Tag «Fresh Fridays»

Fresh Fridays: Taken by Lies (Truth or Lies #1) by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Taken by Lies (Truth or Lies #1) by Ella Miles

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

Truth or Lies Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book2 book3 book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Taken by Lies (from Goodreads):

At 16 I was taken.
Kidnapped by a boy I thought I could love.
Then he sold me as if I were property.
For three years I endured.
Beatings.
Torture.
Pain.
I never broke.
I was strong, determined, resilient.
But then one day it happened…I broke.
Setting me free.
I should have run away, found a new life, and started over.
Instead, I returned.
To find the man who sold me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Truth or Lies
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles is my go-to author for dark contemporary romances. She just writes thrilling, steamy and more often than not twisted romance; and she never fails to surprise me with her great plots. So when I saw this New Adult series was her next project, I was super excited!

What I Liked:

–Great Chemistry Between the Leads–

I already adored the relationship between Kie and Enzo thanks to the novella (more about that below) but I loved every interaction these two had. There’s so much tension and unspoken feelings between them that I lived for their scenes together!

–The Slow Reveal of the Past–

I don’t want to give much away but if you’ve ever read Ella Miles before you know that she leaves little tidbits throughout her novels as you reach the climax. If I wasn’t already hooked on the romance, I was totally invested in learning more about what happened between the events of Lured by Lies and Taken by Lies.

–Enzo–

Don’t get me wrong, Kie is also great but I want to give a special shout out to Enzo. I’m not one who enjoys overly alpha heroes–even in dark romances–but Enzo is quickly becoming a favourite of mine! Yes, he has alpha tendencies but he also has this great vulnerability that we get from time to time that had me totally gone for his character.

What I Didn’t Like:

I have to wait for the sequels! I just want to binge this series!

When to Read the Novella: Lured by Lies (#0.5):

One thing I love about Ella Miles is that she often writes prequel novellas for her stories so you can get a little taste of what is to come. Lured by Lies provides that little bit of context for the history between the two characters who are our leads. It just brings an edge of anticipation for what’s to come next and I think it immensely increased my enjoyment of Taken by Lies since I had already fallen for the characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

So excited for what’s to come!

My Rating: 4.5/5

[Lured by Lies 4/5] |Taken by Lies 5/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

One of Ella Miles’ best dark contemporary stories! It’s deliciously dark and addicting!

Read if You Like: dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike alpha males, dislike mature subject matter
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Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Fresh Fridays: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

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

Rule Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.

Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.

breakdown

Series: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlet
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Rise, to be released June 2019
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I won’t lie, it was the cover that drew me into this read. I was browsing my library’s new additions when I scrolled across this one. I actually checked out the hardcover from my library but never got around to it. But the premise was promising. I love the drama and secrets of Pretty Little Liars (well, the TV show at least; I never read the books) and Three Dark Crowns won me over with its sequel so I was optomistic I would enjoy this one.

What I Liked:

–Multiple POVs–

I love books that follow multiple characters. I find it gives the novel a 360-degree view of everything that is happening and keeps the story moving. Even if you don’t enjoy one POV, at least you have some others to look forward to.

–Diverse Cast–

When books mimic real life (especially by highlighting prejudices and the like) I’m always invested. This book has quite the group of characters. All the girls come from different family styles, races and castes (travelers, maids, etc). You’ve also got characters that are LGBTQ (in a very normalised, not token kind of way). So in that respect, I truly found this book to deliever on diversity without it feeling like it was simply checking all the marks off.

–The Magic–

I liked how straight-forward the tithe system seemed to be. Not only is everything magic-wise easily explained but it also has limitations. One of my biggest peeves about magic is the almost unlimited power it can have but the magic here makes sense.

–The Blackmail–

I think this is where the Pretty Little Liars comparisons come in because there is someone taunting these girls with their secrets. And the secrets are pretty juicy–and contribute to the plot in a rather strong way. These aren’t petty “I know about your secret relationship” type of secrets; they run much deeper (and more complex) than that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Seems Needlessly Drawn Out–

Perhaps starting this book the week I was working nights wasn’t the best idea–my concentration is pretty crappy. However, I found the chapters used a lot of words to deliver very little in the grand scheme of things. I would get lost in text at times. But I will say that each chapter ended in a way that had me eager for the next one so I was a fan of that.

–Blending of the Characters–

While I praised this book for its diversity earlier on, sometimes I couldn’t tell Zofi apart from Ren from Akeylah. The “problem” is the third person narration. It isn’t very personal as it lacks the depths a first person POV can provide (ie the inner character monologue). As a result, I often had to reread the synopsis just to remember that Zofi was from “A” and her secret was “B” so I wouldn’t get the girls mixed up.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really started to enjoy how the various plots were starting to weave together so I am very curious to see how everything with wrap up (or unravel) in the finale.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Rule 3.5/5 | Rise TBP

overall

While nothing immediately stands out about this fantasy novel, fans of the genre will enjoy this solid and diverse story.

Read if You Like: multiple POV, wordy stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Fresh Fridays: Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1) by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

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

The Honors Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Honor Among Thieves (from Goodreads):

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

breakdown

Series: The Honors
Author: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
# of Books: 2+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Honor Bound (#2) will be released February 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 13, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Honor Among Thieves (#1)at 34%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I found this by browsing the new titles at my library one day. Science fiction in YA is always something I’ve enjoyed but it seems to the new trend (maybe I’m the only one who thinks that?) like high fantasy was a few years ago. But hey, I’m not complaining!

When I read the title and synopsis for this, I was hoping for a Starflight-esque novel. Something that was adventurous and fun but perhaps a little darker and more thought provoking.

I kinda forgot Ann Aguirre was a cowriter on this one until just before I was going to read it. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t had the best track record with her novels. Her writing style isn’t for me as I find her novels take an extremely long time to get anywhere but I really hoped that wouldn’t be the case here since it was cowritten…

What I Liked:

–The World–

This world just felt like a great blend of science fiction worlds I’ve read in the past–yet something completely its own at the same time. I was definitely sucked into this futuristic world and wanted to know more about it at the same time. I loved the little tidbits of information we got along the way like news clippings etc. I find those really add to the world in a way that simple narration can’t provide.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wasn’t What I Thought–

I thought this would have more thieving on it–my mistake for reading way too much into the title because the synopsis (when I read it now) doesn’t hint at that at all.

–More Character Driven than Drama–

I was 34% of the way into the book and I felt like nothing had truly happened other than Zara meeting the ship and her new honor partner. Not very exciting. So I found myself zoning out a lot while I was listening because it wasn’t holding my attention.

This story is very much character driven. It’s about Zara exploring this new life, the ship and growing up. And simply put: that just didn’t interest me in anyway.

My Audiobook Experience:

Perhaps the audiobook was a poor choice because it is on the longer side of things but I’ve actually had really great luck with this genre as audiobook selections…the production is great though!

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I read the synopsis for book 2 and it didn’t interest me at all.

My Rating: DNF

Honor Among Thieves DNF | Honor Bound TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

For those who really enjoy books that take their time and are super rich in world building, this is a great science fiction series for you to start!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Fresh Fridays: I, Guinevere (Mythic Maids #1) by C K Brooke

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

Mythic Maidens Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for I, Guinevere (from Goodreads):

If you think you know the story of King Arthur and his mythical sword, think again. Your legends have it wrong. Here’s the truth: I was never married to Arthur, and he wasn’t a king. Because Arthur never pulled that sword out of the stone. I did.
I, Guinevere.

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword in a stone appears in the churchyard. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives it a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: she is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was born royalty. Now, between apprenticing the eccentric wizard, Merlyn; swordplay lessons with an abrasive—albeit, attractive—boy named Lance; and clandestine, magical meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by the barbarous Saxyns and visitations from mysterious dark forces continually warn that she may be in over her head. Can Guinevere defend the kingdom from the darkness and deception that threaten to seize it? Despite her doubts and the sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

From the unstoppable pen of C.K. Brooke comes a fresh and unforgettable new retelling seeped in Arthurian mythology. Queen Guinevere has her own tale to share, and it’s nothing like what you thought! Experience the magic and myth of Camylot, Avalon, Merlyn, and Exkalibur like never before as, in the vein of Brooke’s award-winning SECRETS OF ARTEMIS, this legendary maiden of lore recounts her side of the story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Mythic Maidens
Author: C K Brooke
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 14, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last few years, I’ve really become a fan of C K Brooke’s work. She writes some really intriguing, entertaining stories that I’ve had a hard time putting down. So when I was asked to read her new Arthurian Legend based novella, I was so there! I love anything and everything to do with King Arthur (I’ve seen the musical Camelot at least 3 times) so I couldn’t wait to see what unique spin she’d give Guinevere.

What I Liked:

–I Saw Guinevere in a New Light–

Guinevere is one of those legendary characters that we all have a preconceived notion of–and I know for me, I have a not so favourable one. (Unless we are talking about Gwen from the TV show Merlin–she’s the best!).

I feel like she is one of those characters that is often defined by the men she is involved with but that really wasn’t the case here at all. It was nice to read about her in a more positive, independent light and based on the merits of her own character. In the author’s note, Brooke explains her main goal for writing this story was to allow readers to see Guinevere in a different way and she most definitely succeeds in doing that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing was Slightly Off–

While I enjoyed this story and the blending of classic Arthurian elements, there was just something about the pacing that caused this book to lose the momentum for me. I felt like nothing happened for the vast majority of the pages and everything was rushed together at the end. The twists (both in the plot and the character roles) were great but I almost feel like they happened too late to truly allow me to appreciate them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I got a little hint about who the next book will be about and I CANNOT WAIT! I love the concept of this series so much and I’m excited to see what will happen to our next heroine!

My Rating: 3/5

I, Guinevere 3/5| Book 2 TBP

overall

It’s an enjoyable read and C K Brooke never fails to deliver fresh, entertaining YA reads so fans of her work will no doubt enjoy this!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, novellas, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy/magic, want more romance

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Fresh Fridays: From Here to You (Crash and Burn #1) by Jamie McGuire

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

Crash and Burn Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for From Here to You (from Goodreads):

As Darby Dixon sits in a tiny Texas church bathroom on her wedding day holding a positive pregnancy test, she realizes that of all the bad decisions she’s made in her life, marrying her abusive fiancé would be the worst. She’s never been able to stand up for herself, but she’ll sure as hell stand up for her baby. With just the cash she has on hand, she runs to get a bus ticket to the farthest place she can afford. Between her sheer grit and pageant-queen smile, she lands a job as a front desk clerk at the Colorado Springs Hotel. It’s not a glamorous life, but she and her baby are all that matters.

A former Marine, Scott “Trex” Trexler has worked in the most dangerous, corrupt, war-torn places on earth. Now he finally has a chance to return to the last place he’d felt at peace–Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take a new job with the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a top-secret military installation buried deep within the granite.

The moment Trex walks into the inn, Darby knows he’s dangerous. There’s no way she wants to get involved with another man who seems to be keeping way too many secrets. As charming and devastatingly gorgeous as Trex is, he clearly isn’t telling her everything. But as wildfires rage on the mountain and Darby’s ex-fiancé shows he isn’t so willing to let her go, both she and Trex are soon to find out that what you don’t know absolutely can hurt you.

breakdown

Series: Crash and Burn

This series crosses over with The Maddox Brothers Series

Author: Jamie McGuire
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 21, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading From Here to You at 32% (start of Chapter 11). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was really excited when Forever Publishing offered me the opportunity to read Jamie McGuire’s new series. At that point, I had only read (and enjoyed) Beautiful Disaster but I planned to read its spin-offs in the coming months.

I can’t remember how this book was marketed to me but I knew I wanted to read it. Reading the synopsis prior to starting it for my #ARCAugust 2018 Challenge, I was hoping for a slightly suspenseful yet heartfelt read about two people finding each other in an unlikely place.

What I Liked:

–Darby’s Strength to Leave Her Abusive Fiance–

I started out really liking Darby. She definitely has her flaws but I liked the little bit of strength and resiliency that I saw when she makes the decision to leave her fiance on their wedding day at the start of the book. That takes guts to leave everything behind and essentially live on the run to take care of your unborn baby. I admired her drive to do that as she comes across as a very dependent person given her circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Really Happens–

I swear that the first 10 chapters alternate between Darby rejecting everyone’s offers of help (tiresome even if it is understandable) and Trex’s weirdly secret job. That last one is what irked me the most. I don’t want to read a FULL chapter about some purposely vague government operation that I can’t know about–what does that have to do with the story? Jamie McGuire does that “intentionally left out” information in her books all the time and it drives me NUTS.

–Everything Hits You Like a Slap in the Face–

I won’t tell you the number of times I’m just reading along and then BAM! Revelation from the past suddenly–and out of nowhere–appears. Darby’s dropping stuff about previous abuse; Trex is suddenly in love with her after literally saying 5 words to her. I had to reread a few things to just be sure I had a grasp on things. It all felt a little forced in the end.

–Love At First Sight–

I have a low tolerance for love at first sight but I can admit that sometimes it has its place. This isn’t it.

I didn’t get why Trex was so in love with Darby after literally running into her in the hall. Perhaps that was because I didn’t really know Darby either so what makes her so appealing? I didn’t really connect with either character so their romance came up dry for me.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. There was one character I was interested in and if she gets a book, maybe I’ll read it but I’m not returning to Darby’s story anytime soon.

My Rating: DNF

From Here to You DNF | Book 2 TBP

overall

This book just didn’t come across as organic to me. Everything felt a little forced and as a result, I didn’t get invested into the characters or the story like I wished.

Read if You Like: slower stories, insta-love
Avoid if You: dislike secrets, dislike insta-love, are triggered by abuse

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Fresh Fridays: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L Demeter

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

Fairy Tale Retellings Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beauty of the Beast (from Goodreads):

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

breakdown

Series: Fairy Tale Retellings
Author: Rachel L Demeter
# of Books: 1+ (Beauty of the Beast, Book 2)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No, Book 2 is in the works
Genre: Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: Hot **mature subject matter**
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 15, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this book after seeing a review for it by Raven @ Dreamy Addictions. Most of the fairy tale retellings I read are from a YA perspective so I was curious to see what an adult version of a Beauty and the Beast retelling would be. Thanks to her review I knew that there was some darker scenes but overall it was an enjoyable read and I quickly marked it for my TBR.

What I Liked:

–No Magic–

I suppose you could argue that the magic involved in the Disney version adds to the charm of the story but I really liked the lack of magic here. The idea of the rose dying and imposing a time limit almost rushes the romance between the two–almost forcing them to be together. But without that in this story, we get to focus on the characters and their connection. It gives the story a realistic tone that simply adds to this story in a positive way that very few Beauty and the Beast retellings can achieve.

–Slow Burn Romance–

I enjoy slow burn romances because they usually take the time to show you how great a couple can be together. You see everything that draws them together and you see them start to change their mind about the other person as they fall deeper in love.

That’s entirely the case here. While these two seem to have a basal attraction to each other, their relationship really blossoms over time thanks to conversation and mutual understanding. You saw their chemistry come to life as you read and as time passed and I loved that.

Nothing ever felt forced between them or simply a result of being the only two people in the house (the biggest argument people have about this fairy tale). Their relationship was healthy and mature which is not always the case in this type of retelling. It’s starts as friendship and slowly becomes something more.

–Great Leads–

What I really liked is that both of these characters are strong yet flawed in their own way. It’s not just the “perfect” heroine taming the beast. Both leads had to work on becoming better people and letting someone else into their world. Throughout the novel they each had great character development and I loved watching them evolve as people while falling in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle Lagged a Little Bit–

All in all, the pacing of this book was pretty great. I found myself completely absorbed into the world. But I did find that the middle did get itself stuck in a bit of a lag. There was a point where the secondary plot just got shoved aside so it made the resurgence almost seem a little rushed. And some scenes felt slightly repetitive. However, I really just loved watching these two so I never felt bored with the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

According to a Goodreads Q&A, the next book in the series might be a Little Mermaid or Aladdin retelling so I can’t wait to see what is done next!

My Rating: 4/5

Beauty of the Beast 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is a great fairy tale retelling series for adults. Please do take the disclaimer to heart (though it is just an isolated scene) but know that this isn’t some dark erotica. It focuses on the great characters and the connection between them while weaving your favourite tales into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, adult fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want erotica, want magic, are uncomfortable with sexual assault

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Series Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

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

Warcross Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Warcross (from Goodreads):

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 2 (Warcross, Wildcard)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – September 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

**This post was originally published 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:

After reading (and positively adoring) the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu, I always make an effort to read her books when they come out. While I enjoyed The Young Elites Trilogy, I found that I enjoyed the concept behind it more than the actual story.

So I was a little apprehensive when it came to Warcross. As someone who has played a few Massive Multiplayer Games, I was definitely curious to see what this world was all about. But the synopsis didn’t give much away in terms of the type of story it would be and reviews from other bloggers had me going in with slightly lowered expectations.

But if anyone can surprise me, it’s Marie Lu.

What I Liked:

–Emika–

What a great heroine she is! I just loved her tech savvy-ness and drive. She thinks outside the box and gives everything her all and how can you not love that in a heroine?

–The Games in the Tournament–

I LOVED the actions scenes where Emika is in the game with her team. Perhaps it was just the fact that I could hear the enthusiasm and expressions of the narrator as she read the scenes in the audiobook, but they were enthralling to say the least. It was reminiscent of those scenes in some of my favourite books like Red Rising and The Hunger Games.

–The Romance–

I don’t want to give much away but I thought it was super cute and definitely impacts the plot in a way that not every romance does.

–Not Overly Predictable–

While I had the identity of  Zero figured out, I was definitely wrong about what was actually happening which was a great twist!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I always find it hard to tell when I listen to audiobooks to determine if it’s actually the narrator’s style/delivery that impacts the pacing of the book or the actual writing itself. (Some narrator’s talk at a slower speed plus reading something out-loud takes longer than reading it with your eyes.  So most audiobooks take twice as long to listen to as they would to read). I do know that I sped up the delivery to 1.5X because I found her cadence to be on the slower side (my default is usually 1.25X).

But I did find it took us a while to get into the thick of things. Not that we spend too much time following Emika’s life before the tournament but the first half definitely lacks the suspense of the latter half.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t WAIT to see how all of this is going to play out! This series went in a direction I didn’t anticipate so I’m really curious about what Marie Lu has up her sleeve.

updates

–November 25, 2018– Book #2: Wildcard

Given that ending, I thought Wildcard would hit the ground running at a much faster pace than its predecessor; but that didn’t seem to be the case. I found the first 75% of this book was just dialogue upon dialogue–which is fine because it helps establish and explain the various aspects of the plot–I just found that I would lose interest along the way. I missed those moments of gameplay and the like where I was thrown into the thick of things. We do get these pockets of excitement along the way; I just found they were few and far between.

I will give some bonus points though for originality. This series went in a direction I never anticipated and I thought this sequel was much less predictable. I was really into the story for the last quarter because I had no idea what was going to happen and I liked that a lot.

My Rating: 4/5

Warcross  4/5| Wildcard 3.5/5

overall

You don’t have to be a fan of video games to get hooked into this page turner!

Read if You Like: stories set in the future, video games, action
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Fresh Fridays: Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire #1) by Heidi McLaughlin

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

Vegas Billionaire Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stripped Bare (from Goodreads):

They don’t call it the Strip for nothing. . . .

In this sinfully sexy Las Vegas romance from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, a man who has it all reunites with a woman who takes it all off.

Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

breakdown

Series: Vegas Billionaire
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
# of Books: 1+ (Stripped Bare, Book 2)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be announced
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across Stripped Bare on Netgalley but I never had a chance to request it. But when I saw it was at my library, I decided to check it out. I love unorthodox love stories and the idea of a single mom stripper reuniting with a one-night stand in Vegas? I couldn’t wait to see what was in store!

What I Liked:

–The Plot–

As expected, given the circumstances of how these two meet, this story has some drama. But what I really liked is that it never goes over the top. It’s dramatic enough to give this story some drive but not enough that had me rolling my eyes or being frustrated by the unnecessary flare. I thought everything had an adequate amount of time to fester and resolve so I was very fulfilled in that respect.

–Easy Read–

I really got into this story. The pages just turn so easily and I found myself entertained start to finish.

–That Their Past Wasn’t Glorified–

While these two have a shared past, I liked that it wasn’t glorified into being this ultimate love story. It’s pitched as a bit of a missed moment for both so I it was a nice approach to the “second chance” romance.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Physical Chemistry than Emotional–

These two have a great chemistry but its more physical than emotional. I really felt like these two didn’t talk to each other besides vocal sexy times. So the relationship fell a little flat for me. Having the duel POV helped a lot because we do get to see the inner thoughts of our leads but I still needed more from them to totally convince me these two were falling in love with each other and not just the sex.

–Super Obvious Plot Twist–

I had the one twist figured out before I even started this book. It just seemed very obvious to me. I will admit, I did second guess myself for a chapter or two but I still knew in my gut I was right. Perhaps the twist is supposed to be that noticeable–if it is, it gives this story a different tone. But I found it to be underwhelming overall as nothing else really surprised me in this novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea who the next novel(s) will be about. I know I have a few characters in mind that I would like to know more about but I guess we have to play the waiting game!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Stripped Bare 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

While this one had its cliche and obvious moments, I was still entertained by the premise and enjoyed the drama that played out.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexy chemistry
Avoid if You: want more emotional connection, want more surpises

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Fresh Fridays: Sweet Black Waves (#1) by Kristina Pérez

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

Sweet Black Waves Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sweet Black Waves (from Goodreads):

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA New Series 2018
Series: Sweet Black Waves Trilogy
Author: Kristina Perez
# of Books: 3 (Sweet Black Waves, Wild Savage Stars, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wild Savage Stars, will be published in August 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 5, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Imprint Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I managed to snag one of the few “read now” copies of this book on Netgalley and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I love forbidden romance stories and you don’t get much more famous than the legend of Tristan and Isolde (unless you are Romeo and Juliet perhaps). I’ve read a lot of Romeo and Juliet inspired stories but not very many of Tristan Isolde. Perhaps the adulterous nature of their story turns people away? Regardless, I was very intrigued to see how Pérez would used the tale to highlight a character who isn’t a part of the famous duo.

What I Liked:

–Rich World Building–

It’s always readily apparent to me how much work an author has put into a story and when I was only a few chapters in, I knew how much research and thought Kristina Pérez had put into crafting this world. Not only is the world intricately crafted with its lush setting of magic and politics, but the weaving of the various Tristan and Isolde legends is beautifully done.

I know the gist of the various legends but there was still an element of anticipation in this novel as I waited to see how everything would unfold and it takes a great talent to do that with a novel that has been inspired by such a well known tale.

–The Layered Characters–

It really was the characters that sold this story for me. Everyone has so many layers to them, not just Branwen (though she is a fascinating lead to follow). This truly is a character driven story as I found there isn’t much else to the plot besides Branwen navigating her role in court as various obstacles appear along the way. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and for someone who loves political intrigue in her novels, I was a huge fan!

–The Romance–

I can’t ignore the romance when it is based on one of the most famous romances of all time. I don’t want to give much away, but all I will say is SWOON! I was a big fan!

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Discovered the Glossary at the Very End of Reading–

Not that this was a hard story to follow when it comes to the terms and the language used. I’ve studied Latin and French so I was able to figure it out quickly. But I always hate when I discover the glossary once I’ve finished the book…it’s one of the biggest issues I have with reading ebooks but alas, it wasn’t a huge deal here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! What an ending! I’m so invested in all these characters that I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I personally don’t see how this will be a trilogy given the plot of just the first book alone so I know some major stuff must be on the way in order to get to that third novel.

My Rating: 5/5

Sweet Black Waves 5/5 | Wild Savage Stars TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Despite the somewhat muted plot (when you compare it to other fantasy and high fantasy novels), there was never a dull moment in this book. Personally, it reminded me a lot of Blackhearts with its similar focus on the characters and romance while working within a well known legend. Only this one is a fantasy story and involves more politics.

Read if You Like: fantasy, inspired by well known legends
Avoid if You: want more action

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  • Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (Blackhearts Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Series Review: Damaged Hearts by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Her Defiant Heart (from Goodreads):

Life can feel like a cruel joke. I grew up poor and motherless, with a father who never got over his wife’s abandonment. But now he’s gone too, and I’m dead set on finding the woman who so carelessly tossed me aside when I was a baby.

I want revenge. And I’m going to get back at my mother any way that I can.

I change my name. Start my new life in college, and just happen to cross paths with the gorgeous, ultra-rich Rhett Montgomery. He’s immediately interested in me, not that I’m surprised.

You see, I planned it that way. I meant for him to find me. He’s the one connection to my mother, and I’m using him, so I can destroy her. But I didn’t plan on Rhett being so charming. Sweet. Sexy.

And I definitely didn’t plan on falling for him either…

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Defiant Heart Trilogy
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Her Defiant Heart, His Wasted Heart, Damaged Hearts)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, His Wasted Heart, will be published April 26, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty -Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 29, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC via iTunes

Add: Goodreads | Buy: iTunes *exclusive to iTunes*

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Blog Tour 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:

As I say anytime I review a Monica Murphy novel, she’s a favourite of mine in everything she writes, but especially her New Adult romances. And when I saw that she was going to be writing a revenge story? One of my all time favourite tropes to read—I nearly croaked in excitement!

What I Liked:

–The Revenge Plot–

The revenge plot in any book is one of my favourites because it provides so many opportunities for an addicting story. It provides this level of anticipation as you watch the pieces fall into place; it gives the romance a dash of danger; and you always get some great twists along the way. But one of my favourite aspects is the character’s realization that perhaps revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the subsequent character growth we get as a result.

This book had all of that and that’s what made it so addicting to read. You’ve got the anticipation of learning Jen’s full plan for revenge and everything she’s done to get to that point. You’ve got her mixed feelings towards her target Rhett (who definitely packs on the charm). And along the way we get these little plot twists that you know are setting the foundation for something more to happen.

But the best part is:

–Our Heroine–

When we first get introduced to Jen, she’s a bit of a cold-hearted chick to say the least. She’s methodical in her plan for revenge and has her “eye on the prize” so to speak. But I was shocked how quickly my heart melted for her. Thanks to flashbacks we get to see what has driven Jen to this point and why she feels she needs to complete this path for vengeance. Add to that her inner monologue of struggles as she executes her plans and you really start to sympathize for the girl. She’s a complex lead in a sticky situation and I loved the character development that happens as a result.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I have to wait for the sequel–

Thank goodness it’s only a few weeks away! I was so hooked that I didn’t realize I was near the end and I need to know what happens next!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I can see that bigger things are to come — and knowing Monica Murphy they are going to be worth the wait! I’m also really excited to learn more about Rhett by getting the sequel, His Wasted Heart, from his POV. It’ll be nice to get some more depth to his character!

updates

–April 16, 2018– Book 2: His Wasted Heart

First: I loved the fact that this book was told entirely from Rhett’s POV. Having only had Jensen’s in the previous one, I was excited to get into the inner workings of this playboy-charmer. While I wanted a little more character growth from him, I loved the various secrets that were revealed by seeing Rhett’s family first hand. Jensen’s lack of a POV also gave this novel an air of suspense because you don’t know what Jensen’s plans for revenge are or is she honestly trying to foster the connection she and Rhett share.

These two do share an intense connection for sure. I found the first half of this book almost focused a little too much on the physical chemistry between these two. Their sexual chemistry was something we had already established in Her Defiant Heart so I wanted more character development from Rhett and some expanded upon plot development as well. That being said, Monica Murphy sure does know how to write some steamy scenes!

And I will say that this book gets it together by the end. We get some fabulous twists in the last few chapters that have me itching for the sequel ASAP!

–June 2, 2018– Book 3: Damaged Hearts

This was a great finale! The drama was juicy, the romance was sweet and the characters showed how much they have grown since the very first book. I loved the communication and mature approaches they had for their problems. It grounded the story despite its somewhat soap opera like drama. Definitely an entertaining series from start to finish!

My Rating: 4/5

Her Defiant Heart 4/5 | His Wasted Heart 3.5/5 | Damaged Hearts 4/5

overall
This series has everything I love about a Monica Murphy New Adult series. It’s got a jaded but likeable lead, a swoon-worthy love interest and just the right flare of drama to keep you hooked until the very end!

Read if You Like: revenge plots, quicker reads, New Adult
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike revenge

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Monica Murphy

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

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

Add: Goodreads | Buy: iTunes *exclusive to iTunes*

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