Tag «Heat: warm»

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 Warmsexual references; described; no more than 3 scenes
Hot – a sexual scene is mentioned and described fully
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

Series Review: Atlanta Affair by Isabella Rae

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Workplace Affair (from Goodreads):

There are those once in a lifetime opportunities that come along, that in your wildest dreams would never happen to you. When independent Victoria Bryant’s opportunity comes, a climb up the corporate ladder turns into an affair with the owner. Now she must make decisions that will change her life forever. Will she choose to forgive the man she’s grown to love, or watch him walk away and give up everything that might have been…..

When Leland Ambrose started his company he was young and in charge, but when he meets Victoria, he discovers a weakness he hadn’t counted on. A weakness so great that his company could pay the price. Will he stand up for the woman he loves, or protect the company he’s worked so hard to build…

breakdown

Series: Atlanta Affair
Author: Isabella Rae
# of Books: 4 (A Workplace Affair, A Sweet Affair, A Wedding Affair, A Hidden Affair)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Hidden Affair, is slated to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–Kindle

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Disclaimer: After finishing A Workplace Affair (Book 1), I opted not to continue this series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Have you ever put a book on your TBR list, excited to read it and then when you finally do years later, you can’t remember why you were so excited to read it? That’s me with this series.

I was really excited to read A Workplace Affair. It was marked on my Kindle Wishlist for a long time and I finally snagged a copy when the price dropped to $1 a few years ago. I think I was eager to try another contemporary romance after loving the Worth It Series by Karen Erickson. Or, I was mixing it up with Kristen Proby’s With Me in Seattle Series. Regardless, I remember being excited to read it when I bought it but when I reread the synopsis just before I started it, I didn’t have that same enthusiasm but I went in with an open mind.

What I Liked:

–The Integration of the Secondary Characters–

In a series where the sequels involve secondary characters, its always a nice to get to know them before hand so you are invested in getting their stories in the next novel. A Workplace Affair did a good job at giving you a little taste of all the subsequent leads and making you curious about their lifestories.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Very Rushed Romance–

This story was a classic case of love at first sight. Leland sees Victoria and instantly has to have her. I think they talk twice before he is asking her to move in. I get instant connections but these two had hardly had a conversation before they were making these life altering decisions. Ugh.

–Unnecessary Drama–

One of my biggest pet peeves in contemporary romances is the communication assumption. You know, when the characters assume something to be true but never seek confirmation and drama ensues. But what’s even worse is when the character(s) purposely leave something out. Absolutely frustrating.

Spoiler: Unnecessary Drama Example #1

Leland has decided that he wants to move to Atlanta because he knows it’s too much for Victoria to move to NYC. So when she tells him she is willing to move, he says he doesn’t want her to move in with him anymore…and leaves it at that. Full well knowing it will drive Victoria away because he has a “surprise” (aka he is moving to Atlanta to be with her). Why couldn’t he just say that?!!??!?!

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The other time is when Victoria knows that what has happened is outside of Leland’s control, gets that there is nothing he can do but then proceeds to be super upset by it. And I get that the situation was upsetting but I felt like she really blew things out of proportions.

Will I Finish It?

I do have A Sweet Affair on my Kindle since I picked it up as a freebie years ago but given my experience with A Workplace Affair, I’m not too optimistic that I will enjoy the rest of the series.

Series Rating: DNF

A Workplace Affair 2/5 | A Sweet Affair N/A | A Wedding Affair N/A | A Hidden Affair TBR

overall

If you like quick romances and don’t mind some cliche plot lines, you will likely enjoy this series! Otherwise, there are stronger adult contemporary romances out there.

Read if You Like: insta-love, workplace romances, quick stories
Avoid if You: dislike cliche plots

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Blog Tour: Saving It by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Saving It (from Goodreads):

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR (Netgalley)–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it goes without saying: if Monica Murphy writes it, I’ll read it. I always enjoy her works and this one sounded like such a cute one that I couldn’t say no!

The Plot:

I found it to be super refreshing to have Josh be the one who is the one primarily focused on losing his virginity. Most of the time, books look at this from the female perspective so it was really cool for me to get the teenage boy viewpoint. I know I forget the pressures that are put on boys in regards to sex because I am a girl so I really enjoyed that aspect.

The situation Eden and Josh find themselves in could happen to anyone anywhere in the world. Their fears and hesitations are so true for anyone who has ever found themselves in the same situation of realizing you may like your best friend as more than a friend.

I kept waiting for something over dramatic to happen as it often does with this genre but we get nothing of the sort. I liked that the focused stayed on the main plot of these two working out their feelings.

The Characters:

Eden and Josh are a great match and their connection and friendship is apparent from the start. They are great, true friends to each other and I loved that about them. The fear of ruining a life-long friendship, the pressures from their tight-knit group of friends; everything they go through is extremely relateable.

The Romance:

While I totally supported these two as a couple, I did want to see a little more romantic chemistry between them. Part of the reason this is somewhat neglected that is that it takes these two a long time to come to terms with their potential feelings. But I wanted more than just a few comments here and there about how attractive the other looked in their clothes. For a couple that had such a strong emotional connection, I just wanted those “swoon” moments to happen a little more often than they did.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
Fans of the BFF to more trope will truly enjoy this refreshing and genuine romance.

Read if You Like: BFF to more trope, high school romance
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Monica Murphy

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

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

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon// Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

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Blitz + Review: The Scot’s Bride by Paula Quinn


I’m a little embarrassed that this is the first time I am talking about Paula Quinn on my blog. Because she is the standard for me when it comes to highlander romances. I fell in love with the MacGregor Duology and I devoured the Children of the Mist Series soon after. It’s so, so cool to follow generations of the same family and read about their unique adventures and swoon-worthy romances. I love returning to this world time and time again.

Below you will find a link to an exclusive excerpt, my review as well as a giveaway for a copy of the book courtesy of Forever. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post!


Title: The Scot’s Bride

Author: Paula Quinn
Series: The MacGregors: Highland Heirs #6
Pub. Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Find it: Goodreads | Kobo | Amazon

AN IRRESISTIBLE SCOUNDREL
Highlander Patrick MacGregor likes his life just the way it is. Fighting for his coin, enjoying a woman’s charms, and bearing no responsibility at all. Aye, that’s the life for him. That is, until Patrick sees her-a raven-haired beauty with eyes as dark as midnight. Patrick swore never to fall in love. Not even with a lass as wild as he…especially when she’s from a rival clan.

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE
Charlotte Cunningham knows Patrick is trouble the moment she sets eyes on him. Her only goal is to escape the possibility of marriage. Any marriage. But as the summer days turn into sultry nights, enticing her beyond reason, Charlie is forced to choose between the freedom she craves and the reckless rogue she can’t forget.

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

Read an Exclusive Excerpt Here!

 

Patrick’s parents are the leads from one of my favourite highlander romances EVER, Seduced by the Highlander. So I couldn’t wait to read about Patrick and the lady who would knock him off his feet!

My favourite aspect of this book is the slow burn romance. All too often in historical romances, the leads jump into their passionate affair and the rest gets left behind. So not the case here! Their attraction is palpable from the start but watching that connection grow into something more was fabulous. These two are a great pair who complement each other wonderfully and seeing them discover that was such a treat.

My only wish is that the ending didn’t feel as rushed. The vast majority of this book is Charlie and Patrick fighting their budding feelings and Patrick keeping his true identity a secret. But there are so many other things at play (like the clan rivalry and past events) and I feel like they don’t reach their peak until the last 20%. I think some of that could have been brought out earlier and played out a little more to enhance this story.

Nevertheless, highlander fans will love this one! This book reminded me why I love highlander romances and why I should be picking them up more often!

My Rating: 4/5

Paula Quinn

New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn lives in New York with her three beautiful children, three over-protective chihuahuas, and a loud umbrella cockatoo. She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven. She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Trust, me this is another good one!

What about you? Do you enjoy Highlander romances?

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Blog Tour: West (History Interrupted #1) by Lizzy Ford

Synopsis for West (from Goodreads):

If you could change history, would you?

College graduate Josephine “Josie” Jackson answers ‘yes’ to the question on a survey while visiting an Old West tourist trap. The next morning, she wakes up in Indian Territory in the 1840s, where she’s given a mission to complete before she can return to her time: to reset history by finding and stopping the man responsible for a horrific massacre.

It seems easy enough, until she discovers that three other women have been sent back to the same time period. When Josie uncovers what happened to them, she realizes the chances of her getting out of the past alive are not good.

To survive, she’ll have to trust the very man she’s there to stop, someone who has every reason to distrust her and only one reason to help her – to prove he’s not the monster she claims he’ll become.

Other books in the series:
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Series: History Interupted
Author: Lizzy Ford
# of Books: 3 (West, East, North)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?:  Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Time Travel, Romance, Adventure, Historical
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2014 – July 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Productions–Audiobook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Audible

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This year, now that I commute nearly 2 hours (roundtrip) to work, I’ve fully jumped on the bandwagon for audiobooks. I love them! It’s great feeling like I’m accomplishing something during my drive besides getting to work. So I’m really excited to be doing my first audiobook blog tour!

I was drawn to West for a number of reasons but the main two were (1) time travel and (2) new adult genre! While I mostly read New Adult Contemporary Romances, I’m always looking out for other non-contemporary NA reads. And time travel?! One of my favourites to explore because I love the delicious tension that it brings.

What I Liked:

–The Suspense–

There are a lot of things at play in this story and I love how everything weaves together. You’ve got Josie’s mission to stop a massacre; the rivals trying to stop her; the mystery of the other time travelling girls; Josie navigating the life she has taken over and her learning why she was the one picked.

It may seems like a lot but this novel does a great job of balancing out everything, taking it one step at a time. The way it builds kept my full attention. I loved trying to decipher what was happening and why. And not knowing which characters I could trust and not trust adds this layer of suspense that had me wanting to delve deeper into the story.

–New Adult Based–

Nearly all the time travel novels I’ve read over the years have been YA based–and there is nothing wrong with that! –but it’s nice to read about a heroine closer to my own age. Josie is that touch more mature and not as malleable as a heroine you is a few years younger. 

What I Disliked:

–More Romance Focused than Anticipated–

This isn’t to say that I had a problem with the romance itself. It’s a touch more insta-connection than I like personally but that goes with the time travel territory (ie, I expected it). And I did get the allure of the main love interest and why Josie is drawn to him. So that isn’t what I’m talking about herr.

What I’m getting at is that a majority of the novel seemed to be geared more towards this budding relationship than the various issues at hand. The romance is weaved nicely throughout the other mysteries but I felt like I listened more to descriptions of the Sheriff’s abs than I anticipated when I picked this novel up.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’ll admit, this started a little rough me. I found the delivery to be a little slow and perhaps a little choppy in turn. It might have also been due to the setting of the novel (ie everyone has a slower drawl to their speech). But once I bumped up the speed to 1.25X, everything went a lot smoother. Everything just flowed that little bit better.

Lillian does a good job of making each character have a distinct voice and she does a great job in particular with the male voices–it was never awkward which I find can be when you have a lone female narrator. She gives all the characters from that time period the appropriate accent which helps set the tone and setting for the novel in a way I probably wouldn’t have had if I had just picked up the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

WOW! A lot of stuff went down in the last few chapters and I have so many unanswered questions that I really need answers to!

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My Rating: 3.5/5

West 3.5/5 | East TBA| North TBA

overall
If you love a time travelling novel that keeps you guessing until the end, this one’s for you!

Read if You Like: time travelling adventures, romance
Avoid if You: dislike romance, dislike new adult
similarreads

  • Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston (Never Trilogy #1)
  • A Million Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird Trilogy #1)


Lizzy Ford (Author)

I breathe stories. I dream them. If it were possible, I’d eat them, too. (I’m pretty sure they’d taste like cotton candy.) I can’t escape them – they’re everywhere! Which is why I write! I was born to bring the crazy worlds and people in my mind to life, and I love sharing them with as many people as I can.

I’m also the bestselling, award winning, internationally acclaimed author of over sixty titles and counting. I write speculative fiction in multiple subgenres of romance and fantasy, contemporary fiction, books for both teens and adults, and just about anything else I feel like writing. If I can imagine it, I can write it!

I live in the desert of southern Arizona with a pack of spoiled dogs and Tubbs, the Godfather cat who rules them all.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Lillian Yves (Narrator)

Lillian Yves grew up in Oklahoma, went to school in NYC and now lives in Southern California. She considers herself from the East, West and somewhere in the middle. She is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC for Musical Theater. She adores acting and performing so much that she teaches an after school program for the local school system. She got her start working in audio books when she narrated her own novel, Yonder- A Southern Haunting and shortly after the release of Yonder she was contacted by Warren Adler (The War of the Roses) to narrate two novels for him and after entering the world of narration, she has never looked back. She performs on most weekends and does play readings through out the Los Angeles area. Her main hobbies include her husband and her cats. She loves to hear from listeners.

Narrator Links: Facebook

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Single Sundays: None of the Above by I W Gregorio

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 None of the Above (from Goodreads):

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex… and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

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Author: I W Gregorio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It seemed to me that 2015 was the year of “must-read” YA contemporaries. I marked off quite a few as TBR that year thanks to rave reviews from fellow bloggers. Not my usually genre but buzz can do that.

I was drawn to None of the Above for the intersex aspect. As someone who studied science–particularly health sciences–I know what it means to be intersex medically speaking but what does it mean as an everyday person? I was eager to explore that with this book.

The Plot:

As you might have expected, you follow Kristin’s journey from “normal” teenager to learning she is intersex and what that means for her going forward. It’s a heartbreaking journey at times because this girl really does go through a lot. (Truthfully, I lost a little hope in humanity with some of the things people say and do to her).

But there really isn’t much else to the plot. Which is fine because I like the focus on Kristin coming to terms with her diagnosis and becoming comfortable–I mean that’s why I picked up the book.

I do have one peeve with the plot that I have to get off my chest and it’s a spoiler so proceed with caution before opening it.

Spoiler

When Josh assaults Kristin at the club after he realizes she is intersex, I didn’t like that she doesn’t report the assault. I understand that she just got comfortable with other people knowing about her condition but her reasoning that “it being on file will stop him from doing it again” is such bullshit. He will do it again because he thinks he can get away with it. I really wish she would have reported it because it sets a precedence that it’s ok to defend yourself by filing charges but not following through. You aren’t being a hero by letting it slide.

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The Characters:

Truthfully, I wasn’t a big Kristin fan. I can appreciate her journey and how she does grow up from the situation but she was a little too…stereotypical? (Not sure if that is the right word. Maybe cliche?). She’s your classic teenage girl who focuses on popularity, keeping her hot boyfriend and college. And those aren’t bad things necessarily–I just feel like she didn’t evolve from that.

While Kristin learns to accept her condition, her character growth remains pretty stifled. I really wanted her to have this big epiphany that there is more to life than high school and a good-looking boyfriend and she doesn’t really have that.

The Romance:

I’m a little torn on this. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t a huge focus. On the other hand, I don’t like how it is used as a validation that Kristin is a girl because a boy likes her. (Maybe I’m reading too much into it?)

I get that Kristin worries she won’t have that relationship because she isn’t a “true” girl. The difference between gender and sexual orientation is something that is unfortunately linked together. It’s something she struggles with and it does add to her story in a positive way. I just feel like she didn’t think she was complete until she got that “love” from a boy despite the great support from Gwen and her dad.

The Audiobook Version:

This was really well done. One of the nice things about listening to contemporary audiobooks is the emotions they convey. It’s like listening to someone tell you their life story and it’s so easy to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

While the subject matter of None of the Above is superb, it does sometimes slip into the typical flow of YA contemporaries instead of keeping its focus elsewhere. However, it is an eyeopening read that I recommend to everyone.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: (honestly, this is a book everyone should read)
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Series Review: Every Day by David Levithan

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 Every Day (from Goodreads):

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

breakdown

Series: Every Day Trilogy
Author: David Levithan
# of Books: 3 (Every Day, Another Day, Someday)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Six Days Before

Book Order: Companion (Another Day), Chronological Sequel (Someday)
Complete?: No, Someday, will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

David Levithan writes one of my all time favourite novels, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. But despite that, I’ve never read any other title by him.

Every Day is a book I’ve seen floating around over the years so it caught my eye when I was browsing new audiobook series to read. I immediately loved the concept and was excited to see what would happen in this story.

The Concept:

This is such a cool idea for a story and I’ve never read anything like this before. I like the feeling that there is something bigger happening in this world and there is a bit of a mystery to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get elaborated on too much (this is more of a romance with extenuating circumstances than the other way around).

What’s cool is that this story had me thinking about ethics and morality and what it means to live your life. It had me thinking about how we treat and view others, especially when we focus on outward appearance.

The Plot of Every Day:

As I said above, this is a romance that has some extreme circumstances. Finding out why A moves from body to body, or how, takes a back seat to A’s obsession with Rhiannon and being with her. Which is fine, but as you’ll read below, I kinda wanted more.

The Characters in Every Day:

I really didn’t empathize or sympathize with A by the end of Every Day. A does some pretty silly things without truly thinking about the consequences and that annoyed me. By the end, it seemed like A didn’t matter what he did to those other lives so long as he got to be with Rhiannon and I just didn’t agree with that.

Rhiannon is also a bit of a dud if you ask me. I never grew to like her character but I think part of the reason is that she is never elaborated on other than as the object of A’s affections. She also does some pretty questionable things (in my opinion) but I did appreciate her candor near the end of the story.

The Romance in Every Day:

I was not sold on this; which really sucked because this is definitely the whole premise of this story. I just didn’t see the connection between these two. They share one day and they start this all-consuming romance that just irked me.

It also seemed to me that Rhiannon was trading one unhealthy relationship for another–never a good thing.

Why I Won’t Be Reading Another Day:

Another Day is Rhiannon’s companion novel and seeing as I didn’t love her, I’m not going to listen to 9 hours of her drab inner monologue. It also doesn’t look like it is going to answer some of my burning questions in terms of A’s life so I’ll just wait for the third novel.

My Expectations For the Rest of the Series:

I still have a lot of questions about why A changes from body to body so I hope we get those!

Series Rating: 3/5

Every Day 3/5 | Another Day N/A | Someday TBR

overall

A very cool concept that unfortunately gets overshadowed by an angsty teenaged love.

Read if You Like:  YA contemporary, teen romances, magical realism
Avoid if You: want more of a fantasy/mystery plot

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Series Review: The Lone City by Amy Ewing

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 Jewel (from Goodreads):

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

breakdown

Series: The Lone City Trilogy
Author: Amy Ewing
# of Books: 3 (The Jewel, The White Rose, The Black City)

There are some short stories. Full reading order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This is one of those series that would pop up on occasion for me. Mostly anytime when I reviewed any of the books from The Selection Series or browsed my library’s eBook collection. I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what the series was about until I decided to pick it up as an audiobook series and read the synopsis.

I also wasn’t sure what to expect but I have a few standards that I like all my dystopian novels to have: an intriguing world, a heroine I can tolerate and an actual plotline.

The Concept / The World:

Although the concept is very similar to other dystopian novels (especially The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) I’ve encountered in the past, I definitely got sucked into the world. I just love high society books and all the scandals of the haves vs the have-nots. Ewing does a great job of establishing the society here and why everything is as it is. There are a ton of secrets so you don’t know who you can and can’t trust and it just makes the entire story addicting.

The Plot:

You aren’t going to find the action-packed plotlines of The Hunger Games here but you are going to get more of a dramatic plot than The Selection Series ever provides. Meaning there is more than just a forbidden romance at play here.

It helps that this world is so intricate in its structure. Like most caste system stories, it’s the haves vs the have nots and that creates a tense atmosphere of danger and intrigue. The risks are high and you never doubt that for a moment thanks to the antics of the upper classes.

However, I did find the pacing to be off at times. For example, The Jewel starts off with a bang because you are thrown into this super interesting world. Getting acquainted with it and watching Violet navigate this was exciting to read until it reached a lull. The introduction of the romance (just past the 50% mark) really slowed down the plot since the romance becomes the larger focus and the rest of the intrigue takes a backseat. Thankfully it picks up again at the end.

The same can be said about The White Rose which suffers from the typical Book 2 of a Trilogy Slump. It was terribly slow even though important developments do happen–especially near the end.

The Black City, book 3, keeps the pacing strong at the start but wanes a little again in the middle. I was a little disappointed by some of the big “twists” but it was a solid ending to the series as a whole.

The Characters:

I went through a bit of a rocky relationship with Violet. In The Jewel, I liked her as a heroine more so than others I’ve encountered in this type of dystopian story. She didn’t drive me insane though I did roll my eyes many a times at some of her comments. (Often during the romantic scenes because I really wasn’t feeling that aspects). I think I was able to forgive some of her naivety because she really is kept in the dark due to her position/role in society. Of course she is going to react impulsively and not really think things through all the time.

And that’s the case as the series progresses. She doesn’t make the wisest decisions–she fails to see the bigger picture at times and that drove me a little nuts.

But I did like a lot of the side characters and I liked that it was easy to hate the villains.

The Romance:

This was a huge disappointment truthfully. I’m all for forbidden romances but this one just bored me. Their connection just seemed very superficial to me and it definitely borders on insta-love. I just wanted a little more substance here. I can’t help but feel that Garnet (the son of the Duchess who bought Violet) would have been a more intriguing love interest for her rather than Ash (who is a little dull despite all the efforts to make him compelling).

The Novellas:

I read both Garnet’s Story (#1.2) and The House of Stone (1.5) right after I read The Jewel. Garnet’s Story in particular does a good job bridging The Jewel and The White Rose and since I loved him as a character, it was great to get that insight. Raven is also a strong character so it was nice to fill in some of the gaps about her story. I opted not to pick up the other short stories.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was the first series I had read exclusively through an audiobook and I think it was a great choice. As I’ve often said in my other audiobook reviews, audiobooks do a great job of conveying emotions I wouldn’t have necessarily felt while reading. I also think it helped me understand Violet a little more. It’s so easy when you read words to interpret them one way instead of another. And I think by having someone speak Violet’s words and convey the emotions she is feeling, it helped me get what Violet’s motivations were–cooling my irritation with her.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Jewel 3.5/5 | The White Rose 3/5 | The Black City 3/5

overall

I’m a particularly hard critic on my dystopian novels but this one was solid from start to end even if it didn’t feel like that at times. While some things were predictable, others wowed me and had me wanting to know more. It’s addicting albeit slow at times but I think readers who enjoy high society dystopian novels will enjoy this.

Read if You Like: high society, dystopian
Avoid if You: want physical action

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DNF Series Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

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 Bright Young Things (from Goodreads):

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star….

Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for…and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of THE LUXE comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

breakdown

Series: Bright Young Things
Author: Anna Godbersen
# of Books: 3 (Bright Young Things, Beautiful Days, The Lucky Ones)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: October 2010 – November 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Bright Young Things at 72%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read The Flappers Trilogy years ago, I devoured them! Like most people, I’m fascinated by the 1920s culture. It seems like it was a decade unlike any other and I love exploring that further. After I finished that series, I put Bright Young Things on my TBR because it looked to be a very similar series: multiple leads, girls trying to navigate society and a dash of romance.

Like most things on my TBR, it took me years to get back to this series. Godbersen’s The Luxe Series has also been on my TBR forever and I had every intention of reading it first since it’s billed as a “historical Gossip Girl”. But when I was looking for a new audiobook series to start, this one popped first and I decided to try it first.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Obviously I like the decade and this story hits all the necessary requirements. You’ve got independent girls, aspiring actresses/singers, mobsters and prohibition. Oh, and don’t forget the forbidden romance.

But that was all I did enjoy in this book.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Leads–

I could probably rant for DAYS on why these girls are just plain awful but I’ll try to keep it short and logical.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it either: these girls seemed like complete idiots to me. And I get it, Cordelia and Letty are supposed to be the naive young girls from the country trying to make it in the big city on their own. That’s the premise of the story and I can forgive that. But they literally lack any intelligence. Sames goes for the “big city girl” Astrid. The elevator just doesn’t reach the top floor for any of these girls.

It doesn’t help that they are all very selfish girls either. They all think the universe should revolve around them (and I truthfully think Letty does believe it revolves around her) and so they act like it does. They don’t give any thought about the impact their actions with have on anyone and that drove me bananas!

*Spoiler* Case and Point

When Letty learns that Cordelia ran away from Ohio to find her lost father, Letty is completely flabbergasted that Cordelia’s motives to go to NYC weren’t to start Letty’s singing career. I mean, obviously Cordelia would spend all her savings on Letty’s music career and not on escaping her forcefully arranged marriage. That would be the same conclusion I would draw too if my best friend told me minutes before the wedding I knew she didn’t want that we were running away to NYC…dumbass Letty

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I know that I am a hard person to please and the lack of logic and/or impulsive/thoughtless character actions in novels is one of the reasons I am particularly choosey when it comes to my YA reads because teenagers don’t always make the best decisions. But if that character evolves from that, I’m all for it and often enjoy the novel.

One of the reasons I enjoy novels with multiple character POVs is that if I don’t enjoy one character’s POV, I can usually latch on to (at least) another to keep me reading. And because I couldn’t stand any of these girls, I didn’t find that with this novel.

–The Lack of a Plot–

And when you detest the leads, you count on the plot to keep you interested but there really isn’t much of one here. Unfortunately, this is a very character driven story. You really are just following these girls through their mundane lives of bad decisions and selfish actions. It’s very boring to read/listen to.

Why Wait so Long to DNF it then Lauren? You were 72% done!

Truthfully, I should have put this book down when Cordelia reveals her plan to Letty about going to NYC in Chapter 1. See, she tells Letty maybe 8 hours before the train leaves (moments before Cordelia’s wedding–which she goes also goes through with too!) that they are going to run away that night. Letty agrees, not even thinking about logistics (ie money, living, etc) because she thinks Cordelia is doing this all for her. (Again, read my previous section above for the vanity of this girls and the spoiler for Letty’s thought process).

But see, I forgave them that because you wouldn’t have a story otherwise and you need some catalyst to get the story going.

The straw that broke it for me–at 72% into the novel–were these two particular scenes. One featured Letty and the other was Astrid and I finally realized this wasn’t going to get any better. That’s when I decided that I wasn’t going to torture myself for another 2 hours of audiobook, let alone 2 more books (though truthfully, I had already decided I wasn’t going to finish the series before this point), watching these girls act like complete morons. They weren’t going to get any better as characters and I knew that if I ended it now before that cliffhanger every other review mentioned that happens in the end, I wouldn’t be compelled to pick up the sequels.

Spoilers: In case you want to know what the scenes were

Letty earlier in the novel goes on this date with a guy (Grayson? Gary? I think it started with a G) and for some reason they end up witnessing this old many killing his racing greyhounds. The boy (I’m going to call him G) she is with ends up saving the 2nd dog–at Letty’s insistence!–and they continue on. Later on, Letty waiting for some big-shot music guy to show up for this date and G shows up at the same time wanting to (for some unfathomable reason to me) ask her out again. But Letty doesn’t bother giving him the time of day because she wants to launch her music career. Ugh. But the scene that really did me in was the scene where Astrid uses her mom’s much younger boy toy against her mom to make her jealous because she is petty like that. Who in their right mind tries to make their mom jealous over a boy? I like drama but that is just too much.

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Will I Finish It?

Hell no! I read through some spoilers and am super glad with my choice to let this one go.

Audiobook Experience:

I will say that I did enjoy the audiobook production. Emily Bauer had the perfect voice and tone for narrating this book. She made it really easy to listen to even when the characters were being total fools.

Though I will say, I did struggle at the start with the Third Person POV. Because you don’t get page breaks in the audiobook, I had a hard time keeping track of who was the focus at the time. The shifts between characters wasn’t always apparent to me. And truthfully, I couldn’t keep straight who was Letty and who was Cordelia at the start either because we shift view points so much. But once I got into it a little more and the characters are expanded upon a bit, it gets better.

Series Rating: DNF

Bright Young Things 2/5 | Beautiful Days DNF | The Lucky Ones DNF

overall

AVOID AVOID AVOID!

I’m going to make a Downton Abbey reference here so bare with me.  Astrid and Cordelia reminded me a lot of Lady Mary Crawley: they want their independence and will damn well do it however they pleases no matter the consequences or impact on others. And Letty reminded me of the whiny Lady Edith from the first two seasons who never seems to get what she wants and makes terrible choices as a result. Only Letty never grows up like Edith does. But the worst part is that there is no Lady Sybil to root for.

Read if You Like: flappers, don’t mind naive & silly leads
Avoid if You: can’t stand selfish characters
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Fresh Fridays: To Betray My King (Betrayal Legacy #1) by Kayla Lavan

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

The Betrayal Legacy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for To Betray My King (from Goodreads):

Would you choose to save your kingdom or follow your heart?

Brave and kindhearted, Arianna is a princess of a kingdom that nobody wants. The magicless. Marrying the charming, flirtatious, and egotistical Prince Roland was the last thing either of them wanted, but for the sake of their people they agreed. War breaks out with the neighboring kingdom, forcing the prince’s hand to join in the fight. He leaves his new wife with the only man he trusts, his childhood friend, a dutiful, strong, and handsome knight.

A sweet romantic tale of forbidden love in a dark fanatical world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Reads of 2017
Series: The Betrayal Legacy
Author: Kayla Lavan
# of Books: 3 (To Betray My King, To Betray My Kingdom, To Betray Myself)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, there are sequels planned
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 1, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Blog Tours–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Despite the suggestion of a love triangle in the synopsis, the fact that there was forbidden romance (I’m a sucker, what can I say?) and the hopes of political intrigue had me eager to see what was in store.

What I Liked:

–Roland–

I didn’t expect to like him but I really liked the prince. He’s that charming, smug prince that I’m a sucker for. I thought he had the best character development of anyone in the novel.

Which is why is is a shame that he is gone for more than half the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance–

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about when it came to the love triangle. It was pretty non-existent. And that’s thanks to the fact that Arianna and Conrad had absolutely no chemistry together. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have known they were supposed to “fall in love” if the synopsis didn’t tell me that was the case.

I think that Arianna and Roland had a much stronger connection and one that could have believably turned into a romance.

–Lack of a Plot–

This book treaded water for a majority of the book. Honestly, nothing much happened to the character’s POVs we get. Everything seems to happen around them and they just carry on.

And it’s a shame because the ending does have some great twists and revelations. They just come too late to salvage the story.

–The Missing Chapter–

This book ends abruptly. I mean you literally reach the climax of the fight and then you get the epilogue. No wrap up for the big fight, no telling you what the hell happened to all the characters. Instead, you get a vague epilogue that lists no names and leaves you wondering, WTF just happened?

Then you turn the page and realize that if you want chapter 21.5, sign up for the newsletter. I’m going to bite my tongue on my thoughts about that. Regardless, I wanted that chapter and when I read it, it immediately tied up some of those loose ends. It’s a crucial chapter, one that shouldn’t be left out of the initial novel because it changes EVERYTHING! It changes what you think happens to the characters, changes the meaning of the epilogue and changes the projection for subsequent sequels.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really don’t know. I’m so mixed up over this whole novel.

My Rating: 1/5

overall

Frankly, this book was all over the place. It had the right ideas but truly lacked the right execution. It’s the end of the road for me with this one.

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Fresh Fridays: Flame in the Mist (#1) by Renee Ahdieh

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:

Flame in the Mist Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Flame in the Mist (from Goodreads):

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Must Read Author
Series: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (Flame in the Mist, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you asked me what my top 3 Disney movies are, I would say without hesitation: Aladdin, Mulan and Hercules. I loved Mulan as a young girl because she is like every girl you will ever meet. She’s bound by family duty and love and pressured by society to be a certain way. What girl doesn’t feel that at some point or another? And her transformation to assert her independence is inspirational for any young girl who watches it.

So I think it goes without saying, I was very, very excited to pick this book up. Even if this story wasn’t based on Mulan, I was eagerly awaiting Ahdieh’s next series after I completely fell in love with her The Wrath and the Dawn Duology last year.

Best Advice: Forget Disney’s Mulan & Keep to the Basics!

I know I just touted Disney’s Mulan (and I could write a very long post praising the movie) for its awesomeness, but I think it important to go into this remembering that that movie is based on the Chinese legend Hua Mulan–as is this book.

So expect plot differences and new characters; don’t expect songs and a talking dragon.

What do they share? A heroine who has always struggled with her place in society and her family. A girl who is smart in ways people don’t expect; who has a knack for crafting military devices that save her friends. A young woman who begins a journey to learn that she is more powerful and independent than she ever thought.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I love everything about Japan, particularly feudal Japan. I just find its history and culture to be fascinating. So having the novel set here immediately hooked me in. Ahdieh has a great power to weave worlds and it shows here. It’s rich and layered and even though it is influenced by another source, she makes it her own.

–The Politics–

I’m a sucker for political intrigue in my reads. It’s one of the reasons I adored The Wrath and The Dawn series so much. I love when you don’t know who you can trust; when there is more at play than you can ever imagine. This book has that thanks to the multiple POVs we get. You have this 360 degree view of the world and everything that is at play and I loved it.

–Mariko’s Character Development–

Mariko really blossoms before your eyes in terms of her growth. She’s shy and reserved at the start but slowly begins to break out of her shell. Her journey isn’t without fault, and she sure isn’t perfect but she continues to learn as she goes. Definitely a heroine you can root for.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place for it, but its appearance just seemed so sudden and abrupt that it took me a long time to realize what was happening. (It’s hard to elaborate without spoilers).

I genuinely grew to like the two of them together by the end but I just didn’t like how this was handled at the start. I guess I wanted a little more build-up.

–Slower Start–

I’m not sure what I was expecting at the start of the novel. I thought it was action but when I thought about it, I think I knew that there wasn’t going to be physical action immediately. Mariko’s character definitely isn’t at that point at the start and you know that thanks to the synopsis. So what was my problem?

Truthfully, I think it just takes the reader a few chapters to get acquainted with the world. Like I said above, this world is rich and layered and you don’t really get the full picture of what is happening until you are a few chapters in. It needs to build, and it definitely does as you go, just give it some time to get there.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! This start has so many great inklings to lead into the sequel. It’s building up to a fantastic climax that I can’t wait to see!

My Rating: 4/5

Flame in the Mist 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This story kept my attention from start to finish; from the rich setting to the intriguing characters, there’s a lot to like about this retelling!

Read if You Like: feudal Japan, world-building, Mulan
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action

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