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Spin-off Saturdays: Rise by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Rise is a spin-off of Play and NSFW

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Connected to the novels Play and NSFW
Author: Piper Lawson
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single **Male POV**
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Piper Lawson!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’m always excited to return to the lives of characters I’ve already met so I was really excited to get Riley’s story after his cameos in Play and NSFW.

What I Liked?

–Only Told Through Riley’s POV–

One of the highlights of this story is getting it only in Riley’s POV. It’s hard to find a solo male POV in romance; even harder to find one where the lead is a genuinely nice guy. Riley isn’t some player out to get as many girls as he can. He wants a serious relationship, he’s just can’t seem to find one…probably because the right girl got away 10 years ago.

–Riley’s Character Development–

For me, this story is all about Riley discovering what he truly wants in life. His career is in a critical place, his best friend and business partner just had a baby, the girl he left behind years ago is back: life is starting to change. And I really enjoyed watching him go through all those hurdles and become a stronger character.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slightly Off Pacing for Me–

I did struggle a little with that pacing at times because I felt like we got too invested in Riley’s work and that caused the romance to take a backseat sometimes.

–It Took Me a Bit to Warm Up to Sam–

We don’t get Sam’s POV and so we don’t know her thoughts or feelings unless she says something. But, the flashbacks we get of their shared past did help solidify why these two deserve a second chance and those scenes helped me to fall in love with their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy well-rounded romances that have a dash of humour, can tug at your heartstrings and feature strong characters, you’ll truly enjoy this novel!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, male POV, strong characters
Avoid if You: want erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rise (from Goodreads):

Falling is easy. Getting up is a b*tch.

When we met, we were lost.
Most seventeen year olds are.
We lifted each other up off the ground each time we fell. Until the day I let her down.
Now I have everything. A Bentley, a profile in GQ, a movie option and the company my best friend and I co-founded after school.
Until our paths cross ten years later at a gallery. The backdrop might be the same but we’ve both changed. I know it the second I see Sam standing in front of the canvas my best friend bought.
She’s more than the girl who used to draw comic book characters on my arm after class. The one I had inside jokes with. The one who taught me to be a rock when someone you love is being thrown around by the waves.
She’s beautiful. Confident. Edgy.
Sam should’ve been my first everything. God knows we both wanted it.
Now I have a second chance.
This time I won’t let her down.
This time, we’ll rise together.

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

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

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

breakdown

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

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

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

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

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

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

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

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

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Like a Memory (from Goodreads):

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

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

She had leukemia.

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

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

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Single Sundays: Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 2/5

overall

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

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

similarreads

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

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Blog Tour: Saving It by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Saving It (from Goodreads):

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR (Netgalley)–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it goes without saying: if Monica Murphy writes it, I’ll read it. I always enjoy her works and this one sounded like such a cute one that I couldn’t say no!

The Plot:

I found it to be super refreshing to have Josh be the one who is the one primarily focused on losing his virginity. Most of the time, books look at this from the female perspective so it was really cool for me to get the teenage boy viewpoint. I know I forget the pressures that are put on boys in regards to sex because I am a girl so I really enjoyed that aspect.

The situation Eden and Josh find themselves in could happen to anyone anywhere in the world. Their fears and hesitations are so true for anyone who has ever found themselves in the same situation of realizing you may like your best friend as more than a friend.

I kept waiting for something over dramatic to happen as it often does with this genre but we get nothing of the sort. I liked that the focused stayed on the main plot of these two working out their feelings.

The Characters:

Eden and Josh are a great match and their connection and friendship is apparent from the start. They are great, true friends to each other and I loved that about them. The fear of ruining a life-long friendship, the pressures from their tight-knit group of friends; everything they go through is extremely relateable.

The Romance:

While I totally supported these two as a couple, I did want to see a little more romantic chemistry between them. Part of the reason this is somewhat neglected that is that it takes these two a long time to come to terms with their potential feelings. But I wanted more than just a few comments here and there about how attractive the other looked in their clothes. For a couple that had such a strong emotional connection, I just wanted those “swoon” moments to happen a little more often than they did.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
Fans of the BFF to more trope will truly enjoy this refreshing and genuine romance.

Read if You Like: BFF to more trope, high school romance
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
similarreads

Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon// Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

Book Tour Organised by:

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Spin-off Saturdays: NSFW by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a novel or series that is a spin-off novel or series. It is recommended that you read the original first in order to get the most out of the spin-off but that isn’t always necessary. Here is this week’s offering:

NSFW is a spin-off of Play

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Author: Piper Lawson
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 11, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

When I read (and loved) Play last year, I finished the book asking one question:

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.

Well ask and you shall receive! (I wish I had that much power). Obviously, Charlie was a hit as a character. She just has a great energy, completes hilarious antics on a regular basis and has the most delicious tension with her boss. I couldn’t WAIT for this story to be published and see what happens when the sparks fly and ignite.

What I Loved:

–Charlie–

I grew to love Charlie as a lead in Play and it didn’t take me long to remember why I enjoyed her character so much when I picked up NSFW. She just has this fabulous presence. She’s such a badass in a way that isn’t rude or stand-offish. She’s tough and confident and she has no problem telling people how she sees it. I love that in a heroine.

But I also liked that she has her flaws too. Watching her grow as a lead and become her own person was awesome.

–The Tension–

The chemistry between Avery and Charlie was palpable in Play and it carries over seamlessly here (though you really don’t need to read Play to enjoy this novel at all). I love the whole “hate to love you” vibes these two had and seeing that evolve into something more. Their banter always put a smile on my face and was part of the reason I finished this book in one sitting.

–Character Growth–

I mentioned above that Charlie had great growth as a character and I’ll say it again here as well. And it’s not just in one aspect of her life either, which takes this up a notch from other new adult stories. Charlie is a little lost in everything in her life and I think that makes her super relateable as a character. She feels like her career is at a standstill, her family dynamic has evolved, she’s got some things from the past she needs to move on from and her romantic relationship leaves something to be desired. She deals with a lot and it rounds out her character nicely.

But I also want to give props to Avery too! Despite the fact that he doesn’t have a POV, he has a significant amount of growth as a character. I liked that he wasn’t this “perfect” hero that Charlie could only be with once she established herself. Rather, they both had things they had to work on individually before they could even fathom a relationship together.

What I Didn’t Like:

It’s over and I think I read it too fast 😛

Series Rating: 5/5

overall

I had high hopes for this novel and Piper definitely delivered! She brought these charming characters to life once again and created a story that was entertaining from start to finish!

Read if You Like: office romance, character growth, new adult romances
Avoid if You: dislike romance
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for NSFW (from Goodreads):

Being bad never felt so good…

The office is full of rules. Everything is off-limits. Making a charity calendar of the sexy guys on your floor? Not allowed. Shrinking your boss’ underwear when he sends it for dry-cleaning? Can’t do that either.

But those things keep the natural balance. See, Avery Banks, our resident rising star, is a shark. The tall, blond, and gorgeous kind with zero patience and even less forgiveness.

Good thing I’m the Mae West of executive assistants. I live to put grown men in their place.

He wasn’t supposed to find out…

Now he’s made it his personal vendetta to screw me the way I screwed him. I’m at his beck and call, 24/7, for every humiliating, meaningless request.

Until we stumble on a new game. One we both want to play. One we both need to win.

And once we start…I’m not sure Avery wants to replace me.

I’m not sure I want him to.

All I want is more of this. The fire under the ice. What happens behind closed doors.

It’s twisted, and so damn hot. But he’s my boss. And with the company coming off a scandal even I couldn’t engineer? What we’re doing is strictly NSFW.

Lucky for me, Avery and I have one thing in common…

We both suck at following the rules.

NSFW is a full-length standalone sexy contemporary romance. It’s the story of Charlie and Avery (from PLAY) – so if you love this one, pick that up too.

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Series Review: The Rules by Monica Murphy

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 Fair Game (from Goodreads):

Bad enough Jade Frost’s boyfriend drags her to a boring poker game. Even worse that he actually threw her into the betting pot during an intense round…and lost. Talk about the perfect excuse for Jade to make him her ex-boyfriend.

Now she supposedly belongs to the ultra rich, extremely gorgeous Shep Prescott. He could have anything he wants yet he seems to be in hot pursuit of her. No matter how rude, how snarky, how impossible she acts, it doesn’t stop him. More like her horrible behavior seems to make him want her more.

When she finds herself starting to fall for him, Jade’s confused. There’s more to Shep than the carefree rich charmer he portrays. No way could he want a serious relationship with her…or could he?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Rules

Crosses over with the One Week Girlfriend Series in Safe Bet

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 4 (Fair Game, In the Dark, Slow Play, Safe Bet)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Monica Murphy is my go to author for fun but heartwarming New Adult romances. She just writes really good stories that I get into from start to finish. And every series by her is unique in its execution and motivation.

I’ll admit, I picked this series up a little bit earlier than I planned to just because I wanted to read the crossover with the One Week Girlfriend Series in the 4th novel, Safe Bet. And, I needed a lighter series after reading a heavier contemporary novel.

The Plot:

Monica admitted at the end of Book 2, In the Dark, that she isn’t trying to reinvent the New Adult romance genre with these books. They’re supposed to be lighter, fun reads for her readers. And they definitely succeed in that aspect! I just had a lot of fun reading these books! And they definitely brightened my mood 🙂

But what I also liked is that they are toned down in the drama department. You don’t get that petty, soap opera-esque scenarios (like overly jealous girls or “cheating” situations). Instead, the focus stays on the characters as they learn who they are and why they want to pursue their respective relationships. It just keeps the story focused on what matters and I loved that.

The Characters:

I’ll admit, it took me a while to warm up to a few of these characters. In particular, I struggled with Shep and Jade in Fair Game and Tristan in Slow Play. I did warm up to Shep and Jade as their story progressed though. It just took some time to see the deeper side of their characters. Tristan…he suffers a bit from his presentation in the first two books (where he is a total dog) and so he really had to work hard to get me on his side. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed his story.

But Gabe and Lucy’s story stole the show for me in In the Dark! They were perfect! I thought they had the best connection but also the best individual character development.

The Romance:

While the connections are a little insta-love, they do progress into genuine connections. It’s a little more “told” than “shown” when it comes to the writing, but it’s obvious why they all fall for their respective partners.

It’s not too spicy and it’s not too cheesy: it just hits that perfect mark.

Series Rating: 4/5

Fair Game 4/5 | In the Dark 5/5 | Slow Play 3/5 | Safe Bet  4/5

overall

Need a nice pick-me-up? This is a great contemporary romance series for those looking for a cute and addicting read that is light on the drama.

Read if You Like: straight forward romances, heartwarming reads
Avoid if You: dislike player heroes
similarreads

readingchallenges

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Breaking Point by Jay Crownover

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Breaking Point Series is a spin-off of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy

book2 book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Breaking Point

This is a spinoff of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy Series.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 3 (Honor, Dignity, Respect)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Respect, will be published in Summer 2018
Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was really excited to learn that Jay Crownover was returning to the Point. There were so many stories left untold in the original trilogy that I wanted to read and I was afraid I would never get to see them. But never fear, Jay Crownover knows she has created an addictingly dark world and is just as eager to continue these stories.

How Does it Compare to the Original Series?

–Perfect Balance Between Suspense & Romance–

Like the inaugural series, this one strikes the right balance between romance and the suspenseful plot. While the romance is a driving feature of these novels, there is also a fabulously thrilling plot happening as well. Unlike other romantic-suspense novels where your romantic moments are a little sparse (they feel like you are just checking off the romance requirements as you go), these are integral throughout the novel. But they never overshadow the plot itself which is fully developed and not something that is left to the very end to quickly wrap up.

–Romantic Partnerships–

I just love all the pairings in these world. They are so well matched for each other. It isn’t just physical attraction that brings the two leads together. They just understand each other so well and bring out the best in each other.

–Not Your Everyday Heroes–

I like that these characters aren’t your typical romance leads. They aren’t always the nicest people but that saves them from being cliche I think. Their stories are fresh and unique and that wants you to learn more about them. They all are fabulously crafted.

–All The Stories Are Connected via a Sequence of Events–

While each book focuses on a different set of leads, you are still integrated with the world. There’s this overarching plot line that is threaded throughout all the books and you just want to read the next one to see what happens next.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not particularly. This is just a solid novel and highly entertaining.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have to wait until Book 3 for the one story I am literally dying to read but the little cliffhanger we got at the end of Honor has me excited for Dignity–the story I never knew I wanted.

Series Rating: 4/5

Honor 4/5 | Dignity TBA | Book 3 TBA

overall

I think you will get more out of this series if you read the Welcome to the Point Trilogy first but, if you love anti-heroes and true bad boys, this is worth your time.

Read if You Like: bad boys, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike violence, crime

similarreads

  • Slade by Victoria Ashley (Walk of Shame Trilogy #1)
  • Ignited by J Kenner (Most Wanted Trilogy #3)

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Honor (from Goodreads):

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one front and center.

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Series Review: Existence by Abbi Glines

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 Existence (from Goodreads):

What happens when you’re stalked by Death? You fall in love with him, of course.

Pagan Moore doesn’t cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn’t let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he’s dead.

Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn’t realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul at all.

He is Death and he’s about to break all the rules.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: Existence Trilogy
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 3 (Existence, Predestined, Ceaseless)

There is a novella #2.5 called Leif

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single (Existence); Alternating (Predestined onwards)
Publication Dates: December 2011 – September 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I never read Ceaseless (Book 3). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought this series within the first year of me getting my Kobo…and it took me 4 years to get around to. Oops!

In those 4 years though, Abbi Glines has become one of my most read authors on Goodreads. I’ve devoured her New Adult series in days and absolutely love her works. But I never got around to this series until I had to set some priority reads for my Rock my TBR 2016 Challenge.

It has been a long time since I read a YA paranormal series (I mostly read fantasies or dystopian novels) but the concept sounded unique and I love Glines’ ability to write addicting romances so I was excited to start this.

The Concept:

I feel like the synopsis does a bit of a disservice to the story because you really don’t know Death is “Death” until you are past the halfway mark. I think I would have liked not knowing what type of paranormal creature he was until later. Seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity but Glines does throw some other twists in there to give you some surprises.

The Plot:

I kinda forgot what it was like to read a YA paranormal romance until I picked this up. You know, little plot besides the heroine mooning after some mysterious hero who she inexplicably feels drawn to. It was very Twilight-y to say the least.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I did find myself easily drawn into Pagan’s world and there is a bit of a mystery to uncover which made it exciting to read. But as I found myself nearing the end of Existence (say the 80%) when the real plot started to unravel, I realized that nothing really happened for the first 80% of the book. Predestined had a lot more going on in it, but I just didn’t care enough…

The Characters:

Pagan is a bit on the dull side if you ask me. I also didn’t like her character progression once she meets death. She’s one of those heroines who loses who she is when she meets her love interest and that annoyed me.

I felt like more could have been done with these characters. They are pretty surface level in terms of their development.

The Romance:

This was a little lacking for me. Why does Death become obsessed fall in love with Pagan? Why does Pagan fall for Death? I didn’t get the connection at all. It’s a little too insta-love for my preferences.

Oh! Did I forget to mention the love triangle? To be fair, it wasn’t that bad and actually contributes positively to the plot at times.

When to Read the Novella, Leif:

Read this after book 2, Predestined. But it’s really just some deleted scenes from another character’s POV from the first two novels.

Will I Finish It?

I wasn’t very attached to these characters, so I’m happy with not continuing. I read enough reviews of Ceaseless to know what goes down.

Series Rating: DNF

Existence 3/5 | Predestined 2/5 | [Leif] N/A | Ceaseless N/A

overall

If I read this when I was a teenager when my preference was for YA paranormal, I would have LOVED this series. Glines has a solid plot for a series of this type but unfortunately, at this point in my reading life, I need that little bit more to keep me interested.

Read if You Like: YA paranormal, Twilight
Avoid if You: dislike dull heroines
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Single Sundays: It Ends With Us 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 It Ends With Us (from Goodreads):

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2017, Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I am a huge Colleen Hoover fan. With the exception of one series, I’ve read all her works. I eagerly await her new releases every year. So I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get my hands on this book. It took FOREVER for my hold to come in from the library because I added my name to the list late.

But boy, was this book worth the wait!

The Concept:

Normally, I refrain from keeping spoilers in my reviews but I think it is very important that I highlight two things from the synopsis. The first being:

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

While I’ve read other books that get a lot more specific in terms of the descriptions of the graphic scenes, these moments were still hard for me to read. So if that makes you uncomfortable as a reader, just be prepared.

And looking at the synopsis you probably think, ‘Gee Lauren, why so serious? This sounds like a love triangle type of story’ because that’s what I thought when I read the synopsis for the first time. But it isn’tfar from it actually. Which brings me to the other highlight of the synopsis:

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer.

There is so much more to this story than what the synopsis implies and I really don’t want to give it away. It’s obvious to anyone who reads this that it is such a deeply personal story for Colleen Hoover to write as an author. It shows in every word and every scene. That’s what makes it so beautiful to read. So thank you Colleen for sharing something so personal with the world.

The Plot:

This plot sucked me in from the start. Part of that is because I instantly loved the characters and became so invested in them. More on that below.

As for the plot itself, it was heart-wrenchingly beautiful as the synopsis implies. It moves at the perfect pace; never dwelling on inconsequential things for longer than necessary.

You feel every range of emotions while reading this.


And I really have a hard time saying anything more without giving it away and I literally just finished the book 2 hours ago (January 26, 2017, 1pm) and I’m still at a loss for words.

The Characters:

What really makes this story is the characters. They become so real to you as a reader from the moment you first meet them. I fell in love with Lily and Ryle by the end of the first chapter. I loved Atlas from the moment Lily shares what her past with him is. And I loved every other character we meet along the way. It has been a long time since I loved a cast of characters as much I do with this one.

These are all strong characters in their own rights and so heartbreakingly real. Lily in particular really tore at my soul. How she handles everything that comes her way was so empowering yet so sad all at once. It was wonderful to see her evolve as a person throughout the novel.

The Romance:

It’ll tug at your heart from the start until the very end. I’m still shook up over it.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Before this novel, I would have told you that Maybe Someday is my favourite Colleen Hoover book because it is such a powerful story. But It Ends With Us is now my absolute new favourite work by her. It’s a story that everyone should read because it is beautiful, sad and most importantly empowering to read as a reader, no matter who you are.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, strong characters
Avoid if You: dislike books about mature subject matter
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Series Review: Love Unplugged by Jamie Howard

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

Love Unplugged Series

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Synopsis for All the Ways You Saved Me (from Goodreads):

Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.

Law school? Check.

Camera-ready smile? Check.

A dull and boring existence? Double check.

But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend’s unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.

It’s while she’s checking off her first item on the list–buy coffee for a stranger–that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he’s a complication Bianca doesn’t need but desperately wants.

With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she’s buried under what’s expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she’s willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author –> Favourite Author
Series: Love Unplugged
Author: Jamie Howard
# of Books: 4 (All the Ways You Saved Me, The Feeling of Forever, The Way Back to Us, After All This Time)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, After All This Time is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

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**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:

If you’ve been following my blog at all this year, you should know that I found one of my new favourite authors in Jamie Howard. Her novel, Until It’s Right is one of my all-time favourite NA reads–like I plan on rereading it over the years to come–because it is perfection. So when I was asked if I wanted to read her latest novel, I think you know what my answer was…after I jumped around like my butt was on fire!

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Even if Howard wasn’t the one to write this one, the premise of All the Ways You Saved Me sounded fantastic. It promised to have amazing character growth accompanied with a heartwarming romance. And given my experience with Howard’s other works, I knew that was just what I was going to get!

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

Without a doubt, this is the strongest aspect of this novel. If you want a solid NA story where both characters transform before your eyes: this is it.

Bianca was a great lead! I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with her given her family background but I didn’t find that to be the case. I think anyone who has ever dealt with others pressuring them to live their life a certain way will empathize with her. I loved her story from start to finish.

But it was really Ian’s story that really surprised me. I didn’t expect to love him as much as I did! His story is told as flashbacks to the past and I thought that was a great method. Instead of simply getting told during some “grand reveal” scene, the reader gets to experience what he went through–and let me tell you, it is a heart-wrenching (albeit beautiful) story…

–A Romance Focused on Friendship–

What I really liked about these two together was how their relationship made them better people individually. I hate when couples get so absorbed into each other that they lose sight of themselves. That really isn’t the case here. It’s easy to see why these two work together. They start as friends that challenge each other to do things they might not usually do and it blossoms from there.

It’s just a heartwarming story that makes you believe in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like. It was just a really good, solid story that captured my attention from start to finish and reminded me what I love to see in romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, there are so many great directions this series can go. I know I have a few stories I would like to see unfold…so I can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #2: The Feeling of Forever

Is it possible to rate a book higher than 5 stars? Seriously, this book deserves more than 5/5!

WOW, just WOW! This is one of the best Contemporary romances I’ve read recently. No doubt about it!

This story had it all for me: extremely likeable characters, a heart-melting romance and a heart-pounding plot. I could not put this one down!

Jules and Felix are just a great pair. Their relationship had a solid foundation right from the start. The way they communicate and interact with each other: swoon. It’s just a beautiful story. I loved these two so, so much.

As for the rest of the book, it was great. It had the perfect balance between the romance and the drama. And what fabulous drama it is! It just added another layer to this already great story but without overshadowing it.

Honestly, Howard has perfected her craft. I literally cannot wait for the next book in this stellar series!

–December 6, 2017– Book #3: The Way Back to Us

This novel was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. To say I was super duper excited to start this is an understatement of possibly epic proportions.

It was nice to get some closure for Gavin. I was super curious to learn more about the girl who captured his heart and I was not disappointed in the journey to learn all about it.

Like The Feeling of Forever, this one has a romantic suspense vibe to it. Which was a little unexpected but kept me hooked and constantly coming up with new theories for what was happening. Of course, I was totally wrong so bonus points for that twist! But the whole premise gave this story a unique feel to it and I found it to be a refreshing take on the second chance romance.

My only complaint is that I wanted to see how these two fell in love. For me, it almost read like a sequel novel to their first book where they fell in love and this was the novel to wrap it all up to see if love can conquer all. Instead of being shown why they belong together we are told why they shouldn’t be together. I’m a reader who likes to see those romantic moments where couples fall in love. It doesn’t always work for me to be told why these two love each other as they battle the dramatic plot lines.

However, it did work here in a way. Obviously, these two make a great pair and I loved them together.  As I reader I definitely got why these two would fight everything to be together. In that aspect Howard succeeds in her writing. But I wanted a little bit of that “so called” first book of theirs because I’m a huge fan. I wanted to see them meet and establish what is a great relationship and partnership instead of seeing it already exist. We get little tidbits here and there but I craved more because I just loved these two characters so much.

My Rating: 5/5

All the Ways You Saved Me 5/5 | The Feeling of Forever 5/5 | The Way Back to Us 4/5

overall

If you want a New Adult romance that is somewhat lighter on the romance but features strong characters that transform before your eyes while melting your heart: this is it!

Read if You Like: character development, books about grief
Avoid if You: want more sexual content, dislike New Adult

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