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Single Sundays: Rook by Sharon Cameron

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 Rook (from Goodreads):
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2015 YA Fav, New Author to Watch
Author: Sharon Cameron
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Adventure, Politics
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember where I first stumbled upon this book. It was either on NetGalley or through someones blog; but what got me to add this to my TBR and get really excited was the synopsis. I mean the cover is gorgeous but a “game of cat and mouse”…that it right up my alley and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

I am a HUGE steampunk fan, so to read a book where machines are taboo was really quite the change for me. Especially when everything about this world is so steampunk-esque in terms of politics and society. But I loved how this world came to be–and the scary thing is I could see it happening with today’s society! Our dependency on technology definitely has its strengths and weakness and I liked that this book explored that concept.

The Writing:

I added this subheading because I feel like this is people’s biggest complaint about the book–and I totally get why!

Third person narratives are always hard to get into; especially if you primarily read first person POVs like I do. I find the more familiar you are with an author and their style, the easier it is to read subsequent novels by them. But this is my first Sharon Cameron book, though it won’t be my last!

The narration in this book is not as forthcoming or honest as one would expect; but it has to be. It is a suspense novel so scenes are going to be left vague or a character will be referred to in generic terms until it is beneficial for the reader to know their exact identity. You also get multiple POVs to keep the plot moving and evolving. It makes for a frustrating read from the readers perspective but I always felt like the big reveal was worth it.

Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to reread lines to make sure I was fully understanding what was happening…because I did. But eventually I got used to the flow of the book and I really enjoyed the narration by the end of it.

The Plot:

As I said, there is a lot going on at times. Which is great for a reader like me who loves layers to their novels. You have the game between Rene and Sophia; Sophia and the debt collectors; the Red Rook and LeBlanc; LeBlanc and Rene; the Upper and Lower parts of the city…I think you get the point. There are a lot of players in this game and they definitely keep things interestingAnd the great thing is that I never felt overwhelmed by it all!

I was sucked into the plot pretty quickly. I feel like it builds really well and has a great balance between all the different elements. Things were always changing and it kept me on my toes, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. This book felt really long when I first started but I pretty much read it in a day as the pages just flew by.

The Characters:

This book probably has some of the most intelligent characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I expected LeBlanc (the “villain”) to be a bumbling fool easily outwitted by the Red Rook but he was so on point it was almost scary! A worth adversary who definitely kept me on my toes whenever he figured something out. Of course these characters all have their flaws but their wit and tenacity really captured my attention.

Also, I just have to add this quote because I absolutely adore it:

The idea that women are not fit for certain tasks is based on cultural expectations, not the science of fact. It is an old-fashioned belief coming from the less civilized centuries after the Great Death, and has nothing to do with medicine. Any man of science knows that.

I just loved the strength of the female characters in this novel! Sophia was amazing as a heroine! She is everything I adore in my leading ladies and exactly what I had hoped for. René was a perfect opponent for Sophia and I loved their interactions together. He was a solid character in his own right and kept my attention throughout. The rest were just fun and balanced the leads and the story extremely well.

The Romance:

I really, really liked that the romance didn’t overshadow this book. It shone when it needed to but stayed dormant when it didn’t. There is a love triangle but it actually contributes to the plot in an obvious and beneficial way.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book just hit all the right points for me! It was fun, twisty and full of action and mind games! I was really hooked into this only a few chapters in! I think the writing will turn some people off, but once you get used to it, it moves at a great pace!

Read if You Like: strong heroines, suspense, post apocolyptic worlds
Avoid if You: want more romance, don’t like third person POVs

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Series Review: Thunder Road by Katie McGarry

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

Thunder Road Trilogy

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Synopsis for Nowhere But Here (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Favourite Read 2016
Series: Thunder Road Trilogy
Author: Katie McGarry
# of Books: 3 (Nowhere But Here, Walk the EdgeLong Way Home)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes

Originally planned to be 4 books, the publisher has decided to keep this a trilogy.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I simply adored Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits Series. It is the standard for me when it comes to YA contemporary. McGarry’s writing just has a maturity to it that blows me away and keeps my attention.

I broke my no holds at the library rule (as per my Tackling the TBR challenge) to put this book on hold because Take Me On left me in such a book hangover–one that has lasted close to a year long.

What I Liked:

-The Backstory/History-

The mystery surrounding Emily’s family captured my attention from start to finish. There was just so much history and depth to these characters that I just had to know what happened, why and how they were going to move forward.

Which is really important, because this book is quite long page wise (375 eBook pages; the typical eBook is ~250) but it really doesn’t feel like it. I got so absorbed into this story that the pages were just flying by. McGarry has a great balance between the romance, drama and character growth–honestly, YA contemporary doesn’t get better than this if you ask me.

-The Character Development-

This goes hand in hand with the backstory because it really adds to the character development. I started this book not totally loving Emily (she’s a bit of a spoiled princess but she is supposed to be) but I really enjoyed watching her story unfold. And truth be told, she won me over by the end. Her character really grows, as does Oz’s, and I loved that.

-New Book Boyfriend-

All I have to say is: where can I find myself an Oz? Swoon <3

What I Didn’t Like:

Honestly, this book worked on all cylinders for me. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book.

Perhaps, the motor cycle club aspect was a little over-dramatic and perhaps unrealistic BUT the situations dealing with family and the like were extremely realistic and that is why I put the “realistic” tag on this book,

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is one story that I CANNOT WAIT TO READ…do I make myself clear? I’ll probably have to wait until the very last book to get the story I want but that is OK. Given this explosive start, I can only imagine that great things are on the way. I’m stoked to see what is going to happen in the next book, Walk the Edge, because I didn’t expect the lead we get and I can’t wait to see the next phase of this series.

updates

–May 4, 2016– Book #2: Walk the Edge

Honestly, this book had me from start to finish and I never wanted it to end!

This novel just builds off the great foundation of Nowhere but Here. Some minor story-lines carry over and you start to see the overarching series plot but it keeps it focus on the two leads when it needs to. It’s fast-paced but well-developed and it kept me on the edge of my seat (pun intended) waiting to see what would happen next and it often surprised me in a totally great way.

I thought the romance was AMAZING. Not only were these two a great match for each other in every way possible but the sexual tension was palpable. It was by far the most addicting part of this novel and my favourite aspect. Sigh…it was just great. I also found it easier to understand these characters, especially our female lead when I compared her story to Emily’s. She isn’t as angsty as Emily but has the right and understandable level given her character background and I thought I worked really, really well.

I cannot wait to see what happens next!

–January 23, 2017– Book #3: Long Way Home

I’ve been dying for Violet’s story since book 1. This wasn’t what I expected but in a good way. I got sucked in by the plot and there were so many great twists along the way. I would have liked more romance though. I think the fact that we already knew these two loved each other stopped some of the great tension these books usually have from surfacing. I still adore them together and their scenes melted my heart, but I just craved more from them.

I had no idea that this book was going to be the finale for the series until after I finished it. But I started to suspect it by the end anyways and fans will be more than satisfied with how everything wraps up.

My Rating: 5/5

Nowhere But Here 5/5 | Walk the Edge 5/5 | Long Way Home 4.5/5

overall

This series steadily amplifies in all aspects as the pages increases. Fans of Katie McGarry will be more than happy with this next series and I have no doubt that she will pick up some new fans!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, realistic fiction with a dash of dramatics, balanced stories
Avoid if You: dislike motor cycle clubs

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Series Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

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

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav New Adult 2015; Must Read Author
Series: Hopeless
Author: Colleen Hoover
# of Books: 2 (Hopeless, Losing Hope)

There is a FREE standalone novella after book 2 called, Finding Cinderella

Book Order: Alternate POV Sequel; The novella is Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

When I first got into New Adult novels, Hopeless graced every recommended read list I encountered. So I purchased it for my Kobo but didn’t end up reading it until much, much later. And truth be told I probably wouldn’t have picked up for a little while longer if I hadn’t read–and loved–Hoover’s other YA novel, Slammed. Once I read Slammed and saw what Hoover was capable of, I made sure I had the entire Hopeless series in my grasp before I moved them to the top of my to-read pile.

I loved Sky from the moment we met her. I just loved her attitude about things and I loved her interactions with Holder. Their chemistry together was awesome throughout the entire book. One thing I love about these YA/New Adult crossover books is that the leads don’t usually jump right into bed together. You actually get to see them form a relationship that is more than physical chemistry and that is what we had here.

But the best part about this series is the many layers to this story. I really wasn’t sure what the underlying plot was going to be based on the synopsis of Hopeless but once I started reading I thought I had it all figured out based on the little tidbits we get here and there. Well, I was completely wrong! Eventually all these clues add up to be the BIG secret reveal and once it was revealed, all my expectations for the plot were out the door. These big twists are something I commend Colleen Hoover for because I never see them coming in her works and I love how she blows away my preconceived notions so easily. Rarely am I surprised when I read a novel, so when I do get surprised it quickly elevates the book from a 4 star review to a 5. And Hopeless is definitely a book worthy of 5 stars and endless praise. This book is a must read for New Adult fans!

Losing Hope is the alternate POV sequel to Hopeless. This time we get Holder’s take on things and it really does add to the story you get in Hopeless because if fills in some of the blanks about Holder’s actions (not that they weren’t complete in the original story, they are just further elaborated on). It starts a little before Hopeless and ends a little after as well. Like its predecessor, its simply well done. Not only to we get to see some added events but all the events that you want to see from Holder’s POV are included. I know that sometimes it is tempting to read alternate POV sequels congruently with the first book but I highly discourage it because it has major spoilers and will absolutely ruin Hopeless for you!

Finding Cinderella is a novella (FREE on most major eBook sites) about two characters we meet separately in Hopeless and Losing Hope. You could definitely read this book before you read Hopeless because these characters don’t have major roles and Hoover did a great job of not revealing anything about Holder & Sky’s story in the novella. It was super cute, the perfect length and had an unexpected twist (well, it was an expected twist but what the twist actually was was unpredictable). And because it’s FREE you can’t really go wrong with reading it!

Conclusion:

From the two books straight to the novella, this series blew me away. Definitely a favourite series for me and has officially moved Colleen Hoover into must-read author series. For those who like books with lots of layers and don’t mind more mature subject matter, this is an EXCELLENT series for you to grab.

Rating: 5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: HELL YES!!!

Similar Reads: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1) and Wait for You by J. Lynn (Wait for You Series #1)

Synopsis for Hopeless (from Goodreads):
Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

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Series Review: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

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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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite 2015, New Must Read Author, Favourite Series, Sad to See Go 2016
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
# of Books: 3 (The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, The Winner’s Kiss)
Book Order: Chronological

There is a prequel novella: Bridge of Snow

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, High Fantasy, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I won’t lie: the covers are what drew me to pick up this series (it wasn’t until after I read it that this book seemed to be on a lot of blogs that I follow). Both The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime were new additions to my library’ eCatalogue and after I read the synopsis, I decided I really wanted to read these books. I honestly didn’t know what to expect plot-wise from these novels but I knew that I was expecting awesome things and I eagerly dug in.

I didn’t get right into The Winner’s Curse because I felt like it was assumed that I knew the history of the world. Not that the world is overly complicated (I got the gist of it pretty quick); I just felt like it was expected that I knew why these two cultures were clashing and why there was conflict in Kestrel’s world on a deeper level without being told why. Perhaps I just missed that one key line that explains everything earlier in the book. Regardless: the truth of the matter is that the conflicts present in this book are no different than the conflicts we see in our modern world despite its historical edge. And once I was a few chapters in, I was sold (no pun intended) on everything this book was bringing.

If you take the intelligent, strategic heroine of June from the Legend Trilogy, minus her physical ability to kick ass and add the historical vibes of For the Darkness Shows the Stars, you get The Winner’s Curse.

Which means it’s pretty awesome!

Despite my personal distaste for slower novels, I really loved The Winner’s Curse! I loved how everything built up slowly and was intricately linked together. There was a plot-line I wasn’t expecting and I thought it made the story 20x more interesting. This book was never afraid to take risks and that makes it vastly different from the other dystopian YA novels out there. (Though it isn’t really that much of a dystopian novel, rather a high fantasy with some dystopian elements present.)

It also differs from other YA with its AMAZING heroine! I adored Kestrel as a heroine. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a dystopian-esque heroine that didn’t drive me up the wall in some way or another. She was smart, always thought about her actions and was never irrational in her decisions. She’s a strategist and I find that so refreshing in a heroine. Don’t get me wrong, I love heroines who can physically kick ass but it was so AWESOME to read about a heroine who uses her intelligence to outwit her opponents instead of her fists or sword.

I also really liked Arin and her relationship with him. It’s slow building but has so many interesting layers to it that it was a lot of fun to read about. It reminded me a lot of June and Day’s relationship (from Legend) in the sense that they balanced each other out. They were a great pair when they were together but just as amazing when they were on their own and I loved that! Being “on their own” is an important thing to highlight because if you are expecting some grand romance–think again! I found that the romance played a very minimal part in the story as it focuses more on the politics of the countries wayyyy more than it does on the relationship between Arin and Kestrel. It is definitely there but it takes more of a backseat throughout the story.

The Winner’s Crime doesn’t slow down from where its predecessor left off; in fact, it builds on it. Though I thought it started on the slow side, it quickly amped up its pace as you read. The Winner’s Crime definitely has more political intrigue to it which I have been craving to read about for such a long time and that made me really happy. So many great twists and turns! I really didn’t know what was going to happen despite all the clues along the way–which is probably why I would say it is my favourite of the two so far (but it was a really close and hard choice to make!).

I simply cannot wait to read The Winner’s Kiss!!! I just want to see a cover or a synopsis or even a specific release date so I can satisfy some part of my excitement!

Just a quick note on the novella (well, it’s really just a very short story). It takes place when Arin was a child, therefore it is technically a prequel. However, I think you will get more out of it if you read it after The Winner’s Curse or even The Winner’s Crime. I read it after The Winner’s Crime and I feel like that was a good time to read it because I could make the connections it inspires. However, it really doesn’t contribute to the story in any way other than to provide a taste of Arin’s life before The Winner’s Curse and isn’t necessary to read if you can’t find it (or don’t want to pay the $1 to read 20 pages).

updates

–May 23, 2016– Book #3: The Winner’s Kiss


I admit, I was worried this book wouldn’t live up to the personal hype I’ve built up in my mind over the last year waiting its arrival.

But damn, this book was finale perfection!

It had everything I wanted: politics, action, romantic tension and great twists. I was absorbed from start to finish, hanging on every word. Even though I’m sad this series is over, I couldn’t have asked for a better finale!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Winner’s Curse 5/5 | The Winner’s Crime 5/5 | The Winner’s Kiss 5/5

overall

One of my favourite YA reads this year and a new favourite series for me! Loved every minute of these books! (I may even break my buying physical books pact to own these novels!) If you want to read a dystopian-esque novel with a FANTASTICALLY intelligent heroine, her complimentary male counterpart and lots of political intrigue–this is the read for you!

Read if You Like: intelligent heroines, politics, high fantasy
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more detailed world-building

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Synopsis for The Winner’s Curse (from Goodreads):
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Series Review: Wild Seasons by Christina Lauren

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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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav Reads 2015, Favourite New Adult Series 2015
Series: Wild Seasons Series

This series crosses over with the Beautiful Bastard Series in book 4 of the Beautiful Bastard Series, Beautiful Secret.

Author: Christina Lauren
# of Books: 4 (Sweet Filthy Boy, Dirty Rowdy Thing, Dark Wild Night, Wicked Sexy Liar)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: hot, (Kink: minor [Dark Wild Night])
Point of View: First Person, Single (Sweet Filthy Boy), Alternate (Dirty Rowdy Thing onwards)

Thoughts:

When I first saw that Christina Lauren had a new New Adult series, I didn’t put it to the top of my to-read list. Despite the fact that I did enjoy the Beautiful Bastard Series (by this point I had only read the first two novels in the series) and that I like that they write strong independent female heroines, I just wasn’t sold on reading another series by them. But then two things happened: 1) was that I read Beautiful Player, the 3rd novel of the Beautiful Bastard Series an LOVED it! and 2) I actually read the synopsis for Sweet Filthy Boy and I just had to know what happened.

And I am so glad that I did!

If I didn’t have a midterm test the next day, I would have stayed up all night reading Sweet Filthy Boy. It hooked me in the second I started reading and I couldn’t put it down. I laughed, I teared-up and most importantly, I fell in love with Mia and Ansel. Sure, the romance was a bit of a love-at-first-sight situation but it never felt like that. They really had a strong connection and I loved watching their relationship develop. Seeing them connect emotionally and not just physically was such a blast to read about. This is what I wanted Gayle Forman’s Just One Day Series to be: a cute, albeit it slightly unrealistic, soul-mate finding romance set in Paris. Sweet Filthy Boy was the perfect blend of character growth, romance and fun (including humour!).

Ansel was swoon-worthy–definitely a new book boyfriend for me–and I really connected to Mia more than I thought I would. Mia was really the best part of the book for me. Certain traits of hers reminded me a lot of myself but I loved watching her grow during this book. She also wasn’t a stupid and irrational character–which was quite the bonus because I was reading another book at the time with a super annoying heroine so Mia made for a nice break–and actually thought about things before she acted. I loved how she handled everything that was thrown at her and did it in a smart way. And I know from reading an interview with Christina and Lauren that they were worried that having only a single POV wouldn’t go over well with fans but I think it worked out perfectly and Mia was awesome to read about.

The rest of the characters are also great–which made me super excited to read the rest of the series.

While I didn’t love love Dirty Rowdy Thing like I loved Sweet Filthy Boy it was still a great read! Again, the focus wasn’t just on sex and instead you get to see a relationship actually build; plus the signature sexy times Christina Lauren is known for thrown in for good measure. It too was a great blend of realism (in terms of relationships), romance and humour and it lead me to the conclusion that Christina Lauren might be one of my new favourite authors because this series is everything I want in a contemporary, New Adult romance series. The little quirks that irked me in the first two Beautiful Bastard Series novels are gone like they were in Beautiful Player and the result is just a really great read.

Words cannot describe how excited I am for Dark Wild Night: I hate the fact that I have to wait until September to wait for this couple’s story. At least I will have the crossover novel until them, Beautiful Secret…sigh

updates

–October 12, 2015– Book #3: Dark Wild Night

I’ve wanted to read this couple’s story since the very first book so to say I was highly anticipating this one isn’t adequate enough. However, I was worried when I read the initial synopsis. I didn’t like where it was going and I am SO GLAD that Christina Lauren rewrote this book before publication because the story we get is perfect for these two.

I’m not a fan of unrequited friendship love stories but when it’s two friends who are equally in love with each other and don’t know what to do about it–I’m so there. I spent the first 50 or so pages with butterflies in my stomach because it was adorable and perfect. I loved watching this relationship become something more.

I was expecting this book to be my favourite of the 3 but I still think Sweet Filthy Boy takes the cake. I think Mia and Ansel in the first book are better developed characters. So while I really, really enjoyed Dark Wild Night, it did lose me for a second or two in the middle but quickly righted itself in the end.

Can’t WAIT to how it is going to wrap up in the final (?) book: Wicked Sexy Liar!

–March 16, 2016– Book #4: Wicked Sexy Liar

I really didn’t know what to expect with Wicked Sexy Liar. These two were characters we had only met in passing before and hadn’t been anticipating their relationship from the first book.

The more I read this book, the more I enjoyed it. I really liked the relationship that developed between these two. I liked how they had more in common than just physical chemistry and they had that friendship blossoming between them. I definitely fell more in love with them as a couple the more I read.

I also liked how honest these characters were. For a book titled “Wicked Sexy Liar”, I really thought more lying would be happening but that wasn’t the case. These two were so open and had great communication that it made me wonder why they titled the book this.

Not my favourite in the series, but a solid way to end it all I think. Definitely an enjoyable read!

(PS can Margot please have your own story? That would be great thanks!)

Series Rating: 5/5

Sweet Filthy Boy 5/5 | Dirty Rowdy Thing 4.5/5 | Dark Wild Night 5/5 | Wicked Sexy Liar 4/5

overall

Maybe I loved these first two books so much because I was supposed to be studying for midterms both times I picked them up, but I really don’t think that is the case. This series is everything I like in a contemporary romance–strong heroines, swoon-worthy heros, humour, an actual emotional connection–and lacks what I hate about contemporary romance–over the top relationship drama. Christina Lauren have written winners with this series!

Read if You Like: new adult contemporary, emotionally connected romance
Avoid if You: dislike crude love scenes

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Synopsis for Sweet Filthy Boy (from Goodreads):
One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him.

But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play.

When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.

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Series Review: Caroline & West by Robin York

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

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Read 2014
Series: Caroline & West
Author: Robin York
# of Books: 2 (Deeper, Harder)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

When the author of one of your all-time favourite New Adult series is featured on the cover of another book saying it is “The perfect New Adult Story. West will make you swoon!” you can bet your last dollar that you will be picking it up to see what all the fuss is about. And I have to agree with Monica Murphy on this one, Deeper & Harder are some of the best New Adult reads I have ever had the pleasure of reading!

It’s the perfect blend of realism and romance mixed with an edginess that I haven’t come across in a long time. It’s not over the top dramatic (which can be fun to read don’t get me wrong) but grounded in so much realism that I could actually see this happening in real life. How Caroline describes being a victim of revenge porn (sexually explicit media that is publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual) and her struggle to come to terms with it is so heartbreaking and so real that my heart when out to her right away. With the increase of social media and the popularity of taking “dirty pictures” and the like, I’m surprised that more people aren’t talking about the impact it can have on people’s lives. Yes we all know that what you put on the internet remains there forever but Caroline (as well as Jennifer Lawrence in real life after her photos were published without permission) makes a great point that she did nothing wrong: she was in a loving and trusting relationship so why can’t she share that with her partner? The book really makes you think about all sides, aspects and opinions and starts a conversation about how people should be protected in this digital age.

As for the romance: it really was icing on the cake for me. While Caroline bravely battles her issues, West is struggling with his. I loved their relationship right from the get-go. It wasn’t just sexually chemistry (though there is more than enough to satisfy the reader) but a bond between two people that was so much fun to watch. They weren’t senselessly dramatic and they thought about their actions before they did them. It was so nice to read about a mature couple for once and I got absorbed into their story right away.

Conclusion:

This series was so refreshing to read. A great story, a great message and great characters! Loved every minute of it! I highly recommend it for all New Adult fans!

Rating: 5/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: YES!!!

Similar Reads: One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy (One Week Girlfriend Quartet); You Against Me by Jenny Downham; Dangerous to Know and Love by Jane Harvey Berrick

Synopsis for Deeper (from Goodreads):
When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.

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Series Review: Chances by Abbi Glines (Rosemary Beach)

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

Take a Chance by Abbi Glines | Chances Series

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Series (Too Far Series); Must Read Author
Series: Chances; Rosemary Beach (#6 Take a Chance; #7 One More Chance)

This is a spinoff of the Too Far Series and helps make up the Rosemary Beach Series. This series should be read according to the series order found on Goodreads (see it here).

Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 2 (Take a Chance, One More Chance)
Book Order: Chronological (Connected to previous books in the series)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: getting hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: Although the Chances series is a part of a larger series called Rosemary Beach I have decided to review each series separately (find them all here). However, books 9+ will be reviewed on the Rosemary Beach central blog post here. Regardless, I highly recommend reading the series in the order posted on Abbi Glines’ blog due to overlapping plotlines and events.

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WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED the Too Far or Perfection SERIES THE FOLLOWING REVIEW and SYNOPSIS MAY HAVE SPOILERS!

I’ve been dying to read Grant’s story since we were first introduced to him in Fallen too Far. When I read that he was going to get his own spin-off series I was really excited to read it. I thought he was going to end up with Nan but with the way the rest of the series progressed I’m glad that wasn’t the case; I really liked Harlow’s character the moment we were introduced to her in the previous book (I can’t remember what one it was exactly).

I liked that the mystery of Harlow and Grant’s previous interaction (which was alluded to in the other books) wasn’t revealed right away in Take a Chance. I liked the flashbacks of the past and seeing how they were going to move forward. I felt like things moved too quickly between Harlow and Grant but it wasn’t really any different when you compare the relationships in Too Far and the Perfection Series and I even think that they had more social interaction than the other two relationships so I liked that. I really liked them together and they are probably my favourite couple in the Rosemary Beach series.

This book was definitely higher in terms of drama considering what happened at the end of Simple Perfection (Rosemary Beach #5) plus Harlow’s life. I felt like it balanced well with their relationship: I didn’t feel overwhelmed by sappy-sweet moments but I definitely got all that I wanted plus some interesting drama. After reading Rush too Far (the retelling of Fallen too Far from Rush’s POV) where it was too over the top romance moments for me, I really appreciated the balance we get here.

I’m not a fan of how it ended–it felt a little rushed to me but that just means I am dying to get my hands on One More Chance!

UPDATED (December 8/14): When I got my copy of One More Chance from the library, I was giddy like a kid at Christmas! I would spontaneously break out into a smile and get goosebumps–I was SO excited to read this book. I really had no idea what was going to happen in this novel and what we got was the perfect way to wrap up Grant and Harlow’s story. I don’t think there was a chapter where my eyes were dry–this book made me cry, almost to the point of sobbing so be warned. For readers who didn’t love Take a Chance, One More Chance is everything you want it to be and is probably the best book of the Rosemary Beach series when all is said and done.

Conclusion:

Fans of the Rosemary Beach series will devour this! A great blend of romance and drama! New adult as its finest 🙂

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Fallen to Far by Abbie Glines (Too Far and Rosemary Beach Series #1) and Toxic Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin Series #2)

Synopsis for Take a Chance (from Goodreads):
When Harlow Manning’s rocker father goes on tour, he sends her to Rosemary Beach, Florida, to live with her half-sister, Nan. The problem: Nan despises her. Harlow has to keep her head down if she wants to get through the next nine months, which seems easy enough. Until gorgeous Grant Carter walks out of Nan’s room in nothing but his boxer briefs.

Grant made a huge mistake getting involved with a girl with venom in her veins. He’d known about Nan’s reputation, but still he couldn’t resist her. Nothing makes him regret the fling more than meeting Harlow, who sends his pulse racing. Yet Harlow wants nothing to do with a guy who could fall for her wicked half-sister even if there are no strings between Grant and Nan. Grant is desperate to redeem himself in Harlow’s eyes, but did he ruin his chances before he even met her?

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Series Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Dystopian Series
Series: Divergent Trilogy
Author: Veronica Roth
# of Books: 3 (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant)

There are a bunch of short stories told from Tobias’ perspective. See the list here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!

Thoughts:

After reading The Hunger Games, I discovered my love of dystopian fiction and like most people who enjoy a book, I look for similar books to read next. Divergent was one that was constantly recommended and it sounded really interesting so I picked it up. This was just when it started to get a lot of hype and I didn’t know anyone else who had read it, but it quickly became popular and after reading it, I understood why.

While Divergent starts fairly slow, it really picks up and keeps going for the duration of the book. I also slowly grew to like Tris. She wasn’t the best heroine I had ever read initially but watching her and reading her thoughts about things really made me love her. She is a very strong character and after reading the series, I would say she is one of my favourite characters in young adult fiction.

I also like how the romance is handled in this series. Like The Hunger Games, but without the love triangle (BONUS!), it’s subtle and slowly builds. So this isn’t a series you read solely for the romance–if you want a dystopian series that focuses mostly on the romance read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium –but the relationship Tris develops is very important later on in the series and takes a bit more of a central focus. I loved the tension between her and Four in Divergent and I have to say they are easily one of my favourite literary couples.

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of what happened in Insurgent –just the ending because it was fantastic! While it was a lot slower to me, I love what happens and what is revealed as you read so I didn’t find it particularly dull–it just lacks the action and fighting you get accustomed to in Divergent.

It took me a long time to get my hands on Allegiant and then actually get a chance to sit down and read it. I was eagerly anticipating where this series would go and I have to say it blew my mind where it went! I have to give Veronica Roth a lot of credit because she did a great job creating this world the books take place in and I totally saw all the dots connect as I read the last novel. Again, this book is a lot slower action-wise than Divergent as most of the plot development comes from talking and revealing the mystery of the world. I think this may disappoint a few people who enjoy this series for the action–but those who like the politics and the mystery of the world will like this book a lot.

When I look at Goodreads, I see that the rating for this book is a lot lower than the previous books in the series and after reading it, I totally know why. Roth took a lot of risks writing this book and taking it in the more Science Fiction direction that she did and I personally think they paid off. I can appreciate what she did even if the book fan in me doesn’t particularly enjoy it. I think that is why a lot of people rate Allegiant lower than the rest because they don’t like the direction it takes and the movement away from dystopian to science fiction. But after reading it, I am totally satisfied with how it ended and content with it.

I’ve never read the short stories about Tobias and I will eventually get around to reading them but not at this particular moment in time.

Conclusion:

This series constantly surprised me and in that great way I love as a book reader. When you read as much as I do, you get bored with the same cut and paste storylines that seem to appear when Young Adult trends start. But every once in a while, you find a book that is a result of that trend that stands out from the rest and for the Dystopian Trend: Divergent is that series for me (though I still love The Hunger Games). I recommend this series to practically anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games and they have all enjoyed it as well.

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy #1); Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1); Matched by Ally Condie (Matched Trilogy #1) and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Divergent (from Goodreads):
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Series Review: Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare

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

Castles Ever After Series

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Synopsis for Romancing the Duke (from Goodreads):

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read/Favourite Author
Series: Castles Ever After

This series crosses over with the Spindle Cove Series in book #4, Do You Want to Start a Scandal

Author: Tessa Dare
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected – Same Universe
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Romance, Historical, Regency
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2014 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBooks; Audiobook (#4)

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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.**

Romancing the Duke, Book #1:

When I read a Tessa Dare book I know that I am going to get three things: great romantic leads, humour and an entertaining plot line. After reading two of her other awesome series, I was eagerly awaiting this new one!

I really enjoyed this book despite not really knowing to expect plot wise from the vague plotline. But the plot was a lot of fun and interesting and there were aspects to it there weren’t like anything I have read in this genre before. It did remind me a lot A Night to Surrender in the setup but each story has its unique aspects to it and they really are different.

As expected, I smiled and chuckled to myself as I read–which is always a bonus. Ms Dare’s characters are always a great blend of wit and fun and always a joy to read. I always appreciate her female characters in particular. They are always strong leads who are more than able to take care of themselves despite the somewhat extraordinary situations they find themselves in.

The sexual tension between Izzy and Ransom was awesome to watch unfold. I loved their connection and their interactions with each other.

Note About Series Order:

These books aren’t connected by characters, rather they are connected by the idea that the leads inherit an old castle. So don’t expect any crossover of characters or a sequel book about one character from the previous novel. The only exception is with Book #4 Do You Want to Start a Scandal. It features a particular character from Say Yes to the Marquess (#2).

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–March 14, 2015– Book #2: Say Yes to the Marquess

I FINALLY managed to read Say Yes to the Marquess! I’ve had my name on my library’s hold list since September 2014, where I was in position 100–when the book’s release date wasn’t until December 2014! I guess people know a good thing when they see it!

There is a reason why Tessa Dare is the only historical romance reader I still follow continuously. Her works are always so consistent in what they deliver but I never feel like I am reading a regurgitation of her previous works or another historical romance. Say Yes to the Marquess was everything I thought it was going to be (based on the synopsis). It was really cute, fun and sweet which was exactly what I needed to read. It was a great follow-up to Romancing the Duke.

I’m super, super excited to read When a Scot Ties the Knot. I think it is going to be my favourite of the series based on the synopsis. It looks like it is going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait!

–April 25, 2017– Book #3: When a Scot Ties the Knot

I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed when my favourite historical author (Tessa Dare) created a highlander (my guilty pleasure romance genre) hero.

This book was just perfect! It was funny, sweet and ultimately charming.

It helps that the premise is just so ridiculous, it’s fun! The whole notion is so entertaining to watch unfold. These two try their best to outmaneuver the other but end up learning more about themselves and what it means to be in a relationship.

What really shone for me was the romance itself. They have this great chemistry from the start. Too often you see characters compromise who they are for their partner–especially in highlander romances. But these two establish this great relationship of understanding and mutual respect that’s just a joy to watch.

I can’t wait to reread this one in the years to come!

–October 1, 2019– Book #4: Do You Want to Start a Scandal

It should have been a no brainer to me that I would absolutely love an audiobook production of a Tessa Dare novel but it took me until now to give it a try.

OMG — I loved every minute of this book. It was the perfect blend of two fantastic series (Castles Ever After and Spindle Cove) and wraps up both series perfectly. I had been dying to read this book I wasn’t disappointed in any way by the plot, chemistry, romance or characters. FABULOUS!

Series Rating: 4/5

Romancing the Duke 4/5 | Say Yes to the Marquess 4/5 | When a Scot Ties the Knot 5/5 | Do You Want to Start a Scandal 5/5

overall

Simply put: this is a fun, light-hearted read that Tessa Dare fans will love and new readers will enjoy!

Read if You Like: historical romances, strong heroines, fun
Avoid if You: dislike characters appearing over multiple instalments

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Movie Mondays: Vampire Academy

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead | Movie: Vampire Academy (2014)

Which did I read/see first? The BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Vampire Academy
Genre: Young Adult, Vampire, Romance, Action
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

There aren’t enough good things that I can say about this series. It is one of my favourite, if not THE favourite Young Adult series I have ever read and it all starts with this book.

Vampire Academy is definitely the weakest in the series. Compared to the rest of the series, the plot in this one isn’t as intricate as the later books can be and it is a little slower. However, this book easily sucked me in (no pun intended) and in the end, its a great opening to a series.

The characters are great, complex and lots of fun. The plot is always twisting and building as I said in my full series review, this isn’t Twilight. This series features killing, blood-sucking vampires and has a maturity about it that Twilight severely lacks. Definitely the best vampire series I have ever read.

Conclusion:

I could go on for days about this book and the series but I’ll just say: it’s awesome. Finally a kick-ass heroine who doesn’t need a man to complete her and has no problem doing what needs to be done!

Rating: 4.5/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

Similar Reads: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Covenant Series #1) and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines Series #1, a spin-off of Vampire Academy).

The Movie:

I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since I finished the book. At the time, it didn’t sound like anything was going to come to fruition but over time it did and I’ve been counting down the days since.

At first, I was worried about the movie after seeing the commercials. It looked very high school and cheesy (and not necessarily the good kind) and that scared me. But after reading a blog post by Richelle Mead (who was present during filming) she reassured fans that the trailers were tailored for those who haven’t read the series to get interest in the film and that put my worries to rest.

Mind you, I did go in with lower expectations but in the end, I really enjoyed it.

First I’ll tacklet the casting. Everyone looks exactly like I pictured and Zoey Deutch as Rose was great. She was the perfect blend of tough and spunky and that made it easy to watch and see the book unfold. Danila Kozlovsky as Dmitri was everything I wanted in the infamous guardian and I absolutely loved Cameron Monaghan as Mason and Dominic Sherwood as Christian. For me there are two weak spots in the casting and those are Olga Kurylenko as the Headmistress and Lucy Fry as Lissa. For me, the Headmistress was nothing that I imagined. To be fair, it’s been a super long time since I read the books  so I could be totally off, but she was just a little too over the top for me at times and it threw me off. Lucy as Lissa started off really awkward but she really did get better as the movie progressed.

Part of the reason I think Lucy was so awkward was the script and the screenplay. Sometimes the dialogue was a little cheesy and it just felt forced. The actors all manage well though and the acting definitely improved as the movie went on.

As for the adaptation to the big screen: the movie isn’t identical to the book and that is ok. To be fair, it has been a solid few years since I read the book so I can’t remember everything but I would say that the changes they made probably needed to be done to keep the movie more faster paced. They manage to capture the essence of the book and the major key plot moments are still in the movie.

I just want to say that for fans who have read the entire series, don’t be worried about the “high school” approach this movie appears to be taking. It’s definitely for the 17+ crowd and you have to remember that the first book DOES take place in high school. It really isn’t until book 3, Shadow Kiss, that the maturity level increases in this book. I’m guilty of it too and it’s easy to forget that the Rose we get in Last Sacrifice was a high school student at one time; but the truth is that she was and we all loved her when she was!

Overall, the movie will please fans. There were a few humorous moments, both new additions as well as character moments from the book; and it was awesome to see some of my favourite scenes from the book come to life.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. While I truly did enjoy the movie, it has nothing on the book. But, fans of the book will enjoy the movie so definitely go see it! I really want a sequel movie (TBH I just want to see who they cast as Adrian and Eddie).

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Vampire Academy (from Goodreads):

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Trailer: