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Fresh Fridays: Sweet Black Waves (#1) by Kristina Pérez

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:

Sweet Black Waves Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sweet Black Waves (from Goodreads):

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA New Series 2018
Series: Sweet Black Waves Trilogy
Author: Kristina Perez
# of Books: 3 (Sweet Black Waves, Wild Savage Stars, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wild Savage Stars, will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 5, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Imprint Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I managed to snag one of the few “read now” copies of this book on Netgalley and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I love forbidden romance stories and you don’t get much more famous than the legend of Tristan and Isolde (unless you are Romeo and Juliet perhaps). I’ve read a lot of Romeo and Juliet inspired stories but not very many of Tristan Isolde. Perhaps the adulterous nature of their story turns people away? Regardless, I was very intrigued to see how Pérez would used the tale to highlight a character who isn’t a part of the famous duo.

What I Liked:

–Rich World Building–

It’s always readily apparent to me how much work an author has put into a story and when I was only a few chapters in, I knew how much research and thought Kristina Pérez had put into crafting this world. Not only is the world intricately crafted with its lush setting of magic and politics, but the weaving of the various Tristan and Isolde legends is beautifully done.

I know the gist of the various legends but there was still an element of anticipation in this novel as I waited to see how everything would unfold and it takes a great talent to do that with a novel that has been inspired by such a well known tale.

–The Layered Characters–

It really was the characters that sold this story for me. Everyone has so many layers to them, not just Branwen (though she is a fascinating lead to follow). This truly is a character driven story as I found there isn’t much else to the plot besides Branwen navigating her role in court as various obstacles appear along the way. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and for someone who loves political intrigue in her novels, I was a huge fan!

–The Romance–

I can’t ignore the romance when it is based on one of the most famous romances of all time. I don’t want to give much away, but all I will say is SWOON! I was a big fan!

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Discovered the Glossary at the Very End of Reading–

Not that this was a hard story to follow when it comes to the terms and the language used. I’ve studied Latin and French so I was able to figure it out quickly. But I always hate when I discover the glossary once I’ve finished the book…it’s one of the biggest issues I have with reading ebooks but alas, it wasn’t a huge deal here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! What an ending! I’m so invested in all these characters that I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I personally don’t see how this will be a trilogy given the plot of just the first book alone so I know some major stuff must be on the way in order to get to that third novel.

My Rating: 5/5

Sweet Black Waves 5/5 | Wild Savage Stars TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Despite the somewhat muted plot (when you compare it to other fantasy and high fantasy novels), there was never a dull moment in this book. Personally, it reminded me a lot of Blackhearts with its similar focus on the characters and romance while working within a well known legend. Only this one is a fantasy story and involves more politics.

Read if You Like: fantasy, inspired by well known legends
Avoid if You: want more action

similarreads

  • Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (Blackhearts Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Blog Tour: Knocked Up (Crazy Love #2) by Stacey Lynn

Synopsis for Knocked Up (from Goodreads):

First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes baby in a baby carriage. Just not necessarily in that order. . . .

Braxton: I should probably be dead or in jail right now. Instead, thanks to some tough love, I worked my ass off and now I own a string of tattoo parlors throughout the Pacific Northwest. And yet the one thing I’ve always wanted—a family—still seems out of reach. When my best friend gets married, I’m just hoping to blow off some steam with the super-hot maid of honor. But after Cara Thompson tracks me down to tell me she’s pregnant, she’s more surprised than I am when I tell her I’m all in.

Cara: For the first time in my life, I’m living for myself—not for my parents and their ridiculous expectations. I gave up on my MBA, dropped out of the Ivy League, and moved to Portland to pursue my dream of becoming an artist. And what’s the first thing I do? Get knocked up. For a tatted-up sex god, Braxton Henley seems way too eager to “be there for me.” Is this guy serious? Maybe. He sure is patient. Because he won’t back down until I admit what I know in my heart: that our one night stand might’ve led me to the one.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks*New* Must Read Author
Series: Crazy Love
Author: Stacey Lynn
# of Books: 2 (Fake Wife, Knocked Up)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC via Netgalley

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had a great time reading the first novel in the Crazy Love series, Fake Wife. It had a great plotline, genuine characters and a romance that made me fall in love with them. So I was super excited to see what this accidentally pregnant story line would have.

The Plot:

I couldn’t get enough of these two as I read about their adorable story. I seriously had a smile on my face the entire time I read this book.

This novel just had the right balance between romance, drama and character development. Nothing was overly dramatic but they definitely had their obstacles to overcome and that just kept you hooked into the story waiting to see what would happen next.

The Characters:

Braxton is definitely a new book boyfriend for me! What a sweet guy! His backstory was intriguing and inspiring. And I loved Cara as well. Watching her grow more confident in herself and her ability to live independently was great. Both had strong character development from start to end which is always awesome.

The Romance:

At first, I was a little disappointed that we don’t get the dirty details about the night in question (other than the fact that there was a silly communication assumption). But watching these two reunite with their unexpected news added this amazing tension to the story that had me begging for more. Their entire romance had this slow burn vibe to it that sucked me in immediately. From their explosive physical chemistry to their ability to communicate with each other truthfully, I was so in love with these two.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Stacey Lynn has definitely added herself to my “must-read” authors list after this great sequel!

Read if You Like: accidentally pregnant trope, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want lots of drama, want erotica

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Stacey Lynn

Stacey Lynn currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. When she’s not conquering mountains of laundry and fighting a war against dust bunnies and cracker crumbs, you can find her playing with her children, curled up on the couch with a good book, or on the boat with her family enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful, yet too short, summer.

She lives off her daily pot of coffee, can only write with a bowlful of Skittles nearby, and has been in love with romance novels since before she could drive herself to the library.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Newsletter

 

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

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

Cleat Chasers Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Challenge Accepted (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–Immediate Chemistry Between Leads–

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

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

–They Challenge Each Other–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

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

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

–The Random Subplots–

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 3/5

Challenge Accepted 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

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

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

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Fresh Fridays: Ball Buster (The Playbook #1) by Kara Sheridan

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:

The Playbook Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ball Buster (from Goodreads):

Playbook Rule #1: Never ever give up

It’s official. The Alabama Warriors have the worst reputation in pro football. As the team’s captain, Carson Savage has his ass on the line and – thanks to a leaked photo – his ass is also online. Now the team is getting an image makeover from Sadie Reynolds, the hottest redhead in the South and Carson’s high school sweetheart. Maybe making a play for his sexy ex is a risky move… but Carson didn’t make it this far by playing it safe.

Alabama is the last place in the world Sadie wants to be. Going home again only reminds her of what – and who – she gave up. Seeing the insanely hot ex she never quite forgot is dangerous. Carson’s too sexy. Too tempting. And Sadie can’t afford to go out of bounds. So she’ll do whatever it takes to finish this job and leave town with her heart still intact. The only problem? Carson’s decided it’s not about winning the game… it’s about winning the girl.

breakdown

Series: The Playbook
Author: Kara Sheridan
# of Books: 3 (Ball Buster, Tight End, Big Jock)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Tight End is to be released December 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 15, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you Forever Yours!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Ball Buster as a Read Now title on Netgalley a few months ago and was drawn in by the cover. I’m a sucker for a good sports story and I’ve had great success with the genre in the past.

Ball Buster had me hooked with its synopsis. I love stories filled with unresolved tension and Carson and Sadie seemed like that had a lot of it. Not only are they high school sweethearts but you’ve got the forbidden-ness that comes from a client and PR agent romance.

What I Liked:

–The Physical Chemistry–

I mean these two can hardly be in the same vicinity as each other before they start making love on any surface. But the many sex scenes we get were not overly repetitive–which is hard to do–so I appreciated that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Dramatic, Romantic and Character Development Cut Short–

For me, this story lacked the plot and character depth I crave my from second chance romances. When it comes to second chance romances I really need to see the proof of why these two need to reunite despite everything that has torn them apart. And while these two had great physical chemistry, I wasn’t sold on the emotional connection between them.

Any development in this story, whether it be character, romantic or drama, was cut short in order to watch these two spontaneously make love on whatever surface is near by. We’d finally see them start to work out their differences and problems of the past and we would lose all that progress. I’m not saying the physical aspects aren’t important in their relationship–I just needed more than that to see why these two haven’t been able to move on in 7 years with other people.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Since no one in particular stood out to me, I’m not going to be picking up the sequels.

My Rating: DNF

Ball Buster 2/5 | Tight End N/A | Big Jock N/A

overall

This book was just “meh” to me. Those who like second chance sports stories that stay par for the course will likely enjoy this but for more seasoned readers who want more surprises and deeper characters will need to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: second chances, light reads, sexy times
Avoid if You: want more character depth
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Fresh Fridays: Cursed (The Hunter Inside #1) by Casey M Millette

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:

The Hunter Inside Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Cursed (from Goodreads):

A war rages between kings and clans for centuries, their nations split and their kingdoms fallen. Caught in the midst of poverty and bedlam, twenty-year-old Aldor faces a choice. Should he leave home and start his life anew, or stay and protect what little he has?

Aldor has only made one friend in his life and has never seen a legendary creature before. As soon as he steps beyond his door, he finds himself an outlaw, hunted by creatures of pure fantasy.

Forced into joining a team of misfits in a race to recover a sacred, lost stone, Aldor finds unexpected friendships and adventure. But just as things start to look promising, disaster strikes, wielding the unexpected and the terrifying!

Aldor’s life will never be the same as he struggles with true feelings of fear, loss, love, and suffering for the very first time.

breakdown

Series: The Hunter Inside
Author: Casey M Millette
# of Books: 1 (Cursed, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult / Teen, Adventure, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Casey M Millette!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Casey asked me if I wanted to read her debut novel (at the age of 16–impressive!) I wanted to give it a shot. I have a hit or miss relationship with adventure stories but the premise of dragons and magic is a lure too hard to resist!

What I Liked:

–The Lord of the Rings Vibes–

I think nearly all fantasy novels get compared to LOTR–it’s the gold standard I think–but I really could see how that story influenced Casey’s work here. Cursed has it’s own unique characters and plot but it is definitely reminiscent of LOTR. While Cursed may lack the considerable depth of LOTR, has the same prototype of a group of seemingly strangers following an unlikely hero as he completes an impossible quest. And that’s a lot of fun to read about when it is all said and done.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of Character Development–

I felt like the characters weren’t as developed as I would have liked so I didn’t really form any bonds with them. I think that’s a result of only getting Aldor’s POV for the longest time and getting a singular viewpoint of the events. The crew also doesn’t interact too much inside themselves so I missed that banter and tension between them. I love watching a group of people become a team and I felt that was lacking a little.

–Linear Plotline–

One of the biggest reasons I tend to not enjoy adventure novels is the delivery of the plot. I tend to get bored as the characters just mosey along to the final destination. Aldor and crew do go through a lot of interesting obstacles so I wasn’t bored in that sense. However, I did feel like there was a suspense lacking in the plot itself. I like a lot of things happening in my stories and I felt like the plot here tackled Problem A before Problem B is ever introduced so I felt like we were just going through the motions.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’d really like to see this group of people become more of a team. I love banter between teammates and that was only starting to come to the surface near the end. It would also be great to learn more about the various characters as well.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Cursed 2.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is a classic case of a “just-not-for-me”. I think fans of fantasy adventure novels, particularly in the YA genre, will enjoy this debut.

Read if You Like: adventure stories, fantasy, LOTR
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Blog Tour: One More Time by Laurelin Paige

Synopsis for One More Time (from Goodreads):

I would have been stupid to turn the opportunity down.
A feature film starring the hottest man in Hollywood—and me.
It wasn’t just the chance of a lifetime; it was the first time I’d landed the leading role.
But Tanner James isn’t just any actor, aka “Sex God”.
He’s the man who took my virginity then shattered my dreams.

If I can use this part to launch a new career, it will be worth it.
If I can stop myself from falling back into bed with Tanner, it will be a miracle.
And my heart?
There’s no way he’s taking that from me.
He’s always been the one who owned it.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Hollywood Heat (aka Lights, Camera)
Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 3 (Sex Symbol, Star Struck, One More Time)
Book Order: Connected Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2, 2018
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Laurelin Paige fan. I love everything she does and she writes some of my favourite contemporary romances.

I’ve been dying to get my hands on One More Time since Laurelin announced it in her Author Newsletter months ago. I just adored the concept. I think we all have those Hollywood couples that we love that are no longer together and I couldn’t wait to see that reunion happen!

The Plot:

There is nothing better than watching two people fall inevitably back in love with each other. These two had lots of tension and unresolved issues between them so I enjoyed watching that all come to light. I also loved the suspense of trying to figure out what exactly happened between them two years ago; though I thought it was going to be juicier.

The Characters:

As always, Paige does a great job of shaping these characters and growing them as the story progresses. They both have their flaws and I like that in my characters.

The biggest problem these two deal with is miscommunication, which can be frustrating for a reader because you know what the issues are even though the characters aren’t telling each other. But I never got overly frustrated with these two because I understood their motivations for holding back.

The Romance:

These two have explosive chemistry from the minute they reunite. What I love about Laurelin Paige’s romances is that she writes great partners. She has this great ability to create romantic leads that compliment each other; who bring out the best in each other without sacrificing their individuality in the process.

For me personally, I always like some flashbacks to the past to help me see why my leads deserve a second chance at love. But we get enough tidbits about their past that I could see why these two were never able to forget their first loves.

My Rating: 4/5

Sex Symbol 4/5 | Star Struck TBR | One More Time 4/5

overall
This is perfect for fans of second chances romances and those who love stories set in Hollywood!

Read if You Like: great sexual chemistry, solid characters, second chance romance
Avoid if You: dislike Hollywood drama

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Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Single Sundays: PS I Hate You by Winter Renshaw

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 PS I Hate You (from Goodreads):

Dear Isaiah,

Eight months ago, you were just a soldier about to be deployed and I was just a waitress, sneaking you free pancakes and hoping you wouldn’t notice that my gaze was lingering a little too long.

But you did notice.

We spent a “week of Saturdays” together before you left, and we said goodbye on day eight, exchanging addresses at the last minute.

I saved every letter you ever sent, your words quickly becoming my religion.

But you went radio silent on me months ago, and then you had the audacity to walk into my diner yesterday and act like you’d never seen me in your life.

To think … I almost loved you and your beautifully complicated soul.

Almost.

Whatever your reason is—I hope it’s a good one.

Maritza the Waitress

PS – I hate you, and this time … I mean it.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 28, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gems Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last year, Winter Renshaw has become a must read author for me–and this book definitely reaffirmed that.

I’ve been looking forward to this one since I read its blurb a few months ago. I couldn’t wait to learn more about Isaiah and Maritza and uncover just what had happened between them. Of course I had my theories but you never know what to expect with a Renshaw book 😉

The Concept:

This story starts from the beginning of Isaiah and Maritza’s story–starting when they meet for the first time. It’s a little bittersweet watching their story unfold because you, thanks to the synopsis, that something terrible happens to draw them apart. But that just sucks you in more as you get invested in their story.

And I just want to say that despite the synopsis format, this novel isn’t only told through letters. Just a heads up.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the fact that we start at the beginning of their relationship. That this isn’t a second chance romance right from the get-go. As I said above, the anticipation of knowing that things go awry (all the while hating that they do because you’ve come to love these two together) adds an addicting quality to this story.

I had my theories going in about what draws them apart, but Renshaw completely threw me for a loop with her twist and that made me love this book even more.

The Characters:

The main reason I loved this book so much was our two leads. They’re absolutely great and bring this story to life in a way that just makes it addicting to read.

Maritza is honest to a fault I think but I loved her candour and approach to life. I don’t know how else this story would work if she wasn’t the lead.

Isaiah is a hard nut to crack and I loved watching Maritza slowly ebb away his gruff exterior to see who he truly is. Because as the reader, you do get his inner monologue and know his struggles. It’s just fun watching his evolution thanks to Maritza.

The Romance:

At the start, they are a little like oil and vinegar–not completely mixing thanks to their candour and stubborn personalities. Of course that changes as they get to know each other but I loved the tension their early interactions invoked.

As they get to know each other through conversations and activities, you start to see how these two would work. That was one of the things I appreciated the most about their story was actually reading the conversations these two would share. Seeing them interact on a daily basis enhanced their relationship and made their situation more realistic than not.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Simply put, this novel just strikes the right tone throughout. The drama is just right; never becoming melodramatic despite the twists along the way. The romance is sweet and charming; it isn’t just about their physical attraction but a friendship. And the characters are will no doubt have you falling in love right with them–even when you don’t expect it.

Read if You Like: sweet romance, army heroes, time limited romances
Avoid if You: want erotica

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Fresh Fridays: The Divinity Bureau (#1) by Tessa Clare

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:

The Divinity Bureau Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Divinity Bureau (from Goodreads):

The Hunger Games meets Romeo and Juliet in a stunning debut about a forbidden romance between a young activist and a government employee working for a corrupt bureau that controls the population by deciding who lives and who dies.

Roman Irvine is a disgruntled IT Technician for the Divinity Bureau, a government agency that uses random selection to decide who lives and who dies. In a world where overpopulation has led to pollution, a crippled economy, and a world in crisis, he has accepted the bureau’s activities as a necessity. That is until he meets April McIntyre.

April has every reason to be suspicious of Roman. He works for the Divinity Bureau, which sent her father to an early grave. However, he is also sweet and loyal, and unbeknownst to her, he saved her life. As Roman and April fall deeper in love, the deeper they are thrust into the politics of deciding who lives and who dies. Someone wants April dead. And the bureau’s process of random selection may not be so random after all.

breakdown

Series: The Divinity Bureau
Author: Tessa Clare
# of Books: 1+ (The Divinity Bureau, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, there is a sequel in the works
Genre: New Adult, Non-Contemporary New Adult, Romance, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 21, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book first crossed my radar after I read a review for it over at Darque Dreamer Reads. The synopsis sounded like something I would enjoy (I love anything with a Romeo and Juliet vibe to it!) so I decided to keep an eye out for it. And wouldn’t you know that a review opportunity came up and I just knew it was a sign that I should read this book.

The Concept / The World:

First off, the premise of this book is just plain intriguing! Overpopulation and resources is something you hear about in the news every so often but it’s something you don’t think will ever happen (at least in your life time). But what happens if it did? One of the main reasons I love dystopian novels is that they take these ideas and take them to the extremes to explore what would happen.

And that’s where this novel truly succeeds. Tessa Clare has done an amazing job crafting this world to parallel current trends in the world despite this taking place in the distant future. One thing that really struck me in particular was the fact that Roman (our hero) has a masters degree but finds himself in a minimum wage job struggling to make ends meet. (I feel ya!)

However, I did feel like we got a little bit of info-dumping at the start of the novel. It stifled the flow a bit and so it took me awhile to get into the story; but once you get past that, things even out. It’s an easy world to understand though despite all this.

The Plot:

I’d say the first half of this novel is predominately focused on the romance–something I should have remembered from Darque’s review. While I enjoyed their romance and chemistry, I needed more action to keep my attention. Everything just felt mundane to me.

As it was, my interest had waned by the halfway point which is when all the political drama happens and we get to the gritty part of the story. By then I was just skimming because I found that the plot wasn’t as exciting as I wanted it to be.

The Characters:

Roman was definitely a highlight for me. He’s such a refreshing hero to have in a dystopian story because he is the everyday man. He’s not this overly confident guy who oozes charisma and is an action star prodigy. He’s definitely charming in his own way though. His heart is in the right place, even if he makes the wrong choices but you couldn’t help but root for him.

April is flawed in her own way too. She’s incredibly impulsive and lacks maturity despite her age. She’s got a fighting spirit though which I always like.

The Romance:

Again, this is a huge focus of the novel and it does a lot of good for the story as well. The clashing of these two really emphasizes the world and its problems. You’ve got a rich girl who has been shielded from the realities of the world and a poor boy who strives for more but can’t get there. But watching their love grow despite everything was really sweet.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I started this book thinking it was a standalone but I started to suspect as I got further into the novel that it would have a sequel. I’m curious to see how this will all be wrapped up but I don’t think I will be picking the sequel up.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the classic 1984. The characters are at the whim of the world around them and they slowly start to rebel in their own way. But for most of the story, we are focused on their everyday lives and how they are constricted by this oppressing world. It’s not a bad thing if you know to expect that. I just wanted a little more action and conspiracy and thrill.

I really think readers of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Series will enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: world-building, dystopian, slower starts, romance
Avoid if You: want physical action, want less romance

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Spin-off Saturdays: Rise by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Rise is a spin-off of Play and NSFW

breakdown

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

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

What I Liked?

–Only Told Through Riley’s POV–

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

–Riley’s Character Development–

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slightly Off Pacing for Me–

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

–It Took Me a Bit to Warm Up to Sam–

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

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

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

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rise (from Goodreads):

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

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

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Blog Tour: Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Suitors and Sabotage (from Goodreads):

Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this cheeky Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spies and Duels & Deception.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

In Suitors and Sabotage, author Cindy Anstey delivers another witty young adult historical fiction novel that is the perfect mix of sweetly romantic and action-packed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via Netgalley

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo / B&N / iBooks

disclaimerExpressothoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s become a bit of a tradition on my blog that every April I take part in the blog tour for Cindy Anstey’s latest novel. She quickly became a must read author of mine when I read her debut novel, Love, Lies and Spies, thanks to is sweet romance and witty dialogue. It doesn’t hurt that she is a fellow Canadian either 😉

I was really excited when I read the synopsis for Suitors and Sabotage! I love historical fiction and Anstey writes fabulous YA stories as her previous novels can attest to. This book sounded like it would be filled with some great character chemistry and no doubt be utterly charming. I couldn’t wait to sit down and devour this!

The Plot:

This book was a lot of fun–and that’s not something that you would immediately think when you read the plot synopsis. I mean, someone is possibly trying to kill Ben and Ben is in love with the girl his brother is pursuing. Things could definitely take a turn for the dark but they never do and I think that’s where Anstey’s talent for writing shines the best. She has this ability to keep things light and captivating all the same.

I’ll get to the characters later but they honestly make this book. It wouldn’t be half as charming if it wasn’t for the cast of people Anstey has assembled to tell this story!

I did find that this book did suffer from a little too much filler at times. Not that I minded too much since I adored the characters and any scene they were in but I did find it dulled the suspense of the sabotage. The sabotage is more subtle than I anticipated it would be though it did bring excitement to the plot.

The Characters:

Honestly, the cast in this story is fabulous! Imogene is sweet and evolves before your eyes (I loved her character growth!). Ben will definitely steal your heart with his longing glances and kind intentions. But their friends and family are just as entertaining and genuine. Everyone contributes to this story in a way that takes it to the next level. They truly make this story!

The Romance:

Despite there being a bit of a love triangle/square situation happening, I couldn’t get enough of the romance! Again, this has to do with the great cast because I seriously loved everyone and hated to see anyone hurt. But you can’t deny the chemistry that lies between certain characters more than others. I love longing glances between characters and when the inner monologue drifts off as the character becomes absolutely smitten with the other. The romance here was simply perfect.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall
Honestly, Cindy Anstey is the bar when it comes to writing fantastic, entertaining YA historical fiction. She always has a fabulous blend of romance, danger and wit that I’ve yet to come across in another book. This one is definitely another win!

Read if You Like: historical YA fiction, witty banter, subtle suspence
Avoid if You: want more “in your face” romance

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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links: Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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