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DNF Series Review: The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden

DNF Series Review: The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden

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 A Touch of Death (from Goodreads):

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

breakdown

Series: Outlands Pentalogy
Author: Rebecca Crunden
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: February 2017 – July 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading A Touch of Death (#1) at 21%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Rebecca reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing her series, I was definitely interested. I love a good dystopian novel and after reading the synopsis, I was intrigued by the many layers it promised.

What I Liked:

–The Action Starts Immediately–

We literally hit the ground running with two characters and are thrust into the crux of issue: the need to escape to the Outlands.

And I think some readers with find it suspenseful that we get into the thick of things quickly without much preamble, but for me…

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Felt Like I Started 5 Chapters In–

The problem I had with the fast start is that I felt like I was immediately behind. In the prologue, we see Nate in jail and then at the start of the first “chapter” (there aren’t really chapters), he’s running with Catherine through the fields.

What? Why? Who are these people?!

It was almost like the synopsis served as the exposition for this series and that in order to understand the background, you need to read it first. And I don’t like that in my books. I want a little more foreplay before we get into the crux of the issues.

In some ways, it felt like the worldbuilding wasn’t there at all and then other times, I felt like I was getting dumped on with info. It was just overwhelming for me.

Will I Finish It?

Unfortunately, this just wasn’t for me so I will be finishing my time with this series here.

My Rating: DNF

overall

As a reader who needs that foundation and worldbuilding early on, this just didn’t work for me. But others who like long worded prose and the suspense of slowly putting the pieces together might enjoy this.

Read if You Like: dystopian, fast-paced plots
Avoid if You: need strong worldbuilding from the start

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Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever 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 For Lila, Forever (from Goodreads):

The words “For Lila, forever” adorned the front of the envelope in blue ink, the handwriting all too familiar. But it didn’t matter what it said. I didn’t have the heart to open it.

We couldn’t be together.

Not after everything …

Leaving Rose Crossing, Maine was one of the most painful moments of my life—or at least it was until the day I came face-to-face with Thayer Ainsworth again.

After a decade of searching, he’s found me, and he wants to know why I quit my housemaid job and left his family’s island estate without so much as a goodbye. But I’m bound by a devastating secret much bigger than the two of us, and telling him the truth has consequences.

Looking into the eyes of the only man I’ve ever loved, I tell him the only thing I’m allowed to: never contact me again. And when he’s gone, I sit down and finally open his letter.

Only it isn’t a letter at all.

And it changes everything.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 25, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARCs

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I’ll read anything by Winter Renshaw but this one was especially intriguing. I love second chance romances that are plagued by family secrets and this one sounded like that exactly.

The Plot:

I had a pretty good idea of how this story would go given the synopsis, but like most of Winter Renshaw’s work, she managed to surprise me. This is a solid second chance story yet at the same time, it isn’t in some ways. I loved that we start in the past and get to see their relationship first hand. And then comes the results of the fallout as you slowly link the past with the present. I think it’s this linking of that past and present that makes this book feel different than your everyday second chance romance. These characters really have to work for it.

Which makes for an exciting story. I was thoroughly addicted to it and had a hard time putting it down. There’s just this incredible flow to it that sucks you in as a reader.

The Characters:

I really liked both of our leads. They have enough to them to carry the story and keep me satisfied with their development.

The Romance:

While I really liked these two together (they’re so sweet!), I had a hard time getting over the shortness of their romance and their very deep feelings that arise in that time frame. We do get to see them interact a lot which helped to solidify their connection when they first meet. But some thing was just missing for me; perhaps it felt a little rushed? I get that it is a summer romance but these two fall very fast and I just needed a little more from them.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Regardless, this is the PERFECT read if you want something bingeworthy to read (especially in one sitting!)!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, summer love
Avoid if You: contemporary romances
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Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

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 Dirty Headlines (from Goodreads):

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.

breakdown

Author: L J Shen
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Office Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few books marked on my TBR by L J Shen but when the opportunity to review this one came up, I figured it was the best one to start with. Why? It checked off a lot of my favourite romance tropes in the synopsis alone. Workplace romance after an awkward first encounter. Hate to Love You/Enemies to Lovers. Playboy lead. So I was ready to dive in.

The Plot:

To be fair to this book, I probably started reading it at a bad time in my life. I had a lot of things going on when I started this so I wasn’t able to read it as much as I wanted. But I also think the fact that it took me nearly 2 months to read (when I usually finish a book in 3 days) shows how not into this book I was. (Usually, when I’m in stressful times I read a book in one go but not the case here).

As for the plot, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t the drama that killed it for me. If anything, it’s what propelled me to keep going when I wanted to DNF it numerous times. It’s angsty and almost soap opera-esque because it is a little over the top but that’s exactly what I want from a story set in a News Room.

The Characters:

Despite all of Celian’s playboy, asshole-ish characteristics, he failed to charm me. I think because I didn’t find his falling for Jude to be realistic (more on the romance below). Sure, he can talk dirty (perhaps one of the best dirty-talkers I’ve ever encountered in a book), but I just didn’t get won over by his antics.

And Jude…well she was a huge disappointment as well. Talk about wish-washy in terms of her convictions. The poor girl is all over the place. One minute claiming she’s unlovable but in the next sentence uttering that she wants a relationship with the guy. Why? She’s also extremely quirky and that doesn’t usually work for me. I guess it was a sign when she kept talking about her Chucks (the shoe I loath most in this world) that we just weren’t going to be friends.

The Romance:

This is by far the biggest factor in my lower rating: I just did NOT see the chemistry between these two. Yes, they seem to have fantastic sex together but besides lust and a good romp, what was keeping them together? I really don’t know. Their quirky tendencies? I think this goes hand in hand with their character profiles and how I failed to get a solid read on who they were as people. Because if I don’t understand them as individuals, how can I appreciate them as a pair together?

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Lots of other people seem to love this book but besides the drama, there wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, office romances, enemies to lovers
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera drama

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DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 8: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Top Choice (from Goodreads):

“…THE HANDMAID’S TALE MEETS MAGIC MIKE”

As a future leader of the female-led regime her ancestors fought hard to establish, Alice Kearns is no stranger to pressure. Being the best in a society where women are expected to be high-achieving is the only option her powerful mother has ever accepted for her. But fortunately, as of her eighteenth birthday, Ali has a place to blow off steam: she’s finally allowed into the Choice Clubs.

Filled with an enticing mix of music, drinks and gorgeous guys, the Choice Clubs were founded to ensure that smart girls wouldn’t get distracted in their real lives by anything as trivial as a shallow crush or a pretty face. Choice guys are fun, flirty, and the perfect eye candy, but Ali would never dream of actually falling for one—until she meets Tag.

Tag McPhail is Top Choice. With his mischievous grin and a body to die for, he is exactly the kind of boy that Ali’s mother believes needs to be kept contained. But after he kisses Ali at the Choice Club, she suddenly sees him everywhere—and she’s surprised to learn that there’s more to him than his perfect looks. Tag is sweeter, funnier, and smarter than Ali ever expected… and, she soon discovers, he’s also dangerous. Because Tag leads a double life: when he’s not working at the clubs, he’s part of a rebel group trying to overturn the girl power society that the women in Ali’s family worked so hard to put in place.

Getting closer to Tag upends everything Ali thought she knew. But will she betray everything she was raised to protect for a guy she’s not even sure she can trust?

breakdown

Author: Sophie McAloon
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating:  unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 16, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Top Choice at 23% (Start of Chapter 7). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

How can you not read a book with the tagline “Handmaiden’s Tale meets Magic Mike”? I was so intrigued when the review opportunity for this crossed my inbox that I had to break my request rules and attempt to secure myself a copy.

What I Liked:

–The Matriarchal Society–

I love books that challenge our everyday ideals and dystopian novels are a great way to do that as they often exploit an aspect of our society. Here, we get a world ruled by women and only the educated can vote in elections. It’s an interesting concept as we currently live in a world where women are constantly fighting for equality in all aspects of life around the world.

Which is why I wish it was elaborated on more…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World Building–

With a premise like this, you need solid world building and this one lacked it for me. I didn’t get why everyone had “Cards” or what “Top Choice” was or why society had even evolved in this direction in the first place. So I struggled to understand what the setting was and why the characters were acting a certain way because of it.

It was one of those situations that the more I read, the less I understood and the more questions I had.

–The Romance–

Again, I struggled with this because I didn’t understand where these lovey feelings came from. I understand Alice’s interest in Tag given their first few encounters as he is rather mysterious but they didn’t interact enough for me to understand where her love-driven feelings were coming from.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While I’m curious about the world and the like, the other reviews I read gave me the impression I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the novel.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This one had a very cool concept but the execution just wasn’t at the level I wanted (or expected) it to be.

Read if You Like: like romance focused dystopian novels
Avoid if You: need strong world-building

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Have you read this? Should I return to finish it? Leave a comment!

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Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 5: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for One More Round (Previously Good Girl Gone Plaid) (from Goodreads):

When Sarah Rawlings fell for her best friend’s older brother in high school, she knew he was trouble. But she couldn’t resist his pull and the sweetness she sensed underneath his protective bad boy persona. Their relationship was everything she had ever dreamed of, until she was rocked by his painful betrayal. Eleven years later, Sarah must return to Whidbey Island following her beloved grandmother’s death. She knows she must stay away from Ian, but he’s not making that easy and every time she sees him, she’s reminded of what might have been.

One look at Sarah stirs up memories regrets that still linger in Ian McLaughlin’s heart. She was the love of his life and he still can’t understand how he blew it and how she could have also hurt him so badly in return. He plans to steer clear of Sarah while she’s on Whidbey Island, but that’s impossible when she’s often at his family’s pub. Thinking to indulge in a little casual seduction for fun, neither is prepared when the embers burst into flames.

So many years and secrets separate them. Can their powerful attraction also include understanding and forgiveness?

breakdown

Series: The McLaughlins
Author: Shelli Stevens
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes – though currently being republished under new names
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – September 2014
Source & Format: LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers–eARC | Thank you Tule Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read One More Round (Book #1) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I always enjoy a good second chance romance. I love the secrets and the drama often associated with them. It was the secrets in One More Round that intrigued me. Add the mix the fact that Ian is the brother of Sarah’s BFF? I’m sold. I couldn’t wait to meet these Scottish McLaughlins and learn their secrets!

What I Liked about One More Round:

–Polished Version–

This is a newly edited and reformatted version of the original story Good Girl Gone Plaid–so take that into account when reading other reviews because they might be reviewing an early version. I didn’t find any of those grammatical errors other reviewers mention.

–The Setting–

Ever since I read the Cottonbloom Series, I’ve grown to love the small town setting. I really enjoy the isolation of the world because you get a handful of characters to read about throughout the entire series. I love the weaving of everyone’s lives and secrets. While it wasn’t as strong as I liked here, it did serve as an interesting backdrop to the story.

What I Didn’t Like about One More Round:

–I Figured Out the “Big Twist” by the End of Chapter One–

I won’t lie, I did doubt myself for a second or two in the middle but it was only for a page or two.

But I went with the flow anyways because they do have a complicated past. Yet every time a new “twist” was hinted at, I correctly guessed the outcome every single time. It just took away some of the tension and anticipation of the read. I found myself getting bored.

–Ian’s Ego–

I’m all for a confident playboy hero but Ian’s confidence could take up an entire planet. It drove me NUTS how Ian would just go ahead and kiss her when she wasn’t expecting it or clearly giving him “no” vibes. (That’s their first encounter and it just set such a sour tone for me). I really struggled to see why he would give up his charmed playboys ways for Sarah.

–The Romance–

We don’t get to see a lot of their conversations because most of the time they’re so focused on the physical aspect of their relationship. I couldn’t tell you why they thought they were soul mates besides great sexual chemistry.

–Rushed Ending–

Which is why I wish the ending was expanded upon a bit or introduced earlier. I definitely would have liked that drama to be teased out more and in the first half of the novel to give some depth.

Will I Finish the Series?

I did enjoy the other McLaughlin siblings; I think Ian is the odd man out in terms of personalities. But I wasn’t a fan of the heroine for the second novel after we learn more about her so this is where I end my time with this series.

Series Rating: DNF

One More Round 2/5 | Straight, No Chaser N/A

overall

Unfortunately, this was just too predictable for me to full enjoy and there were some aspects of the plot (and characters’ pasts) that I wasn’t I fan of.

Read if You Like: quick romance reads, family leads, Scottish heroes
Avoid if You: want surprises

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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Series Review: Songs and Sonatas by Jerica MacMillan

Series Review: Songs and Sonatas by Jerica MacMillan

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 4: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Double Exposition (from Goodreads):

A former boyband star gets a little musical education from a sexy violinist. Will they stay in different keys or find a way to play in tune?

The first time I saw her I knew I wanted her. And when she talked music with me? I didn’t stand a chance.

When she found out my secret past—that I used to be a famous pop star—I expected her to fangirl all over me. Because even though it’s been years since people cared about us, a ton of girls who grew up with our music still go nuts when they find out who I am.

Not Gabby. She was more interested in our future than my past.

I tried to stay away at first. She’s so young, eighteen to my twenty-two. Just starting out in college while I’m getting ready to leave.

But I couldn’t leave her alone. Her passion, her drive, her intoxicating combination of innocence and audacity. And that sexy little Texas twang. Damn. I was sunk from the start.

With her help, I started writing better songs than ever. And when a video of me playing a new song landed on YouTube and went viral, my life exploded in a return to fame I never thought I wanted.

How can I pass up this chance now that it’s being offered to me again? But if I take it, will Gabby and I be able to survive?

breakdown

Series: Songs and Sonatas Trilogy
Author: Jerica MacMillan
# of Books: 3 (Double Exposition, Development, Recapitulation)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: Read It and Review It–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I finished Book #1 Double Exposition but have opted not to continue with its sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this story for the premise. The idea of a former boy band heart-throb finding love and muse in a girl he meets at school? Adorable.

What I Liked:

–The Composing of Music–

I think musicians would love this novel without a doubt. It’s a beautiful story about two people who connect through music and how that connection betters their music.

But there is also a lot of discussion about the creation of music. We get quite a few scenes of Gabby and Jonathan writing and composing songs and quite a few technical terms are thrown out. I think someone who knows what a E-flat sounds would get a great feel for the type of music they are making. As someone who knows nothing about music, it completely blew past me but I still loved the idea of it all.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

While I enjoyed the novel and the characters, there was just something about the pacing that stopped me from being fully invested. It had me at the start but it lost me in the middle when the sexy times seemed to take up most of the scenes. And they are great scenes, but I just needed something else to happen to keep me engaged. A subplot of sorts.

I know that had it in my head that most of the story would be about Jonathan dealing with his re-emergence into the music scenes. And while a decent portion is dedicated to that, it seems to be something that will be further developed in the other novels.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While I liked these characters, I just need a more engaging plot for me.

Series Rating: DNF

Double Exposition 3/5 | Development N/A | Recapitulation N/A

overall

I just needed a little more flare to love this series. It’s a sweet and simple romance that I think fans of music and/or musicians will enjoy.

Read if You Like: little drama, first loves, musicians
Avoid if You: want more dramatics
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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Synopsis for Realm of Knights (from Goodreads):

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Knights of the Realm
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released in December 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (7hrs & 58mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover drew me in, it was the synopsis that sold me. I loved the idea of exploring a character like Reid who has played the role of the opposite gender for all her life. Immediately, I thought about Disney’s Mulan and how she dresses as a man to save her family; challenging gender stereotypes along the way. And I loved the concept of this secret order of knights.

What I Liked:

–Reid’s Identity Struggle–

Reid’s struggle between living as a man versus a woman was an interesting dynamic to watch a character go through. The privileges of a man coupled with the expectations of women in the society here was an interesting lens to see everything through. And that is only heighten by the fact that Reid shifts between her two identities throughout the novel. It provides some fantastic character moments and a deeper layer to this novel.

–The Lack of Romance–

I’m a hopeless romantic and so I crave copious amounts of romance in my novels but I loved the lack of one here. Sure, there are some flirtations and attractions between characters but we completely avoided some cliches along the way and that was uber refreshing.

–Continuously Built–

Everything just builds up in this novel. We learn all these bits and pieces at a time and by then end, we see how everything comes together for the sequels. It really made the book flow nicely from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Needed a Little “Umph”–

I wanted a little more from the plot but I’m not sure what. Perhaps more physical action? There are a lot of subtle twists along the way and I never found myself being bored so I’m not sure what was lacking for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

Highly recommend the audiobook! This was such an easy listen that time literally flew by. The accents were great and everyone had their own voice. Sometimes I struggle with third person narration but this was incredibly easy to follow.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m dying for the sequel! I just need to know what happens right now!

My Rating: 4/5

Realm of Knights 3.5/5 | Shadow Knights TBP| Hidden Knights TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mulan, knights, realm politics
Avoid if You: want a romance

similarreads

  • Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist Series #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)


Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three kids, one weimaraner, and a tortoise. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and lives in the San Diego area.
Jennifer is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel (2013), winner of the Kindle Book Awards (2018), a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards (2014), and a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2014).
Publishers Marketplace listed Jennifer as one of the best-selling indie authors in June 2017. She has also been ranked among the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon.

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

Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 35 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.

Narrator Links: Website

Realm of Knights Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

Book Tour Organised by:

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

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:

Sinful Truths Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book3 book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Sinful Truths

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Ongoing
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

Without a doubt, Truth or Lies is my favourite Ella Miles series. So I was ECSTATIC that she was planning two spin-off series focusing on characters that I would love to spend more time with. Sinful Truths is the first series to come about and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Compared to its predecessor, I thought this book started a little slower. There were quite a few unanswered questions at the beginning that had me a little hung-up but as things fall into place, the picture becomes clearer and it captivates your attention. The stakes are just as high here and that adds some depth to the plot that I love in Ella Miles’ novels.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Some of those unanswered questions bothered me because it made things seem a little sloppy in terms of the plot. But I should always know that Ella has something mind-blowing in store…

It also took me a lot longer to warm up to the romance. These two have great physical chemistry and they have this whole forbidden love attraction happening, but I didn’t find it as alluring as the original series. I’m hoping the depth I’m looking for comes out in the future novels as we get to uncover more about these characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea where this series is going or how it will relate further to the original series. But this is a trip I cannot wait to take!

updates

–February 19, 2020– Book #3: Reckless Fall

This instalment was a little on the slower side for me. Our leads are at a defining moment and that means we get quite a bit of self reflection. I wanted a little more drama and excitement.

With the original series, Truth or Lies, our leads have the on-going competition lingering in the background. I find this series so far lacks that overarching subplot. Yes, there are inklings that something larger is afoot but I find each novel is a more episodic, ending on a cliffhanger to keep you invested for the next instalment. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, I just miss that white-knuckle tension Ella Miles can add to her novels.

–February 27, 2020– Book #4: Tangled Promise

I think this was a pretty crucial book in the series. Our leads have to start making big decisions for themselves and each other and I like how that test their relationship. I haven’t been entirely sold on their bond but this book helped me to see why they are such a great pair together.

My other complaint with the series so far is that there hadn’t seemed to be an overarching plotline but I think that it is starting to take shape here. I’m really excited for the trajectory of the last two books!

–April 9, 2020– Book #5: Fallen Love

Compared to others in the series so far, this was all about the relationships and testing loyalty. And that puts are characters in quite the bind. Overall though, I thought it was dry until the massive twist at the end!

My Rating: 3/5

Sinful Truths 4/5 | Twisted Vow 3/5 | Reckless Fall 3/5 | Tangled Promise 4/5 | Fallen Love 3/5

overall

A promising start to a great spin-off series that will captivate new fans as well as satisfy the returning.

Read if You Like: dark romances,
Avoid if You: dislike mentions of sex crimes and the like

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sinful Truths (from Goodreads):

She saved me.
Pulled me from the depths of the ocean.
Siren—her name fits. She is beauty; her voice heavenly.
But unlike the mythical version, Siren didn’t lure me to my death.
She saved me.
And now, seeing her about to be sold to the highest bidder, I know it’s my turn to save her.

——

I was raised to always tell the truth, no matter what.
And it’s served me well.
Until today.
Today, I wish I could lie.
Because my truth put me here—about to be sold.
A lie could set me free.
But I always tell the truth, even when I lie.

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Single Sundays: The Marriage Pact by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Marriage Pact 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 The Marriage Pact (from Goodreads):

I was sixteen when I vowed I would never marry him.

We shook on it. Pinky swore. Even put it in writing and all but signed our names in blood.

It was the one and only thing we ever agreed on.

To the world, he’s Prince Julian, Duke of Montcroix, second in line to the Chamont throne. Panty-melting accent. Royal charm. Hypnotic presence. Blindingly gorgeous. Laundry list of women all over the world who would give their first born for the chance to marry him. Most eligible bachelor in the free world …

But to me, he’s nothing more than the son of my father’s best friend—the pesky blue-eyed boy who made it his mission to annoy the ever-loving hell out of me summer after summer as our families vacationed together, our parents oblivious to our mutual disdain as they joked about our “betrothal.”

He was also my first kiss.

And my first taste of heartbreak so cataclysmic it almost broke me.

I meant it with every fiber of my soul when I swore I’d never marry him.

But on the eve of my 24th birthday, His Royal Highness has the audacity to show up at my door after years of silence and make a demand will forever change the trajectory of our lives: “We have to break our pact.”

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 23, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gems–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in a bit of a reading slump (3 2-star reads in a row) when I picked up this book. I can always count on Winter Renshaw to write a story that I will devour in one sitting; one that will get me into the excitement of reading again.

Despite a “no-ARC” sign up policy, I had to sign up for this one. I’m obsessed with anything Royal (and I’ve had great success with other modern royal contemporary romances lately) so that immediately had my attention. Then add to the fact that there might be an arranged marriage or something along those lines? So there!

The Concept:

While Julian is from a fictitious kingdom, there are enough allusions to current monarchies that you understand his motivations and such. Some people may not like current popular culture references in their novels but I thought it was really fitting here. 

The Plot:

If you are looking for a lighter, quick read that isn’t plagued by copious sex scenes this is a great book for you to pick up. If you get a little hung up on logistics or want something deeper character-wise? Maybe don’t pick this up (or go in with different expectations).

One of the things that really hooked me in was the allusion to their shared past and some “event” that transpired to stop their budding romance. I liked the suspense of the mystery–I was eager to figure out what caused these two to not speak for years. And while the actual reason was something I didn’t expect at all, I’m not really sure if it is feasible. That’s why I say you should go in and leave some logic behind because it’s one of those things that the more you think about it, the less likely it seems. 

The Characters:

I liked both of our leads a lot. The depth with go to with them works for the story and keeps things light. I always appreciate dual POV in romances and that’s what we get here. I liked Julian’s POV were a little shorter and more abrupt (in some ways). It added some mystery to his character and motivations but still gave you a taste of what he was thinking/feelings.

The Romance:

I thought these two were super cute together. I loved their “hate to love you” past but I wish we got to see more of it. Some flashbacks to show those moments when things changed when they were teenagers would have gone a long way in making their relationship stronger. Things move very quickly in their second chance romance and I think seeing that past would help satisfy the somewhat skeptic in me.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you want a lighter book that you can devour in one sitting that is entertaining and charming, this is a great read.

Read if You Like: royals, lighter romances
Avoid if You: get caught up in logistics/realistic plots
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Series Review: Pretty Smart Girls by Shae Ross

Series Review: Pretty Smart Girls by Shae Ross

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 Lace Up (from Goodreads):

Team Ryan
Ryan Rose and her fellow Spartans are finalists in a high-profile entrepreneurial competition. They’re competing for life-changing money and for their futures. They have a solid plan to win. All they need to do is trounce the competition: rich frat boys from an archrival university. Easy, right?

Team Jett
Jett Trebuchet’s first mistake was not realizing that Ryan and her friends were the competition. His second was expressing his unabashed confidence in his team’s ability to win. After all, everyone knows the only thing MSU does better than U of M is produce beautiful, easy women…oh, and he almost forgot to say “dumb.” And boy, does his team pay for that one.

Game On
As each side tries to game the other, something else seems to be getting in the way—attraction. Now Ryan and Jett must keep their teams from getting distracted by the opposite sex…and each other. All is not fair in love and war when it comes to winning this game.

breakdown

Series: Pretty Smart Girls

There is a standalone spin-off: Rush

Author: Shae Ross
# of Books: 2 (Lace Up, Fearless)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes? I’m not sure if there will be a book 3
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Humour
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – August 2015
Source & Format: Author–eBook (Read It Review It); Own–Kobo (Fearless)

disclaimer
I only received a review copy of Book #1 Lace Up

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Shae Ross offered my New Adult Group on Goodreads the opportunity to read her debut novel Lace Up around Christmas time in 2015. Way after I finished the book, I remembered seeing its sequel Fearless on NetGalley…boy, do I regret not grabbing that one when I had the chance!

The Concept:

The premise of Lace Up is what really grabbed my attention. I loved the idea that these these two teams would be competing against each other and the sparks would be flying in more than one way. And it definitely lived up to that.

I thought their attempts to sabotage were a lot of fun and funny. It made the book light-hearted yet it didn’t shy away from the more serious aspects of the characters and their lives. It was a great balance and made the book very enjoyable to read.

Fearless has a completed different vibe to it (though the playful tension between the two groups is still there). It’s more of your typical New Adult romance read though it does bring up some new themes often shied away from.

The Plot:

I thought the plot balanced very well between the competition in Lace Up (#1), the romance and the character development. It was serious when it needed to be yet it had its fun moments. I liked that there were multiple things happening. Of course you have the competition but there are other dramatic elements at play. From past relationships to family drama to current relationships: there are a lot of things to keep you interested.

Fearless was very different. It’s more of your coming of age story with a romance between two people who have an undeniable connection but can’t seem to make it work because life gets in the way. I loved some of the challenges the couple faces but I feel like they weren’t as developed as I wanted them to be and they often got overshadowed by dramatic antics that dampened the realistic, genuine vibes the story was otherwise broadcasting.

The Characters:

Everyone has great development throughout the story but Ryan and Jett especially in Lace Up. I liked how Ryan presented herself and didn’t hold back. She didn’t need a man to complete her and while I suppose she was a little “man-hating” at the start, I think given the circumstances I can cut her some slack. Jett had even better character growth I think and I really enjoyed that. While Lace Up mostly focuses on Ryan and Jett, you get enough of the other characters to make you eager to read the sequel book.

All the characters are layered here and that’s even more true in the sequel.

The Romance:

The romance happens fast in Lace Up given that the competition takes place in a week. However, I thought Jett and Ryan were a great match. They complimented each other beautifully; as do the other characters. It makes the romance all the more sweeter.

Series Rating: 4/5

Lace Up 4/5 | Fearless 3.5/5

overall

If you enjoy high antics and perfect romantic matches, this is a great series! Also, who doesn’t love pretty smart girls? They rule the world!

Read if You Like: new adult romance, dramatics
Avoid if You: don’t like over dramatics, fast romances

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