Tag «drama»

Novella Serial Review: Once She Dreamed by Abbi Glines

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 Once She Dreamed (from Goodreads):

Everyone in the small country town where Sammy Jo Knox had been born and raised, never left. They made their life there. Got married, had kids, lived in the same houses that were always there along the streets that never changed. The whole white picket fence and tree swing might look good on greeting cards but in real life it was boring, at least to Sammy Jo.

When Sammy Jo was a little girl she began dreaming of something bigger. Brighter. Something that wasn’t her town. She wanted to see the world and experience it all. Just how she was going to do that she had no idea. Because if her momma had her way, she’d marry one of the boys in town and be spitting out babies and going to church on Sunday with them all lined up in a row.

The day Hale Christopher Jude III walked into the bakery she worked at, she knew he was it. That part of life she was missing. He smelled of foreign places and exciting things. He represented all the bright lights she dreamed of and simply put, she hoped he was her way out of this place.

What Sammy Jo didn’t realize was things that appear perfect… aren’t. And chasing her dreams could lead to something very different.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: Once She Dreamed
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2016 – December 2016
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything by Abbi Glines–especially her New Adult stuff. So how this series slipped my radar is beyond me. Anyways, I found out that Part 1 was a freebie on Kobo and snapped it up!

At first glance, this serial has the typical Abbi Glines’ formula: rich boy falls for country-girl. But the last two sentences gave me hope that there was something more to this story so I was eager to discover it.

The Plot:

For me the plot was one of the things I struggled with the most in both installments. I found that Part 1 was terribly dull. The vast majority of that part is spent establishing the fact that Sammy Jo doesn’t want to be in Moulton. It just made the story seem so mundane and boring. We hardly get any time with Hale–or what his presence means for Sammy Jo.

Part 2 gets a little more into the drama but I still found it underwhelming. One of my favourite aspects about novella series is that things happen at a rapid pace and new things are constantly thrown your way to keep you intrigued. And I didn’t feel like that happened here.

I will say that there was one very good twist (even though I did suspect it earlier). I wish it was elaborated on more but I enjoyed it.

The Characters:

Sammy Jo is about as naive as they come. For the most part I cut her some slack because I understood why she didn’t seem to know any better. BUT, she is told by countless people what the obvious path is and she still chooses to ignore it. She never really learns from it and I found her character development was stifled.

As for the rest, I hate to say it but they were all pretty cliche.

The Romance:

I really thought this was going to be more of a romance but it is actually more of a coming of age story for Sammy Jo with a little dash of love thrown in along the way. Again, I wasn’t a huge fan thanks to the quickness of it all and the underdeveloped side characters.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This was a disappointing read for me. While I can see what was trying to be attempted, it just pales in comparison to Glines’ other work with its slow delivery and lacklustre characters.

Read if You Like: short novellas
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more to the plot

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Trilogy Termination: He’s So/She’s So by Kieran Scott

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Spring 2017

Trilogy Termination Blitz: I finally finish some trilogies I started years ago by reading the final book! But don’t let my delay in finishing them deter you from picking them up…or should it?

Miss the Introduction Post? Read it here!

booksynopsis

Synopsis for She’s So Dead to Us (from Goodreads):

Ally Ryan would rather be in Maryland. She would rather be anywhere, in fact, than Orchard Hill, site of her downfall. Well, not hers exactly—but when your father’s hedge fund goes south and all your friends lose their trust funds, things don’t look so sunny for you. Her mother moved her to Maryland to flee the shame, but now they’re moving back. Back to the country-club, new-car-every-year, my-family-came-over-on-the-Mayflower lifestyle that Ally has outgrown. One bright spot, however, is gorgeous, intense Jake Graydon. But it won’t be easy for the two of them to be together—not if his friends (her former friends) have anything to say about it. Is Ally ready to get thrown back into the drama of the life she left behind?

breakdown

Series: He’s So/She’s So Trilogy
Author: Kieran Scott
# of Books: 3 (She’s So Dead to Us, He’s So not Worth It, This Is So Not Happening)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School, Drama
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2010 – May 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t know how I learned about this series but I do know that I suggested that my local library buy it and that’s how I got my hands on this series! This was back in the day when my YA horizons weren’t broader than contemporaries and this one sounded like it had some juicy drama!

The Plot:

What I liked about these books was that the plot did have a few layers to it. You’ve got Ally struggling to fit back in with her friends and new family situation; Jake struggling with his feelings for Ally (and vice versa) and then some main plot for the book. And each book fits that formula and throws in some other love interests along the way.

Basically, it’s an extended teen soap opera episode.

So while I found each novel to be terribly predictable, I also found myself sucked into the lives of Ally and company.

The Characters:

Surprisingly, I liked Ally. I say surprisingly because I often find myself annoyed with teenaged heroines in high school dramas since they seem to have priorities and views I can’t stand. But Ally has a fabulous head on her shoulders and I really loved how she handled herself with all the craziness that is around her.

And it is a whole lot of crazy. Her friends are everything I despise in YA characters. They’re petty, selfish and love everything drama has to offer. I mean, it works for the story but it also makes them a little unlikable.

Jake is a great example of that. Talk about self-absorbed! Oye, his thought process slayed me sometimes. He definitely isn’t going to be on my list of book boyfriends anytime soon.

However, in the same breathe, it provides a great opportunity to see these characters grow up a little with all the stuff that gets thrown their way. (And for the most part, they seize that opportunity).

The Romance:

Seeing as I wasn’t a huge Jake fan, I didn’t always love the romance between him and Ally. And the constant love triangles they found themselves in were exhausting. But somehow, it worked for this story so I tolerated it.

Series Rating: 4/5

She’s So Dead to Us 4/5 | He’s So Not Worth It 4/5 | This Is So Not Happening 3.5/5

overall

If you love teen soaps but want one in a book, this is a series you should have on your radar!

Read if You Like: high school drama, teen soaps
Avoid if You: dislike drama

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Single Sundays: Savage Love by Ella Miles

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 Savage Love (from Goodreads):

I hate him.

He’s made my life a living hell every day since we were five years old. We’ve been enemies since the day he cut off my pigtails in first grade and I retaliated by drawing on his face with a sharpie.

Our hate of each other grew stronger as we got older. We grew more savage in the way we dealt with each other. We broke bones in fights, sabotaged each other’s dates, and ruined any chance each other had at happiness.

We went our separate ways after college. I never thought I’d have to deal with that asshole again.

But I’m out of a job, so when the opportunity to compete for one of the highest profile PR jobs presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Even if it means I’ll have to compete with Carter for the job. I’ll be more than happy to crush him on the way to my dream job. I’m willing to do anything, savage things, to ensure I win.

There’s just one problem. I forgot how much my body betrays me every time I see Carter. Because despite all the horrible things he’s done, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to do naughty, unthinkable things with him. Will my savage heart be enough to resist his charms?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 26th, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of Ella Miles and her darker contemporary works. So I was really excited to see what she would do in a more contemporary, slightly lighter romance.

I’m a huge fan of the hate to love you trope and when it’s linked to the “in love with brother’s BFF” one? And you add in some pranks? I’m so there!

The Concept:

It definitely lives up to the “Savage” title with some of the ways these two try to out smart each other!

These two go to the extremes in their efforts to out match each other. Being a seasoned Ella Miles reader, I know that she will take things to that next level and that’s the case here. It makes the read entertaining though and keeps you hooked because you have to know what will happen between them.

The Plot:

I loved the back and forth nature of this story–it’s one of my favourite aspects of the hate to love you story. The characters would have these moments where they want to rip each other apart and then they want to rip each other’s clothes off. I love that type of drama and this book had it in spades.

My only complaint was with some of the dramatic elements that came as a result of the job they were competing for. They both are PR “fixers” but their solution to the situations just didn’t seem plausible to me. Plus, it resulted in some drama that I wasn’t a fan of.

The Characters:

I really liked these leads. I loved how driven Victoria was. How she wouldn’t stay down for long because she’d come back fighting.

It helped getting Carter’s POV as well because you start to understand his rational for his actions and thoughts. I’m not sure if I would have liked him as much if his POV was omitted because I really appreciated that insight into his mind. I did think he changed his tune a little too quickly but I enjoyed watching him trying to make things right.

The Romance:

For me, it was so easy to see why these two have been at ends with each other for years: they are too similar and so stubborn that they clash whenever they meet. I always love watching leads who are so perfect for each other fight the obvious and this was no exception. Their romance was definitely a highlight of the story and met my every expectation.

My only complaint was with some of the dramatic elements that came as a result of the job they were competing for. They both are PR “fixers” but their solution to the situations just didn’t seem plausible to me. Plus, it resulted in some drama that I wasn’t a fan of.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you love dramatic “hate-to-love-you” stories with plenty of steam, pick this up now!

Read if You Like: hate to love you, rivals, second chances
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes, dislike lots of drama

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Spin-off Saturdays: Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach by Abbi Glines

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:

Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach Series is a spin-off of the Sea Breeze Series and the Rosemary Beach Series

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series:

This is a spinoff of the the Sea Breeze Series and the Rosemary Beach Series.

Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 2 (Like a Memory, Because of Lila)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original Sea Breeze and/or Rosemary Beach series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, I’ve been waiting for this series since I finished the last book in the Sea Breeze Series nearly 3 years ago, before the Rosemary Beach Series was completed. You see, we got this little epilogue that features the leads of Like a Memory and I knew from those few pages that another epic series was on the way.

I didn’t expect this series to be released in 2017 but I couldn’t wait to dive in. Watching the offspring of all the couples I’ve fallen in love with over the years get their own chance at HEA? Not everyone gets that chance with their favourite series.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It’s like the perfect hybrid between the Sea Breeze and Rosemary Beach Series. You’ve got the slower, sweet nature of the Sea Breeze stories but it has that dash of over the top drama Rosemary Beach is known for.

And everything is so intricate! These character’s all intersect each other in interesting ways and it just gets you invested in finding out what happens next.

Not to mention, entirely addicting reads: just like their predecessors.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

In particular with Like a Memory the one dramatic twist I could have done without. I feel like it just took things a little too far and it actually caused me to rate the book lower than I would have up until that point.

I also felt like these stories did a lot more telling than showing when it comes to the romance. I wanted to see why these couples wanted to be together and not just be told that they had these deeper feelings.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Damn, I hope everyone gets a story 😛 I’m always entertained by anything Abbi Glines reads so I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Like a Memory 3.5/5 | Because of Lila 3.5/5

overall

Fans of (either) original series will love the next generation. But for those entirely new to Glines’ work will surely become invested in seeing the origins of this series.

Read if You Like: drama, contemporary, romance
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera-esque drama
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Like a Memory (from Goodreads):

One memory.
One special summer.
The one thing Bliss had lost herself in when the fear and sickness were too much, moments never to be damaged by the harsh reality that followed… until now.

Bliss York didn’t live a normal teenage life. She didn’t go to Friday night football games, walk the halls with her friends every day, go to her prom or even walk to receive her diploma. It had all been taken from her the fall that she was fifteen years old and she was given the diagnosis no one ever wants to hear.

She had leukemia.

Seven years after spending a summer with a girl who he knew would always be his first love and the one who got away, Nate Finlay returns to Sea Breeze to help his fiancé open her new boutique clothing store. When the new employee walks in Nate is taken back seven years to the girl he thought he’d love forever. The one who never answered his calls or returned his text. The one who shut him out completely with not even a goodbye and broke his heart.

They’ve each become someone different. No longer the young teens with stars in their eyes. But does that matter when your heart still says that’s the one.

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Single Sundays: Mr Darcy’s Kiss by Krista Lakes

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 Mr Darcy’s Kiss (from Goodreads):

Rich.
British.
Hot as hell.

Elizabeth Bennett has never appreciated any of these traits in a man. So when Mr. Darcy, billionaire British playboy and GQ’s Bachelor of the Year, meets her at a function, she’s surprised at how attracted she is to him.

That is until he puts his foot in his big, arrogant mouth.

The slap that she gave him got her thrown out of the biggest fundraiser of the year, but the mark she left on Mr. Darcy won’t leave his mind.

The second time that they meet “on accident”, he turns up the arrogance even more.

The third time, he tries flowers.

By the fourth time, he’s wearing a cup to protect himself.

Mr. Darcy is the last man in the world that Elizabeth could ever be with. However, love makes fools of us all, and the one man that she can’t stand is the one man she can’t resist.

Can Mr. Darcy’s kiss win over the heart of Elizabeth Bennett?

Join New York Times bestselling author Krista Lakes in this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s beloved “Pride and Prejudice”

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Author: Krista Lakes
Genre: Adult, Retelling, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Source & Format: Hidden Gem ARCs–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for anything remotely related to Pride and Prejudice. Retellings, adaptions, inspired by, if it lists Pride and Prejudice somewhere in the synopsis, you bet I’m reading it!

I’ve read one other Krista Lakes novel and enjoyed it well enough. The love at first sight bothered me a touch but I enjoyed her writing style so I was eager to see how she would tackle this!

The Concept:

Mr. Darcy’s Kiss is the first modern full-blown retelling I’ve read (I read a lot more that are “inspired” by). It follows the original work pretty spot on in terms of events and notable scenes. There are some great modern twists along the way–ones that I thought were pretty creative and very reflective of how society works today compared to Austen’s time. Basically everything you love (and perhaps hate) about Austen’s original masterpiece is here in one way or another.

I think it goes to show the timeless nature of Austen’s work that it can be transformed nearly 200 years later and still provide fantastic entertainment.

The Plot:

Even knowing the plot and the direction the story was going, I still found myself captivated to see what would happen next. Krista Lakes does a good job of spinning the story to work as a modern retelling.

The Characters:

All the characters have the charm and charisma you expect and love (or possibly hate depending who the character is). It was just great to get lost in their lives and all the shenanigans that ensue!

The Romance:

I swooned the entire time I was reading this. When Charles and Jane first meet? Swoon! When Darcy can’t keep his eyes off of Elizabeth? Swoon. This book just made me happy the entire time I was reading it.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

It takes a lot of guts to retell one of the most classic and admired love stories and I think Krista Lakes succeeded in bringing a modern Elizabeth and Darcy to life for readers to once again enjoy!

Read if You Like: Pride and Prejudice, Modern Retellings
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike retellings

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Novella Serial Review: Pulse by Deborah Bladon

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 Pulse (from Goodreads):

Jessica Roth dumped her boyfriend, moved to New York and wanted desperately to start her new life off with a bang – a literal mind-blowing, soul-shaking night of pure, raw, memory making sex.

She thought her one time chance encounter with attorney, Nathan Moore, in a hotel room would become a jumping point for her exciting, single and adventurous life in the city.

One night turned into two, into four, and into more – always at the same place, always at the same time – no last names, no personal details, and absolutely no complications.

What Jessica doesn’t count on is that in Nathan’s world boundaries are made to be pushed.

He wanted her in ways he promised he never would. She wanted him in ways she couldn’t admit.

When their lives ultimately collide outside the walls of the hotel room, Jessica is forced to face the truth about the only man who has ever made her pulse race and her body ache with unadulterated pleasure.

breakdown

Series: Pulse

Part of a larger universe. Full reading order found here.

Author: Deborah Bladon
# of Parts: 4

There is a companion novella (#4.5) called Impulse

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May – September 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I tend to enjoy stories where the leads expectantly fall in love. I just love watching those feelings develop and seeing the sexual tension burning between them. And I’m always on the lookout for solid romance serials so this seemed like a no brainer for me.

The Plot:

What I really enjoyed about this serial is that it kept me guessing in terms of the dramatics. While I knew that there were going to be twists, I rarely guessed them right which is such a treat for me as a reader.

I also liked that it had a good balance between the sexy times, the character development and the plot. These are slightly longer novellas (~80 pages in each) so you do get that extra time to develop everything as opposed to the ~20 page novellas out there. And while there are plenty of sex scenes, I didn’t feel like I was only reading those.

The Characters:

I had a bit of an up and down with these two.

First, Jessica was a good heroine though near the end she started to run a little hot and cold. It was hard to keep track of her actions and thoughts because she seemed to be all over the place. Which made sense given some of the plot developments but sometimes it just seemed unnecessary.

As for Nathan, I really liked him in the first part. He had this great mysterious vibe to him that was alluring as a reader. But then he turned borderline abusive to me. He was suddenly very controlling and demanding–more so than the “typical” alpha male you see in erotica. I didn’t like how Jessica conformed to that either. In part 3, he seems to shy away from that attitude so it made it easier for me to read but it did diminish my like of him.

The Romance:

These two have a great chemistry that is there from the start. And despite the fact that things move fast, I really did like the emotional connection these two had. It isn’t totally apparent at the start but with the series as a whole, you could see why these two are a great match.

Details on Impulse (#4.5):

Impulse is a “companion sequel” to the Pulse series, told from Nathan’s POV. It’s about the total length of all 4 parts together and definitely a solid story.

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

I thoroughly enjoyed this serialized romance. It has passion, great drama and is definitely addicting!

Read if You Like: serialized romances, quick reads, good twists
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, quick romances
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Series Review: Grad Night by Molly E Lee

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Love in the Friend Zone (from Goodreads):

The only thing worse than not being able to tell your best friend you’re head over heels in love with him? Having to smile and nod when he enlists your help to ensnare the girl of his dreams.

Braylen didn’t even want to go to Lennon Pryor’s epic graduation-night party, but when Fynn begs her to be his “wingwoman,” she can’t deny him. Talking up her BFF—how he’s magic behind a camera, with a killer sense of humor and eyelashes that frame the most gorgeous blue eyes in the history of forever—is easy. Supporting his efforts to woo someone so completely wrong for him? Not so much.

Fynn knows that grad night is his last shot before leaving for college to find true love. And thanks to Bray, he gets his chance with the beautiful Katy Evans. But over the course of the coolest party of their high school careers, he starts to see that perhaps what he really wants has been in front of him all along. Bray’s been his best friend since kindergarten, though, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend than not at all.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two best friends whose sexual chemistry is off the charts…if only they’d succumb to it

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Couple (Love Between Enemies)
Series: Grad Night
Author: Molly E Lee
# of Books: 3 (Love in the Friend Zone, Love Between Enemies, Love Beyond Opposites)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2017 – May 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Love in the Friend Zone); Netgalley (#2 & #3)

Copies of Love Between Enemies & Love Beyond Opposites only

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was actually alerted to a sale for Love in the Friend Zone and that’s how I discovered this series. I also read the synopsis for Love Between Enemies and just had to learn more. These books sounded like a lot of fun and heartwarming, so it seemed like a no-brainer to try them out.

The Concept:

The idea is that each book follows a different couple on the night of their high school graduation. With college looming on the horizon, each character has their own set of “goals” they want to accomplish before the summer starts and college begins and they all see this final high school party as the opportune time to get things done.

So essentially, you have 3 stories running simultaneously in the setting (hence the “companion” label I give this series). You get little inklings of the other stories while you read a single novel but not enough to completely ruin the surprise of what is happening with the other couples. It entices you to want more while also bringing back some nostalgia of the other stories. It’s a very cool atmosphere to have in a series.

The Plot:

Considering these books all take place within a 24 hour span or so, nothing ever felt rushed to me. Every scene has a purpose in driving the narrative forward so I really enjoyed the lack of petty drama. It focuses on the characters and establishing that hidden to them (but obvious to everyone else) connection that will steal your heart.

This book was a lot of fun too. All the silly stuff that happens at the party definitely gave me a few chuckles as I read.

The Characters:

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Fynn and Braylen (Love in the Friend Zone). I feel like we get thrown into their story since they are the first couple we meet and as such, we don’t get those little moments throughout the story like the other couples do. But I have to say, as the story progressed, I really grew to enjoy them as characters.

It was a different situation in Love Between Enemies. I felt like that novel gave us a little more background about the rivals and helped set the stage for their motives. I had a much better grasp on them as characters before the party even started and I think that helped my enjoyment of the story overall.

The Romance:

These are all such sweet romances! They are exactly what I love to see in my romantic reads: great partnerships. All the couples have this great understanding of each other. They get each other’s quirks and they love them more for it. I just adored watching all of them fall in love and showing that vulnerable side to the other.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, I am so excited for Lennon’s story! After getting little hints in the previous two books I am dying to find out what happens to him on graduation night.

updates

–May 6, 2018– Book #3: Love Beyond Opposites

These two were completely adorable–I seriously had butterflies in my stomach the entire time I was reading this. Lennon is so in love with Jade that he had me wrapped around his finger by the end of the prologue. Reading his inner monologue about why he thought the world of her had me on the floor in a puddle. It was the cutest thing; especially when there were little slips about his true feelings to Jade.

Jade is equally charming in this story as well. It was great watching her build up her confidence–not just with her feelings towards Lennon but with respect to her own talents and personality.

With this series, Molly E Lee has been able to put into words the adorably awkward feelings of first love–and this book is the best example of it by far. These two are so perfect for each other and watching them discover that put a smile on my face from start to end–with a few swoons along the way.

Series Rating: 4/5

Love in the Friend Zone 3.5/5 | Love Between Enemies 5/5 | Love Beyond Opposites 5/5

overall

This series has some of my favourite tropes and executes them perfectly! The whole concept of three romances that come to life at the last party of their high school lives is a fun premise that will have you wanting more!

Read if You Like: high school romances, companion novels
Avoid if You: want steamier scenes

similarreads

  • Just Friends by Monica Murphy (Friends Series #1)
  • Lace Up by Shae Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)
  • Bully by Penelope Douglas (Fall Away Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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 Pretty Dead Girls (from Goodreads):
Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.

In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.

The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she’s next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she’s never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.

There’s something he isn’t telling her. But there’s something she’s not telling him, either.

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, High School, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Teen!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Monica Murphy fan. She has a knack for writing addicting drama in her stories and swoon worthy romances. So I was very excited to see what she could do with a YA suspense novel.

The Concept:

For me, this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I wanted a killer to be stalking in the shadows and dirty secrets being revealed throughout. Instead, we get a story about Penelope and the inconvenience these killings are having on her social and dating life. It wasn’t very suspenseful or exciting to me. In fact, I almost didn’t finish it.

The Plot:

The plot of this story reminded me a lot of Pretty Little Liars in the sense that the focus is on the drama of Penelope’s life with the murders taking a backseat and you only get those little tidbits of suspense throughout. I also imagine it is what Scream Queens is like (though I’ve never watched it). Very little time is dedicated to solving the murders until the very end, with most of the focus being on the everyday dramatic lives of these high schoolers. Which I could do because Monica Murphy is the queen of high school drama and angst for me. Only, the drama wasn’t as juicy as I wanted it to be. I found it all to be rather boring unfortunately.

I will say that the mystery did have me fooled. I had a few theories (based on the little scraps we get throughout the novel) and I was proven wrong in the end so this story wasn’t entirely predictable. That’s a bonus!

The Characters:

Penelope’s priorities are not what mine would be if the girls in my social circle were showing up dead. I’m not saying I would be full-out Sherlock Holmes but I would say that figuring out if Cass likes me and maintaining control over the social group wouldn’t be my biggest concerns. It makes her seem petty and that stopped me from being a fan of hers. I wouldn’t mind her pettiness so much if she had some solid character growth from the whole ordeal but she really doesn’t and so she comes across as a drab character.

The Romance:

As for the romance, it didn’t have me totally swooning either. I didn’t get the chemistry between these two at all and I didn’t like how it made Penelope act at times.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I think if I went into this book knowing it would be more about the drama of Penelope’s life as murders are taking place around her, I would have enjoyed this more. But the fact of the matter is, I didn’t enjoy these characters and I didn’t find it overly suspenseful either and so I ended up disappointed.

Read if You Like: high school drama, Pretty Little Liars, Scream Queens
Avoid if You: want a true thriller/suspense novel, dislike high school stories

similarreads

  • The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard (The Perfectionists Series #1)
  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars Series #1)
  • Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

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Series Review: Freedom by Bella d’Amour

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

Freedom Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free to Play (from Goodreads):

He’s a player and she’s ready to play… but what happens when the fun gets serious?

“Brent, will you be my first?”

Joey is mortified to face Brent the next morning after letting the question slip in a weak moment. She’s shocked when Brent not only agrees but proposes a friends with benefits arrangement. How can she accept when it threatens what’s most important to her: her friendship with his sister, her new job with his football team, her self-respect when an ex-girlfriend is suddenly back in the picture – and her heart?

After years of working hard to fulfill his responsibilities, Brent is finally enjoying his life – with women who want nothing more than a good time. But when Joey asks him to be her first lover, he can’t resist finally getting his hands on her luscious body, one he’d been lusting after for years. Only problem is, once isn’t enough. He’s not ready to give up his hard-earned freedom nor is he ready for a woman to invade his life – or his heart. When demons from his past come back to haunt him, will he let them ruin what he’s found with Joey?

breakdown

Series: Freedom Series
Author: Bella d’Amour
# of Books: 2 (Free to Play, Free to Live)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 27, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Bella d’Amour!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the “in love with BFF’s brother trope”. I just love all the delicious tension it brings when two people inevitabley fall for each other (if they aren’t secretly in love with the other person already). I wasn’t sure what the case was going to be here, but I was excited to dive into Free to Play.

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

These two had great chemistry from the start! Their attraction to each other is palpable and I loved every moment shared between them. They make such a great pair and part of the reason is that:

–They Actually Talked to Each Other!–

Don’t worry, there are plenty of steamy moments between the two of them. However, they had these great moments of conversation where they discussed their hopes and fears among other topics. I like seeing that emotional connection be established in my romances and this one succeeds beautifully.

–Building Joey’s Self-Esteem–

I love stories where the heroine learns to be confident in herself. Sometimes that’s hard to do in a romance because all too often, the heroine only become more independent by becoming dependent on the hero/their relationship. (I know that’s confusing but I hope you get what I am saying). And while Brent does help Joey build her self-esteem when it comes to her body image, I would say he is a vehicle for her start to see herself in a different light, not the sole reason. He helps her to see herself outside the stereotypes she’s boxed herself into and once that seed is planted, she learns to grow on her own. I loved that.

This isn’t to say that Brent doesn’t have great character development. He too goes on a journey where he grows up and figures out what is truly important in his life and I liked that a lot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Tad Too Dramatic Near the End–

I get why certain things happened at the end. They help enhance the lessons of the novel and that’s great. But this novel felt so grounded for so long that I didn’t entirely enjoy all the (slightly) over the top drama that occurs. Again, I know why everything happens as it does, I just wish it didn’t.

However, we have more than enough time to wrap everything up nicely so win!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for the sequel! I loved Brent’s family and I hope they become the focus of the sequel novels. I already have a hypothesis of who the next book involves so I can’t wait to see if I’m right!

updates

–April 15, 2018– Book #2: Free to Live

I had my suspicions about who the leads for book 2 would be and I was not disappointed!

Despite the quick initial spark with these two shared, I loved the slow burn of this romance. It gave the romance an edge of anticipation knowing that they had crossed the line but were holding back despite their every need not to. I loved watching these two get to know each other and breakdown those barriers that they had erected in the past to stop the pain of falling in love only to be hurt later.

In this story, I think it’s our hero who gets more time to shine but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He definitely had the more convoluted history and I enjoyed the mystery of uncovering that past so he could move forward. I would have liked to have seen a little more from the heroine in terms of development, but I think she was a great compliment to our hero’s story.

We get just a taste of what the future might hold in terms of possible sequels and I know that I’m definitely sticking around to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4/5

Free to Play 4/5 | Free to Live 4/5

overall

If you love character-strong romances, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: sport romances, heroines building self-esteem
Avoid if You: dislike steamier reads, dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

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

Dance Off Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Take the Lead, Dance With Me)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press – Swerve!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

updates

–November 20, 2017– Book #2: Dance With Me

Once again, the character development here is great! I often find in romances that one of the characters is “stronger” (or more put together) than the other when it comes to their lives but in this novel, I liked that they each had their flaws and things to work on. I loved watching both of our leads grow as people and push each other to better things. They make great partners in all aspects which is what I loved watching in this book.

They also make a great romantic pair because they have fantastic chemistry. Sure, the somewhat forbidden element of their relationship adds to the tension but they are both super passionate people and it shows.

The main reason this rating isn’t a 5/5 is that I wanted a little more showing than telling with the romance. It’s always hard to write a romance where the characters have already fallen in love with each other without the readers seeing that because we love watching the initial sparks fly (or at least I do). These two have had a relationship for a long time (one that isn’t really touched on in the previous book either other than its brief mention) and those feelings for each other are already established. As I said above, these two have great chemistry and it shows but often times I felt like I was reading the sequel novel to their story without reading the first because I wanted more of those sparks.

However, I still really enjoyed this book! The character development is truly the highlight of this novel (it’s hard to find a solid character driven romance instead of just a focus on sexy times) and Alexis Daria has succeeded once again!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me 4/5

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
similarreads

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