are all the characters in the next few books) and I loved watching them fall in love. I also really liked their personal development throughout the story. The rest of the cast of characters was great as well and I was excited to see them in the next few installments.

If you are like me, you will think it is pretty obvious who the next book will be about so I was shocked when I read the synopsis for Dare You To. SO DON’T READ THE SYNOPSIS FOR DARE YOU TO UNTIL YOU FINISH PUSHING THE LIMITS! At first, I wasn’t a fan of the idea but as soon as I read the book, I changed my tune. The female lead was a hard character for me to like but I really grew to like her as I read her story and I loved her match. I enjoyed reading Dare You To way more than Pushing the Limits and I really liked Pushing the Limits so that says something. I think it was because Dare You To wasn’t as emotionally dark as Pushing the Limits was.

Don’t be intimidated by the longer page length. You will see that they are quite long–over 300 pages, but when you read them they don’t feel long enough 😛 No, I joke, they are the perfect length and I find that you get so into the story that the pages just fly by.

Case and point, Crash Into You. I simply devoured the book because it was so much fun to read. I absolutely loved Rachel–she is definitely my favourite heroine yet in the series. She had some great comments early on in the book that made me laugh out loud and I loved her story. Her match is perfect for her and I loved watching them connect. Her family is also an interesting cast of characters and I’m glad to see that the 4th book will feature one of her brothers (and is it so greedy of me that I want another one focused on her brothers before I even read it?). It’s a tough call if I like this book more than Dare You To so I am going to call it a tie.

The Novella–Crossing the Line:

I did read the novella, Crossing the Line before I read Dare You To. You can essentially read Crossing the Line anytime, but probably after Pushing the Limits is the best time. It will be published in print with the Take Me On book when it is released. I wish it was a full blown novel because I loved the story but I felt like I got enough out of the novella so I wasn’t disappointed.

updates

–October 30, 2014– Book #4: Take Me On

Words cannot describe how excited I was to read Take Me On. I checked my hold at the library every week since it became available and impatiently waited for my cue. Of course it never fails that I had a butt load of books to read before I could read it; and then I had to read it in the middle of midterms (sorry midterms, but you had to wait). Take Me On was everything I wanted it to be and more. I had so much fun reading about these characters and I loved their stories. Frankly, I couldn’t get enough so fans of Crash into You will be super happy with this book.

–January 4, 2015– Book #1.5: Breaking the Rules

I originally thought Breaking the Rules was a novella so I was shocked when I got my copy and saw it was a full length novel. In the end, I’m glad it was a novel because I feel like I have more closure with Echo and Noah. Unlike Pushing the Limits, this one seemed a lot more realistic to me. I think a lot of people who had relationships in high school can understand the mindset of these characters as they struggle to define their relationship before they start college. I thought it was really well done and fans will be extremely satisfied, but I wish I had read it right after reading Pushing the Limits just for the sake of continuity.

–September 15, 2019– Book #3.5: Breaking the Rules

If anyone can pack some punch into an 84 page novella, Katie McGarry is the author to do it. This novella perfectly echoes the Pushing the Limits tone. I loved the romance, I loved the themes and I really loved how it highlights a real life charity and the impact it can have on a person.

Recommended Reading Order:

My recommended reading order for the series: Pushing the Limits, Breaking the Rules, Crossing the Line, Dare you To, Crash into Me, Take on Me, Chasing Impossible. You can read Red at Night at anytime.

Series Rating: 5/5

overall

If you enjoy stories where the romance is about finding someone who understands you for who you are, you’ll love these books. The romance is blended perfectly with character growth and the plots move quickly despite the book lengths. It’s a mature albeit dark story line so half the time you forget you are reading about high school students.

similarreads
More than This by Jay McLean (More Series #1)
Hooked by Liz Fichera (Hooked #1)

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