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DNF Standalone Review: Kens by Raziel Reid

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 Kens (from Goodreads):

Heterosexuality is so last season: Kens is the gay Heathers meets Mean Girls, a shocking parody for a whole new generation.

Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself — inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he’s always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Worst Read 2018
Author: Raziel Reid
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Parody, Humour, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Source & Format: Early Reviewers–Hardcover | Thank you Penguin Teen!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Kens at 13% (Page 35 of 272). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When you pitch a book as the “Mean Girls” for a whole other generation you set up some very high expectations. I was really excited to read this book for that reason and because of the gender swap aspect. It was a very intriguing concept.

Image result for october 3 mean girls pink
Fun Fact: I wrote this review on October 3rd!

What I Liked:

Not much. I guess you can say that I liked the idea of what this novel could be than anything it actually was. I only got two chapters in before I realized this was not going to be the book I wanted it to be.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Setting–

Ok, this takes place in Wisconsin. I don’t know much about Wisconsin (other than the fact that it’s close to Canada) but it wouldn’t be where I would set this novel. Perhaps that is the point or the parody? These characters are so very stereotypical Hollywood that it just made this whole thing seem outrageous…and not in the smart parody way.

–Goes for Shocking, Not Witty–

After reading this book, I’ve discovered book parodies just don’t work for me. I think this is the third one I’ve attempted and things are just lost on me. What is is about parodies that make them come across as so far-fetched and just plain not funny?

Definition of parody 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule

–wrote a hilarious parody of a popular song

2a feeble or ridiculous imitation

–a cheesy parody of a classic western

~Merriam-Webster

Yes, I get that parodies are supposed to be ridiculous–you are making fun of something–but this one just takes it to a whole other level that comes across as dim-witted and sometimes just plain rude. I like to think I’m an intelligent person and can see the bigger picture, but this (bigger picture) was just lost on me here.

I got the sense that this book was written with the intent of pure shock-factor for the readers. To be so out-there that it gets people talking about its wacky cast. However, everything is taken to an extreme that sucks out the realm of probability.

But the problem is when you bill something to be like Mean Girls–which I hold in very high esteem in terms of writing, humour and message–you have to deliver. There is a reason why people still talk about that movie years later and they’ve made a Broadway show about it!

Sure, Regina George is an extreme character. She is literally the mix of every mean girl you will ever encounter in your life in one person but that’s the point. But you can still appreciate what she is as a character at the end of the day and what she does for the story, even if you don’t like her as a person.

Here, in Kens, not so much. There’s nothing redeemable about these characters at all and the hero you are supposed to root for is so “blah” you understand why he has never resurfaced onto Ken Hilton’s radar.

Will I Finish It?

Not a chance.

My Rating: DNF

overall

Others who have read the novel have critiqued it for how it represents LGBTQ characters but I didn’t get far enough to get a firm grasp on that aspect. So I encourage you to read other reviews if that is something you look for in a novel. Otherwise, if you enjoy reading hot messes or need a guilty pleasure read, this might be for you. But if you are looking for the next Mean Girls, this is far from it.

Read if You Like: parodies, melodramatics
Avoid if You: want a smartly written parody

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Blog Tour: Strong (Stage Dive #4.5) by Kylie Scott

Synopsis for Strong (from Goodreads):

When the girl of your dreams is kind of a nightmare.

As head of security to Stage Dive, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Sam Knowles has plenty of experience dealing with trouble. But spoilt brat Martha Nicholson just might be the worst thing he’s ever encountered. The beautiful troublemaker claims to have reformed, but Sam knows better than to think with what’s in his pants. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make his heart fall into line.

Martha’s had her sights on the seriously built bodyguard for years. Quiet and conservative, he’s not even remotely her type. So why the hell can’t she get him out of her mind? There’s more to her than the Louboutin wearing party-girl of previous years, however. Maybe it’s time to let him in on that fact and deal with this thing between them.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Other books in the series:

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Series: Stage Dive

There is a spin-off series called Dive Bar

Author: Kylie Scott
# of Books: 4 (Lick, Play, Lead, Deep)

There is a novella, #4.5 Strong

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: InkSlinger PR–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I finished the last book in the Stage Dive Series (Deep), I needed to know immediately if Martha was getting her own book. So I was really excited when I saw that something was in the works for Martha and Sam! I had so many questions and I couldn’t wait to see if they would fall in love.

The Plot:

I found that the first half of this book was dedicated to getting to know Martha, which was a good thing. If you have any experience at all with the Stage Dive Series, you probably have a less than favourable impression of Martha. But that’s why I love stories like these because you get to see that character in another–hopefully more positive–light. And that’s what this story succeeded in doing. My thoughts on Martha definitely evolved by the end of this novella.

The latter half of the novel is more about Martha and Sam navigating their budding relationship and I found was where the story really grabbed my attention. They have an interesting relationship and I enjoyed the banter between them.

Of course, I always want more out of a novella but I’m more than satisfied with how Martha’s story is delivered in this instalment.

The Characters:

Like I said above Martha was a character I didn’t necessarily like but she won me over by the end. She had some great character development and it was nice seeing her grow as a person and leave that nasty persona she had behind.

The Romance:

I would have liked to have seen these two interact a little more at the start (they seemed to jump into their relationship) but given the length of the story I understand. I really do like these two as a pair–they balance each other out and even if it wasn’t said outright, I got why they were drawn to each other.

Can it be read as a Standalone?

For sure! While I think you might get more out of Martha and Sam’s relationship by getting some of the context Deep (Stage Dive #4) provides, this novella would serve as a great introduction to the Stage Dive world and will leave you more than curious about the other characters.

Rating for Strong: 3/5

overall
I love it when a character surprises you and that’s exactly what this novella did for me!

Read if You Like: quick romances, rockstars
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances

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Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

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

 

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Single Sundays: The Wrong Prince by C K Brooke

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 Wrong Prince (from Goodreads):

Two princes. One bride. A dire misunderstanding…

Geo and Dmitri are the princes of Tybiria. Though Geo is the obvious athlete, it’s bookish Dmitri that yields the credit – and consequences – for slaying a foreign prince. But whose arrow really struck the boy?

Luccia Camerlane is the Baron of Backshore’s enigmatic daughter…as well as Prince Geo’s secret mistress…until she learns of her disastrous betrothal to none other than his brother, Prince Dmitri.

When Dmitri is abducted by the deranged King of Llewes, star-crossed lovers Geo and Lucie must set aside their woes and differences to rescue the Crown Prince from the formidable Wintersea fortress. A precocious castle ward, a fascinating love-quadrangle, and a hit-woman harlot complete this action packed rom com in another wickedly fast-paced fantasy adventure from C.K. Brooke, author of The Red Pearl and the Books of Jordinia.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: C K Brooke
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 17, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank You C K Brooke!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adventure stories are not my favourite reads. I find them boring and drawn out but there is just something about C K Brooke’s adventure stories that keep me coming back. I’m always entertained when I read her books thanks to their twisting, never dull plots and the eclectic cast of characters. So even though this story’s synopsis boasted of a love triangle (ugh, my least favourite trope ever), I knew that there was likely more to this story than mooning teenagers…

The Concept / The World:

I always love the worlds C K Brooke’s creates. They just have so much to them and you can tell she is one creative writer who plans out exactly how things are going to work in her worlds.

I will say though that there was a slight disconnect for me in terms of the sexual content. While there aren’t any straight up sex scenes, it’s alluded to quite frequently. Now, I like a “grittier” side to my stories but for the most part this story was pretty light and airy–almost wholesome to a degree–and the visits to brothels and the like just seemed slightly out of place with the rest of the story in terms of maturity. I hope what I’m trying to say is coming across… I guess, while this book feels very young in its audience there are some aspects that people who enjoy “clean” reads will not like (though nothing is full out described).

As for the concept, like I speculated before I started this book, there is more to this book than a love triangle gone awry. Yes, it’s an important factor in the story but there are other plot lines happening.

The Plot:

The synopsis gets it right: “Action packed rom-com” is the perfect way to describe this plot. This story was the perfect mix of fun, serious and heartwarming all at once. I just loved the way the story kept building and moving. Yes, it helps that we get multiple character POVs so we are constantly getting new layers to the story. Like the Jordinia Series, reading this book had me thinking about The Princess Bride and how they have similar vibes and styles when it comes to plot development and interesting characters.

The Characters:

I really liked all these characters, but Dmitri and Pavi take the cake for me. I just really loved their storyline. But the rest of the cast is unique and entertaining and you really can’t ask for much more. All the female characters are strong and independent so that was great to see. I thought the character development was good for the shorter length of the story. Everyone is complex and we get enough backstory to get a solid read on their characters so that was great.

The Romance:

While the love-quadrangle is definitely at play, I think you know where everyone’s hearts lie so there isn’t anything overly frustration about the love triangle. It doesn’t become the main focus of the novel though it does play a role in the overall story. Part of the reason this isn’t a 5 star read is because I did get frustrated though with the lack of communication between 2 characters because it came across as immature even though they were having an affair which seems pretty mature to me…

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of fast-paced adventures with a dash of romance!

Read if You Like: rom-com adventures, fast stories, multiple POVs
Avoid if You: dislike YA fantasy

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Blog Tour: You Promised Me Forever by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for You Promised Me Forever (from Goodreads):

I’ve got it all, they say. I’m the starting quarterback for the best NFL team in the league. I’m rich. I’m famous. I can have any woman I want, any time I want.

Yeah, I’ve got everything—except for the one who got away. How do you move on from loving the same girl since you were in the seventh grade? She promised me forever. Until forever got too hard and at nineteen, she dumped me.

By text message.

Now she’s walked back into my life. Just as beautiful. Just as sweet. Just as smart. More grown up and incredibly sexy…
We’re older now. Supposedly wiser. This time, I’m going to fight for what I want, no matter how hard it gets.

This time, I’m going to make her mine.

Forever.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Forever Yours

You Promised Me Forever features leads from the Friends Series

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 1+ (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Nothing Without You, is to be published March 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 29, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had NO IDEA that Monica Murphy was planning to revisit Jordan and Amanda’s story from the Friends Series. I even read the synopsis for You Promised Me Forever and had no stinking clue it was them! I’ll admit, I was craving a little more ever since we finished that series with Forever. Well, I’m always craving more Tuttle to be honest. I think he is one of my ultimate book boyfriends.

What I Liked:

–Maturity–

To give Amanda and Jordan some credit, I thought they were the most mature of the couples in the Friends Series but it was nice to them a little bit older and wiser. Compared to the previous novels, their communication alone has improved so it was nice to see them think and act–and not vice versa. They definitely had their moments though when I felt like I was reading about them back in high school (instead of 6 years later) but for the most part, I liked the more mature feel this book had.

This book brings a dash of reality to their relationship I think. It’s a test for them both to see what they want out of life and a partner and I just loved watching them explore that together.

–Jordan–

#cuddlewithTuttle — need I say more?

In all seriousness though, I loved seeing the more vulnerable side of him this story brought out.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Wanted More of the Friends Cast to Appear!–

As I said before, I still had a lot of unanswered questions about the finale of the Friends Series. What happened to so and so? Are those two still together? While I definitely got some insights in this book, I wouldn’t mind a few more in the future….

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really curious to see what Nothing Without You will be like since it a part of the 7 book Kristen Proby Crossover Collection. I think that whole project is a really cool idea and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

As for the rest of the Forever Yours Series, there are definitely a few characters I hope to see get their HEAs (Cannon, I’m looking at you!).

My Rating: 5/5

You Promised Me Forever 5/5 | [Nothing Without You TBA]

overall
Fans that have been with Amanda and Jordan from the start will devour this novel. But those new to their story will no doubt get sucked into the adorableness that is their romance.

Read if You Like: second chance romances
Avoid if You: want erotica

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Monica Murphy

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

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

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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DNF Series Review: Captive of a Commoner by C J Pastore

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 Captive of a Commoner (from Goodreads):

Can love penetrate an abusive past and defeat unwarranted guilt?

Alicia Cesare has a lot to celebrate. A recent Parsons School of Design graduate and recipient of a fashion design award, she embarks to Europe on a quest for independence and recognition. Instead, she finds trouble and mayhem and must accept the help of ex Marine and real estate magnate, Chase Reardon, the only man she’s ever desired. Problem is he barely knew she existed. That is about to change.
Like a lit match to a firework, rash innocence ignites fierce overprotectiveness and a sizzling romance develops, but Chase is a haunted man. Scarred by an abusive past and stalked by the vengeful head of the Russian drug cartel, he struggles to follow his heart while safeguarding those he loves. When Alicia is unwittingly thrust into his web of relentless violence, Chase is determined—at any cost—to protect her from his past.
As each new sexual awakening binds her closer to him, Alicia is convinced she must help the love of her life defeat the ghosts of his past. It will prove to be an unyielding test of courage and stamina.

breakdown

Series: Captive of a Commoner
Author: C J Pastore
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 is to be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you C J Pastore!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Captive of a Commoner (Book #1) at 18% (start of Chapter 8). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good drama-filled adult erotica series. It’s a genre that gets overlooked thanks to the 50 Shades Fandom but as a reader, it’s one I enjoy thanks to the edge of danger/suspense and passionate romances it features. So when I was asked if I wanted to read Captive of a Commoner (which is geared for fans of Sylvia Day and E L James), I said yes.

What I Liked:

–Both Had Mysterious Pasts–

I like uncovering mysteries and secrets about my lead characters. Alicia has something in her past that haunts her and it’s alluded to many times–so I wanted to figure out more. But Chase takes the cake when it comes to mysterious. Thanks to the opening prologue I know his past was no cake-walk and the synopsis hints that it might have some dangerous consequences in store. It all just brings some suspense to the story.

–The Setting–

Most of this takes place in Europe so I loved visiting all these beautiful countries—even if it was only in my head!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Flash Backs to the Past–

Now this may have been a problem with my formatting on my eReader but I often had a hard time differentiating the past and present within a chapter. We kinda jump all over the place. One minute your reading about Alicia doing something in the “now” and then suddenly you flashback to some related story from her past. And that’s fine–it does add to the mystery of the characters a bit–but I just found I would get so lost in the past that when we returned to the present, I forgot completely what we were even doing there.

–Why Did Alicia Even Like Chase?–

I just wasn’t feeling the chemistry between these two. I have no idea why Alicia even liked Chase. I assumed it was based on physical attraction because I think they interacted all of 2 times prior to the start of the main plotline. I just didn’t see the draw between them besides great sex.

Will I Finish It?

No, I’ve read the synopsis for the sequel and where it is going is somewhere I have no interest in visiting.

My Rating: DNF

Captive of a Commoner DNF | Apart N/A | Book 3 N/A

overall

This just wasn’t for me. I think those who likes lots of drama and steam will enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: contemporary erotica romances, sexy times
Avoid if You: want deeper romantic connections

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Single Sundays: War and Love 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 War and Love (from Goodreads):

My lies? Impeccable.

My heart? Cold as ice.

My only job? To convince her what we had was as real as the diamond I was hired to place on her finger.

The battle was someone else’s.

I was merely a soldier, recruited by a wealthy stranger who made it unapologetically clear that my future—and everything I’ve ever worked for—depended on the successful completion of this mission.

I was prepared for war.

I wasn’t prepared for Love Aldridge.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 30, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read enough Winter Renshaw books to know that she writes solid, heartfelt romances every time. And this one definitely met my expectations in that regard. She simply writes great romances. So obviously, I was going to pick this up!

The Concept:

What drew me in about this story is the mystery behind Jude’s role as it is described in the synopsis. Why has he been hired to make Love marry him and by who? I love secrets like that and the tension they bring to the story. So I was disappointed that we had all the answers by the end of Chapter 4. It sucked that anticipation out of the story because you know everything right away. But it was the characters that kept me invested moving forward.

The Plot:

How the characters deal with these events is what truly surprised me. There were some interesting twists in that regard so that kept me on my toes. It provides some great character growth as a result and turned this novel into a more character driven narrative rather than a drama/mystery filled one.

The Characters:

The characters are really what makes this story. Love is a great heroine to follow. She’s finding her individuality and I loved watching her come into herself throughout the story. Jude is also an intriguing character and it was interesting to see him struggle with his role and his feelings for Love. I dare you not to fall in love with him!

The Romance:

I really liked the chemistry between these two. It was fairly obvious to me why they would be drawn to each other. And Jude is a sweetheart so it definitely had its swoon-worthy moments!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Overall, this is a great story for new and returning fans of Winter Renshaw! The perfect romance binge read!

Read if You Like: character driven stories, contemporary romances
Avoid if You: want more secrets/mystery
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Blog Tour: The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois

Synopsis for The Right Fit (from Goodreads):

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Daphne Dubois
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 12, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a sports romance and when I saw that this one took place in Toronto, Canada, I was immediately on board! I didn’t know what else to expect given the synopsis but I was ready to explore this romance more.

The Plot:

I’ll admit that I struggled a bit with the first two chapters or so trying to figure out where this book was going to go. But once I started to learn more about the characters and see how dimensional they were, I truly became invested and had a hard time putting this down!

There was just the right amount of drama throughout this book. Nothing is over the top, it’s very grounded and it genuinely contributes in a positive way to the story and the characters’ development.

The Characters:

I was really surprised by how character driven this story was. Maxine and Antony have many layers to their characters so there is quite a bit to unpack with each of them. Maxine is coming of a bad breakup that has completely decimated her self-esteem and I loved watching her regain that confidence in herself though her relationship with Antony as well as her friends and family. Antony has a bit more of a mystery to him but I found that only drove me to read faster so I could figure out his character (and eventually become a fan).

The Romance:

These two have strong connection from the start! It’s cheesy to say but these two were the “right fit” for each other. They don’t know it at first though, just that they have this undeniable passion between them, so watching that grow into something more was such a treat as a reader.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is definitely one of those books where you need to give it a couple chapters to set up the stage for your enjoyment. Once you learn more about the characters, you’ll become completely invested in seeing where their stories will go and if happily ever after is in the cards.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, sports
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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Daphne Dubois

Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference.

When she’s not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. She lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.

You can also find her writing for teens as B.R. Myers.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Novella Serial Reviews: Past Life Chronicles by C K Brooke

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Past-Life Chronicles: Volume 1 (from Goodreads):

My name is Willow Raven Solomon, and I hate cars. I suffer from a phobia no one’s been able to cure. Part of that is because we don’t know the origin. My only clue is a chronic nightmare that’s haunted me since I was a child, of an auto accident I was never in.

My Wiccan mom and her friends think it’s past-life related. While I may have been raised by a witch, I don’t know a lot about reincarnation. A cute hypnotherapist is helping me navigate it. But my stepbrother in med school is skeptical. Somehow, he’s part of the puzzle too – they both are.

As I dig deeper, I’m finding more questions I’d never thought to ask. What if my fear originated not with me, but with someone else? What if my nightmare isn’t just a dream?

What if it’s a memory, from another time, another place…another me?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Past Life Chronicles
Author: C K Brooke
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Supernatural, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January – March 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you C K Brooke!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

C K Brooke always has the coolest story concepts. So while I was drawn in by that AMAZING cover, I love a good mystery! I couldn’t wait to uncover Willow’s past life and find out why she hates cars.

The Concept:

I’m always a little hesitant to read stories featuring witches. I rarely enjoy them (there’s just something about the magic that irritates me) so I was a little worried when it mentions that Willow’s mom is a Wiccan because I thought this might focus on witches. But I worried for nothing because it is not a huge aspect to this story in the slightest. This series is all about Willow rediscovering her past and putting the pieces together. 

I really enjoyed the overall message of the book and moving on from the past. It was nice to explore that idea of reincarnation and why souls might return to the earth. But more importantly, I liked that it focused on the “what happens after” they figure it out. I like a book that makes me think and after I finished reading, I wondered what I would do if I had been in Willow’s shoes.

The Plot:

I had a lot of fun trying to solve the mystery as the clues come in. I love stories that always keep my guessing and changing my theories as they get more evolved.

I will say that in the middle of Volume 1, I felt like things got a little mundane. In a shorter story like this, I don’t like dwelling on stuff that seems routine and common. However, once I finished Volume 1, I could see that there was a reason for that focus and it built the anticipation nicely for Volume 2.

Volume 2 kept the pace throughout and had my full attention. It was nice to see everything come together and get the answers we’d been looking for. While I had my own theories, there were certain aspects that surprised me and made me think.

The Characters:

Willow is a great lead for this series. She’s got a good heart and it shows throughout the volumes. You really want her to solve this problem and find peace. I also loved her commitment to her family and how she was open to accepting their beliefs even if they differed from hers.

Everyone else is well developed and unique. They all contribute positively to this story.

The Romance:

In some ways this fell a little flat for me. I didn’t mind the bit of a love triangle we get because I could see how it served a bigger purpose. I just found that the two options didn’t share as much chemistry with her as I wanted in the first volume. I’d say the romance in the second volume was much stronger. I started to see why she was drawn to each of them.

Unfortunately, another reviewer spoiled the love triangle reveal for me so that took away some of the anticipation. PSA to all reviewers: Mark spoilers in your reviews! And that’s a shame because that part of the series always had me guessing (but not in annoying way if you know what I’m trying to say).

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a refreshing YA read, check this series out! It had its fun moments as well as some serious ones as well. It made me think and I always love when a book can do that!

Read if You Like: shorter stories, mysteries, past-lives
Avoid if You: want more complex story and characters

similarreads

  • The Hollow by Jessica Verday (The Hollow Trilogy #1)
  • Swoon by Nina Malkin (Swoon Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Watching You by Shannon Greenland

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 Watching You (from Goodreads):

Viola’s always been that girl from that family, so a scholarship to a prestigious private school in Florida was supposed to be her ticket out of poverty and into a brand-new life. But Viola’s secrets have followed her. Her relationship with the intelligent and gorgeous Riel should have been the salvation she needed—he understands her troubled past better than anyone. But then weird things start to happen.

Frightening messages.

Missing personal items.

The unsettling feeling that she’s being watched.

Viola’s never been one to give her trust easily, but she’ll need to trust in Riel if she’s going to survive her stalker. Because she’s not fighting for a new life anymore—she’s fighting to stay alive.

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Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Shannon Greenland’s other works since I read (and loved) Shadow of a Girl last year. That story was so refreshing and I enjoyed her writing style. I’m always on the lookout for a solid suspense thriller so this seemed like a no brainer for me to try.

The Concept:

I think the synopsis is slightly misleading. It makes it sound as if Viola is actively trying to resolve her stalker issue (with the help of Riel) and that is far from the case. Instead, we go through the motions of Viola’s everyday life with the occasional interference from her stalker. So I would classify this as a contemporary romance with a minor suspense aspect to it.

The Plot:

I thought the stalker aspect was well done in terms of their mysterious identity. There are enough red herrings to keep you guessing so I enjoyed that unpredictable aspect.

I also enjoyed the brief chapters we get from the stalker as well; it added to the atmosphere and raised the stakes.

The Characters:

I liked Viola’s drive to succeed. She goes for what she wants and I liked that. I also appreciated the fact that she grew as a character when her own secrets get the better of her. It gives this story the “coming-of-age” aspect which is always nice to see in a YA romance.

I also really liked Riel. He was an interesting character to learn more about and I really liked what we saw as the story progressed.

The Romance:

I think this was definitely the main focus of the book–which is totally OK because it was super cute! These two have a great slow burn romance to their relationship and I loved watching them get to know each other. My favourite romances are the ones that are unexpected for the characters. When they find themselves with someone they never anticipated and that’s what happens here a bit.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This one resulted in some mixed reactions for me though thanks to the expectations I had going into it and not getting exactly what I anticipated. Those looking for a contemporary romance with a dash of suspense (a la Sara Shepard) will enjoy this but those who want an outright thriller will want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA romances, contemporary
Avoid if You: wanted a true thriller
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SERIESous Discussion: DNFing ARCs


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


To DNF or not to DNF ARCs

Back in 2016, I wrote a post about how I wanted to DNF more books. Not that I wanted to go out of my way to stop reading books; more like I wanted to be comfortable saying “this book isn’t for me” and putting it down without feeling guilty for doing so.

And I have to say, since I’ve created that post, I’ve come a long way. I DNF’d a lot of books in 2017 and I went through fewer reading slumps because I wasn’t pushing myself to finish a novel I wasn’t all that interested in. I’ve come to live by the philosophy “you aren’t going to enjoy every book you pick up” and I don’t get so down on myself for not finishing something. But not every reader feels that way.

Views About DNFing vary from blogger to blogger…

This is something I’ve noticed a lot when I read various discussion posts around the blogosphere.

…especially when it comes to ARCs/review copies.

ARCs and review copies (but simplicity sake, I’m going to refer to anything you get for review purposes as ARCs) are always a delicate subject to bring up but it gets even dicey-er when DNFing is brought up.

I get why lots of people don’t DNF ARCs. You are given the copy with the expectation you will provide an unbiased review upon completion. Giving out copies costs authors and publishers money, and not finishing it seems like a waste of their investment.

I want to argue that that isn’t the case.

See, you received that ARC in exchange for providing an honest review–a review that should not be influenced by your source or your means of obtaining it.

So isn’t DNFing a book your honest review?

Like I said above, you aren’t going to like every book you pick up. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t like this book despite the promising synopsis or cover or author, but that’s OK. You were asked to write an honest review and your honest opinion is that you didn’t enjoy it.

I’m one of those people who has DNF’d ARCs in the past. I don’t enjoy doing it by any stretch of the imagination. It sucks because all the books I pick up for reviewing purposes are books I’m genuinely excited to read. I go in wanting to love the book and sometimes that just doesn’t happen. And I never want to force it.

Remember: you aren’t obligated to give a positive review.

You are obligated to give an honest review for the novel you’ve been provided a copy of. Honest can mean positive or negative feedback. And it’s important for titles to have both available so potential readers can make a decision on whether or not to read it.

I still write full reviews for ARCs I DNF, though I rarely give them a star rating. I look at the book from a critical angle and try to articulate what worked and what didn’t work for me. That’s why all my DNF reviews on my blog have a different format than my usual reviews so I can highlight certain aspects. I also try to recommend who I think would enjoy the book given the features I saw/

Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t and I want my review to showcase that.

Do you DNF ARCs? Why or why not?

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