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Single Sundays: To Love Jason Thorn by Ella Maise

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 To Love Jason Thorn (from Goodreads):

Jason Thorn… My brother’s childhood friend.

Oh, how stupidly in love with that boy I was. He was the first boy that made me blush, my first official crush. Sounds beautiful so far, right? That excitement that bubbles up inside you, those famous butterflies you feel for the very first time—he was the reason for them all. But, you only get to live in that fairytale world until they crush your hopes and dreams and then stomp on your heart for good measure. And boy did he crush my little heart into pieces.

After the stomping part he became the boy I did my best to stay away from—and let me tell you, it was pretty hard to do when he slept in the room right across from mine.

When tragedy struck his family and they moved away, I was ready to forget he ever existed.

Now he is a movie star, the one who makes women of all ages go into a screaming frenzy, the one who makes everyone swoon with that dimpled smile of his. Do you think that’s dreamy? I certainly don’t think so. How about me coming face to face with him? Nope still not dreamy. Not when I can’t even manage to look him in the eye.

Me? I’m Olive, a new writer. Actually, I’m THE writer of the book that inspired the movie he is about to star in on the big screen. As of late, I am also referred to as the oh-so-very-lucky girl who is about to become the wife of Jason Thorn.

Maybe you’re thinking yet again that this is all so dreamy? Nope, nothing dreamy going on here. Not even close.

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Author: Ella Maise
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

There is a spin-off novel: To Hate Adam Conner

Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I only picked this book up because I saw the cover 😛 When I was browsing audiobook titles to take out, this one caught my eye and I couldn’t resist learning more. After I read the synopsis, I realized that it had some of my favourite tropes in contemporary romance (fake marriage, in love with a celebrity, childhood friends) and so I just had to read it!

The Plot:

For me, there was just something about the pacing that stopped me from loving this story. I don’t know if there were too many tropes thrown in to work through or if the somewhat over the top drama got to me–but something just stopped me from totally loving the plot.

I will say that I did love how we get to see the history between these two at the start of the book. It provides some great context for their relationship moving forward.

The Characters:

Unfortunately, I did not love Jason Thorn. Simply put, the guy’s an asshole but I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and watch him get some great character growth…but he really doesn’t. He wasn’t making me swoon (his perpetual use of the nickname “Little One” for Olive gave me the hebejebes and turned me off of his charm to say the least) and he didn’t convince me that he was worthy of Olive in the end.

As for Olive, I liked her enough but I wasn’t totally loving her character either.

The Romance:

This was a very big let down. One of my biggest problems with Jason is that I never felt like he fell in love with Olive. I definitely think he felt lust for her but I don’t know what he loved about her. Sure she’s a nice person and she worships the ground he walks on for some reason but I don’t know what he sees in her that would make him give up his manwhore ways. He never convinced me that he loved her and more than he liked what she provided for his career and image.

As for Olive, I too don’t know what she really loved about Jason. Sure, it’s cute she had a crush on him as a kid and he gave her that irritating nickname while they were growing up but what else was there? I think she was so blinded by the idea of him (and his cute face) that her inner monologue didn’t provide much substance to the relationship.

My Audiobook Experience:

I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this more if I read the printed version. Audiobooks are longer to get through than a physical book so perhaps that’s the reason the story seemed excessively long (though to be fair, I was listening to it at a faster speed so it didn’t take me that much longer). I didn’t totally love the voice for Jason–it was too deep or something–either. But the production is great overall so no complaints in that respect.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one just didn’t live up to the expectations I had in place. I wanted a swoonworthy romance but I ended up wondering why these two even liked each other by the end.

Read if You Like: in love with actor stories, second chances involving childhood friends
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy asshole heroes

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Series Review: Royally by Emma Chase

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Royally Screwed (from Goodreads):

Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka His Royal Hotness, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant; hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.

Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn’t bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.

Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.

Dating a prince isn’t what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.

There’s a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they’ve traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces, and haven’t chopped anyone’s head off lately, the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.

But to Olivia, Nicholas is worth it.

Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King… or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Fav Couple, 2018 Fav
Series: Royally Trilogy; Royals Trilogy

There is a Spin-Off Series titled The Bodyguards!

Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 3 (Royally Screwed, Royally Matched, Royally Endowed)

There is a free novella: #2.5 Royally Raised

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2016 – August 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Library–Audiobook (Royally Endowed)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been eager to read another Emma Chase series since I finished Tangled years ago. She is one of those authors who never fails to make me laugh. She just has the total package when it comes to writing. The Legal Briefs didn’t interest me all that much (but I do have it on my TBR now because I just love her work) but when I saw she was writing a series about royals? Hell yes!

The Plot:

I really liked that all 3 books had a different plot style to them because each set of leads has a different flare to them. It’s hard to talk about them all without spoilers (particularly because the events in Royally Screwed heavily influence Royally Matched) but I’ll just say you’ll feel every emotion as you read. I laughed, I cried, I swooned.

For me, this whole series is just adult contemporary perfection. You’ve got great characters with great development. Heart-pounding romance and tension. A solid plot throughout. And you can’t forget the humour Emma Chase flawlessly infuses into her stories and her ability to make you cry just moments later. They’re just an absolute pleasure to read!

The Characters:

I loved all these characters. I loved how they were all uniquely complicated. I loved watching them grow as people. I loved their wit and humour. Basically, I loved them and they really made these novels awesome.

The Romance:

You know, all of these characters make my “Favourite Couples” list. They were everything I love in a romantic pair. Great communication, complementary personalities, a strong partnership. While they grow as people, so does the romance.

There’s plenty of heat and tension along the way as well. The chemistry between all the leads just leaps off the pages and it makes all the stories so addicting.

When to Read the Novella #2.5 Royally Raised?

I was a little worried that Royally Raised (which is a freebie novella at most eBook retailers) would have some spoilers for Royally Endowed (Book #3) but it doesn’t at all. It has spoilers for Books 1 & 2 but you really shouldn’t be reading a novella that’s set 20 years later before you read the actual stories of the characters it’s about. (Just sayin’)

Anyways, I read it after Royally Matched and I think that’s the perfect time to read it. It makes for an extended epilogue of sorts with the leads and it’s absolute perfection! Highly recommend!

My Audiobook Experience–Royally Endowed:

I did plan on reading Royally Matched as an audiobook as well but I already had a voice for Henry in my mind and the narrator for that audiobook didn’t sound like that. Thus, I opted for the eBook.

But I’m so, so glad I listened to the audiobook for Royally Endowed. It was absolutely fabulous! Shane East and Andi Arndt did an AMAZING job (they narrate the other novels as well and what I had listened to of Royally Matched was also great). The accent Shane did was the perfect blend of English and Scottish like the Wessco accent is described and it really helped me to get lost in the story. I highly recommend the audiobooks for this series!

Series Rating: 5/5

Royally Screwed 5/5 | Royally Matched 5/5 | [Royally Raised 5/5] | Royally Endowed 5/5

overall

I see a lot of rereads with this series in the future. One of my all time favourite Adult Contemporary Romance Series EVER!

Read if You Like: romances involving royals, humour
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy romance novels

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Series Review: Maybe by Ella Miles

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Maybe Yes (from Goodreads):

Her future is already set, all she has to do is marry a complete stranger.

Kinsley Felton has everything. Money, a loving family, and a modeling career. She graduates from Yale in just days, but unlike a typical college student she doesn’t have to spend hours looking for a job when she graduates. Kinsley will inherit the multi-billion dollar gaming and hospitality company her great-grandfather started. The only problem is she has to do everything her family asks for in order to get that money. That includes marrying a man of her family’s choosing. That’s not a problem since Kinsley has been following her family’s orders all her life. Until a phone call from her grandfather changes everything.

Will she marry the man her family chooses or will she decide her own future?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Dark Romance 2017
Series: Maybe

There is a spin-off series called Definitely.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Maybe Yes, Maybe Never, Maybe Always)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: getting hot (Kink: mild in Maybe Always)
Point of View: First Person, Single (Maybe Yes), Alternating (Maybe Never onwards)
Publication Dates: March – July 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Amazon freebie box set)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found out about Maybe Yes but I marked it on my TBR around the time it was first published in March 2016. And then I really lucked out when the trilogy boxset was listed as a freebie read on Amazon in February 2017. It’s not often that a book I mark as a TBR gets a reduced price let alone the entire series is marked as free so I immediately grabbed a copy.

This was a romance right up my alley! I like to read about unorthodox relationships in my romances–I find they keep things interesting between the usually romantic fare. And the “arranged relationship” trope is one of my faves as well. So to find one that seemed to combine both was awesome! However, I was hesitant that I wouldn’t like Kinsley’s character (I don’t like indecisive heroines) but went in with an open mind and was really excited to start this series when I pulled it from my TBR jar for my #ShelfLove Challenge!

The Concept:

The disclaimer for this series actually supremely helpful in preparing the reader for what to expect. Because the story we get in Maybe Yes (book 1) is nothing like the story we get in Maybe Always (book 3).

Warning: Three book series. Contains hot sex, a female that finds her strength, and dark pasts that turn very dark as the series progresses. Only for those that love dirty romances, edge of your seat suspense, twists, and a little bit of darkness.

That first part about a “female that finds her strength” is key when it comes to meeting Kinsley for the first time. She’s a naive girl who has her whole life controlled by her family–and for some unknown reason–so it makes her seem like she isn’t the brightest girl on the planet. But that also provides the perfect opportunity for character growth. More on that below. My point is, thanks to that disclaimer, I was able to have some patience with her character in that first book. I was able to get some understanding for why the situation is what it is.

The same thing goes for the “dark pasts” aspect. This isn’t just a story about a girl deciding if her arranged marriage will work for her–there is so much more going on and this story goes in a direction I never expected. It’s not your everyday contemporary romance (despite how the synopsis for book 1 reads) and that’s what I loved about it.

The Plot:

Like I said, this book always had me guessing! The plot is never what it seems and the twists are fabulous! I was absolutely hooked on this story and easily could have read all three books in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way.

But like the disclaimer said, this series moves in a direction you probably aren’t expecting when you pick up Maybe Yes. It has an edge of danger to it that I think some readers might not enjoy if they prefer their lighter romances that focus on the sexy times and everyday dramatics. There’s nothing “everyday” about this series at all.

The Characters:

The Kinsley we have in book 1 is by no means the Kinsley we get in book 3. Her character progression was fabulous to read. She truly gains her independence and learns that she is more than the beauty her family has told her to bank on her entire life. And what I really loved is that she doesn’t become co-dependent on her romantic interest either. You could have easily removed his role and you would still get this strong heroine at the end.

This series is really about Kinsley becoming her own woman but you need a strong partner as well. I’m not going to name her romantic interest because I think it is a slight spoiler; but I will say that I really loved his character and the role he plays. He was a great partner for Kinsley’s journey because he has one he has to complete as well.

The Romance:

While this happens pretty fast and doesn’t seem like it has too much depth to it, I think it’s easy for the reader to see why these two would work together. Like I said above, they were a great partnership and had fantastic chemistry to boot!

Series Rating: 4/5

Maybe Yes 4/5 | Maybe Never 4/5 | Maybe Always 4/5

overall

Take the disclaimer to heart. If you don’t like suspense or darker romances (like the ones in my similar reads section below), avoid this! But if you want a story that is always twisting with a heroine that truly grows as the story progresses, check it out!

Read if You Like: dark romances, suspense, danger
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, want a lighter read

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Series Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Raven Boys (from Goodreads):

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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Series: The Raven Boys

There is a companion series in the works.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
# of Books: 4 (The Raven Boys; The Dream Thieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Raven King)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: September 2012 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover & eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Dream Thieves (Book 2) at 32%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I couldn’t escape this series if I tried. It’s consistently raved about in the blogosphere and I just had to add it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge even though I didn’t love Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls Series. But the concept was intriguing (perhaps a replacement for the void the Beautiful Creatures Series has left all these years) and all the talk had me eager to see what the hype was for.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery of the World–

The mystery of the world had me intrigued from the start of The Raven Boys. It kept me reading trying to figure out what is actually at play in this world. That intrigue reminded me a lot of the rich world of the Beautiful Creatures and definitely made me a fan of this new world.

However, will say that I did struggle with the magic/supernatural elements of the world at times. Part of the reason I was so interesting in reading was that I wanted to better understand what was actually happening! I think this is just a me thing (I was reading The Raven Boys on a road trip so I was easily distracted).

–The Friendship of the Boys–

Unlike The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series, I actually liked all of the leads here!

First, the brotherhood of the boys is fantastic! It’s nice to see such strong male relationships be the focus of the story as opposed to the romantic relationship between a boy and girl. They are all so interesting and unique and they truly make this story.

Blue is also a strong character as well. Again, I was never irritated by her or her actions so it made it easy to read her story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Plot is so Slow!–

While the mystery of the world kept me reading, I found the plot itself to be rather slow. The beginning and end had a lot of great twists and developments but I found everything just stayed stagnant in the middle. Especially in The Dream Thieves (#2). I quickly lost interest in the nonexistent plot developments; my mind wasn’t stimulated to keep reading (even reading the complete recap on Recaptains bored me).

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis in terms of Romance–

I thought the synopsis for The Raven Boys was grossly misleading with respect to the romance. It made it seem (to me) that that story was going to be focused on Gansey and Blue fighting an inevitable love and that is far from the case.

The romance is such a minor, minor aspect to the plot (at least in the first book) so don’t expect a page consuming romance here…or at least right away. (Given the spoilers I read, I guess there are some major developments near the end of the series that will appease people).

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I was actually reminded of my experience reading The Darkest Minds where I toughed it out because the twists near the end grabbed my attention but then I struggled through the rest of the series. I don’t want to do that again, so I am going to leave it all here and walk away.

Series Rating: DNF

The Raven Boys 3.5/5 | The Dream Thieves DNF | Blue Lily, Lily Blue N/A | The Raven King N/A

overall

I’m definitely in the minority here but this series was just not for me. It’s a slower novel that focuses more on the characters progressing through their lives as they navigate the mysterious world around them.

Read if You Like: slower stories, magic, psychics
Avoid if You: want more romance
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Series Review: Walk of Shame by Victoria Ashley

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Slade (from Goodreads):
My name is Slade Merrick and I’m a fucking sex addict . . .

I’ve been told it’s a problem. But I see it as a passion; something that I’m good at. And who the fuck stops something that they’re good at?

They want me to seek help; get my cock in check. Don’t judge my lifestyle. You’re no better than me. Just admit it, you like to fuck too. Sex is what I do best; my own personal high, so I embrace it instead of being ashamed.

When I’m not fucking, I’m slinging drinks at Walk Of Shame or stripping my way into your bed; another thing I’m good at. Every woman’s darkest fantasy brought to life.

So, am I stopping? Fuck no. Sex is beautiful, raw and erotic and I get off knowing I can have it with anyone I want . . . with the exception of her.

Aspen.

She walks into the club swaying those hips, instantly drawing my cock to attention. She’s pure perfection. That is, until she opens that mouth, drawing me in and for the first time in forever I want something more than sex. I want her and she hates it.

Things get dirty. Dirty is what I like; it’s how I live. But . . . she’s playing a game she can never win.

breakdown

Series: Walk of Shame Trilogy

There is a spin-off series called Walk of Shame 2nd Generation

Author: Victoria Ashley
# of Books: 3 (Slade, Hemy, Cale)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2014 – July 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t remember how I got these books on my Kobo but there they were when I pulled a star labelled “Slade” from my TBR jar for my Make Me Read It Challenge. While I didn’t read it for my challenge, I still wanted to read all 10 books that I pulled since they contribute to my Rock My TBR Challenge.

I love stories about cocky bad boys who get put in their place by their significant other but it has been a long time since I’ve read a straight erotica novel…so I wasn’t sure if I would be ready for all the sexy times.

The Concept:

Each novella focuses on a different male stripper from the club, Walk of Shame. So if you are picturing Magic Mike, you’re not far from the situation.

The Plot:

Considering the words “erotica novella” are plastered on the front cover, there was a lot more to the plot than I expected. I was worried it was just going to be filled with sexy times but there was actually substance to these characters and their story!

The boys all struggle with pasts that have lead them to their current situation. It was very addicting to get to the bottom of their pasts and see how they were going to right those wrongs.

The Characters:

These boys are bad through and through; but they have these redeeming qualities to them that make you like them.

What I liked about the girls was that they didn’t become overly dependent on these boys once they got involved. While I might not have liked how they handled some of the conflict thrown their ways, I appreciated their characters.

It was crazy how attached I got to all these characters! As soon as I was a couple pages into Slade I just had to know more about Hemy and Cale and what their stories might be.

The Romance:

Even though each story was a novella, I still felt like the romance developed at a great pace. I was actually surprised by how well the romance was established. Lots of novellas rush things but that wasn’t the case here.

The Sexy Times:

I think it’s important that you read the Author’s note before you consider picking up this series:

Author’s Note: Due to strong language and a very high amount of dirty, sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18. This is #1 in the Walk Of Shame series of novellas that will all be standalone reads. If you’re not into, cocky bad boys with filthy mouths and even filthier sex, then this series is not for you. If you are . . . then, come meet the dirty boys of Walk Of Shame

It’s very accurate and if erotica isn’t your thing, this isn’t your series!

Series Rating: 4/5

Slade 4/5 | Hemy 4/5 | Cale 4/5

overall

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this series! Going in, I thought it was only going to be sexy times but there was actually substance to these characters. It was a blast getting to know them and their pasts better!

Read if You Like: erotica, stories about strippers
Avoid if You: erotica

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Single Sundays: Where the Road Takes Me by Jay McLean

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 Where the Road Takes Me (from Goodreads):
Chloe has one plan for the future, and one plan only: the road. She’s made a promise to herself: don’t let anyone in, and don’t let anyone love her. She’s learned the hard way what happens if she breaks her rules. So she’s focused on being invisible and waiting until she can set out on the road—her dream of freedom, at least for a little while.

Blake Hunter is a basketball star who has it all—everything about him looks perfect to those on the other side of his protective walls. He can’t let anyone see the shattered pieces behind the flawless facade or else all his hopes and dreams will disappear.

One dark night throws Chloe and Blake together, changing everything for Blake. For Chloe, nothing changes: she has the road, and she’s focused on it. But when the so-called perfect boy starts to notice the invisible girl, they discover that sometimes with love, no one knows where the road may lead.

breakdown

Series Often grouped as the Road Series

There is a spin-off called the Kick, Push Duology

Author: Jay McLean
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually read the spin-off series first, Kick, Push, so I was introduced to Chloe and Blake and their story early on. Even though I knew how it ended, I was really excited to read their story because it seemed so sweet. I didn’t know they had their own story (though I hoped!) until I saw Amazon group Kick, Push as a part of the “Road” series. So I was really excited to know that their story was already out there and I could read it ASAP!

The Plot:

I had definitely built up what I wanted this story to be in my head before I started it. And, it wasn’t really what I thought which was disappointing.

In typical Jay McLean fashion, I found things to be overdramatic and taken to that next level. After reading so many of her books, I’m use to it but it rubbed me the wrong way this time. I think it was because I wanted the story to be something else and I didn’t want those dramatics.

It also seemed a little cliché at times–which I’m normally ok with but here it just seemed overused and it tired me.

The Characters:

Ok, I won’t lie, I definitely pictured Haley and Nathan from One Tree Hill the entire time I read this novel. I don’t know why because I never watched One Tree Hill but I’m familiar with the basics of their relationship. I think it was the basketball thing though in all honesty.

Like I said, I knew Blake and Chloe’s story and their characters from the other series so I already had my impressions of them. And they weren’t totally what I expected them to be but then again, Where the Road Takes Me is their journey to that point.

The Romance:

Cute but cliché I thought. It was a little too love at first sight for me but it definitely had its sweet moments.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This just wasn’t the story I wanted. It was cute but I got tired of it by the end.

Read if You Like: high school new adult stories
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Red Rising (from Goodreads):
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2016
Series: Red Rising Trilogy

There is a spin-off series in the works, the Iron Gold Trilogy.

Author: Pierce Brown
# of Books: 3 (The Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action, War, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2014 – February 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Red Rising caught my eye around the time it was released in 2014 but I didn’t think much else of it. The synopsis sounded intriguingly vague and so I decided to “wait and see” if I should pick up the series. As time passed, it seemed to be getting lots of positive reviews and I made the decision to wait until everything was released so I could binge read it all.

I admit, I was a little worried when I first saw the cover of Red Rising, touting it to be like “The Hunger Games”. Lots of series of have tried but nothing has ever lived up to the rush I got reading the first Hunger Games novel. But, the promise of a male protagonist and a dangerous, political game made me excited to dive into this series.

The Concept / The World:

This is one dark, dangerous world–and it sucks you in. I adore dystopian stories that are rich in politics and strategies and this series has it in spades. You don’t know who to trust; you don’t know what games are afoot and if the characters are aware; and you definitely don’t know who will live to see another day.

In that respect, it reminds me of Game of Thrones. You have all these players vying for power in a world that is simple but complexly layered. And no one seems to be safe from the violence. Sure, get attached to the characters but be prepared that some might not make it far.

I also see where the Hunger Games links occur. The idea is very Katniss Everdeen-esque. Darrow is picked to the be face of the rebellion (like Katniss) but unlike Katniss, he doesn’t hesitate to do so. The plot of Red Rising is also very similar to the Hunger Games themselves–and I think fans will embrace the concept with open arms even if it is more politically driven than the need to survive alone.

The Plot:

This series is one of those 5 star reads you give simply because it is beautifully crafted from start to finish. You don’t give it 5 stars simply because you couldn’t put it down–you give it 5 stars for its methodical execution. Simply put, I’ve never read a series like this before. Though I found these novels addicting, I really took my time with them–averaging 7 days to read them instead of my usual 2-3 days.

These books have so many layers; so many doorways for the plot to move down. The twists were amazing. I love stories that have so many games afoot you don’t know fact from fiction or who is in on the betrayal or not.

That being said, I can see why people wouldn’t enjoy them that much. They do start slow, each book rebuilding itself after the amazing ending of the last. I know the violence and murder will turn a lot of people off. People may have a hard time liking the characters. And if you don’t enjoy the mind-games of characters and the charades of politics, you might find this series dry as well.

All I can suggest is to try the sample or give the first book a shot because this whole series builds up beautifully. I feel like these books are ones you appreciate more in hindsight, when you can see how everything unfolded and how it all works together.

The Characters:

Most YA dystopian reads that I pick up have female protagonists. Honestly, I think Winston from 1984 is the only male dystopian lead I can think of off the top of my head if pressed. And while I love reading about strong female protagonists, I always enjoy seeing a male hero rise to the occasion.

Darrow is an interesting character. He easily garnered my sympathy early in the series and maintained it throughout. I loved the way his mind worked–it was endlessly fascinating. His plans, his manipulations, his compassion–they make him unique and a joy to watch. Seeing him grow over the course of these novels was a real treat.

I won’t say much about the other characters because it will lead to a lot of spoilers but I really grew attached to a lot of them. Some I didn’t even realize until something awful happened. I definitely loved and hated these characters and I love when a series brings that out in me!

The Romance:

This is such a minor part of the series but I love how it adds to the depth of the story. This isn’t a romance series by any stretch of the imagination.

My Expectations for the Spin-off Series:

I have my hypotheses for what will happen next but I can NOT wait to see what happens next!

Series Rating: 5/5

Red Rising 5/5 | Golden Son 5/5 | Morning Star 5/5

overall

If you love a good science fiction novel rich in action, political intrigue and many, many plot twists, you NEED to read this series!

Read if You Like: politcal dystopians, male protagonists, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Until We Break by Jamie Howard

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 Until We Break (from Goodreads):
When Sloane Avery stops to help a stranded driver, she finds more than a broken down car on the side of the road. Luke Evans is faster and sexier than her Maserati, but with her heart still on the mend, she’s not interested in taking him for a test drive. Despite their initial disdain for each other, emotion and passion simmer, complicating their fragile friendship. But when a tragic loss and devastating betrayal send them spiraling, their growing love isn’t enough to save them.

That was five years ago, practically a different lifetime and definitely a different Sloane. Before she’s been hardened by booze, sex, and as much distance as she could get from the past. Now, called home on a family emergency, she’s determined to hold onto her heart the next time she sees Luke.

Except Sloane’s not the only one who’s changed. Luke’s turned his life around. Only the reappearance of Sloane and the reminder of his biggest mistake can put a dent in his plans. Luke is set on fixing what he’s broken. But with her emotions boiling to the surface, Sloane needs to decide if falling in love is life’s greatest gift or its cruelest joke.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Must Watch Author
Author: Jamie Howard
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Read It Review It (Author)–eBook  |  Thank you Jamie Howard!

Note: This book has a follow-up titled Until It’s Right. Read my review of it here.

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I did things a little out of order and actually read the follow-up novel, Until It’s Right, before I read this one. By doing that, I was really intrigued to see what exactly happened with this cast of characters and why.

Until It’s Right has a fun plot line so I knew Until We Break was going to be a little “darker” and have more jaded characters. I was looking forward to a second chance romance and figuring out what on earth happened to Sloane to make her into the character we see in Until It’s Right.

The Plot:

I really liked that the book is split into two parts: before and present. By having everything laid out for you in terms of what happened 5 years ago, you are able to bond with the characters and get the full story before you jump ahead. At first, I thought I wanted alternating flashback chapters but having a clear divide was the best execution for this story.

There is a lot of drama and secrets so it really pushes you to read forward. Even though you get both Luke and Sloane’s POV, you still are kept in the dark about a few things and I appreciated that. These secrets make the story darker than Until It’s Right so don’t expect a fully light-hearted read with this one.

That being said, I thought there could have been a lot more drama than there was. A few minor things seemed unresolved to me when I finished the book but not enough to dampen my reading experience. It’s more of me being picky as a reader 😛

The Characters:

Because I read the previous book, I already had a preconceived idea of Sloane and Luke–but Sloane specifically. Given how she is presented there, I wasn’t sure if I could be empathetic to her story while I read Until It Breaks. But I think having the full backstory (the 5 years before part), I was able to see why she acts the way she does later on.

I thought the character development was adequate, I just wanted it to go that little bit further. Again, comparing it to Until It’s Right, I know that Howard can deliver great characters and I wanted to see more of that here.

The Romance:

Normally, I don’t enjoy second chance romances that much but this one had enough secrets that I didn’t feel like I knew how everything was going to go down from day 1. I thought these two had a great match but, again, I think I wanted it elaborated a little more. But given the concept of the story, how the romance is executed is very well done and all readers will be satisfied.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as its follow-up, this is a solid New Adult debut! It has intriguing characters, the foundation for great character development and enough secrets and drama to keep you reading! I’m definitely keeping my eye out for future Jamie Howard releases!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, drama, secrets
Avoid if You: dislike drama, jaded characters

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Series Review: Jordinia by C K Brooke


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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Duchess Quest (from Goodreads):
“Love is destined to find her…”
Dainy doesn’t know that she is the lost Duchess of Jordinia, believed to have been assassinated fifteen years ago. Nor does she know that her uncle has implemented an illegal contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward! Though at odds, three clashing rivals – including a noble giant, a forest dweller and a thieving rake – voyage together by woodland, prairie and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding the assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, young Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic quadrangle as each suitor competes to capture her heart. Charmingly romantic and bursting with political intrigue, startling twists and vivid characters, readers of romance and fantasy alike will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.

breakdown

Series: Jodinia
Author: C K Brooke
# of Books: 3 (The Duchess Quest, The Duchess Inheritance, The Duchess’s Descendants)
Book Order: Chronological, Spin-Off (Descendants)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 4, 2014 – 2017
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC; Author–eARC

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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:

Normally, I stay clear of novels that have any hint of a love triangle or a love entanglement. BUT, this one sounded like it would be more fun than frustrating. Also, the word “swashbuckling”–yeah, it sold me! For some reason, it made me think of The Princess Bride (one of my all time favourite novels AND movie) so I was really stoked when I got the email that I would be a part of this blog tour!

What I Liked:

–The Adventure–

I’m not usually one who enjoys an adventure novel. They tend to be on the slower side of things and fail to keep my attention.

But that wasn’t the case here!

This story was so much fun! The premise is thoroughly entertaining that it captured my attention from the start. It also moved the story at a quick (but not too quick pace!). There are also quite a few twists along the way that keep the story from being overly linear which was fabulous.

–The Multiple POVs–

The various characters we get here are really what drive this story. They each have their unique flare and interesting backstories to keep you intrigued and wanting more.

I like a lot of things happening in my stories and I know that multiple POVs can scare people. But don’t let it deter you from this book! Because it is a third person POV throughout, each different chapter acts as a way to provide an alternate perspective to the same event that is unfolding. It also enriches the story by broadening the story and its reach. Simply put, it’s really done well and one of my favourite aspects.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Young Adult Than New Adult–

How this book started made me think it was going to be more New Adult in its approach. Not only because of Dainy’s age but with the way the male characters acted when it came to romantic partners. Unfortunately, it was more YA in its delivery (which is was totally fine) but I just wanted a touch more maturity (I suppose that is the right word) to the characters and their story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very curious to see how this will all wrap up and will definitely be grabbing the conclusion to this series soon!

updates

–August 15, 2016– Book #2: The Duchess Inheritance

disclaimer

I was excited to start this one after finishing the fun adventure that was The Duchess Quest. I was really curious to see how Dani would get her kingdom back and what trouble her and her companions would get into.

This one started strong, lulled a little just before the halfway point but finished strong. The last half of this book was by far the best part. It was nonstop action, plot twists and memorable character moments for the latter 50%. I really liked how everything came together.

Again, the multiple POVs are the strength of this series. It provides a 360 degree view of the world and keeps the story moving. It also gets you inside the minds of the various characters. I didn’t realize how attached to these characters I was until it all came to an end. I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to their story.

I also have to say that my concerns over the more Young Adult approach were squashed here. This was definitely a non-contemporary New Adult novel like I wanted it to be.

–February 11, 2017, 2016– Book #3: The Duchess’s Descendants

disclaimer

Spin-offs are a tricky thing to write. Do you rely on the original characters and plot devices, or do you branch off on your own with new characters and a new plot? For me, it’s a blend of both…and that’s what C K Brooke has done here. It is perfection!

I enjoyed this one immensely, even more than its predecessor!

Descendants has all the charm of its parent novels. A fun, action-packed plot that keeps your attention from start to finish; adorable romances you can’t help but root for and an eclectic cast of characters that put a smile on your face.

The characters are what made it for me. I really fell in love with Johanna, Drew and Ludwig. They are all so unique in their personalities; yes, they have some of their parents’ quirks but they also aren’t straight regurgitation of their parents. Their stories were so fun but heart-warming at the same time. And the adventures they find themselves in were definitely memorable.

This novel is just a blast to read and I couldn’t put it down. A great addition to this series!

My Rating: 4/5

The Duchess Quest 4/5 | The Duchess Inheritance 4/5 | The Duchess’s Descendants 5/5

overall
This story was a lot of fun! The adventure, the romance and the characters were a blast!

Read if You Like: The Princess Bride, adventure
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs
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C K Brooke

C.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers’ Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books – reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys info-tainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There’s tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she’s up to!

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

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Series Review: Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Deal (from Goodreads):
She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite New Adult 2016, Canadian Author
Series: Off-Campus

There is a spin-off series to come!

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 4 (The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, The Goal)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: hot (perhaps a mild kink in The Mistake and The Score)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m rather embarrassed that it took me so long to get around to reading this series despite the fact that I knew about The Deal shortly after it was released last year and that everyone seems to love it. Add to the fact that the author is a fellow Canadian and I shake my head in shame. So it was a no brainer to add The Deal to the priority list of my Rock the TBR challenge.

I love New Adult novels so I was really excited to read this series everyone praises so highly. In particular, I was really excited to read The Deal because it seems to have every New Adult trope I adore (fall in love with the tutor, lover arrangement, a bet/deal, nice guy player) AND it focuses on hockey players! While I love football, it gets a little tiring reading about the star quarterback with a heart of gold in most New Adult Sport titles.

And, I’m Canadian: hockey is a strong passion of mine 😉

The Concept / Reading Order:

I say this series is “Connected yet Chronological” because it does follow a particular order of events with some of the previous plot points reappearing in the next novel. It essentially follows 4 hockey teammates/roommate in their last 2 years of college together as they navigate life and find love. You definitely don’t have to read these books in order, but I feel like you will get a better experience if you do. 

Especially when it comes to The Goal. It overlaps with The Score in terms of chronological events, so you’ll get more out of it if you read it after the previous 3 novels.

The Plot:

All these novels had a great balance between everything that makes a fantastic New Adult novel. You have a passionate romance that is the main focus of the plot but not the only thing happening in the novel. You also have strong character development and some additional drama that keeps things interesting.

In other words: you never get bored.

I felt like all these books moved at a great pace and it was one that kept my full attention at all times. I easily could have finished The Deal in one sitting if I didn’t have school that day. It is sheer New Adult perfection in terms of its delivery if you ask me. And the other books do a great job of following that pattern but with their own unique twists.

The Characters:

I really liked all of these characters! They were so genuine and charming that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. At one point or another they had me laughing at something they said or did, making it so much fun to read their stories.

Garret and Hannah especially were great in The Deal. I just loved watching their interactions and appreciated who they were as people. They just seemed so real to me and they are easily one of my favourite new adult couples.

The cast as a whole has great, relatable stories the make each of their stories unique and so it was great to get to know each of them on a more personal level as the series progressed.

The Romance:

Again, I thought the romance in these novels was pretty damn-well near perfect. While some of the romances start off based on insta-attraction, you really come to see how these couples work the more you read. I’m one who likes to see the emotional connections and I got that in spades here. While these couples do share their “steamy” moments together, they also have those moments that remind you of what it’s like to fall in love with someone who just “gets you”.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:


I thought this series was only 3 books when I bought The Score but I am very excited to get Tucker’s story in The Goal. I honestly can’t wait! I wish I had it in my hands right.now.

updates

–February 12, 2017– Book #4: The Goal

There were two reasons why I didn’t read this right away: 1) I’m cheap and was waiting for a sale; and 2) I really didn’t want this series to be over. I just love this cast so much that I don’t want to part with them.

Honestly, this novel was perfect. I DEVOURED IT!

Tucker is such a sweet-heart. We didn’t get to see much of him in the previous novels, so unraveling his character was a joy. And his lucky leading lady was fabulous as well. I definitely fell in love with them the more I read.

Given the ending of The Score, I thought The Goal was going to pick up right from there. Instead, it takes the route of a companion novel and starts around the same time as The Score. This works to its benefit and gives you the story you wanted the moment you finished The Score. It’s a great way to wrap up this series.

I’m SO EXCITED that there is going to be a spin-off series! I already have some people in mind 😉

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Deal 5/5 | The Mistake 4/5 | The Score 4.5/5 | The Goal 5/5

overall

Fans of the New Adult genre as a whole will love this series but I also think it is a great starting point for those who are new to the genre or want to try it out. If you like romances with great characters and connections, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: New Adult, stories about athletes
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult, contemporary romance

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