Tag «Heat: Cool»

Heat Rating – this is rating the sexual content of the book
Cold / Cool – maybe a chaste kiss; no descriptions
Warm – sexual references; a little description
Really Warm / Toastysexual references; described; no more than 3 scenes
Hot – a sexual scene is mentioned and described fully (4+)
Steamy/Smokin’ – sex scenes in all their glory and in numerous quantities
*Spicy YA* – the sexual content is more descriptive than your usual YA fare

DNF Series Review: Everlife by Gena Showalter

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 10: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:


booksynopsis

Synopsis for Firstlife (from Goodreads):

Step one…you die.

ONE CHOICE. TWO REALMS. NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Everlife
Author: Gena Showalter
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2016 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Firstlife (#1) at 63%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Showalter’s last venture into YA fiction, Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles). It was a fast-paced series that captured my full attention (and my heart–I’m looking at you Cole <3 ) so I was really excited for her next YA series.

I mean how cool is this concept?! I love series

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

I mean how cool is this concept?! I love series that use fictional elements to highlight and explore various aspects of our society (that’s why I adore dystopian fiction). You can draw all sorts of parallels to religion and ideas about reincarnation and the afterlife. You start to question what are the differences between these different belief systems and why do they cause so much tension? I guess what I’m trying to say is that it highlights the bigger picture and makes you ask questions.

–The Time at the Asylum–

I kinda wish we spent more time at the asylum because I liked the setting for what it did to the character’s development. I always find it interesting to see what characters will do when they are pushed to the limits and that’s what the asylum does here. I enjoyed getting into Tenley’s head and it helped me to understand why she feels so torn over her decision about where to spend her Everlife.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I was SO Lost in How the World Worked–

I will admit that the audiobook version was probably a mistake because there are a lot of terms to try and remember and it’s hard to go back and re-read something you don’t understand. But I was listening to this in close succession and for at least an hour at a time and I still was lost.

Understandably, this world is complicated–but I wonder if it was too complicated? I feel like you could do without the whole “fused souls” aspect and still have Tenley as your “special lead”. (Perhaps that fused aspect has a bigger role later on?). Then you’ve got all the roles the members of the respective realms have and the different ways they lure people…I could go on and on but I’m going to stop. I’ll just say: a lot is happening and it’s slightly overwhelming.

–Tenley–

I actually really liked Tenley when we first meet her. I loved her snarky attitude and she definitely made me laugh.

I know a lot of people give Ten a hard time because she can’t make up her mind–and I get that. Her waffling back and forth drove me nuts in the middle of the book when nothing else was happening because I got tired of hearing her pros and cons about each. But I also have to cut the girl some slack because deciding where you are going to spend the rest of your days is a big decision–one you can’t really take back.

What did bother me about Ten was why she thought her friends should choose their Everlife plans based on their need to be with her. You knew the person for a couple of weeks–chill. And then one minute her convictions would be so strong and in the next, she’s giving in for a pretty face. Again, I cut her slack for this while in the asylum because that is what they intend to do (force people to make a choice via torture) but once they escape, my patience was wearing thing.

–The Romance–

This is perhaps the biggest reason why I gave up on this book. I really didn’t like the way this was developing. I didn’t see the attraction between either of them besides physical chemistry and I didn’t really want to watch that over the course of 3 books…

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I even read the synopsis for what happens in this book (ie how it ends) and I couldn’t care less. I really just don’t like the direction this was taking.

My Audiobook Experience:

As I mentioned above, perhaps the audio isn’t the best version as there are a lot of terms to keep track of. But I get the sense the even the text version creates an underdeveloped world so…but, I really enjoyed the narrator’s voice so it was an enjoyable listen even if I wasn’t feeling the story.

My Rating: DNF

Firstlife DNF | Lifeblood  N/A| Everlife N/A

overall

This was a complete miss for me!

Read if You Like: stories about reincarnation/afterlife/alternate universes
Avoid if You: need strong world building

similarreads

 

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

Thanks for joining me on my first (hopefully) annual DNF December Review Blitz! That’s all I have for this year!

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DNF Series Review: Legacy by Kayla Kluver

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 7: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Legacy (from Goodreads):

I noticed his eyes. They were blue, sharp and intense. Despite the youthful glows of his suntanned face, his eyes were cold and unfriendly, suggesting he had great experience in the world and was now expecting the worst.

In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father’s choice of suitor fills her with despair.

When the palace guard captures and intruder—a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom’s greatest enemy—Alera is alarmed…and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.

In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won’t be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom.

breakdown

Series: Legacy
Author: Cayla Kluver
# of Books: 3 (Legacy, Allegiance, Sacrifice)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Sacrifice)
Publication Dates: August 2009 – October 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Legacy (Book #1) at 22% (Start of Chapter 9). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Legacy was one of first eBooks I purchased for my Kobo when I first got it. I love a good historical-fantasy novel and this one sounded like it had potential. Conspiracies; forbidden love; the opportunity for a heroine to find her own strength? I love that in my historical fantasy novels.

What I Liked:

Honestly, I didn’t find much I liked…

Oh wait! I did like her bodyguard London. He was one of the only characters with substance.

What I Didn’t Like:

–World-Building Dumped In the Prologue–

We basically get a summary of the history of the world in the prologue and then are left to our own devices (or waiting for Alera to learn more) to put together the rest. It’s not like this world is particularly complex, it’s just trying to navigate all the different terms and how they apply to Alera’s current life was difficult. I’m sure it becomes a focus later on when the actual plot starts but it was a weird shift from prologue to chapters as a result.

–Detailed and Descriptive Writing–

I don’t enjoy books that are overly descriptive. I mean, I like descriptions of lush buffets as much as the next person but only a paragraph or two please. However, with this book you get Alera’s life described to you sentence by detailed sentence. It was the most mundane things and contributed nothing to the plot.

–Slow Plot–

I’m 80% sure that the next chapter I would have read introduced our forbidden love interest and the emergence of the main plot line. But the other chapters had been so dry that I wasn’t even intrigued by the prospect.

Will I Finish It?

No, I don’t plan on it. I even read the synopsis for the next two novels and they don’t interest me at all.

Series Rating: DNF

Legacy DNF | Allegiance N/A| Sacrifice N/A

overall

For those who enjoy slower stories and detailed writing, perhaps you will enjoy it. Otherwise, I think you can find more compelling stories out there.

Read if You Like: detailed/descriptive writing
Avoid if You: want a faster plot, want a more intriguing heroine

similarreads

  • Aurelia by Anne Osterlund (Aurelia Series #1)
  • The Gathering Storm by Robyn Bridges (Katerina Trilogy #1)
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Snow Like Ashes Series #1)
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles #1)

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 2: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Changeling (from Goodreads):

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

breakdown

Series: Order of Darkness
Author: Philippa Gregory
# of Books: 4 (Changeling, Stormbringers, Fools’ Gold, Dark Tracks)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Changeling at 60%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this series when I was browsing audiobook series at my library. My one friend really loves Philippa Gregory’s works so I was excited to see she had a YA title and I added this to my holds list.

I love historical stories and ones that explore the “supernatural” elements of the time. Changeling appealed to me for its forbidden romance and the mystery of the nunnery. So I was excited to see what was happening!

What I Liked:

–Luca’s Job/Mission–

I really liked that Luca is an investigator of sorts. One of my favourite mystery tropes is when the detective uses everyday common sense to debunk “supernatural” causes. I just love the logic of it all.

Here, it’s a bit of a catch-22 because there are supernatural elements at play but are they truly the cause of the mystery? It kept me intrigued.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Misleading Synopsis–

I totally thought I was getting a completely different story based on the synopsis. I thought Luca and Isolde were going to have this intense connection and he would do everything he could to help her escape the nunnery. I mean, that’s what the synopsis implies.

You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Luca and Isolde have very little interaction and absolutely zero chemistry together. This isn’t some consuming, forbidden romance. It wasn’t even a slow burn romance. Perhaps their relationship will evolve but it won’t be until much, much later in this book.

Lastly, he doesn’t help her escape and their “journey across Europe” doesn’t happen until well after the 60% mark.

–Predictable Mystery–

I wasn’t that far into the novel before I contemplated DNFing. This wasn’t the story I anticipated and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to the next 3 books. But, I found myself hooked to the mystery of the nunnery and wanted to see if my theory was right.

I don’t think you need to be an avid reader to figure out the “mystery” pretty early on. My initial theory proved to be right and I had really hoped I was wrong (or at the very least, that there would be some unforeseen twist) because it would have made things a tad more interesting.

My Audiobook Experience:

It doesn’t matter if the book is in print or in audio, I struggle with third person narration. Here, I had a hard time figuring out who the “she” was often times. Was it Isolde or the other head nun (both had eerily similar names that were hard to distinguish on the audio) that Luca was talking to?

It was also particularly hard because the audio is a single male voice for everything and while he does do different voices while speaking, sometimes I had a hard time figuring out who was talking. He also talked in a very monotone and quiet way so it wasn’t as engaging as I expected.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I promptly stopped the audiobook right after the big mystery reveal. I just wasn’t feeling this story and the reviews from others on Goodreads led me to believe I wasn’t missing much. I didn’t want to invest myself into a 4 book series I wasn’t totally feeling. I’m all for slow growth but this one was just super misleading and not what I expected.

Series Rating: DNF

Changeling 2/5 | Stormbringers N/A | Fools’ Gold  N/A | Dark Tracks N/A

overall

This story was just terribly slow, grossly misleading and lacked the chemistry needed to keep a reader to engage.

Read if You Like: slow stories, slow burn romance, historical
Avoid if You: want an engaging plotline
similarreads

  • The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges (Katerina Trilogy #1)
  • Cross my Heart by Sasha Gould (Cross My Heart Series #1)

Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Prisoners of Peace by Erin Bow

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Scorpion Rules (from Goodreads):

The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Cover Love
Series: Prisoners of Peace; The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
# of Books: 2 (The Scorpion Rules, The Swan Riders)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Scorpion Rules at 18% (middle of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There was a lot that drew me to this series. It’s written by a Canadian. It has political intrigue. Its unique concept. The cover. I quick marked it as an anticipated read upon its release in 2015 but let it slip away after I read some mixed reviews.

Despite that though, I was eager to read it and that was why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2018.

What I Liked about The Scorpion Rules:

–The Concept–

The whole setting of this novel is really intriguing. Children of political leaders are used as pawns in the hopes that forfeiting their lives in order to go to war will prevent the battle from even taking place–because who would sacrifice their own child?

Like many political things, this one is convoluted and that does result in some info dumping moments. I found the whole idea straight forward though I will admit I struggled with the AI portions of the information.

What I Didn’t Like The Scorpion Rules:

–All the Characters Seem to do is Farm–

I’ve got nothing against farming (where I live is predominately farms) but I didn’t pick up this book to read about Greta and company milking goats or making cheese.

I wanted back stabbing and conspiracy theories. I wanted a little more action and drama.

Instead, I got polite teenagers doing chores. Yawn.

My Audiobook Experience with The Scorpion Rules:

I do think part of the reason I DNF’d this so quick was the audio version (though truthfully, I would have found it boring either way). While I appreciate that each of the Children of Peace had their own accents, I found everyone seemed to have a slow drawl that proved to be distracting. When we would get those info dumping moments (usually when the teens are answering something in class or talking to each other), I just couldn’t concentrate on their words or the importance of what they were saying. I also thought the that narrator sounded to old to be Greta’s age so that was off-putting as well.

Will I Finish The Series?

Nope. I read the synopsis for Book 2 and I don’t think much really happened to get to that point.

Series Rating: DNF

The Scorpion Rules DNF | The Swan Riders N/A

overall

If you like slower books that take their time or want a book that is completely unlike any other out there, check this out.

Read if You Like: LBGTQ characters, slow novels, lots of detail about the world
Avoid if You: want action, want conspiracy theories

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Boys on the Brink
Author: Jamie Deacon
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order:  Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, LGBT, MM Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had tremendous luck with gay romances; specifically, adult sport ones. So when Jamie asked me to read his newest YA sports novella, it just seemed like an obvious “yes” to me.

The Plot:

I always worry when I pick up a novella that things will seemed rushed or underdeveloped; but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here! This was a quick read but one that packs a lot of punch and love into it.

And it is also so genuine! I could easily see this story happening in real life and I think that’s part of the charm of it. The problems and insecurities these characters have could happen to anyone and are likely happening right now. It’s just a beautiful story that doesn’t rely on overdramatic plot devices to be an entertaining read.

The Characters:

I loved watching Davey become confident in himself. I think his story is one many people (boys and girls, regardless of sexual orientation) can relate to–finding the confidence in who you truly are. He transforms before your eyes and I always appreciate that in my stories.

Adam is this great counterpart to Davey’s story in so many ways. He isn’t perfect–he too has had some bumps along the way–but I think that makes this story all that more charming by showing off those all too human qualities. It would have been great to get his POV as well but I learned enough about his through Davey to be satisfied with his character.

The Romance:

Simply put: adorable! I loved the slow burning tension this one had! It starts as a friendship and slowly becomes more. It was the perfect vessel to get the point of the story across.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This is the only story I’ve read in the series, but it has definitely impressed me so I can’t wait to further explore this series!

My Rating: 4/5

Caught Inside N/A | [Defensive Play 4/5]

overall
A sweet, realistic read that will no doubt charm your heart!

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, LGBT stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.

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Jamie Deacon

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

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Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

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Single Sundays: American Panda by Gloria Chao

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 American Panda (from Goodreads):

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Contemporary 2018
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, Family
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source & Format: Own–Audiobook via Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A lot of the blogs I follow reviewed this book around its release date and had nothing but praise for it.

I will admit I was a little scared to read because of said hype but also because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to our lead, Mei. I’m not of Asian decent (though I’m familiar with some of the cultural aspects thanks to close friends) and we don’t have a similar family background, so I was worried some of the humour and situations might be a little lost on me.

But I’ve been proven wrong before and I’ve had a great track-record with listening to the audiobooks of similar stories so I decided to use one of my Kobo Audiobook credits to get the audio version.

Review Spoiler Alert: One of the best decisions I made all year 😉

The Concept:

As I said above, I wasn’t sure how well I would understand Mei’s various situations. I’m not Asian and my parents aren’t immigrants to my country either; I’m a smorgasbord of cultures so I just identify as Canadian. I’ve never felt torn between two cultures like Mei does. And my parents never were nothing but supportive of my educational and professional goals.

But that being said, I still related to Mei on many levels once I started to listen to her story; in particular with her views on family. Regardless of culture, age and the like, I feel like there is a universal feeling that you never want to disappoint your parents or your family. I know I felt that way when I decided in my final year of university that I didn’t want to pursue my original professional school. And I’ve also found myself in situations where it feels like it’s me and my brother vs our parents. So while I might not have a similar situation to Mei and its extremes, I do understand the heart of her inner conflict and that’s what drew me to her story.

The Plot:

Simply put, this is a coming of age story about a girl deciding what she wants out of life. But I never got bored. So many things happen along the way and there’s this great balance between everything. You get a dash of romance, a dash of friendship and a dash of family—everything that makes up great story.

The Characters:

Mei’s a fabulous lead. I loved watching her transform as the story progressed. She has some great character development and you can’t help but root for her as she finds her way. She’s also hilarious with her somewhat awkward ways and personality quirks. Frankly, she’s nothing but adorable and the type of lead who makes a novel amazing.

Also, special shoutout to Mei’s mom. She was a fantastic character and her voicemails to Mei left me in stitches!

The Romance:

Darren made me want to go back to university just to see if I could find someone like him for myself 😛

In all seriousness, the romance was really cute but also an important aspect to the story. Like a romance should in a great coming of age story, it should enhance the story and never distract from it. And I feel like that was what was done here. Her relationship with Darren is key in highlighting Mei’s struggles but I never felt like it became the main focus of her story and I greatly appreciated that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m SO SO SO glad I listened to this as an audiobook! Emily Zoo Weller did a great job bringing Mei to life. Her accents were great, all the characters sounded different, and her expressions were awesome. I always consider it a plus when an audiobook can make me cry when a character does and this did that quite a few times. I also laughed hysterically throughout–people driving by probably thought I was crazy as I drove to work.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of the best coming of age stories I have read in a long time. I also highly recommend the audiobook!

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about culture, diverse leads
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike coming of age

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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: Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand

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:

Empirium Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Furyborn (from Goodreads):

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Empirium
Author: Claire Legrand
# of Books: 3 (Furyborn, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 22, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks for granting my wish Sourcebooks Fire!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had requested a review copy on Netgalley but was declined. So imagine my surprise when a week later, I get an email saying my wish was granted to get an advance copy! YAY!

I was really eager to get my hands on this book for many reasons. One, I loved the concept of two girls centuries apart tied together by some prophecy. Two, I loved that these girls were kick-butt, fierce fighters. Three, I loved the cover. Four, I needed a new fantasy series in my life.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to get my hands on this book even though I had a copy wayyy in advance. I’ve never let a book go that long on Netgalley in my life. But other early reviews had me scared to pick this up as they were rather polarizing and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I did pick it up.

What I Liked:

–Rielle’s Backstory–

The Rielle we meet in the prologue is nothing like the Rielle we meet in the first chapter of her POV. So how did she evolve to be that way? What happens during the trials to get to this point? That had me eager to find out more and pressed me to keep reading.

(Though read more below to find out why this also backfires as the same time)

–Sex Positive–

I know that sex in YA is a controversial topic to some degree but I really liked how sex positive this story was. You’ll see this book touted as having a bi-sexual lead but that wasn’t overly apparent to me (I think there is like one line that alludes to some flirting with another girl?). Nevertheless, any book that can weave that in seamlessly is a winner.

What I did like was that these characters have sex and talk about it and how to have it safely. You don’t see that a lot in YA. Yes, the sex scenes are more descriptive than your usual YA material but it alludes more to the act than actually describing it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of World-Building–

For the first 20% of this book, I contemplated DNFing it. I just felt so lost in everything that was happening. Like what where these powers Rielle had? How does this world even work? Are there actually angels? I just didn’t know how anything functioned in this world. I felt like I picked up Book 2 in a series where I am expected to already know the basics.

However, once the actual plot of the novel starts, I found myself forgetting about how the world worked and concentrating on the drama that was unfolding. Sure enough, things do start to get explained to you so I found myself getting more comfortable with what was happening.

–Lack of Suspense Thanks to the Prologue–

It’s the last line of the synopsis, “the shocking connections between them” that had me curious. I love that type of suspense where you know there is something bigger going on but it doesn’t reveal itself until later. But in this case, we know the big connection between the two by the end of the prologue…talk about a buzz kill! Perhaps it isn’t said outright but it doesn’t take much to put two and two together. So I found that dampened some of my excitement moving forward.

It’s the same situation with Rielle and her trials. Given the nature of this story (one told in the past and one in the future), you generally know how Rielle’s story goes (especially when you start with the Prologue) and so that anticipation of wondering what will happen in each trial becomes a bit of a mute point.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I finished this book, I decided I was going to be on the fence about picking up the sequel (meaning I was going to wait and read the synopsis for Book 2 before I decided). But as I was writing my review, I downgraded my rating from a 3, to a 2.5 and then to a 2 because I didn’t have too many positive things to say. And I also felt satisfied in terms closure with these characters. My major questions were answered and I have a good idea of where things are going and it just doesn’t interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Furyborn 2/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

The lack of world-building at the start of the story followed by some very obvious clues early on can make this story duller than it should be at times. But, it very slowly lays down the foundation for some potentially intriguing sequels if things are done differently in the future.

Read if You Like: alternating POVs, good characters that go “bad”
Avoid if You: need strong world-building early on, want more suspense

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Series Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

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 A Wicked Thing (from Goodreads):

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

breakdown

Series: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
# of Books: 2 (A Wicked Thing, A Kingdom of Ashes)
Book Order: Chronologocal
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2015 – 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I’ve said many times before, my favourite fairy tale princess is Sleeping Beauty. Why? I’m not sure because her damsel in distress situation is one I don’t enjoy (I hate when the heroine has to wait for a hero to save her). I think it’s because I love the Disney movie and its beautiful animation.

But in the same breath, I love seeing what other authors will do with the story in various retellings. So I was curious to see what this one was all about; in particular, the focus on HEA.

The Concept / The World:

What I really enjoyed about this story was that it focused on what happens after Aurora wakes up. She finds herself in a world she doesn’t know and one where she is a pawn in schemes she doesn’t fully understand. Watching her navigate this new political world and coming to grips with the fact that everyone she has ever known is dead, was an interesting take. I don’t think it was used to its full advantage but it was an element at play.

And like I say with most retellings: forget the Disney version! You’ll always end up a little disappointed because the Disney version is just a retelling of the origin story and not the source material.

The Plot:

Have you ever read a book where everything seems to be happening around the lead and the lead just seems to sit there and take it? That’s how I felt for 90% of A Wicked Thing. Aurora did absolutely nothing and I get why. She is literally in a world where she knows no one and it’s not like anyone is telling her what is happening either. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t know what is going on yourself. But it was just frustrating as a reader because she’d get these little moments of courage and then they would fizzle out.

This story needed something else to keep it going. I feel like so much time is wasted in both novels rehashing everything we’ve previously encountered. With so many people wanting things from Aurora, it should be a more suspenseful read than it actually is. But it takes Aurora nearly the entire 2 novels to finally get the backbone to do something and by then it is far to late to keep me invested.

The Dialogue:

When I contemplated DNFing A Wicked Thing, I read a few reviews on Goodreads and quite a few mentioned the dialogue. I definitely see where they are coming from after reading this. One of the contributing factors is that they don’t use contractions in the narration. It’s just not the way we talk (I mean look at how many I’ve used in this review so far) so it comes across as stiff.

But Aurora isn’t saying anything inspiring or profound either. No one is. So everything comes across as flat and it does dampen the reading experience at times.

The Characters:

Aurora was extremely dull. Like I said, I get why she lacks the confidence–I would act the same way if I woke up 100 years in the future. But I wish she gained the confidence a hell of a lot earlier than the 90% in A Wicked Thing.

The rest of the cast is kinda “meh”. I didn’t gravitate towards anyone but I think that’s because we don’t get to delve deeper into anyone’s character.

The Romance:

Three love interests is wayyyyy too much for me. And when you have an uninspiring heroine like Aurora, it’s hard to get the appeal of her for the potential suitors. I guess you can say I never picked a “team” to cheer for.

However, I will say that I like that the romance wasn’t the sole focus of this series. Other things are at play and this series could have easily been about Aurora and her “true love” and not the world she lives in.

My Audiobook Experience:

I don’t have anything against the audiobook production because you can only do so much when your source material isn’t fabulous. However, I will say that I found the dialogue delivery to be super slow. See, I’m not one to speed up the audiobook but I had to with a Kingdom of Ashes because it had a glacial pace. I first bumped it up to 1.25X and then 1.5X and the crazy thing is that the dialogue sounded much more natural at this faster pace! It was so much easier to listen to and stopped the awkwardness of the narration.

Series Rating: 2/5

A Wicked Thing 2.5/5 | A Kingdom of Ashes  2/5

overall

I’m still in search of that great Sleeping Beauty retelling. This one was terribly dull and too basic for my tastes.

Read if You Like: sleeping beauty, slow stories
Avoid if You: want action, want more romance
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Single Sundays: Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

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 Hotel Ruby (from Goodreads):

Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

breakdown

Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this book on my TBR after seeing a “Waiting on Wednesday” post by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books  all the way back in September 2015! At that point, I had read Young’s first two novels in The Program Series and didn’t totally enjoy them. However, I loved the concept of the Hotel Ruby and quickly marked it on Goodreads.

Like many TBR books, I didn’t get to read it until years later and I saw my library had an audiobook copy. By this point, I had seen quite a few mixed reviews so I went in with somewhat lower expectations but an eagerness to uncover just what exactly is happening at the mysterious Hotel Ruby.

The Concept:

I always enjoy the idea of a “mysterious building”. (Like The Hollywood Tower of Terror anyone?). I really became enthralled by the Hotel Ruby and its mystery. I enjoyed the opulence of it all and the intriguing cast of characters. You definitely got the vibe that there was something creepy about this place.

The Plot:

I figured out the plot pretty early into the book–just before the 20% mark–though I wonder if that was its intention with the little eggs planted along the way? Regardless, there were a few links I was missing so I was interested in seeing how it all played out. I think I had bigger expectations than what I got in the end but I still really loved the whole concept of this novel even if the execution was lacking for me.

The Characters:

Audrey was a complete diva in my mind. Both her inner monologues and outer dialogues are very “ME ME ME” and it just irritated me. I mean, I get her frustration with the lack of an invitation but she was far too dramatic than I like my heroines to be.

The rest of the cast does their job well. The hotel staff and guests were particularly mysterious and that captured my attention throughout.

The Romance:

Elias is a pretty one dimensional character. He came across as such a cliché to me; simply saying all the right things at the right time. I get the allure of a mysterious rich boy but I did not get what was so swoon-worthy about him. I think the two talk a handful of times (I think they might dance more than they talk) before Audrey finds herself in love and wanting to change everything about her life–even while knowing (and saying) the whole thing is ridiculous. Ugh.

It’s a shame too that this becomes one of the main focuses of the novel and distracts from the larger story. I also think it stifles some of Audrey’s character development because she becomes to enamored with this romance and not much else.

My Audiobook Experience:

Well, I’ll just say I wasn’t overly impressed with the audiobook. I’m glad this wasn’t a book I started my audiobook experience with. I absolutely hated the way the narrator portrayed the male voices–in particular, Elias’ voice. I know it’s hard for a female to change their range to voice a male character and have multiple unique sounding ones for a single production. I totally get that. But it just threw off the entire tone of the novel for me and made me instantly dislike Elias’ character.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

For me this was a classic case of “great idea, not the best execution”. I struggled to connect to the main characters and their romance, while craving more from the plot but I enjoyed the overall vibe of this novel. I think Suzanne Young fans will like this well enough but I think others might want a little more from it.

Read if You Like: basic mysteries, more romance focused novels
Avoid if You: get annoyed by heroines easily
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