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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

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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

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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
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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?

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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

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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
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Blog Tour: Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for Ninja Girl (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary Standalone 2017
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 30, 2017
Source & Format: YA Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cookie O’Gorman’s debut, Adorkable was just amazing! I loved every minute of that book and I was so excited to see what she would write next. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to see what she would do next and I was so stoked when I saw what Ninja Girl was all about. This book promised to be an entertaining, albeit touching, ride that I couldn’t wait to start!

The Concept:

I love the gender role reversal here! I love girls that can fend for themselves but the fact that Snow is hired to protect a boy just ups the ante for me. It defies stereotypes in that respect and I really appreciated that.

I feel like that is the whole point of this novel: to challenge stereotypes. The cast here is also very diverse ethnically speaking as well. Snow is Korean while Ash is from the Southern United States. Both have these ideas that they don’t have similar interests and personalities. But I think this book goes to show that you have to get to know a person for who they are and not just what you see on the outside.

The Plot:

This novel moves at a stellar pace. Honestly, there was never a dull moment! If you weren’t swooning over Ash and Snow together you were watching Snow kick some serious butt or having these great moments of individual character growth. I loved every page.

I also liked how the suspense of who was behind the attacks lurked throughout the pages. It just built itself up at a great pace and added to the big reveal.

The Characters:

Well, I obviously loved Snow. Her character growth was fantastic. While she is such a strong girl physically, her self-esteem is pretty low. It’s unfortunate that she is so susceptible to high school cattiness so early in the book because she is such a great girl. I’m glad that Ash brings out the stronger side in her.

Ash…swoon! He says all the right things but he is such a genuine guy as well. I would say his character growth takes a bit of a backseat to Snow’s but he really does evolve as well. Even though he is perceived as the “damsel in distress” at times, he doesn’t just sit around and let things happen to himself either.

The Romance:

These two are so adorable! I’ve added them to my favourite couples list ever. They just compliment each other so well. Not only do they make a great team but they also make each other stronger as individuals. Never did I feel like these two were losing who they were in order to appease the other–which can easily happen in this type of story where gender roles are more emphasized than usual. They just have fabulous chemistry together from the start.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting because I could not get enough of these two! Not only was this book a bucket of fun and completely swoon-worthy, it also teaches you to be yourself above all else. Whether that means you are a girl who can kick everyone’s bum or a guy who needs a girl to save him: never be ashamed of who you are! (cheesy but so true!)

Read if You Like:  diverse reads, kick butt heroines, “clean” YA
Avoid if You: dislike ya contemporary

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!

Author Links:

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Blog Tour: Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks // Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Cindy Anstey’s debut, Love, Lies and Spies. It had everything I love in a novel: wit, fun and a swoon-worthy romance. As soon as I finished, I had to know what else she had written and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the last year awaiting Duels & Deception.

The Plot:

Anstey has such a talent for writing entertaining stories. Should a kidnapping scene have you laughing out loud? Not likely but Anstey manages to do it. That whole event was super entertaining and it made me wish it lasted longer.

However, I did find the momentum of the novel slowed a bit after the kidnapping chapters. The mystery of who is after Lydia is enticing but unfortunately, I had a pretty good idea of the culprit before the big reveal. What I didn’t guess who how everything was going to be resolved so that had a few good twists for me to read.

The Characters:

Lydia was everything you like in a historical fiction leading lady. She’s as sharp as a whip, a compassionate daughter and definitely independent. If she was real, she would be my best friend.

And starring opposite her is Robert, pretty much the ideal hero. Again, he’s super smart but he is also adorably sweet and caring. He isn’t some over the top hero and I loved how grounded he was.

The rest of the cast is quirky and entertaining and adds to the story’s fun and lighter tone.

The Romance:

SWOON! Talk about two leads who are perfect for each other! Not only did they compliment each other in every way but they also had fantastic banter. I loved every scene with these two in it.

My favourite part was watching these two slowing coming to the realization that they were falling in love. The slow burn romance was so on point!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a perfect read for fans of historical romance who love quirky, witty characters and a romance that has you swooning from the start!

Read if You Like: regency reads, witty leads, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction
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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Series Review: Ravenspire by C J Redwine

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

Ravenspire Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Shadow Queen (from Goodreads):

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

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Series: Ravenspire
Author: C J Redwine
# of Books: 4 (The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter, The Traitor Prince, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Traitor Prince will be published February 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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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:

I really enjoyed Redwine’s Defiance Trilogy for its strong characters and thrilling plotline, so I was eagerly awaiting her next series. Not only did The Shadow Queen have an awesome cover but I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling and I knew Redwine would do a great job.

This book was one of my top TBR picks of 2016, but some not so favourable reviews scared me away from grabbing it right away. But when I reread the synopsis in December 2016, I just knew I had to give it a shot.

What I Liked:

–The World–

The premise in this series is that each kingdom is going to get its own retelling and I could not be more excited for that! Each kingdom is so unique and has its own little quirks so I can’t wait to uncover them.

The world itself is easy to understand and easy to visualize. Redwine doesn’t drone on about the setting but she doesn’t bypass it either. She finds that right balance to get you acquainted with the kingdoms without boring you.

–The Characters–

I’m not sure how many people watch ABC’s Once Upon a Time but Lorelai reminded me a lot of Snow (and not just because they are Snow White). She’s a kickass lead with a heart of gold but she also has her own flaws. I like that she isn’t perfect and I like that she isn’t defenceless and requires a “prince” to save her from her troubles. And the same can be said about Kol–he isn’t some flawless character either.

The cast as a whole was a lot of fun. It was easy to root for the good guys and despise the bad guys (you always need a good villain). They were all so likeable to me and that made me want to read more about their story. And there were some heartwarming moments as well.

–The Loose Retelling–

I like that this story wasn’t so focused on the retelling. That it isn’t a cut and dry Snow White story. It follows its own path and borrows some key features of the Snow White fairy tale along the way. It’s very reminiscent of The Lunar Chronicles in that respect where the fairy tale serves as the base but the plot goes its own way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Was that little bit too long–

Somewhere around the latter half of the book, I started to get a little bored. Which was weird because things were happening–it wasn’t like the characters were just sitting around waiting; there was plenty of action. I think I just wanted to get to the climax that little bit sooner. One plot device in particular seemed like it was just regurgitated in a slightly different way after it had been resolved and that really slowed down the story for me.

Otherwise, the pacing was great and the story kept my attention.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I’m excited to explore more of these kingdoms. I’m super glad that this story isn’t going to be dragged out across multiple volumes.

updates

–April 13, 2017– Book #2: The Wish Granter

I was really curious to see how the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale would be brought to life in The Wish Granter and I wasn’t disappointed. While the fairy tale itself is pretty classic, Redwine had some great creative twists.

The first being that Teague is fae–such a simple thing but one that is perfect. Faerie characters are known for their deception and tricky deals with others; perfect for a Rumpelstiltskin character. It also helps that he is a pretty evil dude that you can’t help but hate (in that great way you can detest a villain).

As for the heroes–I really loved Ari. It’s nice to have a strong heroine who isn’t strong because she can physically kick ass. Ari is intelligent, compassionate and you can’t help but root for her. She also has great character growth throughout the story. Sebastian was much of the same. I really liked how he evolved as a character throughout.

And the romance was just adorable. One of my new favorite couples. They just had great chemistry in all aspects and I loved every scene they had together.

My Rating: 4/5

The Shadow Queen 4/5 | The Wish Granter 4/5

overall

With any fairy tale retelling, you’re going to get comparisons and similar plot lines. (The source material is the same of course) But Redwine does a good job of creating an entertaining read that has its own unique twists on a story that has been done again and again.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, subtle romance, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike magic use
similarreads

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Single Sundays: Porn Star by Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone

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 Porn Star (from Goodreads):
You know me.

Come on, you know you do.

Maybe you pretend you don’t. Maybe you clear your browser history religiously. Maybe you pretend to be aghast whenever someone even mentions the word porn in your presence.

But the truth is that you do know me.

Everybody knows Logan O’Toole, world famous porn star.

Except then Devi Dare pops into my world, and pretty soon I’m doing things that aren’t like me—like texting her with flirty banter and creating an entire web porn series just so I can get to star in her bed. Again. And again.

With Devi, my entire universe shifts, and the more time I spend with her, the more I realize that Logan O’Toole isn’t the guy I thought he was.

So maybe I’m not the guy you thought I was either.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Laurelin Paige)
Author: Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I read anything by Laurelin Paige. She writes some of my favourite contemporary romances. The drama is amazing, the characters are strong yet flawed and I simply get addicted to any story she writes.

So I was more than curious when I saw this title. A porn star falling in love? It’s something I would probably shy away from if it was anyone other than Paige writing it. I knew she would write a compelling, well thought out novel.

The Concept:

These ladies have done their research! They’ve managed to capture the modern porn industry in a way that is real and not fantasy or idealistic. They touch on a lot of the current issues that are plaguing actors in pornography like actor consent and piracy. It really grounds these characters and their stories, making the reader feel like this could actually happen in real life.

The Plot:

This is just as much a love story as it is a character building story. Basically, it is everything I love about New Adult. I want to see these characters battle their demons while falling in love. Is it an easy path? Hell no! And that’s what makes this journey so enjoyable as a reader.

The Characters:

I LOVED THESE TWO!

Logan was cocky yet heartwarming. He was so adorable, intelligent and passionate; I instantly fell in love with him. But he also shows great growth as a character. It was awesome to watch his journey unfold.

Devi–what a confident woman! I loved how comfortable she was with her body and how she presents herself to the world. Honestly, we need more leads like her in novels. Yes, she has her flaws but her confidence is inspiring.

The Romance:

This is a very sex-positive story (if you couldn’t have guessed from the title). Notably, I like the focus it gives on sex in a relationship. I think some stories add the heat as a “fan-service” as sorts; like an expected feature to show character chemistry. But here, it is an integral part of the story and heavily influences the romance. Are these two really in love with each other or are they in love with the personas they are on screen? It’s a fascinating question and one that is asked throughout the novel.

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My Rating: 5/5

overall

I was really impressed with the overall approach of this novel. It delivers an awesome, entertaining romance while providing a deeper theme. However, if you don’t like books with lots of sexy times, this one will probably turn you off. But I encourage everyone to give it a try because it is a league of its own.

Read if You Like: sex-positive novels, romance, new adult
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with the idea of porn

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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

book3 book4

booksynopsis

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, Book 3 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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thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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 dealt with pressures from someone else on how to live their life with 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


**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own and not influenced by my source.**

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!

My Rating: 5/5

All the Ways You Saved Me 5/5 | The Feeling of Forever 5/5

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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Series Review: Season for Scandal by Kelly Bowen

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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 Duke of My Heart (from Goodreads):
Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl—quite inconveniently deceased—tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals.

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected—yet absolutely true.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author; Fave Historical Romance Series
Series: Season for Scandal Trilogy
Author: Kelly Bowen
# of Books: 3 (Duke of my Heart, A Duke to Remember, Between the Devil and the Duke)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Regency, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Duke of my Heart); Netgalley–eARC (A Duke to Remember)

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Forever asked if I was interested in reading A Duke to Remember, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. While most of the series on my blog are YA or NA, I do LOVE a good historical romance; especially of the regency kind. So while I had never read Duke of my Heart (which was easily rectified thanks to my public library), the synopsis for both novels sounded great and I couldn’t wait to get started with them.

Oh, and Kelly Bowen is Canadian and I love supporting my fellow Canadian authors in any way that I can!

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of a connected romance series is an overarching plot or theme throughout all the novels, even though the leads change for each. Here, we get Victorian era “Olivia Popes” (Scandal TV series) who fix people’s messes like nobody’s business. It give these characters a unique flare that provides fantastic entertainment base for the readers besides a corset busting romance (which it does have in the right amounts as well).

The Plot:

While these are romances at their core, you do have the mystery/suspense elements. These aspects gave each book a flare for entertaining dramatics that kept me interested and pressing forward. What I also loved was their twists–they weren’t easily predictable which was great. Because I have encountered some of these tropes before and I was worried they were going to be carbon copies—NOT THE CASE AT ALL!

These books were fun, fresh and equally sweet as they were sexy! Simply what I love in a good regency series.

The Characters:

These characters were a blast to read about! I loved their unique quirks and character history. I find in the historical romance genres, characters tend to be crafted from the same mold: a stoic or playboy duke who gets schooled in his ways and a rebellious heroine. And while those serve as the basis for these characters, there is so much more to them! Getting to know each one with their rich histories was fantastic. And you are left with enough teasers about the next set of leads to make you want more.

The Romance:

Sweet yet sexy! Gahhh the romance here is just so well done! While they seem a little insta-connection, these characters compliment each other so well and have such great sexual tension that you jut want them to get together faster! The couple from A Duke to Remember easily made my Fave Couple list.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Between the Devil and the Duke looks like its going to be the most dangerous one yet! I cannot wait to read it and am so sad I have to wait for January 🙁 I want it now!!!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #3: Between the Devil and the Duke

Kelly Bowen as the fantastic ability to make me fall in love with the leads by the end of the first chapter.

These two as leads had me swooning and rooting for them from the start. I loved Angelique right away and found her refreshing as a heroine. She has a big heart and an even bigger brain–and that was what stood out for me. Her intelligence in math and numbers is something you don’t often see in a romance of this genre. Yes, you have those heroines who read books and are smart in their own way; but her mathematics skills was a nice touch for her character.

And Alex…swoon! I was a big fan of his from the previous novels and he did not disappoint. He’s smart, protective (but not overly so) and just a great lead. His partnership with Angelique–both in the romantic and in the practical–is EXACTLY what I want for my couples. Perfection.

The plot itself was fantastic! The suspense never stopped building throughout this novel. And there were so many twists I didn’t see coming! I loved the unpredictability of this story.

Just a well crafted novel from start to finish and a fabulous way to end this AMAZING series!

Series Rating: 5/5

Duke of My Heart 5/5 | A Duke to Remember 5/5 | Between the Devil and the Duke 5/5

overall

Definitely a new favourite for me! I just loved the blend of fun, danger and romance!

Read if You Like: Tessa Dare novels; Suspenseful historical romance
Avoid if You: want a “sweeter” than sexier romance

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Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Series Everyone Should Know About

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Is a weekly meme feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers post their Top 10 List for an assigned topic! I will not be participating every week, but I will occasionally take a shot at it! You can always find these lists (past, present and original) on my Riffle Page!
This Week’s Topic:

Top Ten Series I Want People to Know About

When I read the topic for this week (“Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About Enough/In A While”), I wasn’t sure where to start. So, I looked at my Top Book Series to see what I had there. Only three I feel are of the “underrated” variety and so I had to think of another way to come up with titles. What I did, was go to my “Read” folder on GoodReads and sorted my books by the number of GoodReads ratings they had (least to largest). It wasn’t long before I found a few series I thought more people should read.

I’m also super excited to display my picks as a slider thanks to Riffle Books now that my site is self-hosted. Simply click on the arrow to see what books I have picked and why!

(In no particular order):


Links to My Reviews:

  1. The Gathering Storm (The Katerina Trilogy) by Robin Bridges
  2. The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles) by Kady Cross
  3. The Iron King (The Iron Fey Series) by Julie Kagawa
  4. Wondrous Strange (Wondrous Strange Trilogy) by Lesley Livingston
  5. Crossing the Line (Without a Trace Series) by Ally Bishop
  6. Schooled (Travesty Series) by Piper Lawson
  7. Leaving Amarillo (Neon Dreams Trilogy) by Caisey Quinn
  8. After Math (Off the Subject Trilogy) by Denise Grover Swank
  9. Vixen (The Flappers Trilogy) by Jillian Larkin
  10. Mystic City (Mystic City Trilogy) by Theo Lawrence

Honourable Mentions:

Do you share some of these series on your TTT post?

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Leave a Link to your TTT in the comments below!

Series Review: Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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

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booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

Yah, that was the best decision EVER!

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

And I also have to say that I loved Levana

The Romance:

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

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

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

When to read Fairest?

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

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

Should You Read the Short Stories? When?

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

Series Rating: 5/5

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

overall

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

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

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