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Single Sundays: Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

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 Follow Me Down (from Goodreads):

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

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Author: Sherri Smith
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adult mystery/thrillers are my latest obsession. I’ve tried to get my hands on as many as I can so I was really excited when this one crossed my radar. Lead returns home to her small town to solve a murder involving her brother? Thrillers were made for this.

The Plot:

Despite the intrigue, the first 30% of this novel was dreadfully slow. The focus shifts towards Mia as a character and shies away from the murder investigation–not what I wanted to read about truthfully. I felt like it stayed there a little too long and made the story dry. But once it got over that hump, it was a thrilling read.

The mystery itself was great. Not everything is what it seems and I really had no idea what the solution to it all was. It made the slower first half worth it in the end.

The Characters:

Mia reminded me a lot of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. She’s that unreliable narrator that is just on the edge of sobriety so it leads to some questionable events and circumstances. Her heart is in the right place but her actions aren’t always the wisest. It does make for an “on-the-edge” of your seat ride though.

The Romance:

Not really the focus here but it did bring an interesting layer to the story. But I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a “romance” either.

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My Rating: 3/5

overall

While this story suffers from a long exposition, the mystery itself will have you guessing to the very end!

Read if You Like: mystery/thrillers, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more romantic suspense
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Fresh Fridays: Defy The Stars (#1) by Claudia Gray

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:

Defy the Stars Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Defy the Stars (from Goodreads):

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is a seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

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Series: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 1+ (Defy the Stars, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 4 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was lucky enough to snag one of 500 Read Now copies of Defy the Stars thanks to Lilly @ Lair of Books back in February. I’ve read (and enjoyed) all of Claudia Gray’s YA series in the past so I was excited to see what she could do with her own Science Fiction series (I’ll admit I’ve never read her Star Wars novels).

What I Liked:

–Abel & Noemi–

Noemi is such a strong heroine that you can’t help but love her as she evolves to see the bigger picture of the universe and herself. Abel won me over from the start as well. His character development is probably my favourite part of this novel. Together they make a fabulous team that compliments each other supremely well.

–The World Building–

The universe this story is set in is fabulous; it’s complex and layered but easy to follow at the same time. I never found that aspect to be lacking the entire time I was reading. You don’t have to be overly familiar with technology or other science fiction works to understand the plot.

–Romance Wasn’t the Focus–

Far too often the romance becomes the sole focus of the story. And while I am a huge romance fan, I really liked that it didn’t play a huge role in the novel. It’s a very slow burn type of love and when it is there, it contributes to the story in a positive way instead of a distractor from the main plot-line.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was so Slow!–

For me, the plot was far too slow. It reads more like an adventure book where you get little hiccups of excitement (often only a chapter or two long) along the way. A chapter would end on an awesome note and we would either switch POVs or it would resolve by the end of the next chapter. Then the story would continue at a slower pace until it happens again.

Eventually, you reach a climax at the end where all the threads weave together. The last 25% of the book was fantastic and I can’t help but wish the excitement happened earlier in the novel to keep me interested.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book felt like a very extended prologue laying down the foundations for more exciting sequels and I’m curious to see where it goes from here.

My Rating: 3/5

Defy the Stars 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is perfect for fans of the adventure story. I actually think this is the perfect bridging book for those who want to break out of dystopian novels and try science fiction.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building, adventure stories
Avoid if You: want lots of action
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ARC Review: Feels Like the First Time (Destiny Bay #2) by Marina Adair

ARC Review: I share my review of a brand new release!

Destiny Bay Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Feels Like the First Time (from Forever Publishing):

There are a lot of things Ali Marshal doesn’t do: pink anything, a day without chocolate, and Hawk, her sister’s ex-husband. Sure, he’s a sexy former NHL star who can make her pulse pound with just a wink. But he belonged to Bridget first. And no matter how long she’s had a crush on him, how great he’s always been to her dad, or that her sister is engaged to someone else now and Ali needs a date to their engagement party, she can’t give in to temptation. Can she?

It’s been years since his disastrous marriage crashed and burned, and Bradley Hawk has finally moved on. So when Bridget blows back into town with her new fiancé, throwing the engagement party of the year, he could care less…until Ali tells one little lie that lands him smack dab in a fake relationship. After one promise to be Ali’s date and two of the hottest kisses he’s ever had, Hawk can’t deny how much he wants her. But what happens when this fauxmance starts to feel very, very real?

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Series: Destiny Bay
Author: Marina Adair
# of Books: 2 (Last Kiss of Summer, Feels Like the First Time)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This post is only a review of the second novel, Feels Like the First Time. It does not include a review of the first book of the series, Last Kiss of Summer.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for fake relationship romances. I find they usually have stronger romances because the two leads actually get to know each other instead of just physical passion all the time. So naturally, that’s what drew me to this novel even though I never read the first novel in the series.

But what really peaked my interest was the fact that the hero was married to the heroine’s sister (I love unconventional romances) and that said hero was a former hockey player (I’m Canadian ‘nough said).

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

In most fake relationship stories, I usually find that only one character has really great growth while the other (usually the person roped into the relationship) sits by the sidelines. But that wasn’t the case here.

While I would say Ali was the main focus on character development, Hawk had fabulous development. Both have to come to grips with the past in order to move forward. I felt like I had nice full characters to read about and I loved that.

–Small Town Vibe–

I love small town settings because it’s super easy to become integrated into the world. You don’t have a revolving door of characters to remember or get acquainted with. The same character appear throughout the series and become integral to the story. They also make you feel like you are a part of the “inside joke” because you are familiar with these character’s antics and know their stories.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Humour Didn’t Stay All the Way Through–

The first few chapters had scenes that made me chuckle out loud. Ali and Hawk had great chemistry in these scenes and I loved watching them navigate these fun scenes.

But the novel loses a bit of that light-heartedness as the story progresses. This isn’t a bad thing as this book does tackle a lot of issues about family and relationships that add in a positive way to the story. Those moments of seriousness were great in developing both the characters and the plot. I just enjoyed watching these two have fun.

My Rating: 4/5

Last Kiss of Summer N/A | Feels Like the First Time 4/5

overall

This is a great read for romance fans who adore small town settings and enjoy more character based stories. It’s light on the sexy times but there is plenty of tension and romance to be had!

Read if You Like: small town, sweet romance
Avoid if You: want more sexy times
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Blog Tour: Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks // Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Cindy Anstey’s debut, Love, Lies and Spies. It had everything I love in a novel: wit, fun and a swoon-worthy romance. As soon as I finished, I had to know what else she had written and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the last year awaiting Duels & Deception.

The Plot:

Anstey has such a talent for writing entertaining stories. Should a kidnapping scene have you laughing out loud? Not likely but Anstey manages to do it. That whole event was super entertaining and it made me wish it lasted longer.

However, I did find the momentum of the novel slowed a bit after the kidnapping chapters. The mystery of who is after Lydia is enticing but unfortunately, I had a pretty good idea of the culprit before the big reveal. What I didn’t guess who how everything was going to be resolved so that had a few good twists for me to read.

The Characters:

Lydia was everything you like in a historical fiction leading lady. She’s as sharp as a whip, a compassionate daughter and definitely independent. If she was real, she would be my best friend.

And starring opposite her is Robert, pretty much the ideal hero. Again, he’s super smart but he is also adorably sweet and caring. He isn’t some over the top hero and I loved how grounded he was.

The rest of the cast is quirky and entertaining and adds to the story’s fun and lighter tone.

The Romance:

SWOON! Talk about two leads who are perfect for each other! Not only did they compliment each other in every way but they also had fantastic banter. I loved every scene with these two in it.

My favourite part was watching these two slowing coming to the realization that they were falling in love. The slow burn romance was so on point!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a perfect read for fans of historical romance who love quirky, witty characters and a romance that has you swooning from the start!

Read if You Like: regency reads, witty leads, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction
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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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Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks // Kobo

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Single Sundays: Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

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 Royce Rolls (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiance inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.
Really real. Like, not reality show real.

Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.

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Author: Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Satire, Drama, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Margaret Stohl is a co-author on one of my all time favourite series, Beautiful Creatures. Yet, despite that fact, I’ve never picked up another one of her novels! So when I saw this title on Netgalley, I knew I had to change that depressing thoughts.

One of my favourite TV shows is UnREAL. For those who don’t know, UnREAL gives you a behind the scenes look of what “theoretically” happens on a Bachelor-esque show. It’s so addicting to watch and when I read the synopsis for Royce Rolls, I knew I found that in book form. I love satires on popular culture and I think the world needs a book like this one in our lives to remind us that what we see on TV isn’t always reality.

The Concept:

Like I said before, I love satires on popular culture and what better than the realm of reality TV. I’m one of those people who doesn’t understand the appeal of reality TV shows that are based on celebrities’ “everyday” lives. It’s boring to me and, most of the time, it’s fake.

So having this book explore the nuts and bolts of what makes a reality TV show was a lot of fun. And it’s also intelligent. From the character’s antics to the production footnotes throughout the chapters, this novel is beautifully crafted and so on point to current trends in the reality TV world.

(You can read an interview with Stohl here about her inspiration!)

The Plot:

I liked that the plot wasn’t always about the (often hilarious) antics for the show. You get those moments of character development and mystery as well.

While I enjoyed reading this novel from start to finish, I did feel like the first half of the book was rather slow when it came to the plot. The first half does a create job of establishing the characters and the setting, getting the reader acquainted with the circumstances. But it kind of moseyed along; especially when you compare it to the latter half of the novel which was non-stop plot-movement and suspense.

The Characters:

Bentley’s love for her family is endearing and she is such a likeable heroine that you can’t help but root for her to succeed in whatever she has put her mind to.

The rest of the characters grew on me too. Once you get below the surface of their TV personas, you see that they are real people too who aren’t always who they pretend to be.

The Romance:

Not a huge aspect here but what is here works perfectly for the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Stohl has written a novel packed with wit, hilarity and above all, intelligence. It’s beautifully crafted and so on point with modern popular culture it is nothing but impressive.

Read if You Like: books about reality TV, satires, YA contemporary without a romance focus
Avoid if You: dislike books about hollywood/celebrities

 

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Series Review: Playboys in Love by Gina L Maxwell

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Shameless (from Goodreads):

People say I’m shameless. They’re right.

I like my sex dirty. It takes a hell of a lot to tilt my moral compass, and I always follow when it’s pointing at something I want. That goes double when it points straight at the one girl in all of Chicago who’s not dying for a piece of me.

She’s all I can think about, and that’s a problem, because she wants nothing to do with me. But I’ve seen her deepest secrets, her darkest fantasies, and they match mine to a fucking T.

I want her. Bad.

Now I need to show her how good it can feel…to be shameless.

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Series: Playboys in Love
Author: Gina L Maxwell
# of Books: 3 (Shameless, Ruthless, Merciless)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Merciless, will be published TBA
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild | BDSM: light)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had actually never heard of this series until I was asked if I wanted to review book 2, Ruthless. I’m not a huge erotica fan per say but I do like to read adult contemporary romances from time to time. This series sounded like it was the perfect in between, bordering on the New Adult spectrum but with an adult erotica spin.

The Concept:

It’s not mentioned in the synopsis, but this series follows a bunch of male strippers who strip for fun (aka they have other day jobs) and how they meet their match in some special girl. The concept is a lot of fun, it reminded me of the movie Magic Mike but focusing on individuals and not the whole troop. It also reminded me of the Walk of Shame Series that shares a similar idea but this series isn’t as overly dramatic though it shares the kink factor.

Which brings me to the kink factor. It isn’t as extreme as say, a Maya Banks series, but it is definitely present and provides for lots of sexy times. I think if someone is looking for a nice bridge into the erotica genre, this is a nice gateway. It’s well done.

The Plot:

I would say that this series is more focused on the romance and the sexy times than it is with high dramatic antics. Which I really appreciated because I hate when the drama is soap opera-esque. Of course you have some typical tropes thrown in there but otherwise, you get a pretty linear plot.

I will say that the plot had a much better balance in book 2, Ruthless. It actually had more substance to it than sexy times and worked on the character and romance development.

The Characters:

All these characters are very likeable. The females are strong and independent. I never found them losing themselves in their relationships or conforming to be something other than more self-confident.

I also liked the guys. Even though I’m not a huge alpha hero fan, I definitely liked these male leads. They (like the ladies) have great character development throughout the story.

The Romance:

I found the romance to be much stronger in Ruthless (#2) than in Shameless (#1). For me, the romance in Shameless was more insta-love because things move so fast and all seems rooted in instinct rather than emotional connection. I like my romances to spell things out for me when it comes to the romances and it just didn’t work in Shameless for me even though I could see, in theory, how they would work.

Which is why I enjoyed the romance in Ruthless so much more. Thanks to the balanced plot, we actually get to see these two interact in moments other than sex scenes. You see the emotional connection form and you can’t help but root for them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I definitely know what characters I want to see get their own story next. We get just enough of a taste of each of the male leads to get you excited to see what their story is going to be!

Series Rating: 4/5

Shameless 3.5/5 | Ruthless 4/5 | Merciless TBR

overall

If you like books with plenty of sexy times and just a dash of kink, this is a great one for you to read! The perfect series to bridge the NA and Adult erotica gap.

Read if You Like: erotica, books with kink, quick reads
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Fresh Fridays: If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles #1) by Anna Harrington

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:

Capturing the Carlisles Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for If the Duke Demands (from Goodreads):

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Regency Romance 2017, New Must Read Author
Series: Capturing the Carlisles

This is a spinoff of the The Secret Life of Scoundrels Series.

Author: Anna Harrington
# of Books: 3 (If the Duke Demands, When the Scoundrel Sins, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, When the Scoundrel Sins, will be published August 2017
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was the main concept of this novel that captured (pun not intended) my attention. I LOVE the romance trope where the two people work together to get the objects of their affections, only to fall in loved with each other. It promises to have a ton of sexual tension, swoon worthy moments and leads you can’t help but root for.

So I was really excited to dive into this series!

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Honestly, I didn’t stop smiling when I was reading this book! It was just pure enjoyment from start to finish for me.

These two were PERFECT for each other and it was so much fun to watch them discover that. I literally got butterflies reading some of their scenes together because they were just so adorable. They had fantastic banter and the chemistry was just dripping off the pages.

But my favourite part was the emotional connection these two develop. It’s my favourite aspect of this trope. They just get each other. The fact that these two grew up together in some capacity provides a solid foundation to start this story off. I liked they they didn’t really like each other until they talked and got to know each other on that intellectual level. And from that, their romantic attraction to each other develops. It’s not just insta-love or physical lust that drives them together. Perfection.

–Miranda–

I find heroines in this genre can be a little over-bearing or rebellious just for the sake of being different. But Miranda is never like that. While she is independent, she’s intelligent about it. She’s willing to fight for things but never in a brash or irresponsible way and that made her extremely likable to me. I couldn’t help but root for her.

And I also liked that she grew as the story progressed. She isn’t this totally confident girl right away and as she learns to accept who she is, she really blossoms.

–The Brothers–

I just love this whole family (which readers are first introduced in Harrington’s How I Married a Marquess). They were just so much fun and quite the cast of characters. I’m really excited to learn more about the brother’s and see how they get “captured”!

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s Over and I Have to Wait for the Next One–

I want the rest of this series NOW! Good thing Anna’s other series is out so I can get into that while I wait.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

With the little teaser we got of When the Scoundrel Sins, I wish that August was next week. It looks like it is going to be just as awesome as its predecessor and I’m so excited to read it!

My Rating: 5/5

If the Duke Demands 5/5 | When the Scoundrel Sins TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If The Duke Demands reminded me why I love historical romances. Swoon-worthy heroes; strong-willed, intelligent heroines and brimming sexual tension from the start. I’m definitely going to be picking up Harrington’s previous works ASAP!

Read if You Like: historical fiction, emotional romances
Avoid if You: want more erotica based
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Series Review: The Sky by J W Lynne

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 Above the Sky (from Goodreads):

HER FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS WERE FILLED WITH LIES.
SHE IS ABOUT TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH.

Eighteen-year-old Seven and her best friend, Ten, live where all is peaceful … except for the violent war raging above the sky. Lifelike humanoid robots and self-operated drones tend to everyone’s needs, leaving people free to spend their time stimulating their minds and enjoying life’s pleasures. But there are strict rules and few choices.

Every year, on Assignment Day, the path of each eighteen-year-old’s life is laid out. Some are given the jobs for which they have shown exceptional aptitude and are “paired” for mating. The others are sent off to fight in The War and never return.

When Assignment Day comes for Seven, the assignments shatter everything she’s ever believed. The rules force everyone to accept their fates, but Seven decides to do something unprecedented: to go against the Decision Makers’ wishes.

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Series: The Sky Trilogy; Above the Sky Series
Author: J W Lynne
# of Books: 3 (Above the Sky, Return to the Sky, Part of the Sky)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating: warm *more suggestive than descriptive*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

**This is a review of the first book only: Above the Sky**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love dystopian novels but lately I’ve been reading more high fantasy than science fiction. So I was really interested in reviewing this series because:

ABOVE THE SKY is perfect for readers who enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES (by Suzanne Collins), DIVERGENT (by Veronica Roth), THE MAZE RUNNER (by James Dashner), ENDER’S GAME (by Orson Scott Card), and THE GIVER (by Lois Lowry)

While I’ve only read the first three series listed there, I did enjoy them (some more than others). But those are big shoes to fill. So, I was excited to see what this series could bring to this genre and how it would stand out from its predecessors.

The Concept / The World:

Like any dystopian novel, there are certain staple features to the world but it never felt like a copy-cat. There are enough unique flares to make this story original and engaging for the readers.

My favourite aspect was the mystery element to the world. What is happening around Seven? What is “the war”? What does it mean to be a “warrior”? Why did society resort to this? I had so many questions and I could’t wait to get the answers! It was great getting those little reveals on the way.

The Plot:

While there isn’t a lot of physical action (ex. fighting, etc), the story moved at a consistent pace that never left me bored. Part of the drive to keep reading was the mystery of the world but also the society Seven is a part of.

Throw in some interesting twists along the way and you’ve got an intriguing story. The plot itself is something I haven’t really come across yet in the genre and I found that to be really refreshing.

The Characters:

Seven is a bit of an unintentional unreliable narrator because she too is exploring the world. But I liked her curiosity and her willingness to learn to adapt to the situation. It was nice to see her character grow as the situation changes.

The rest of the cast is also solid. Again, you only get tidbits when the time is right and I loved that.

The Romance:

While this aspect is important, it doesn’t become the sole focus like so many other dystopian novels. It’s super cute.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have so many questions I need answered! I can’t wait to see how the next one picks up!

Series Rating: 4/5

Above the Sky 4/5 | Return to the Sky TBA | Part of the Sky TBA

overall

If you like your dystopians to be more mystery than high paced action, this is a great series to try!

Read if You Like: Science Fiction, mystery
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action
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Series Review: Casey Duncan by Kelley Armstrong

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

book4 book5

booksynopsis

Synopsis for City of the Lost (from Goodreads):

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you’re accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. As a murderer, Casey isn’t a good candidate, but she has something they want: She’s a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn’t the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Canadian Author
Series: Casey Duncan or Rockton
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 4 (City of the Lost, Darkness Absolute, Book 3, Book 4)

City of the Lost was initially released as a serial novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, there are to be (at least) 4 books in this series
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (City of the Lost); Publisher–ARC (Darkness Absolute)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I am a Kelley Armstrong fan. It’s not just because she is a fellow Canuck; she’s one talent writer in every genre she tries. I’ve enjoyed both her YA and Adult paranormal series over the years but I was really excited to see what she could do with a contemporary mystery/thriller.

I knew it was going to be suspenseful–full of great twists and strong characters–so I couldn’t wait to get started!

The Concept / The World:

First, I love the fact that this book is set in Canada! I don’t get to read many books set in my home country so that was a big bonus for me.

Then the idea that there is this isolated town filled with people trying to escape their previous lives? Fascinating. And the perfect place for trouble to brew! You’ve got this small town vibe where anyone can be a suspect and it’s just great to read about. I loved the setting for this series!

The Plot:

I loved, loved, loved the many layers to this series. Everything just builds from start to finish, book to book.

It’s hard to say much without giving anything away–especially for mystery novels–but I’ll just say that this book was far from predictable. There were so many great twists and the big reveals always had me going “say what!?” in surprise.

I will say, that City of the Lost did drag for me in the middle of the novel when the plot shifted more to character development than the actual mystery. Which was fine, because it really helped established the setting for the remainder of the book and the series, but it did feel slower than the first and latter half of the novel. I never had that problem with A Darkness Absolute however. It is a non-stop roller coaster ride from start to finish.

The Characters:

Like I said above, the small town vibe works extremely well for this series. The anticipation of figuring out whodunit when you’ve met everyone is just fabulous for a reader.

All the characters are just so well developed–even the side ones. I loved learning more about each person.

Casey in particular is a winner in my mind. She’s a strong heroine who definitely has her flaws. She’s complex but as the stories progress, you learn more about her and she learns more about herself. Her character development is a highlight for sure. She reminds me of a more subdued version of Lisbeth from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo–a scarred girl who learns to adapt as her world expands.

The Romance:

A very minor role here but one I really enjoyed. I don’t want to give to much away…so I’m just going to leave it at that.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope there are more books to this series! It’s a great world, a fantastic set of characters and the mysteries are just so good.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

City of the Lost 4/5 | A Darkness Absolute  5/5 | Book 3 ?

overall

Honestly, I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this series! (Maybe I hang out in the wrong crowds). It delivers in every way that you want a mystery/thriller to.

Read if You Like: mysteries/thrillers, small town stories
Avoid if You: dislike mysteries
similarreads

  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Underworld Series #1)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson (Millennium Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Beyond the Stars by Stacy Wise

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 Beyond the Stars (from Goodreads):
Falling for him wasn’t in the plans…

Most girls would kill for the opportunity to work for Jack McAlister, Hollywood’s hottest actor, but twenty-one-year-old Jessica Beckett is ready to kick him out of her red Ford Fiesta and never look back. She should be spending her junior year in France, eating pastries and sharpening her foreign language skills. Instead she’s reluctantly working as Jack’s personal assistant, thanks to her powerhouse talent agent aunt.

Jack is private, prickly, and downright condescending. Jessica pushes his buttons—she’s not the type of girl to swoon over celebrity heartthrobs, precisely why her aunt thought she’d be perfect for the job—and Jack pushes right back.

But as she begins to peel away his layers, Jessica is shocked to find she craves her boss’s easy smile and sexy blue eyes. The problem is, so does the entire female population. And what started out as the job from hell soon has Jess wondering if a guy like Jack could ever find love with a regular girl like her.

breakdown

Author: Stacy Wise
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Celebrity, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 8, 2016
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book as a galley on NetGalley but never got a chance to request it. So it seemed like fate when a couple months later it was a part of the Read It, Review It program in my New Adult Book Club on Goodreads. I made sure I grabbed a copy ASAP!

I really enjoy the idea of celebrity romances with everyday people in my NA novels. Sometimes, it’s executed well but other times it’s a little whimsical and rushed. In other words, not my ideal. But this one sounded promising and I needed a good contemporary read to buffer a somewhat lacklustre one before I moved on to a fantasy novel.

The Plot:

This novel felt more like a coming of age story than a romance. Which is fine and even a little expected since New Adult novels tend to have this as a minor element. But the lack of a romance for almost 75% of the book drained me a bit. Especially when the last 25% seemed to pack everything in, rushing to wrap it all up. I would have liked to have seen those last few plot points scattered throughout the novel to give it that dramatic flare.

The Characters:

Jessica was alright. To be honest, something rubbed me the wrong way about her in the first chapter. I think it was her somewhat stubborn nature that made it hard for me to totally love her. But I did warm up to her as the novel progressed but she didn’t blow me away.

Jack was cute but unfortunately, a little to one-dimensional for me. I really wish this story was told in alternating POV because he did seem to have an interesting backstory that I would have liked to have explored more.

The Romance:

I really wanted some sexual tension and chemistry between these two but nothing ever happened. While I got that they had this emotional connection (the typical “she treats me like a real human being, not a celebrity” vibe), I didn’t really see much else between these two. At least, not enough to warrant the deep feelings they get so suddenly. Although it seemed to take forever to get to that romance point, only a couple of weeks had passed in the book so it made everything seem superficial to me.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you’re looking for a spicy NA romance featuring a celebrity, look elsewhere! But if you want a cute and sweet way to spend a summer afternoon, this is a great novel for you to read.

Read if You Like: sweet romances, coming of age stories, celebrity stories
Avoid if You: want a “spicier” read, more sexual tension

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