Tag «fav 2016»

Single Sundays: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (from Goodreads):
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Adult Contemporary 2016
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first came across this book when reading Sils’ guest post @ Dani Review Things in August 2016 when she was discussing her favourite NA Romance Tropes. Like me, Sil shares a love of fake marriages/relationships in her NA reads and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was her pick for this trope.

I had never heard of this book before despite the fact that it has the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the title (not many things do) and it would have probably never crossed my radar otherwise. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t tell you that they create a fake relationship–and telling you that isn’t a spoiler because it is the main plot point in this very long novel–so I would never have known.

Regardless, this one peaked my interest and when I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I needed to make my mistake worth it and decided to use this novel to get my money’s worth. And I sure am glad I did!

Is it Adult Contemporary or New Adult Contemporary?

Ok, Sil listed this as a New Adult read and I can see why. It reads very much like a New Adult read in terms of the character conflicts and stories (both have some darker backstories).

But for me, this is an adult read with some NA qualities. My primary characteristic for Adult/New Adult/Young Adult classification is the age of the characters; my secondary “requirement” for NA classification is whether or not it takes place in or shortly after college. In the case of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Vanessa is 26 and has been out of school for a couple of years. I usually classify anything with the youngest lead above the age of 25 as adult and because she is out of school, that just reaffirms that for me.

Nevertheless, this book with appeal to fans of both adult contemporary and NA contemporary.

The Plot:

I think this is one of the longest romance novels I have ever read! The Kindle edition is just a little more than 600 pages–that’s crazy! Most Kindle reads average 200-300 pages; especially in the romance genre.

But surprisingly, this book didn’t really feel that long! It has such a constant pacing that it makes it really easy to read and get involved in the story. New plot points or events are added along the way that keeps everything fresh and the plot moving.

The Characters:

The characters really make this story I think. I really got addicted to seeing how these two interacted with each other. Vanessa was strong and determined; Aiden you just instantly love and want to see succeed.

But what I truly enjoyed about these characters was their growth. These two are flawed in their own ways but what was fantastic was watching these flaws transform. Vanessa and Aiden both evolve so much from the start to the end of the novel. But at the same time, they still remain the same characters underneath. Meaning they don’t become these unrecognizable characters; they just become better versions of themselves thanks to each other.

The Romance:

If you want an example of a slow burn romance, this novel is the very definition of that trope!

As someone who complains a lot about romances being underdeveloped in stories (more tell than show nowadays it seems), this book was uber refreshing. It was great watching these two slowly develop their relationship. It wasn’t focused on the sex or the passion; it focused on the partnership and friendship which is always important in establishing a believable relationship.

These two learn to love and support each other; and I just love when people finally see what has been in front of them the entire time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for adult contemporary enthusiasts who want a taste of a New Adult romance. And if you want to experience a true slow burn romance–look no further!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, sports, New Adult romance
Avoid if You: want a quick read

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Single Sundays: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

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 As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (from Goodreads):

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Nonfiction 2016
Author: Cary Elwes
Genre: Nonfiction, Humour, Memoir, Celebrity
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 24, 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies AND a favourite novel. The book is fantastic but the movie is just as good–if not better. If it is on TV, I have to sit down and watch it, regardless of what I am doing. Yes, I’m one of those people who throws out the famous lines whenever I have a chance. It’s a classic.

vizzini princess bride animated GIF

Anyways, I didn’t even know this book existed until I read a review by Lindsey @ Bring My Books last winter. The audiobook really appealed to me because I enjoy memoirs more in their audio version and the idea that all of these actors reunite to present their fave stories from the set? Fantastic! It took me a ridiculously long time to get my hold from the library, but once I did, I dove right in.

The Concept:

Let me explain... (The Princess Bride)

The best way to describe this book is this: it’s like a behind the scenes narration of a movie set. You know, that feature on DVDs where you can turn on commentary or a special video feature? It is just like that.

Cary Elwes (Westley), leads you through the making of the movie from its conception as a book, through the early stages of production to filming and how it has been received over the years since. Along the way, you get little tidbits from everyone else who was a part of it.

It’s a lot of fun to listen to if you enjoy behind the scenes stories and memories.

The Writing/Narration:

Image result for princess bride gifs

I thought the story had a great flow to it so it made it easy to listen to. Cary does a good job of explaining what filming was like “back in the day” so you don’t have to guess or fill your mind with stereotypes.

But what really sold me on this book was the narration from the other cast members. You can tell they have genuine affection for this movie and their time together which is so nice to see/hear. It just warmed my heart to listen to.

Did it Impact My Life?

Image result for princess bride gifs

Not particularly. I think it made me love the movie more though. The very idea that this movie might never had happened breaks my heart; but to see the end product and to see how the cast and viewers love it makes me smile a little bit more since reading this book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy The Princess Bride movie and want to know more about how it was made, this is a great read. It brings back all the great memories you probably have of reading the book or watching the movie.

Read if You Like: behind the scenes stories, memoirs
Avoid if You: dislike the Princess Bride  <–if you ask me that would be:


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Fresh Fridays: Ruined (#1) by Amy Tintera

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Ruined Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined (from Goodreads):
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Ruined, Avenged, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Avenged, will be published in May 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

But this novel also promised to have a slightly darker edge to it; or at least, I hoped it would. Not that I like to have a lot of violence in my novels, but I do enjoy novels with action and the grittier scenes that happen from physical confrontations. It adds another layer of risk to the story.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this novel just after its release, but I still really wanted to read it. So I avoided reading too much into any other reviews so that I could go into this fresh…and I sure am glad I did!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

This book always kept moving! Whether it was romantic developments or character scenes or action scenes, I never had a dull moment while reading this.

Honestly, if I could have stayed in bed all day to read this, I totally would have!

–The Romance–

Like I said, I’m a sucker for this trope of characters falling in love with their enemies. So this was one of my favourite aspects. These two were a perfect match in my eyes and I like the character growth that is a result of their relationship.

A lot of people will probably struggle with this trope–especially with these two and all that happens between them–but I don’t think it overshadows the story too much. You still have a lot of great plot development outside of the romance even if it is often the main focus of the plot.

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

I like books that aren’t afraid to take risks. If that means killing off a character or two, that’s ok. It makes the story that touch more unpredictable and keeps me excited to see what will happen next because there are no restraints.

I also like that there seems to be true villains here. Evil characters are often water-downed but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s in store.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

I’m one of those readers who likes things spelled out for her, especially when I’m starting a new series.

When it comes to the term “ruined” I honestly had no idea what that meant when I first started reading. I knew these people had “powers” but it was never clearly explained. Or if it was, I totally missed it. Sure, it was easy to understand it once I got a grasp of their abilities but I hate when things are told as if you should already know what it all means. 

I also would have loved a map of the world! While it was pretty easy to orient it, I just think it would be neat to see.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There were so many interesting plot developments at the end of Ruined that I can’t wait to see what is in store. I’m hoping for a touch more world-building and maybe a dash more politics; but otherwise, if Avenged sticks to the same foundations as Ruined, it’ll be great!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

While this story does borrow characteristics and tropes common to the genre, (I think many readers will draw parallels to other novels) I still had a lot of fun with this story. It still felt fresh to me and it definitely has its own unique quirks to make it stand out on its own.

Read if You Like: in love with the enemy romances
Avoid if You: want stronger world-building

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Series Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

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 The Wrath and the Dawn (from Goodreads):

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2016 Fav
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (The Wrath and the Dawn, The Rose and The Dagger)

There is also 3 novella short stories. Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: warm *more implied than anything*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s a bit of a weird story. I always thought that I had The Wrath and The Dawn on my TBR (ie Goodreads) because it was around quite a bit on the blogosphere when it was first released and it sounded like a story I would enjoy. When I saw it again at the bookstore, it’s cover (the one I added below) caught my attention and I thought it was a new book. But as soon as I read the synopsis, I realized that I already had marked this book as TBR. So imagine my surprise when I checked on Goodreads to see that I hadn’t even added it! I think I just added it to my library wishlist and left it at that.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

The revenge trope is one of my favourites; especially when there is an assassination involved. Perhaps that is a little morbid, but I find stories with that “I must kill my enemy” element are grittier and have that (obvious) element of danger to them. The stakes are higher and that makes every subsequent action even riskier and more thrilling. Forbidden love is so much sweeter when you fall for your target.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to admit, I know nothing about A Thousand and One Nights nor The Arabian Nights. I’m sure I would get more out of the retelling if I was more familiar with these works but it really isn’t necessary.

The world here is beautiful! I loved how Ahdieh was able to create this magical world that was so easy to see and emerge myself in without copious amounts of detail. The pages weren’t littered with unnecessary descriptions and so I never felt lost or bored while reading.

Oh! Also, there is a glossary! There were a few terms that I had to Google because I couldn’t find the glossary when I first looked for one. But don’t let that scare you! It’s not like there are a ton of terms you have to learn to enjoy this.

The Plot:

What I really loved about this series is that it wasn’t unnecessarily complicated. It struck that perfect balance between world building, character development and dramatic plot.

The Wrath and The Dawn has a great suspense to it. Why is Khalid killing his wives? Will Shazi really fulfill her need for revenge? I loved watching all that unfold before me. It really hooked me into the story–in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. I really just wanted to sit all day and read this compelling work.

The Rose and The Dagger also had a suspenseful plot but more for the political aspects–which I absolutely adored. It just had that hint of danger to it that had me glued to the pages. And the twists were fabulous!

The Characters:

I think Shazi can be a hard character to like initially. She’s hurt and jaded and she gives off this aura of selfishness that makes it hard to root for her. But she really grows throughout the series and I really appreciated that. And it wasn’t long before I was on her side, wanting her to succeed.

As for Khalid, I really liked him. As much as he is the catalyst for the story we get, the story really is about Shazi and how she deals with everything. And because of that, his development takes a bit of a backseat. But he really is a fascinating character to uncover as the series progresses. I always love a good, mysterious male counterpart.

But one of the highlights of this series is the strong secondary characters. I really fell for the rest of the cast as the story progressed.

The Romance:

This was lacking a bit for me in The Wrath and The Dawn. Despite the fact that it was easy to see why these two would fit together as a reader looking in, I just wanted their sparks elaborated on more. The romance was more implied than I would have liked; more show and tell than watching it unfold. But I still enjoyed it and liked these two together.

And I think that’s why I enjoyed The Rose and The Dagger more. Everything there was just emphasized that little bit more and the romance was definitely amplified there. Here, it was obvious why these two felt the way they did and it was a joy to watch as a reader.

The Novellas:

Well, to call The Crown & The Arrow and The Mirror & The Maze novellas is being generous. They are merely deleted chapters totalling 9 pages and are free on eBook sites. However, I do recommend reading The Crown & The Arrow before The Wrath and the Dawn for some context. Same with The Mirror & The Maze before The Rose & The Dagger. Nevertheless, you could get by without ever reading them as well.

The Moth & The Flame is an actual novella that is probably best read after The Wrath & The Dawn because it is a little spoilery about some side characters.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Wrath and The Dawn 4/5 | The Rose and The Dagger 5/5

overall

The entire series is crafted beautifully. From the characters to the drama to the romance; it’s everything you want in a solid YA series.

Read if You Like: retellings, forbidden love, duologies
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike more romance-based stories

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Fresh Fridays: Caraval (#1) by Stephanie Garber

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Caraval Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 1+ (Caraval, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC  | Thank you so much Jamie!!!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

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Novella Serial Review: Calendar Girl by Audrey Carlan

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 Calendar Girl (from Goodreads):
It’s really simple. I needed money. A lot of money. One million dollars to be exact. The amount didn’t matter. All that mattered is that at the end of that price tag held my father’s life.

No money. No life.

The time limit was one year. On January 1st I had to pay up or my Father was going to be killed. When you’re faced with an ultimatum like this, you do whatever you have to do.

And that’s exactly what I did.

The job…Exquisite Escorts. My role, serve as high priced arm candy to anyone that can afford the $100,000 price tag for a month of my company. Sex is optional (for me) and a 20% increase on the price.

Mia Saunders just barely escaped a paltry life back home in Las Vegas until she gets the call that her Father has been beaten to within an inch of his life for not paying his gambling debt. Problem is, the lone shark is her lousy, ruthless ex-boyfriend. Another guy in a long line of men she’d fallen head over heels for. Not anymore. Mia’s mission is simple. Serve as a high-priced escort for her Aunt’s company and pay monthly against her Father’s bad debt. A month with a rich man who she doesn’t have to sleep with if she doesn’t want to? Easy money. At least that’s the way it was supposed to go.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Serial 2016
Series: Calendar Girl
Author: Audrey Carlan
# of Parts: 12 (Full Reading Order Here)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January – December 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My best friend actually recommended this series to me. Rarely do my friends recommend that I read something because chances are, I’ve already read it. But I hadn’t even heard of this one when she suggested it. And so I waited until Kobo had a great sale and bought all the volumes at once.

The Concept:

The premise reminded me a bit of The Arrangement and Blurred Lines–serials I hadn’t kept up with though I enjoyed them. I wanted to see what adventures Mia would get in by being an escort but not necessarily sleeping with the client. So I was eager to get into this one!

The Plot:

Each “part” is a month of Mia’s assignment with a different man who has hired her. What he has hired her for varies from simply being a date to being a muse for an artist, but they are entertaining nonetheless. In addition to that, you have the overarching plot of her father being in the hospital while Mia pays off the debt. Needless to say, these stories move fast and always have something happening to keep you reading.

It’s apparent that this serial was thought out in advance. Never did I feel like Audrey Carlan was throwing out ridiculous plot twists for the sake of keeping the story going. It has a great flow and purpose and I greatly appreciate that.

The Characters:

Mia had tremendous growth throughout this series. I wasn’t her biggest fan in January but by March, I had really warmed up to her. What’s great about each “episode” is that Mia learns something new about herself through the relationship with her client. And I don’t mean she learns something romantically either. While Mia does learn more about what it means to have a strong romantic partner, she also learns to become more confident in herself and decide what she really wants in life. That what I like to see in my characters and I really appreciated that growth.

The Romance:

I like that the romance here isn’t straight erotica when it easily could be. Sure, she’s an escort and doesn’t have to sleep with the guys but the expectations are underlying…

I definitely picked my favourite for Mia and it was a lot of fun waiting to see if I was right as the months progressed.

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

This series was SO MUCH FUN! As each novella progressed, I became more and more invested in the story and it’s outcome. It was the perfect blend of romance, drama and character growth!

Read if You Like: stories about escorts; novellas, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike serials, dislike escort stories

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Series Review: English by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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 Dirty English (from Goodreads):
A scarred fighter.
A girl with rules.
One night of unbridled passion.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Bennett: she’s smart as a whip, always in control, and lives by a set of carefully crafted rules. She’s learned the hard way that people you love the most always hurt you in the end.

But then she meets Declan Blay, the new neighbor at her apartment complex.

A tattooed British street fighter, he’s the campus bad boy she’s supposed to avoid, but when he saves her from a frat party gone bad, all her rules about sex and love fly out the window.

She gives him one night of unbridled passion, but he longs for more.

With only a cardboard-thin wall separating their bedrooms, he dreams of possessing the vulnerable girl next door forever.

One night. Two damaged hearts. The passion of a lifetime.

*A modern love story inspired by Pride and Prejudice*

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New Adult 2016
Series: English
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 2 (Dirty English, Filthy English)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2015 – July 2016
Source & Format: Kindle/Kindle Unlimited–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought Dirty English when I it popped up on the “Hot New Releases” in the Kindle Store one day. Like most, I’m a sucker for a good British (bad) boy and this one looked promising. The reviews were mostly positive and I was really curious to see how it was inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

The Concept:

Each novel is inspired by a famous love story. Dirty English is Pride and Prejudice while Filthy English is Romeo and Juliet. As someone who enjoys both of those classics, it was a lot of fun for me to try and see the parallels in each novel. But by no means do you have to be overly familiar with either to enjoy these works.

The Plot:

I like that these novels are just as much a romance story as they are a coming of age. All these characters have their flaws and they try their best to navigate them as they fall in love. Plus, there’s some great drama thrown in that isn’t unnecessary, rather it is entertaining and adds to the overall story.

These novels also had me laughing out loud as I read them (Dirty English more so). I just had fun with these!

I have to say though that Filthy English seemed rushed at the ending. I wanted a little more to it but overall I still enjoyed the story.

The Characters:

Do Declan and Dax actually exist somewhere? Please, I need to know! I loved these two. While I know Madden-Mills likes to write alpha males, I didn’t find these two to be over the top with their male-dominating tendencies.

I also liked their leading ladies. They were strong females who had tremendous growth as they overcame their pasts and issues.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was stronger in Dirty English because it had a little more substance to it. It was really easy to see why these two would be drawn to each other besides physical attraction. In other words, it mirrors Pride and Prejudice very well.

Filthy English though gets a bit of hit against it because it is inspired by Romeo and Juliet–the ultimate love at first sight story. Why they liked each other–besides fantastic sex–took a longer time to surface I thought. I still liked them together, I just wanted a little more and I was a little underwhelmed by their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

Dirty English 5/5 | Filthy English 3/5

overall

If you want fun but touching New Adult contemporary romance check these two out! Did I mention they have British “bad” boys with hearts of gold? If that doesn’t convince you…

Read if You Like: stories inspired by classics, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult contemporary

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Single Sundays: No Pants Required by Kim Karr

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 No Pants Required (from Goodreads):
I, Makayla Alexander, am on a mission to reinvent myself. So when a super hot guy boards the plane and flashes his rock hard abs, I pay attention. When he sits next to me and offers me his nuts, I can’t resist. But when I choke on them and he tells me I need to work on my gag reflex, I realize I might be in over my head.

Before I know it we’re in the lavatory and attempting to join the Mile High Club. Let me just say this…anyone who tells you it’s easy to get it on at 37,000 feet isn’t telling you the truth. After the flight attendant busts us for getting frisky in the air, the only thing that can ease my total and complete mortification is the simple fact that I am never going to see him again.

Hours later, I can’t help but wonder if fate will ever allow me to become a new version of myself.

Because Fate, she’s a fickle bitch.

Case in point…my seatmate is my new next-door neighbor.

Even with the whole fate thing we have going on, we are so not meant to be together. He’s all cool and sexy in that make love not war kind of way. Guys like him are dangerous. With that bring-you-to-your-knees body, that handsome-as-hell face, and that dirty, dirty mouth, I guarantee one glance from him wets every girl’s bikini bottoms.

And then there’s me…the quirky girl looking to find herself in California. All I want to do is learn to let loose. Say words like peace and groovy. Bury my toes in the sand. Who knows, maybe even have sex on the beach.

Unable to get him out of my head, I entertain the thought of being more than just friends. I know the idea is absurd. And yet, I go with it. You see Camden Waters gets me. Really gets me. Like no other guy has before.

On this 7-mile stretch of paradise, I decide to keep things simple and just have fun…that is until fate decides to screw with me, again.

Can two people hell-bent on finding themselves realize the search should have ended the day they met? Find out in No Pants Required—a sexy, funny, romantic stand-alone, that will have you hurrying to grab your bathing suit and rushing to the beach to check out every lifeguard on duty.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Adult Fave 2016
Author: Kim Karr
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Humour
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 11, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this novel when Lauren @ Shooting Stars Mag did the cover reveal for it back in June. I’ll admit, the title is what caught my attention but I’ve had Kim Karr on my TBR for a long time with her Connections series.

This one sounded like a lot of fun and would make the perfect lighter read between novels. It has been a long time since I read a novel that was actually funny and I was hoping this one would break that streak.

The Plot:

Ok, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time! If I hadn’t started it close to midnight, I would have finished it in one sitting.

This book had a fantastic balance between fun, drama, character development and romance. It hooked me in with its fun and HILARIOUS start–seriously, I was laughing out loud during those first few chapters–making me fall in love with the characters while getting a taste for their stories.

I liked that this story wasn’t filled with lots of dramatics. By keeping it simple, you get to focus on the characters and their growth. And the characters are really what make this story.

The Characters:

I was worried I wouldn’t like Mikayla because of the synopsis. I feared that she was going to be an airhead or something. A very silly concern because she was great! I loved her story and her personal growth throughout the novel. Plus, she was pretty funny. She was exactly what this story needed.

It was a real treat that we got Cam’s POV. I definitely thought this was going to be a Single POV story when I read the synopsis. But getting inside Cam’s head was fabulous. He was so funny and charming. Plus, he has a great story as well.

The Romance:

These two complimented each other so, so well! It’s insane how much I love these two together. They would just feed off each other and it was fantastic watching them fall in love.

I was worried that this was just going to be lots of sex but that isn’t really the case. It plays a huge role in the story but honestly, there is so much substance in everything else that those scenes are just a bonus.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Honestly, this novel was so much fun! It’s everything I want in an entertaining New Adult novel! Highly recommended for those who like lighter but well constructed contemporary romance.

Read if You Like: humour, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult
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Book Review: Play by Piper Lawson

Synopsis for PLAY (from Goodreads):
I’m Payton Blake. A successful, balanced twenty-something girl living the dream.

OK. So it’s a big-ass lie.

I could be all of those things. If I had friends outside of work. And if I didn’t mainline watermelon slushies like they were a food group. It wouldn’t hurt if I’d had sex in the last year, either. (My best friend insists Jorge the Nightstand Boyfriend doesn’t count.)

But when you know where you’re headed, who needs to enjoy the ride? Even if part of me longed for a little between-the-sheets adventure, Max Donovan would be the last guy I’d call.

Sure, he made the indie video game that broke the internet. His eyebrow piercing’s sexy, in an ‘are-you-in-a-band?’ way, and fighting with him gets me off faster than Jorge on bezerker mode. But he’s arrogant. Presumptuous. Colder than a cactus and twice as prickly.

None of it changes the fact that I crave Max Donovan like a watermelon slushy on a hot summer day.

I should ignore him. But I can’t, because he just became my biggest client. And whether he’ll admit it or not, he needs me even more than I need him.

Game on, Max Donovan.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Author: Piper Lawson
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 14, 2016
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Piper Lawson has easily become a must read author for me this year after reading her Travesty Series and Chased. Not only is she Canadian (always a “win”) but she writes really, really great romances. Romances that have a fantastic balance between the romance and the story. Emphasis on the story–she writes great stories with great drama. Each novel is fresh and new and so, so enjoyable!

So, I think it’s a no brainer why I wanted to be a part of this blog tour. I love her work and I want others to enjoy it too!

The Plot:

There’s actually a plot!!! I’m all for hot and passionate romances, but I don’t enjoy full blown erotica or romances that only focus on the sex. This story has a great balance between the romance and the drama. It takes the time to establish the plot of the story which is Payton trying to work with Max as he seeks out a loan for his next gaming venture.

I definitely laughed, I definitely swooned and I definitely enjoyed watching everything unfold. It was great getting to know these characters and see their chemistry and romance grow as I read.

The Characters:

Payton was a lot of fun to read about. She is a solid character with a good heart, so it made it really easy to root for her. She definitely had me laughing at some of the things that she did…or had happened to her thanks to her BFF Charlie.

Can Charlie have her own novel please?

She was hilarious! The pranks she pulls on their co-worker Avery were awesome. No one is safe from her antics and that was great to read about.

Max…oh sweet Max. Never have I wanted to find my own gaming nerd with an eyebrow piercing. Seriously, does he exist somewhere and where can I find him? It was nice not having his POV to keep him as a bit of a mystery, only revealing pieces of him as Payton learned them. While alternating POVs are great, there’s just something about only being in one character’s mind at a time.

The Romance:

This is a slow burn romance done right! Everything builds at the right pace and reveals itself at just the right time. It has been a long time since I’ve read a solid romance novel and this is definitely one.

Like I said before, having Max as a bit of a mystery really helped aid the sexual chemistry and tension. These two were a great match and I like how you get to see that as the story progresses.

And don’t worry, there are plenty of steamy moments…even if they don’t litter every page 😉

My Rating: 5/5

I’ll be honest, I originally rated this book a 4 but as I wrote this review, I couldn’t think of a negative thing to say! And when I thought about it, I would totally read this novel again–which says a lot because I don’t often reread books or have the desire to do so. I blame my my sleepiness from shift work for getting in the way of my initial rating.

overall
This is a solid romance novel! It’s lighter and fun but still has a strong story and characters. Piper Lawson writes fantastic contemporary romances; whether they are adult or new adult, she nails them! She has definitely upgraded herself from a must read author to a favourite author. If you haven’t read a novel by her yet, I’m positive this one will make you a fan!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, lighter contemporary stories
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy contemporary romances

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Join my Insiders list now for a steamy exclusive excerpt! ➜ http://eepurl.com/bNQmYT

I love reading and writing about sassy, sexy, smart women and the guys who fall hard for them. Schooled is the introduction to my Travesty series about ambitious girls who chase their dreams of a fashion label from California to New York and back again.

My main household expenditures include books, coffee and chocolate, not necessarily in that order. Coffee = life (and I’ll defend it accordingly). I have two business degrees, neither of which I’ve leveraged into a fashion label.

Home is Canada plus occasional sunny winter escapes. Come find me on the tennis court, at the beach, on the web at www.piperlawsonbooks.com or on twitter @piperjlawson.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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Single Sundays: Shadow of a Girl by Shannon Greenland

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Shadow of a Girl (from Goodreads):
Use cash and keep moving.

After I ran away from home, these were the two rules that dictated my life. Scoring a job as a roadie fit perfectly for what I needed. Traveling, cash, and life out of the spotlight. But when my path collides with West, the lead singer of Bus Stop, I can’t seem to stay out of his spotlight—especially since we’ll be touring together for an entire year.

West is determined to break down my walls. He won’t give up. And little by little they come crumbling. But if he knew what lurked behind them, he wouldn’t be so eager to get rid of them.

The more time we spend together, the more the lines of our friendship become blurred. He makes me dream of things I never thought possible. But while our friendship has been evolving into a romance, my secrets have been closing in. And just when I’ve decided to reveal my past to West, I’m confronted by it. The cost of my freedom could ruin the life of the guy I love…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary
Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rockstar
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 19, 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Teen!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Normally, I’m not one for YA contemporaries but I am a sucker for rockstar based stories and I LOVED The Heartbreakers last year. So when I came across Shadow of a Girl, I just had to request it! The runaway premise also had me curious and I couldn’t wait to uncover it.

The Plot:

This story had a great balance between the romance and the dramatic plot line.

I was hooked into Eve’s story from the get-go. We only get bits and pieces about her past, building the anticipating for the big reveal. Her story is unlike anything I’ve encountered before in a contemporary story so it was very refreshing to me as a reader.

I find rockstar romances can be a little unrealistic (it’s part of their charm) but this story was very natural to me. Everything progresses at an acceptable pace–not too fast or too slow–in terms of plot development and character growth. This story just builds itself up organically, making it a joy to read. (Especially great for someone who was on the verge of a reading slump–it made getting hooked into the story so easy)

The Characters:

Eve was great. She has some of the best character development I’ve ever encountered in a contemporary romance. I loved watching her grow and get comfortable in her own skin. I liked that she isn’t brash or someone who jumps to one conclusion or another. She thinks about things and knows her own limits but knows that she needs to do something to challenge those in a healthier way.

And West…swoon! While I love an arrogant rockstar as much as the next girl, it was nice to read about a guy who is just genuinely a good guy. He’s patient and kind and I just love how he treats Eve. I also liked that his story and character never overshadowed Eve’s story as well.

The Romance:

This was very sweet. I love how it was a romance that started as a strong friendship before it became something more. It was so easy to see why they would like each other and that’s what I love in a good romance.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This was just a great novel. It had a fantastic balance between the drama and the romance and everything just progressed so naturally. A must for fans of contemporary romance!

Read if You Like: rockstars, contemporary
Avoid if You: want a “spicier” read
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