Tag «high school drama»

Fresh Fridays: Secret Heir (Dynasty #1) by M J Prince

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:

Dynasty Trilogy

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Secret Heir (from Goodreads):

Since the beginning of time, tales have been told about Eden. But all the stories are wrong.

Running parallel alongside Earth, but never touching, there exists not just a garden, but an entire world of vivid colours and breathtaking beauty where the Seraph reside.

Jazmine has lived in ten different foster homes, in ten different towns and all her life she has felt like she doesn’t belong – not in the trailer park which happens to be foster home number ten, not anywhere on Earth.

After a universe shattering revelation, she discovers why. Far from being the nothing and no one, with no past and no future, that Jazmine had always believed herself to be, she discovers that she is in fact an heir to one of the seven remaining Seraph Dynasties.

She is Jazmine Evenstar, the last heir to the sovereign Evenstar Dynasty.

Thrust into the world of wealth and privilege in which the impossibly beautiful and equally cruel Dynasty heirs reside, Jazmine is forced to manoeuvre the tangled web that holds the Dynasties together.

Against the backdrop of breathtaking star filled nights, sweeping coastlines, grand marble halls and decadent palaces, Jazmine tries to find her place in this beautiful new world whilst fighting not to lose herself in the process.

But the fairy tale quickly unravels.

Half human and the illegitimate daughter of the late suicide King of Eden, the other Dynasty heirs make it clear that Jazmine does not belong in their world.

Raphael St. Tristan, heir to the rival sovereign St. Tristan Dynasty and next in line to the throne of Eden, the guy with the face of an angel but who is as wicked as the devil himself, promises to break her.

Jazmine quickly learns that the beauty of Eden is nothing but a deception as she uncovers the secrets festering at the heart of it. But can she disentangle herself from the web of deception and intrigue that the Dynasty heirs have spun? Can she stop herself from falling into Raphael St. Tristan’s trap before he can fulfil his promise to shatter her completely? Or are those stories about Eden true after all and will she be foolish enough to taste the forbidden fruit that is Eden itself?

breakdown

Series: Dynasty
Author: M J Prince
# of Books: 3 (Secret Heir, Shattered Heir, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Fantasy, Non-Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 27, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It & Review It–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book over at Darque Dreamer Reads when she did a review of it in January 2018. I’m always on the lookout for more non-contemporary New Adult reads and with the parallel universe of this one, I was curious. So I marked this book as one to keep my eye out for when it was released in February.

When the opportunity to review it came up with my New Adult Group on Goodreads, I jumped at the chance! I couldn’t wait to dive into all the drama and watch this “hate-to-love” you romance unfold!

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

That synopsis is long! Usually that deters me but it had me hooked with all its various tropes and features. Forbidden love–check. Family Feuds–check. An Alternate Universe–check. So many great elements are present and I couldn’t wait to see how they would all weave together.

I’ll admit that it takes a while for all these aspects to come into play. But we slowly get them a little bit at a time and this book starts to build at an addicting pace. I always wanted to read more and get more from the story and the characters. It’s like a really great TV drama that you can’t help but binge watch.

–Jaz and Raph’s Relationship–

I ADORE the enemies to lovers trope and this one is a great example of that.  Their dynasties are rivals in nearly all aspects of Eden and so the tension between them is important. They have a pretty tumultuous relationship at the start but once it reaches its turning point, I was hooked!

I loved watching their scenes together. They have such a strong tension between them that it jumps off the page at you. Once the story began to focus on those two learning more about each other, that’s when it really started to shine.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Repetitive Start–

As I mentioned above, this book started a little slow for me. Part of the reason is that the first few chapters seemed a touch repetitive. I felt like Jaz kept reiterating the same sentiments again and again so it made for a duller read than I anticipated. But once she learns about her destiny and goes to Eden, things pickup and never stop.

–Overdramatic Antics–

It’s easy to forget that the main setting for this novel is Jaz’s new high school in Eden. In the world of Eden, the dynasty heirs we see for a majority of the novel seem to be much older given their lifestyle. And especially later on in the novel when things become romantically heated.

I found some of the earlier antics between Jaz and Raph were very over the top. Things get escalated very quickly and it just takes things to the next level. Once I reminded myself that Eden isn’t Earth–that things are a little different thanks to the powers and such–it became easier to reconcile the character actions. And I found that things tapered off as the novel progressed. Yes, we get some of that petty drama but I feel like that comes with the territory of feuding family dramas so I didn’t mind so much.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

That finale was GREAT! I can’t wait to see what unfolds in Book 2! I have my own theories and suspicions but it looks like we are in for a wild ride regardless!

My Rating: 4/5

Secret Heir 4/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If you like dramatic TV shows but in a non-contemporary setting, this will be a great juicy read for you!

Read if You Like: parallel universes, family feuds, hate to love you
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult/Young Adult drama, want more action

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Trilogy Termination: He’s So/She’s So by Kieran Scott

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Spring 2017

Trilogy Termination Blitz: I finally finish some trilogies I started years ago by reading the final book! But don’t let my delay in finishing them deter you from picking them up…or should it?

Miss the Introduction Post? Read it here!

booksynopsis

Synopsis for She’s So Dead to Us (from Goodreads):

Ally Ryan would rather be in Maryland. She would rather be anywhere, in fact, than Orchard Hill, site of her downfall. Well, not hers exactly—but when your father’s hedge fund goes south and all your friends lose their trust funds, things don’t look so sunny for you. Her mother moved her to Maryland to flee the shame, but now they’re moving back. Back to the country-club, new-car-every-year, my-family-came-over-on-the-Mayflower lifestyle that Ally has outgrown. One bright spot, however, is gorgeous, intense Jake Graydon. But it won’t be easy for the two of them to be together—not if his friends (her former friends) have anything to say about it. Is Ally ready to get thrown back into the drama of the life she left behind?

breakdown

Series: He’s So/She’s So Trilogy
Author: Kieran Scott
# of Books: 3 (She’s So Dead to Us, He’s So not Worth It, This Is So Not Happening)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School, Drama
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2010 – May 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t know how I learned about this series but I do know that I suggested that my local library buy it and that’s how I got my hands on this series! This was back in the day when my YA horizons weren’t broader than contemporaries and this one sounded like it had some juicy drama!

The Plot:

What I liked about these books was that the plot did have a few layers to it. You’ve got Ally struggling to fit back in with her friends and new family situation; Jake struggling with his feelings for Ally (and vice versa) and then some main plot for the book. And each book fits that formula and throws in some other love interests along the way.

Basically, it’s an extended teen soap opera episode.

So while I found each novel to be terribly predictable, I also found myself sucked into the lives of Ally and company.

The Characters:

Surprisingly, I liked Ally. I say surprisingly because I often find myself annoyed with teenaged heroines in high school dramas since they seem to have priorities and views I can’t stand. But Ally has a fabulous head on her shoulders and I really loved how she handled herself with all the craziness that is around her.

And it is a whole lot of crazy. Her friends are everything I despise in YA characters. They’re petty, selfish and love everything drama has to offer. I mean, it works for the story but it also makes them a little unlikable.

Jake is a great example of that. Talk about self-absorbed! Oye, his thought process slayed me sometimes. He definitely isn’t going to be on my list of book boyfriends anytime soon.

However, in the same breathe, it provides a great opportunity to see these characters grow up a little with all the stuff that gets thrown their way. (And for the most part, they seize that opportunity).

The Romance:

Seeing as I wasn’t a huge Jake fan, I didn’t always love the romance between him and Ally. And the constant love triangles they found themselves in were exhausting. But somehow, it worked for this story so I tolerated it.

Series Rating: 4/5

She’s So Dead to Us 4/5 | He’s So Not Worth It 4/5 | This Is So Not Happening 3.5/5

overall

If you love teen soaps but want one in a book, this is a series you should have on your radar!

Read if You Like: high school drama, teen soaps
Avoid if You: dislike drama

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Series Review: The DIMILY Trilogy by Estelle Maskame

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 Did I Mention I Love You? (from Goodreads):

Love is everything but expected.

Eden Munro came to California for a summer of sun, sand, and celebrities—what better way to forget about the drama back home? Until she meets her new family of strangers: a dad she hasn’t seen in three years, a stepmom, and three stepbrothers.

Eden gets her own room in her dad’s fancy house in Santa Monica. A room right next door to her oldest stepbrother, Tyler Bruce. Whom she cannot stand. He has angry green eyes and an ego bigger than a Beverly Hills mansion. She’s never felt such intense dislike for someone. But the two are constantly thrown together as his group of friends pulls her into their world of rule-breaking, partying, and pier-hanging.

And the more she tries to understand what makes Tyler burn hotter than the California sun, the more Eden finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t love…

breakdown

Series: DIMILY Trilogy or Did I Mention I Love You Trilogy
Author: Estelle Maskame
# of Books: 3 (Did I Mention I Love You?, Did I Mention I Need You?, Did I Mention I Miss You?)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2015 – December 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback (Sourcebooks Fire edition); Netgalley (DIMIMY)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw DIMILY on Netgalley but I wasn’t able to read a copy. So I patiently waited for my library to get a copy and eventually, I was able to read it.

I really, really enjoyed Rival by Penelope Douglas a couple of years ago which also has a step-sibling relationship. I love forbidden romances so I think it’s obvious why DIMILY was on my radar. I was hoping for a more New Adult version of a YA contemporary but was willing to give this one a chance because the plot-line really intrigued me.

The Plot:

The plot in Did I Mention I Love You (DIMILY) is your typical YA story set in California: lots of underage parties with the rich, beautiful kids and their overly dramatic lives. Don’t forget the teen angst! It’s here in buckets!

DIMILY is really just Eden trying to navigate her new everyday family life by immersing herself in the Californian way of life. She has her own insecurities from the past (that slowly get revealed in time but that I felt were pretty obvious) and she harbours a lot of (understandable) resentment towards her father whom she has agreed to stay with for the summer. She does a lot of rebelling which is interesting; it just gets monotonous over time because it is always the same thing.

Honestly, there isn’t that much to the plot but there is something addicting about the story in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Mostly, I think it was the enigma that is Tyler that keep me reading because I wanted to get to the bottom of his story and could have cared less about Eden and her issues.

Did I Mention I Need You (DIMINY) is your typical bridging trilogy romance BUT, I found it much easier to read (see in the characters section below for why). Again, it had this addicting quality to it that kept me intrigued from start to finish. Eden’s character development seemed to come to light more here as well.

The Characters:

As someone who reads a lot of New Adult novels now (I rarely read a YA contemporary), the problems these characters faced seemed a little petty. So it made getting comfortable with Eden as a narrator difficult; especially because she is so angsty at the start of the series. I did, however, manage to look past her angst in order to see why she acts the way she does and it did work for the most part. Eden has a lot of self-esteem issues that come to the surface and influence her character development too. I was really hoping for a little more focus on that as the story progressed but it doesn’t really happen all that much. Regardless, she does has some depth to her.

I also struggled with Eden’s actions as a character. I was never able to get a good read on her. It wasn’t like she was saying one thing and then completely doing another, but I really don’t think she thought things through all the way in most situations. Perhaps that is the result of her being a 16 year old girl and needing to mature a bit (I had to remind myself numerous times that these characters were still in high school) or simply a result of her self-esteem issues, I’m not really sure. She also comes across as slightly selfish–but that does get better as the series progresses. Regardless, I didn’t really love Eden as a character and it made it hard to root for her at times.

Tyler on the other hand was interesting. It could be the result of him not having a POV, leaving you to only know as much about him as Eden (the narrator) does but I found his character was much more complex than Eden’s. His journey kept me interested in the story more so than Eden did and I liked watching it unfold.

The Romance:

This was a little lacklustre for me in DIMILY. Seeing as it was the main selling point for picking up the series, I really wanted to be blown away.

While Eden is (understandably) intrigued by Tyler, I really didn’t think they interacted that much or at least enough to warrant the feelings they do. Yes, she keeps digging into his life and shows that she cares–which is great and obviously something he needed–but I didn’t get the fascination on either end truthfully.

Their relationship becomes stronger as the series continues but they definitely aren’t gracing my list of favourite couples ever–even if I have come to root for them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

DIMINY’s ending has me very curious to see what is going to happen in the finale. Hopefully we see some mature characters who have learned from their past actions and get a super romantic finale. The more I read about these characters, the more I want to see things work out for everyone involved.

updates

–December 4, 2016– Book #3: Did I Mention I Miss You? (DIMIMY)

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I had high expectations for this finale. Everything has been building for this book and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

And it was perfect! This was exactly what I wanted in this final book.

The proof of character growth that we got here was fantastic. These aren’t the same characters we had in DIMILY. They’ve grown and it’s shown here perfectly. I loved watching Eden mature into the young woman she becomes. I wasn’t a big fan of hers at the start of this series but I’ve really grown to like who she has transformed into before my eyes.

And Tyler has the same great progression as well. Perhaps even more so.

I felt every range of emotions reading this book; in a completely great way. If you had asked me when I picked up DIMILY (where I watched these immature teenagers rebel with so much angst), I would have said “no”. But it’s amazing how much I fell in love with these two and their journey the more invested I became in this series.

This book hit all the right notes and I have no doubt in my mind that fans of this series will LOVE this final novel.

I know I sure did!

Series Rating: 4/5

Did I Mention I Love You? 3/5 | Did I Mention I Need You 4/5 | Did I Mention I Miss You 5/5

overall

It you enjoy high school drama and angst, this is a great series for you! You need to be able to tolerate a lead you might not really connect with or like–but the story and relationships have this addicting quality to them that makes it entertaining to read. And the character growth from start to finish makes the journey worth it!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike angst, teenagers pretending to be adults, cheating characters

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Series Review: What Love Is by Bry Foster

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

What Love Is Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Love Is an Action (from Goodreads):

Khloe Hudson is all out of everything.

All out of patience for her alcoholic father. All out of money from her summer job savings. All out of scholarship essay ideas. And all out of room in her heart for people who don’t care to see her for who she really is.

But even she has to admit that the French jerk attending her academy is starting to worm his way in just a bit.

Cash Castille couldn’t care less about what Khloe thinks she knows. None of her advanced classes have taught her that love isn’t something that can be measured or figured out using scientific methods. Actions often speak louder than words. And although he gets a rise out of driving her crazy, he can’t help but wonder when her brain will stop arguing with what their hearts already know.

When Cash drops a bomb and asks for the favor of a lifetime, Khloe reluctantly agrees because despite the terms, she needs the benefits of their arrangement. However, as Cash and Khloe navigate through their new found relationship, she can’t help but wonder if the cost of this ploy will be another expense she can’t afford to give. Her heart.

breakdown

Series: What Love Is
Author: Bry Foster
# of Books: 1+ (Love is an Action, book 2)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, there will be more books in this series
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eBook (Read It Review It Program)

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thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Love is an Action was a title available for the Read It, Review It program for the group I am a part of on Goodreads. Some of my favourite New Adult titles see couples that seemingly hate each other come to love each other through some twisted act of fate and that’s what I was hoping for when I read the synopsis for this one.

What I Liked:

–Cash–

Though Cash doesn’t get too much air time during this book, the moments he was there for were great. I thought he was very swoon worthy, especially near the end of the book.

–That it was a High School New Adult–

I read so many NA books that take place in college that I forget that they can take place in the last year of high school as well. However, this aspect was definitely a double edged sword.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That it was a High School New Adult–

Because these two leads are SO YOUNG, the situation they find themselves in seemed completely ridiculous to me! It just made everything so over the top and dramatic and I will admit that I nearly stopped reading because my tolerance was being tested. I really don’t enjoy soap opera-esque dramatics in my novels and that was what we had here. I know that that appeals to some people but it sure doesn’t to me.

–The Romance–

For the first 50% of the book, I feel like the romance was non-existent. Cash and Khloe rarely seemed to interact to me and so it took me a while to see why they would even like each other. I felt like a lot was implied when I wanted it to be shown to me. It did get better as the book progressed though and the focused shifted away form Khloe’s home life and inner monologue.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really have no idea where this series is going. I dunno if it is going to be another set of characters as the leads or if it is a continuation of Cash and Khloe’s story. Regardless:

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This was just too much petty drama for my liking. And it is a shame because it has everything that you want in a good NA novel. I’m sure others will enjoy this, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Read if You Like: soap operas, single POV stories, high school New Adult
Avoid if You: dislike petty drama, dislike high school drama, want more mature characters

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Series Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

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

Synopsis for 99 Days (from Goodreads):
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

breakdown

Author: Katie Cotugno
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Coming of Age, Drama, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (9 Days)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Normally, I would stay FAR FAR away from any YA/NA/Adult contemporary romance that primarily deals with a love triangle. I don’t like reading about someone who is torn between two people she loves equally simultaneously. And I LOVE romance stories. There is just something about love triangles that gets on my last nerve and frustrate me to no end. Especially if there is cheating involved.

So it’s still a little shocking to me that I even picked up 99 Days because it is the very definition of an annoying love triangle. One girl. Two brothers. Cheating. Need I say more?

However, the concept of the story being told as “days” instead of chapters interested me and I loved the cover. The reviews I had read were so-so but I was willing to give it a shot and entered into it with an open mind and unsure expectations.

The Concept:

I really loved the execution of using each day as a chapter. I found it cut of the unnecessary prattle and got to the gritty part of each day. It made things seem so much faster as I was reading because I wasn’t getting bored by mundane details.

The Plot:

You know, I got really into the plot of this book! I won’t lie: I really wanted to know what happened that caused Molly to sleep with Patrick’s brother when it seems like she really, truly loved him. Patrick and Molly’s past relationship was shown bit by bit and I found myself addicted to those presented moments. I could have easily read this book in a sitting if I had the time because it flows really nicely.

I would say that the book is split 50/50 between the romance and the coming of age aspect. Molly (and the rest of the characters) have a lot of growing up to do (understatement) and that focus was split equally on which brother she would end up with.

This book was also more realistic than I expected. A lot of the situations Molly finds herself in I could easily say happen at most high schools to a certain degree. I think as teens a lot of us struggled finding the direction we wanted our life to go in; had a hard time balancing our romantic and social lives; and maintaining our relationship with our parents. I also thought the talks about sex and drinking were really realistic as well. And the whole “slut-shaming” bit was super frustrating to read because HELLO, it takes two to tango and Gabe is just as much at fault! Ugh, I hate double standards and I’m glad it’s addressed (though not as much as I would have liked personally) in this book.

The Characters:

Molly is really a make-or-break character. If you don’t like cheating protagonists or characters who aren’t strong in their convictions–stay AWAY from this one! You will really find Molly to be a frustrating character and not enjoy this novel whatsoever.

Which is a shame because I think Molly gets a bad rap in both the book and with readers. She is a young and a confused girl–watching her work out these issues is the whole point of a coming of age story! You can’t expected her to be flawless and selfless or else you wouldn’t have a story!

Does that mean I support the decisions she makes throughout this book? HELL NO! But at the same time I cut her some slack (at least with the stuff in the past) because that’s some tough shit to go through emotionally and I can’t entirely blame her for thinking that she only had those options. And again, DOUBLE STANDARD! It takes two people to do what she did and I wish everyone else would remember that!

So is Molly my favourite heroine ever? Definitely not. Was she selfish? To a certain extent regarding certain things, yes. Did I find her frustrating to read about? Sometimes. But I tried my best to reserve judgement as I watched her try to work on her issues. She’s in a tough spot and doing the best she can, even if I don’t agree with how she handles things.

The rest of the characters were your typical contemporary fodder. I wouldn’t say that I loved any characters in particular but they suited the story.

The Romance:

If I put the cheating aside, I really didn’t mind how the romance was done in this book. If I put the cheating back in, I feel a little icky but I’ll live.

One of the reasons I find love triangles to be so frustrating is that sometimes my “team” (aka the guy I am rooting for) doesn’t have a shot in hell at being with the girl in the end when I really want him to be. But with this one, I flopped between who I wanted to see with Molly at the end.

So I guess that I can’t entirely blame Molly for being stuck between the two brothers because they sure don’t make it easy! They both know how to manipulate her by saying and doing the right thing at the right time. However, I really didn’t fall for any of their charms and by the end, I was just hoping she would kick both of them to the curb–girl power!

But like I said earlier in my review, I thought the romance balanced nicely with Molly coming to grips about who she is as a person and how much she needs to grow up.

updates

–September 8, 2018– Book #2: 9 Days and 9 Nights

I never thought this story would get a sequel–and I’ll admit that I was ok with how things wrapped up at the end of 99 Days. But of course, my curiosity would not be sated until I found out what was next for Molly.

I enjoyed the one a lot when I listened to the audio. I think listening to the audio version and hearing Molly’s conflict and emotions through her voice helped me understand her dilemmas a lot and perhaps be more patient or empathetic to her situation.

I’m not sure if the character development was good or bad. I feel like we did see Molly grow up a bit by the end so I suppose that means it is there. But I thought the content in the middle seemed overly repetitive.

Overall: for a sequel I never thought I needed, I enjoyed this little bit of closure on Molly’s life for what it was.

My Rating: 3.5/5

99 Days 3.5/5 | 9 Days and 9 Nights 3.5/5

overall

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It had a great reading flow to it and I found myself hooked into the simple story. However, if you don’t think you can read this book with an open mind (especially with cheating) or really can’t stand indecisive heroines, stay away!

Read if You Like: love triangles, coming of age romances, teenaged drama
Avoid if You: don’t like cheating characters, love triangles

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Single Sundays: Chancing on You by Melinda Ellen

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 Chancing on You (from Goodreads):
Hope Andrews has been trying to find her place in the world for the past seventeen years, but being an orphan and getting shipped from home to home hasn’t always made it easy. Between her current foster carers who are to busy getting high to the bullies at school who make her life hell, Hope finds solitude in her music. She’s silently counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can finally make her escape once and for all, but what she doesn’t count on is the new guy Jaxon Broad turning her plans upside down.

After leaving the city behind which was tainted with his past, Jaxon moved to live with his brother. He needed to escape the memories that haunted his dreams and swore him off relationships. So when he lays eyes on the intriguing brunette Hope, he’s not prepared for the feelings that keep stirring within.

But will their second chance at happiness be destroyed when their pasts won’t let them go?

breakdown

Author: Melinda Ellen
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2014
Source & Format: Provided by Author–eBook

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This was the second book I received from my New Adult Goodread’s Group’s Read2Review program. I picked it because it promised to have characters with great back stories and some steamy sexual tension…and I wasn’t disappointed!

The Plot:

I was immediately hooked into this story. There was a great balance between the romance and personal growth of each lead and it moved at the perfect pace. While I’ve read characters with similar situations, I never got bored with this story. Sure, I got annoyed at your typical “assuming” situations but hey, that’s the joy of reading a contemporary romance 😉 I never felt like there was too much going on but there was definitely enough to keep things moving.

This is one of those New Adult stories that takes place in high school so that is important to note but I would definitely classify it as New Adult. However, you still have your typical high school drama situations, like the “super popular” chick flirting with the lead, etc. But I felt like the character development and the main situations they find themselves in were quite mature so that balanced everything out.

The Characters:

I enjoyed watching Hope and Jaxon develop not only their romantic relationship, but their personal growth as well. I really grew to like these two as individuals, even if they did frustrate me at times with their “assumptions”.

I found the secondary characters were slightly cliched but most secondary characters are. They did their job supporting the plot but not getting in the way or becoming the focus when they shouldn’t. Great character execution.

The Romance:

If you love sexual tension like I do, you will like this book! I thought there was great chemistry between Hope and Jaxon even when I wasn’t totally sold on them being together emotionally. I just felt like they really hadn’t interacted more than appreciating each other’s bodies when they first start having deeper feelings. I’m not denying the importance of physical chemistry, I’m just saying I didn’t totally understand where these feelings were coming from immediately based on the limited interaction they had. But that definitely improved as the story continued and I saw them interact more. I definitely became a fan as I continued to read–and as I said, their chemistry was great.

I do have to say though that the romance was often very cheesy and it kind-of took away from the realistic edge of this book. Some of the lines Jaxon said had me rolling my eyes but they  really weren’t that common when all was said and done.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you want a New Adult read that straddles the line between realistic and dramatic, this is the one for you! It definitely deals with some very real themes but at the same time it does have a dramatic flare with the high school drama. I will definitely be looking out for more of Melinda’s books in the future!

Read if You Like: hate to love you relationships, jaded characters, high school new adult stories
Avoid if You: don’t like high school drama, don’t like communication assumption situations

similarreads

readingchallenges

Single Sundays: Forget You by Jennifer Echols

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 Forget You (from Goodreads):
Why can’t you choose what you forget … and what you remember?

There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all–the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug–of all people– suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life–a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

Review:

I’ve been drawn to amnesia based stories since I read Rosebush by Michele Jaffe years ago. So when I first came across this book I was excited by the premise and quickly put it on my to-read list.

Have you ever read a book’s synopsis, then the book and felt a little mislead? I did a little with this book. To be honest, I kind of expected the story to start right as Zoey wakes up from the hospital but I did appreciate the first few chapters of background that we get. Forget You throws you right into the mess that is Zoey’s life: which is not the nicest place to be as the proverbial shit is starting to hit the fan. The chapters give you the little insights into Zoey’s life and introduces all the relevant characters.

Why I say I felt mislead is because of her relationship with Brandon–the synopsis gave me the impression that they had been dating for years and that they were the stereotypical perfect high school couple when that isn’t the case…at all. They have actually only been “dating” (and that is a very loose term for their relationship) for a week by the time the accident rolls around. So it isn’t some profound relationship like I expected it to be; which is honestly fine and I actually prefer that their relationship is like that to a certain extent (I don’t like typical story-lines after all). but it threw me off for a bit because I was expecting the generic perfect boyfriend/girlfriend couple and I was looking forward to the juicy gossip about why she was suddenly hanging around bad boy Doug that accompanied that.

I also had a hard time with the flow of the book. It seemed choppy to me. I think it had to do with Zoey’s statement of facts. Perhaps the tense she uses contributed. It just seemed very curt. Not how a seventeen year old would talk. Kinda like this paragraph. It wasn’t like it was horribly written but it took me a while to get used to the way the book was flowing. I often had to reread paragraphs to make sure I was fully understanding what was happening.

And that perpetual state of confusion followed me throughout the book because I could not get a handle on Zoey. She seemed so scattered in her thoughts and convictions. And to an extent I let that slide in Young Adult books, especially where the main character has been dealt a heavy hand–I mean part of the charm of YA is watching the characters grow from their experiences after all. However, Zoey just seemed odd to me and at first I thought maybe that was because of a psychological issue given the situation with her mom and I was kind of excited if that was going to be the big twist I had been expecting. But it wasn’t. Sometimes she came across as intelligent, other times she was just plain stupid and as a reader it was frustrating because she is the only narrator you get.

I think the worst part of this book for me–being the logical person that I am–was that the entire situation could have been explained if Zoey just owned up to the fact that she didn’t remember the night of the accident. No one would think any less of you if just admitted that after a major accident you didn’t remember what happened the few hours before. It’s called a symptom of a major concussion and it is expected to happen; it’s normal and given that that is what Zoey has been striving for the entire novel you think she would appreciate it. Instead she decides to play coy and the entire premise of the novel is based on the assumption that this character knows, etc. Why make an even bigger mess of your life by ignoring the larger issue? It sure has hell didn’t work for your parents so why did you think it would work for you?

Man oh man…why can’t people just say what they honestly mean?

So I’ll just say that I didn’t get this book at all…and I will promptly forget about it.

Conclusion:

Perhaps there was this greater message that all these 5-star reviews on Goodreads received when reading this book; but I sure as shit did not get it. Frankly, I’ve read much better and this book did absolutely nothing for me.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Nope.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Amnesia, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: warm (sex is mentioned a lot though)
Point of View: First Person, Single

Similar Reads: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe; We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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Movie Mondays: The DUFF

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

Book: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger | Movie: The Duff (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

I will admit that I only heard of this book because of the movie being released; but as soon as I read the synopsis, I wanted to read it regardless of the movie.

I thought this book was very cute and funny but touching at the same time and I had a hard time putting it down (and I would have felt that way even if I wasn’t reading it during a road trip). I think a lot of teens can relate to some of the scenarios that happen in this book even if the circumstances aren’t the same as in the book. The situations never seemed petty or overly dramatic and I really appreciated that. I could see these things happening in high school and I loved that realism in this story. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that the author was 17 when she wrote it so she could draw from personal experience but I didn’t know that author was so young until I read the biography after I finished the book because it was so well written.

I could see why some people might not enjoy this book because Bianca is quite cynical. I can be quite cynical so I didn’t mind but I could easily see how she would rub people the wrong way. I thought she was a lot of fun to read about and I loved the interactions between her and Wesley. They made me laugh and melted my heart because I could see their relationship developing even when they didn’t. I’m a sucker for the reformed playboy and the independent heroine relationship (Ten Things I Hate About You anyone?) and it was done very well in this book. Wesley was the right blend of charming and caring and even I got a bit of a crush on him.

This book more than anything focuses on Bianca trying to navigate her troubled family and school life. Her relationship with Wesley, while a main plot-line of the novel, isn’t the main focus of the book but everything was in the right balance which made the book so addicting to read.

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this book! It straddled the line perfectly between being fun and serious and I easily powered through it. Fans of YA will love this one!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott (He’s So/She’s So Trilogy #1)

The Movie:

I knew before reading the book and before seeing the movie that both were going to be extremely different. Where the book focuses on Bianca navigating her messy family life, the movie focuses more on what it means to label someone and the consequences it can have. The book didn’t really worry about changing how people labelled other people in high school but it did focus on Bianca becoming confident in herself and that is also the underlying theme of the movie.

This movie was like Mean Girls meets a 90’s rom-com. While I didn’t find it as memorable funny as Mean Girls (my friends and I still use lines from Mean Girls today) I definitely laughed because some of the lines were so witty and fun. (It could have been because I saw it in a nearly empty theatre during a school day afternoon so I felt like I was the only one laughing) But, I felt like the movie did what Mean Girls did and showed the realistic side of high school and how teens can be just plain awful to each other–and it especially showed how social media plays a role today in belittling other people. I thought it was really well written and I think a lot of teens can relate to it. I really hope that teens watch this and realize how their actions/words can impact other people–even if it is as something simple as a nickname said behind someone’s back.

In the book, Bianca didn’t really focus on what it means to be the Duff as much as she did in the movie. So in the movie, instead of sleeping with Wesley to escape from her everyday life, she asks Wesley to make her over so she isn’t the Duff anymore–this is where it reminded me of the good ole’ 90s rom-com (She’s All That anyone?). But what stayed the same as the book was the great chemistry between Bianca and Wesley.

First, I think casting contributed whole-heartedly to this. I’ve only seen Mae Whitman (Bianca) the occasional time I would find my roommates watching Parenthood so I’m not too familiar with her or her acting. However, I thought she played Bianca perfectly! She had the cynical humour down pat and she was everything I expected Bianca to be. Now I might be biased about Robbie Amell because he is related to my TV crush Steven Amell’s (The Arrow) AND a Canadian hottie but I thought he did a great job as Wesley! He nailed the charming but slightly douchey jock role of Wesley. If you didn’t have a crush on him before this movie, you will after!

But their chemistry together really blew me away! I know that they had a lot of freedom with the script so they ad-libbed a few lines and when you see the character’s reaction, you know that it is the actor’s genuine reaction to that scene. Nothing beats a true smile or laugh in my books when it comes to movies. You can tell that they had a lot of fun making this movie and as a viewer it makes it all that more enjoyable to watch.

Long story short: I would definitely watch this movie again! It might not be the most accurate book-to-movie adaption ever but the message of the book is clearly reflected in the movie. It was a lot of fun and I’m sure if I watched it again there would be lines I missed the first time that would have me laughing out loud.

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

In this case, the winner is a TIE! Because the book and movie focus on different things it’s really hard to compare them to each other. I love the book because of the family issues Bianca has to deal with since they were very realistic to me. But I also love the message of the movie regarding school life and labels because they too are very realistic. Both are very well done and I think YA fans and teens will love both!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The DUFF (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Trailer:

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Series Review: The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

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

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard | The Perfectionists Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Perfectionists (from Goodreads):
In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.

breakdown

Series: The Perfectionists
Author: Sara Shepard
# of Books: 2 (The Perfectionists, The Good Girls)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: October 2014 – June 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

My only exposure to Sara Shepard’s work prior to this series was the TV shows for Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. I gave up on Pretty Little Liars a few seasons ago because (and I think we can all admit this) it is just dragging on far too long; and I refuse to read the book series because it is 14+ books long and I just don’t have the time (even though they are smaller books). The Lying Game though, I LOVED and when it got cancelled I was super disappointed. I will probably pick up that series at a later date because I really want to know what happens and how it all wraps up.

So, I decided to give this new series a shot because it was new and I’m always open to try new genres. I don’t normally read Young Adult mystery-thrillers but I loved Rosebush by Michele Jaffe and I was willing to give this series a go.

My Review:

The Perfectionists started a little slow but I think that was because the you are kind of thrown into everything when you know nothing about the characters. But once the characters started to develop, it was hard to put this book down. I love books where there are a lot of things going on and when you have 5 leads like this series does, there is never a dull moment as you read. I found all the girls were interesting in their own little ways and I was drawn to their stories. As can be expected, they all have secrets and that just added to the drama and plot of this book. But what I was really impressed with was the depth of some of these characters’ stories and their everyday struggles that were very realistic and relatable to readers.

As for the plot–it’s a good one! There were great twists and I never really knew what was going to happen next so it made for an exciting read at times. I’m looking forward to seeing how things all wrap up in the next and final installment, The Good Girls.

updates

–February 13, 2017– Book #2: The Good Girls

It was easier to pick this novel up than I thought it would be considering it has been two years since I read the first novel. But I had good summary notes and Shepard does a good job of getting you back into everything with her writing.

I wanted the first half of the novel to be a little more suspenseful. Instead, it focuses on the girls reorienting their lives following the previous book. It’s necessary but a little on the duller side for someone who wanted the suspense.

The latter half of the novel is by far more suspenseful. Unfortunately, the big twist I was able to guess pretty early on but I enjoyed the novel nonetheless.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Perfectionists 3/5 | The Good Girls 3/5

overall

While this book didn’t knock my socks off or make me gasp in shock, it was thoroughly entertaining. Fans of Shepard’s work (or at least of the TV show variety) will enjoy this one. If you want a fun (well, as much “fun” as a murder mystery novel can be), quick thriller novel to read this is a good one to grab!

Read if You Like: YA suspense, Pretty Little Liars
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries, books set in high school

similarreads

  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars Series #1)
  • Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
  • The Lying Game by Sara Shepard (The Lying Game #1)

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