Tag «fav 2015»

Single Sundays: Kiss a Stranger by R J Lewis

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 Kiss a Stranger (from Goodreads):
I loved him.
I loathed him.

I knew he had secrets.
I knew he had darkness in him.

And yet I took all of him. Accepted all his ugly the way he embraced all of mine.

But sometimes loving someone isn’t enough. Sometimes it breaks you apart and moulds you into somebody else entirely.

And sometimes the person you loved the most can be the one to hurt you worst of all.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav New Adult Standalone 2015
Author: R J Lewis
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book when I was browsing the bestsellers on Kindle one day and the price was totally right (I paid $1 I think). I liked the mystery behind the synopsis–it sounded like a good dark New Adult story with some good twists. I don’t read a lot of NA suspense but this one seemed like it had some promise.

The Plot:

The plot of this book really surprised me! I didn’t really know it was going to be a suspense novel until I actually started to read it. I liked that it was part mystery (what happened to Claire?; who really is Ben?) and part suspense plot line (what is Claire going to do about what she has learned?). I was really surprised with the suspense direction and that is what hooked me into this book. I really had no idea how it was going to end and that really motivated me to keep reading.

There was also a great balance with the romance and the character development as well.

The Characters:

I did not like Claire in the first chapter, but that’s the point. This story is about her growth as a person and she does have some great character development as you read. I started to sympathize with her situation and definitely understood why she makes the choices she makes.

Ben was perhaps a little too alpha male for my personal tastes BUT, I did enjoy his enigma of a character. He was mysterious enough to keep you reading but not so mysterious that I felt like he was underdeveloped. It really worked well I think.

The Romance:

I’m slightly torn about the romance and how its presented. On a personal note, I wanted to see more of a connection between these two. But at the same time, the story is “Kiss a Stranger” and so I understand that things are going to happen fast and be a little superficial.  I think it really worked for the suspense of the plot to have the romance as it was. And so, in the end, I suppose I really didn’t mind how it came about even if I wanted a little more between these two.

My Rating: 4.5/5

This is definitely an inflated rating. It’s definitely a solid 4 but I really liked how the plot progressed and so it gets bonus points!

overall

This book kept me guessing and really surprised me with its delivery. If you want to try a darker New Adult or try a NA suspense novel for the first time, this is a great introductory book to start with!

Read if You Like: suspenseful stories, character growth
Avoid if You: don’t like fast romances, darker stories

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Series Review: Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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 Cinder (from Goodreads):
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series 2015
Series: Lunar Chronicles
Author: Marissa Meyer
# of Books: 4 (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter)

There is a novella between Cress and Winter called Fairest; there are also short stories (full list here)

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: January 2012 – November 2015
Source & Format: Own–Kobo (CinderScarlet & Winter) Public Library–hardcover (Cress

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve wanted to read Cinder since its publication but trying to get my hands on it was a hard thing to do. I guess everyone loves a good science fiction fairy tale retelling. It seemed like the best of both worlds. Eventually, Cinder and Scarlet went on sale for my Kobo but I didn’t want to start something and wait. So this past Christmas Break, I decided to tackle the Lunar Chronicles.

Yah, that was the best decision EVER!

The Concept / The World:

I love that this series isn’t a a full blown retelling of various fairy tales; that it has a loose adaptation and a unique one at that. It reminds me a lot of the TV Series Once Upon a Time where they integrate everything together in a way that always surprises and intrigues me. The science fiction spin on everything is great. It’s not overly complicated but it is complex and I like that a lot. It was so much fun to read!

I also like that we get introduced to new female characters in each book who each get their own story while continuing with Cinder’s. It provides a fresh perspective and also prevents Cinder’s story from being dragged out by forcing so many books. Not that her story couldn’t be that many books, I just like how it all adds to the experience.

The Plot:

I felt like each book built up and reached a climax within it’s own pages.

I think Cinder stands on its own when you compare it to the rest of the series. It serves as the main introduction to the overarching storyline of Scarlet through Winter. But even on its own, it captured my attention from start to finish. It’s a smart yet fun YA story.

Like all the books, I thought there was a great blend of romance, plot and character development. It keeps everything moving at a strong pace and I never felt like there was a dull moment. Even in Winter which was ridiculously long!

If you are worried that there is going to be too much Science Fiction or that it is the main focus of the plot, I wouldn’t worry. The SciFi in this book is used as a great device but I wouldn’t say it is straight Science Fiction or is overly complicated. Everything has been explained in a great (and might I say accurate) way that is easy to follow. It compliments the story in a great way.

I also want to say that I was never able to predict exactly what was going to happen. Meyer definitely takes some risks in where she pushes her characters to go and I appreciated that realistic edge. These are Disney fairy tales where everything is happy-go-lucky (not that I don’t love those tales as well) but I found it refreshing that there was a darker tint and the stories didn’t follow the fairy tales exactly. I would say that these stories are more inspired by fairy tales than they are straight retellings.

The Characters:

I loved all the characters in this series. Of course, I have a few standouts (Thorne is one for sure!) but it was so easy to fall in love with this cast of characters.

Cinder won me over right from the get-go. I loved her wit and some of the comments she would say had me chuckling aloud. Scarlet was strong and stubborn yet had space to grow; Cress was probably a close second favourite because I loved her approach to life and how she handled herself; and Winter was sweet despite all her wounds. All in all, each heroine had her own personality and battle to face and I looked the unique aspect they all brought to the story.

I also liked that there was adequate character development of all the characters, even those who weren’t the leading ladies. The male “sicekicks” had great depth to them as well and I loved them just as much as the ladies did.

And I also have to say that I loved Levana

The Romance:

As soon as Kai and Cinder interacted for the first time, I was in love with them as a couple. They are definitely two of my favourite YA characters ever and I couldn’t help but root for them to get their happy ending.

I also liked all the other romantic pairings. I felt like each couple complimented each other very well and I could see why they would like each other. Well, not so much in Scarlet but I get what was happening there and why so I can over look it (and for the record, I thought that that particular relationship improved in the last two books).

Overall, solid romances that contributed to the stories but never took away from the main plot.

When to read Fairest?

What a dilemma this was! I had no idea when to read Fairest as it is a prequel story but was published between Cress and Winter. I went with Marissa Meyer’s suggestion on her blog to read them according to publication date–and I would say that the author knows best.

I felt like reading Fairest before Winter helps you understand why Levana does the things she does and gives you the history of Luna. You might gain a little sympathy for her but I wouldn’t worry about that too much. I think it benefited me to get the full history before I read Winter than had I read it after. Regardless, I definitely wouldn’t read it before Cinder, it would just cause a disconnect between the stories I think.

Should You Read the Short Stories? When?

I waited to read all the short stories until Stars Above, the short story collection, came out. It’s a great collection and it was nice to reunite with all these characters. I think the exclusive end epilogue story to Winter (called Something Old, Something New) makes it worth it on its own but I did enjoy all the other stories as well. They are put in chronological order as per the Lunar Chronicles time line though most a prequel stories. Again, I would refer to Marissa’s suggestion of reading order if you want to intersperse the short stories with the larger novels, but for fans who have already read the main novels, it’s a great treat to be reunite with everyone and learn a little more about your fave characters.

Series Rating: 5/5

Cinder 5/5 | Scarlet 5/5 | Cress 5/5 | [Fairest] 5/5 | Winter 5/5

overall

It’s been a LONG TIME since I’ve enjoyed a story as much as this series! I don’t even know that last time I gave a series all 5 star reviews! This series was just a great blend of everything I adore about the YA genre from start to finish. Definitely a new faovurite and one I would consider reading again years from now.

Read if You Like: Science Fiction, Fairy Tale Retellings, long story arcs
Avoid if You: want a straight romance retelling, dislike ongoing story arcs

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Series Review: Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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

Illuminae Files Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Illuminae (from Goodreads):

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav YA 2015
Series: Illuminae Files
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
# of Books: 3 (Illuminae, Gemina, Obsidio)
Book Order: Chronological Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Emails, Files, Chats, Reports
Publication Date: October 2015 – March 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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:

This book was everywhere before it came out! Those who had ARCs loved it and so my interest was peaked. I’ve been looking for a great Science Fiction YA Thriller since I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis and Illuminae seemed right up that alley.

What I Liked:

–Format–

Originally, I tried to get the eBook of this from my library but they kept delaying the release date for it. I didn’t really understand why until I picked up the hardcover in person. When I first heard of the book, I totally missed the paragraph that told you this book was told through “hacked documents” etc. So when I opened it up and saw how everything was formatted, I simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief (because the size of the book scared me a little) and grinned in excitement!

You would think a story told like this would suffer from underdeveloped world building and the like but it’s the exact opposite! Because you can include pictures and reports about everything in the world, it really makes it easy for the reader to see and understand what is happening. It also makes reading go a lot faster since the pages aren’t loaded with text.

–The Plot–

I loved that there were so many elements at play! From the romance (which was there in just the right amount) to the plague to the actual escape: it was just plain fun and addicting to read! I really wanted to get to the bottom of everything and there were great twists along the way.

–The Humour–

I just have to say that there were quite a few times I laughed out loud during this.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing?–

Nothing immediately comes to mind when I think about what I didn’t like. I didn’t like how heavy the hardcover novel was to hold when I was reading in bed but that can’t be helped. I will admit though that it took me a little while to warm up to Kady but I was a total fan of hers by the end!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think it is really interesting that the next book will feature completely different characters. While I love Kady and Ezra’s story (and really grew to like them as characters), I definitely want to see what else is happening in this world at the same time!

updates

–November 24, 2016– Book #2: Gemina

Illuminae was going to be a tough act to follow–but Gemina is more than a worthy successor!

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Hanna’s character. Like Kady, I had to learn more about her character and see how she handles herself before I could call myself a fan. I think it’s hard to get to know these characters sometimes because the narration is just documents and chats. You don’t get the inner emotions you would if it were a first person narration; more outside looking in. But despite that, these are really well developed characters, it just takes a bit of time to establish it all.

I loved the action-suspense vibe we got in this book! Illuminae has some high-risk situations but this one really seemed more life-and-death to me and that made it a lot more thrilling to read. Add to it the great plot twists along the way and you have yourself a pretty addicting book!

–April 12, 2018– Book #3: Obsidio

I’m so torn over my rating for this book! I think my love of the concept (and format) for this series often clouds my rating because it truly isn’t like any other book I’ve read before.

However, I had the hardest time becoming invested in this story. At the 30%, I found that the plot finally started to build. But it wasn’t until I reached the 50% mark that I started enjoying this novel. Parts were a touch predictable but I still enjoyed watching how everything unfolded as the end neared.

I thought Asha and Rhys would be a bigger focus of this novel–and they weren’t. This book is all about bringing everything together so it was nice to see our past leads take part in the events of this book. But at the same time, I think this stifled Asha and Rhys a bit as characters and left them a little underdeveloped.

So while I think this book is a great finale, I wasn’t as “wowed” with it as I was with the first novel.

My Audiobook Experience:

I was only able to briefly listen to the audio version of Illuminae but it was a huge treat. It has a full cast of narrators and they do a great job of bringing this story to life. It’s a completely different experience listening to the audio and something I definitely recommend to audiobook lovers (or those wanting to give audiobooks a try!).

My Rating: 4/5

Illuminae 5/5 | Gemina 4.5/5 | Obsidio 3.5/5

overall

One of the coolest reads ever in terms of its formating! If you want to try Science Fiction but are scared to jump into the complicated worlds, this is a great introduction!

Read if You Like: unique POVs, world-building, Science Ficiton
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

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 November 9 (from Goodreads):
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Most Read Author 2015, Favourite Author, Fav Standalone 2015
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that Colleen Hoover is one of my new favourite authors. I devoured her books within a month of discovering her works in the spring of 2015 and had to wait until NOVEMBER to read this one! Slightly torturous but was it worth it?

The Concept:

When I first read this premise, I thought, “Isn’t this what that Anne Hathaway movie based on a book is about?” I will admit I don’t know the first thing about the book One Day or its movie other than that it follows two people on the same day of the year for so many years and people didn’t like Anne Hathaway’s accent. Ironically, this book also alludes to the fact that these stories are similar with the characters. But based on the way they go about it, both sound like they have their unique execution.

The Plot:

It’s an interesting premise for sure and for the most part it worked. I have some mixed feelings on it because I don’t really like insta-love stories and this one sorta starts like that. However, given the synopsis of the novel I expected that and so I knew what mindset to go into the novel with: caution.

The first few “chapters” were slow to me but  when I picked it up the next day, I finished the rest of the book in one sitting. There was just something about this story and the characters that sucked me in. I got so invested in figuring out their pasts and what happened in the other 364 days a year we didn’t see them that I just couldn’t put the book down. Everything just builds and then falls apart in the most fantastic way that it really becomes addicting to read.

The Characters:

I loved both Ben and Fallon for very different reasons. When it comes to Ben, I just loved how he empowered Fallon to see herself in a new light. He didn’t give her false praise or make her stronger because she was with him; he let her do that on her own by giving her a nudge in the right direction. He doesn’t force Fallon to be dependent on him and that was really important for me. He was also really funny and charming and he won me over in a matter of seconds.

As for Fallon, I loved watching her grow into the person she was always meant to be. I will admit, I didn’t love her scorned attitude when we first meet her but I definitely understood where it was coming from and so I didn’t mind too much. But once she starts living her life and not hiding, I really enjoyed watching her character develop. I might not agreed with all her decisions but I felt like I knew her character well enough to see why she did what she did. Plus, I found her to be funny, agreed with her views on books and loved her banter with Ben.

The Romance:

I was worried when I first started because this book just SCREAMED insta-love! Yet, I quickly found myself on board with it in a matter of a few pages.

Despite their brief meetings, I really understood why these two would work if they actually had met and dated in a real world situation. They brought out the best in each other and I loved the idea that their love helped them develop into the individual people they needed to be. It was refreshing to read about a couple who could love each other for who they are and not who they want them to be. Plus, I loved that it didn’t focus on all the “sexy” times it you know what I mean 😉 It sticks to the relationship and I will be the first to admit I definitely shed a tear or two over their story.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you’re a fan of Colleen Hoover, this one will not disappoint! But if you aren’t or are new to her work, I’m not sure if this one is the one to win you over. It’s definitely good but if you can’t get over the “insta-love” premise, it would be a hard one to get over.

Read if You Like: New Adult coming of age, flawed characters growing up
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love, dislike New Adult

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  • One Day by David Nicholls
  • Kiss a Stranger by R S Lewis
  • Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

 

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Series Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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

Passenger Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Passenger (from Goodreads):

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2015
Series: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
# of Books: 2 (Passenger, Wayfarer)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Time-travel, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2016 – 2017
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook | Thank you SO MUCH Disney Hyperion for granting my wish!

disclaimernetgalley

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:

When I was browsing NetGalley one day, they were taking wishes for Passenger and I just had to take a chance. Not only is the cover beautiful, but the premise itself sounded right up my alley. I love time travel books and I’m a sucker for a sailor like Nicholas so needless to say, I was intrigued. I hoped it would be more of A Thousand Pieces of You (although that one deals with alternate dimensions) type of book instead of the dud that was Timeless by Alexandra Monir.

What I Liked:

–The Time Travelling Premise–

Time travelling can be very confusing; especially when there is a chance you can come across past selves and the like. I will admit I was more than a little confused with the time travelling concept of the Ruby Red Trilogy but that wasn’t the case here with Passenger. I thought the world was pretty straight forward and everything was easy to follow. Even the loop-holes and roundabouts were easy to understand and I really liked that. It’s complex without being overly complicated. It made the story flow in a great way and made it addicting to read.

–The Adventure–

Normally, adventure novels bore me but time travel novels seem to be the exception. This one was fast paced and goes to a lot of interesting places and times. I always felt like the plot was moving forward and it never seemed dull to me. There were also some great twists along the way and you have the romance to fill in when necessary. This story simply builds up at a great pace and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Love Connection–

It’s weird that this is my dislike because I actually loved Nicholas and Etta together. They were an adorable pair and I loved how they treated each other–I’m a sucker for a forbidden romance after all.

BUT, I just didn’t like how it seemed to be so insta-connection on their part. They had hardly spoken and they were already swooning over each other. Which is fine, I get the physical attraction between them. I also get that in times of high stakes, emotions are amplified and so I could see how they could fall so fast for each other (and I did LOVE their romantic scenes together don’t get me wrong). I just wanted to see more of a tangible connection between them at the start and have that built upon.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited for the next part of the journey! I think some interesting twists are at play and I don’t even know where to start next!

updates

–August 18, 2017– Book #2: Wayfarer

**Copy Not Provided for Review**

It took me 3 attempts to finally get the time to read this book–it’s rather daunting in size! I was excited to see what was in store for Etta and company and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

I did find the first half to be a touch slower–there weren’t a lot of new developments happening and it was a lot of basic adventure. Some things felt more organic than others in terms of character development and that strained the story a touch for me. And while it was fun to jump from time to time, I needed just a touch more. However, the last half of this book captured my full attention. It was non-stop action and great character moments! I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a solid conclusion that wraps everything up very nicely.

concSLOW

My Rating: 5/5

Passenger 5/5 | Wayfarer 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a great adventure novel or want to give a time travel novel a shot. I highly recommend this novel! It was fun, heartwarming and simply a fantastic read!

Read if You Like: world-building, time travel
Avoid if You: dislike time travel, dislike forbidden romance

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Year’s Reads in Review – Top Picks for 2015

This year has been…very interesting to say the least when it comes to my reading habits. Never before have I focused so much on WHAT and am reading and WHEN! That was all thanks to the various challenges and TBR tackling I did to push myself to read smarter this year. All in all, I think it was a pretty successful 12 months of reading! I read more books than I expected and definitely crossed off some long TBR shelved series and books from my Kobo (I’m looking at you Grisha Trilogy).

Check out which books I read this past year HERE!

Like I did last year, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top picks from the various categories that I read this past year. Most categories deal with books published only this past year (2015) but there are some noted exceptions. Click on the cover to read my review of the book/series; though a good chunk of these reads will have reviews published in 2016 so no link is available!

Without further ado:

(Books are in no particular order; click on cover for review if available)

Top New New Adult Series
Series that were first published in 2015

 

Top New Adult Series
A series that I started in 2015, not based on its publishing date

 

Top New Adult Standalones
Novels that I read in 2015, not necessarily their publication year

 

Top Adult Contemporary Series
A series that I started in 2015, not based on its publishing date

 

Top New Young Adult Series
Series that were first published in 2015

Honourable Mention: Passenger (Passenger isn’t released until 2016, thus I felt like it wasn’t right to put on this list directly despite how much I enjoyed it!)

 

Top Young Adult Series
A series that I started in 2015, not based on its publishing date

 

Top Young Adult Standalone
Series that were first published in 2015

 

 

Best Continuing Series
A series that had a sequel book published in 2015

Sad to See Go Series
Series that ended in 2015

 

Best of Colleen Hoover
My Standout Author of this Year! I decided to give her her own category!

 

Best Standalone: Adult Fiction or Nonfiction
Books that I read in 2015, not necessarily their publication year

   

 

Biggest Disappointments
Novels that were first published in 2015

 

Biggest Disappointments
Novels/Series that I read in 2015

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) 

 

Worst Reads
Novels that I read in 2015 that I gave 2 Stars to

 

Pleasant Surprises
Books I read in 2015 that I enjoyed more than I thought

 

Top Movie Adaptions
Books that were made into movies in 2015

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Top Ten Tuesday Lists
Specific to 2015

New to Me Authors of 2015

Authors I’ve Read the Most Of (As of Aug 2015)

Best Books I’ve Read So Far (Jan – Jun) In 2015

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What were your favourite reads of this past year?

Did you read more or less than you expected?

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Single Sundays: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

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 Forbidden (from Goodreads):
She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite 2015
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dark, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 27, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had heard about this book years ago but never picked it up. I was really hesitant to pick is up because of one word: incest. It’s a word that is reserved for taboo erotica novels (though those are mostly pseudo-incest where the people involved aren’t actually related but are “step-etc”) or ancient, royal blood lines who wanted to keep their bloodline “pure”. As a scientist, I’ve discussed the ramifications of breeding with close relatives (ie you don’t get “pure” blood lines as an outcome) but otherwise, it’s not a topic I really want to read or discuss at the end of the day.

However, many of my Goodreads friends/people I follow have given this book 5/5 so call me curious. When it comes to books, I feel like I am a much more open reader now than I was years ago. Since starting my blog my attitude is more of “I’ll try anything once” and so I decided to bite the bullet and put this one on hold at my library.

WOW. Am I ever glad that I did!

The Concept:

If you had asked me before I started this book whether or not I would have fallen in love with Lochan and Maya’s story I would have told you “NO”. Even going in with an open mind like I did, I still had my reservations. But it wasn’t long before those reservations were shattered to pieces.

I mean, positively-blown-out-of-this-galaxy, shattered.

The way Tabitha Suzuma has written this is absolutely heart-wrenching, beautiful and gripping–things I never thought possible given this “taboo” topic.  It’s done in such a classy, objective way that it doesn’t take you long to sympathize and root for Lochan and Maya. It focuses on the love between the two people and not just a physical desire (like I’m sure the freebie taboo erotica novels do). It’s probably the ultimate “forbidden romance” situation and I love how it explores that ideal within the book. It brings such a realistic edge to this story that easily wins its readers over.

The Plot:

I didn’t really expect the focus on Lochan and Maya’s homelife to be so emphasized at the start but I’m really glad it is. It really helps establish who they are as characters and why they find themselves in the situations they are in. It makes me see how this consensual relationship between siblings could happen–whether that is right or wrong is a moral dilemma that may never have an answer–but I suppose it helped me understand these characters in a way that allowed me to continue reading their story. It made me want to get to know them and see how they handle all the problems in their way.

The plot is a great balance between the romance and the coming of age aspect. It’s just beautifully crafted and if I wasn’t reading this at work, I would have shed tears.

The Characters:

I loved the depths to these characters. Lochan and Maya were such interesting characters all things aside and I loved watching them develop as individuals. The rest of their family were also intriguing and do a great job supporting the story and the leads. They are complicated people in a complicated situation and I loved the way it was all portrayed.

The Romance:

The romance was as equally cringe-worthy as it was romantic. Watching the love between these two made it so easy to forget they were blood related–and I often did until I forced myself to remember. I was rooting for them the entire way, hoping for some crazy twist where you find out that they aren’t really related at all and they can live happily ever after together. Because, at the end of the day, if you take away the fact that they are related, their romance is the type I love to see with my romantic leads in a contemporary romance: an emotional connection that pulls people together and is reaffirmed by physical chemistry. They are such a great pair together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book blew me away! I should have known that consistent 5 star reviews from all my Goodreads friends means a great book! But I think if you can’t get past the idea of incest, you won’t enjoy this book at all! You need to read this book with an open mind and explore the fiction of the story. It doesn’t mean you have to change your views on incest and everything associated with it; I just like that it explores a side of a relationship that people might not think about.

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, emotional gripping novels, dark contemporary
Avoid if You: don’t like taboo topics

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Series Review: Redemption by Lauren Layne

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 Broken (from Goodreads):
Lauren Layne’s New Adult novel tells the story of a girl with secrets, a guy with scars, and a love that could save them both… or destroy them.

When Olivia Middleton abandons the glamour of Park Avenue for a remote, coastal town in Maine, everyone assumes she’s being the kind do-gooder she’s always been. But Olivia has a secret: helping an injured war veteran reenter society isn’t about charity—it’s about penance. Only, Olivia’s client isn’t the grateful elderly man she’s expecting. Instead, he’s a brooding twenty-four-year-old who has no intention of being Olivia’s path to redemption . . . and whose smoldering gaze and forbidden touch might be her undoing.

Paul Langdon doesn’t need a mirror to show him he’s no longer the hotshot quarterback he was before the war. He knows he’s ugly—inside and out. He’ll do anything to stay in self-imposed exile, even accept his father’s ultimatum that Paul tolerate the newest caretaker for three months or lose his inheritance. But Paul doesn’t count on the beautiful twenty-two-year-old who makes him long for things that he can never have. And the more she slips past his defenses, the more keeping his distance is impossible.

Now Paul and Olivia have to decide: Will they help each other heal? Or are they forever broken?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav New Adult Series 2015, Fav Couple (Crushed)
Series: Redemption
Author: Lauren Layne
# of Books: 3 (Isn’t She Lovely, Broken, Crushed)

Technically, Isn’t She Lovely is listed as #0.5 and Broken is #1; but Isn’t She Lovely is a full length novel and preceeds the events of Broken.

Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2013 – April 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Own-eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t know how I stumbled upon Broken but I have a feeling I either used a coupon or found it randomly on sale for under $2. Regardless, I would have found this book somehow. It’s right up my alley: war veteran, a girl who needs to redeem herself and buckets of sexual tension with a “hate to love you” scenario. Yup, this is everything I love in New Adult–but does it deliver?

The Concept / Book Order:

Notice how I mention Broken first? I didn’t realize that Isn’t She Lovely was a full length prequel until I was halfway through Broken. I actually didn’t remember it existed until the moment I looked it up on GoodReads. It really isn’t necessary to read it first–but I do think it makes things easier to follow chronologically. On the other hand, the “sins” Olivia and Michael feel they need to be redeemed for are all revealed in Isn’t She Lovely so I think you lose that slight mystery aspect to their pasts by reading it first.

I read Isn’t She Lovely last and I think that I’m glad that I did just because I liked learning about Olivia and Michael’s characters in their own books. I really don’t think you can go wrong by reading Isn’t She Lovely before or after Broken either way but I do recommend reading Broken before Crushed.

The Plot:

Isn’t She Lovely has that 90s romantic comedy feel to it but one that is completely aware that it does and works it to its advantage. It was definitely more modern and there are a lot more heartfelt issues at play. It was fun but serious when it needed to be and was the perfect pick-me up for my reading slump. Simply New Adult at its finest!

Broken has a very Beauty and the Beast vibe to it. You have a man who doesn’t leave his house because of his own self-esteem issues and into his life comes a beautiful girl who changes everything. But unlike the sweet, goody-two-shoes Belle, we get Olivia who is jaded in her own way. It was great to watch these characters grow individual as well as together. I enjoyed the “love can heal” message behind this book. It’s definitely the darker and spicier read of the group.

Crushed has a completely different plot. It’s more of a fun when it comes to the drama. It’s the classic Ugly Ducking story meets the falling-for-the-guy-helping-you-fall-for-the-other-guy situation. Of course there is a lot more at play, but I was sucked into this story immediately and I think it is a great way to wrap up the series.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Ethan and Stephanie’s characters in Isn’t She Lovely. Not only was their situation a lot of fun to read about it but I just loved them as people. They had a lot of great growth individually and as a couple and that made reading their story very enjoyable.

What I loved about Broken is that these characters made me work to like them. You don’t instantly love them but you see how vulnerable they are and watching them grow into great people is what keeps you around. As I said before, their growth was well balanced with the romance and I really enjoyed that.

I immediately fell in love with Chloe in Crushed. SERIOUSLY! I was two sentences into her POV and I knew I was in store for a great character. Her development was also great and complimented her male lead perfectly. Together, they were so much fun to read about. Definitely a standout for me!

The Romance:

Isn’t She Lovely has a great romantic premise and it’s one of my favourite to read about in New Adult books: the fake girl/boyfriend relationship that becomes more. It’s just so much fun to read but also has such great character development that it is a total blast to read about.

With the romance in Broken, it started on the line between healthy and unhealthy to me. It definitely got better and definitely won me over by the end. It helped immensely that I began to see why these two worked as a couple as their stories were revealed. Learning more about them really pushed the romance back into the healthy zone for me.

I adored the romance in Crushed. It was New Adult PERFECTION in my eyes. It worked really well and it quickly added these two to my favourite couples! <3

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Isn’t She Lovely 5/5 | Broken 4/5 | Crushed 5/5

overall

One of my favourite New Adult series that I’ve read in this past year! They have the perfect blend of romance, character development and fun.

Read if You Like: new adult romances, character development
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy the “cliche” romance situations like fake relationships, etc.

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Series Review: Cocktail by Alice Clayton

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 Wallbanger (from Goodreads):
The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed dating hiatus, and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise. So when the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts Simon Parker, her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. The tension between them is as thick as the walls are thin, and the results just as mixed. Suddenly, Caroline is finding she may have discovered a whole new definition of neighborly…

In a delicious mix of silly and steamy, Alice Clayton dishes out a hot and hilarious tale of exasperation at first sight…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Contemporary 2015
Series: Cocktail Series
Author: Alice Clayton
# of Books: 4 (Wallbanger, Rusty Nailed, Screwdrivered, Mai Tai’d Up)

There is a finale novella, Last Call.

Book OrderWallbanger, Rusty Nailed and Last Call are chronological; Screwdrivered and Mai                  Tai’d Up are connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Humour, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2012 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Cocktail Series, is a popular title in the adult contemporary romance world. I stumbled upon it after reading and loving Tangled by Emma Chase. It’s hard to find that great contemporary read that balances romance, humour and plotline without going over the top or by creating annoying characters (coughcoughShopaholic). So my expectations were high for this one given the great reviews on Goodreads.

The Plot:

Like most contemporary romances, there isn’t much plot besides the relationship between the two leads. But the sign of a great romance book (at least to me) is when you don’t even realize there isn’t much going on and you really don’t care because you are having such a FANTASTIC time reading it!

The humour in this series is great! It was funny, fun and highly entertaining. At the start, I worried that Caroline would go a little off her rocker or become a ditsy, one-track heroine a la Becky from Confessions of a Shopaholic, but she was funny, charming and so real despite the slightly ridiculous situation she finds herself in. And the same can be said about the other heroines in the series–even if I didn’t love their stories as much as that first novel.

Just a note on the sequel to Caroline and Simon’s story (Rusty Nailed). I thought it was going to be boring and monotonous but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought it was realistic and a nice way to close their story, though it definitely wasn’t needed.

The Characters:

Great stories need great characters and the cast in this series is so much fun! These characters aren’t overly complex but they have enough unique quirks that keep them interesting. And I’m not just talking about the leads either!

Not only did I fall in love with Simon and Caroline, I also fell in love with their friends (and the other eventual leads in the other books). The supporting characters kept my attention and added to the plot but I never felt like they overshadowed the leads in any way.

The Romance:

Sigh…I loved the romance between Caroline and Simon. The development is everything I crave in a romance. It starts with great sexual tension, expands the emotional connection and has a few close encounters before the big moment. These two just fit so well together and it was apparent to me why they liked each other so much. I definitely added them to my favourite couples lists by the time I finished Wallbanger.

I also liked the relationships between the other characters in the connected books, Screwdrivered and Mai Tai’d Up. Well developed and fun. They are definitely slow burn romances but nothing is wrong with that!

Series Rating: 4/5

Wallbanger 5/5  |  Rusty Nailed 4/5  |  Screwdrivered 3.5/5  |  Mai Tai’d Up 4/5

overall

Normally, I’m not a fan of slow burn romances but this series is an exception! I had so much fun reading these books and watching these characters act out all their shenanigans! Probably one of my favourite groups of characters in a romance series!

Read if You Like: humour, great supporting characters
Avoid if You: don’t like slow burn romance, want an erotica

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Series Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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

Orphan Queen Series

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Orphan Queen (from Goodreads):
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: YA Favourite 2015
Series: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 2 (The Orphan Queen, The Mirror King)

There are 4 short stories. Find them all here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Magic, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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:

Jodi Meadows has been on my radar for a long time with her Newsoul Series (though I wasn’t able to read them until I finished this series). Earlier this year, I really got into high fantasy YA and this was one of the many books floating around. It was getting great reviews and from the synopsis, it seemed like it was my kind of story:

  • Political intrigue ✔
  • Independent heroine ✔
  • Undercover premise ✔

Needless to say, I was super excited to start this one!

What I Liked:

–The Layers–

Compared to other novels in this genre, I didn’t find the action to be completely overwhelming. This book was a lot of learning about the world and the journey Wil takes to get to her throne. When there was action, it was great but I never found myself bored between those scenes. Instead, you had Wil working undercover at the castle or Wil doing her vigilante work or her learning more about the wraiths. The plot always kept moving and kept my attention. It never felt slow to me (well, besides the first chapter) when it easily could have been.

–That is it going to be a duology!!!–

I’m loving this trend of having books that only have one sequel! While I think this series could definitely have a third book, I like that everything is going to be wrapped up in the sequel. It makes the story a lot stronger in my opinion–you don’t get filler fluff to pass the time away.

–Wilhelmina–

What I really liked about Wil’s character is that she isn’t invincible or egotistical. She’s passionate about helping her people but it doesn’t cause her to be impulsive or take stupid risks. She thinks about things, can admit when she is wrong and can take care of herself when she needs to. She can fight, but she isn’t some world-renowned fighter. I like that she is more subdued–it really adds to her character development as the story progresses.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Predictability–

For the most part, this book wasn’t overly predictable. There were some plot twists (mainly the ending) that I didn’t see coming so I liked that. It has me on edge to see what is going to happen next.

However, I knew Melanie’s secret behaviour within five seconds of its first appearance; and it was totally obvious to me who the Black Knife was. Perhaps my over indulgence in this genre has made me hyperaware of the various plot twists/elements authors use and so I knew right away.

My other hypothesis is that the reader is supposed to pick up on these things while Wil isn’t–thus adding to her character development/flaws. By having her oblivious to what is happening around her, it does make her more human rather than some untouchable heroine who can do no wrong. I liked that about her but it did make me frustrated at times because it just seemed so obvious to me what was happening.

The Novellas:

I read The Hidden Prince and The Glowing Knight after I read The Orphan Queen and I think that is the best way to go about these novellas. While they are prequel novellas, they kinda give away spoilers about a particular character and I liked that he was a bit of mystery when I was reading The Orphan Queen. I grew to love him in The Orphan Queen so reading these novellas is a bit of a treat for fans of his character and I like that aspect.

The novellas are chronological, meaning they follow the progression of a certain plotline so you do have to read them in order. They add depth to the world and its characters and I think they are very well done. Plus, they are a great way to pass the time while waiting for The Mirror King (and they have teaser chapters!)

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read the last page, I really, really hoped it wasn’t going to be the last one! There are so many aspects still waiting to be solved and I am super excited to see how it all wraps up in the final story.

updates

–May 13, 2016– Book #2: The Mirror King


The Mirror King was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2016 so I went in with high expectations, egged on by the teaser chapters in the novellas that were released prior to the publication.

The Mirror King was a little slower than I thought it was going to be given the ending of The Orphan Queen. It starts with a bang and then proceeds at a somewhat slower pace. It has a similar pace to the first novel but has a few “WHOA” moments along the way. I wanted more action but everything has to go through the motions.

Overall, I really enjoyed the ending. While parts were predictable–though there were some things I never saw coming–I still enjoyed reading everything and I never got bored. The characters are what drive this series for me and getting to spend that time with them in this book is great. I felt a whole range of emotions reading this novel–and that’s what I want in a grande finale. A great ending to a great duology.

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Orphan Queen 4.5/5 | The Mirror King 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this book and I feel like my review doesn’t reflect that! This one was really hard to write. While it isn’t my favourite book ever, it is one of my favourites in the genre for sure. I just loved the way it built and the various layers to it. I never got bored while reading it. Highly recommended for those who want to get into High Fantasy and have little exposure to it.

Read if You Like: world-building, lost princess stories, independent heroines
Avoid if You: easily predict stories, want more romance

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