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Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

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 Dance for Me (from Goodreads):

Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries…or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.

Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.

As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses…but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?

This New Adult Romance is recommended for 17+ due to mature themes, sexual situations and language.

breakdown

Series: Fenbrook Academy
Author: Helena Newbury
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 Losing My Balance

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Losing my Balance)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited (Acting Brave)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely certain how this series crossed my radar; probably when I browsing NA reads that were a little darker. I know that I liked the idea of the series taking place at an academy for performing arts. It’s very Fame-esque (the old TV show that they rebooted in a so-so movies a few years ago).

The Concept / The World:

Each novel focuses on a girl who attends the school but for a different art. One’s a dancer, one’s a musician and the other is an actress. They also have different familiar situations and pasts so I found each story had its own unique spin and plot. There isn’t a linear overall plot but you get a taste of what is going to happen in the sequels in the previous novel; and you still see the previous leads in the sequel novels as well. However, you could read each one as a standalone if you desired.

The Plot:

Because our three heroines differ, the plots for their respective novels are also very different.

Dance for Me (#1) definitely has a darker, twisted edge to it; one I wasn’t entirely expecting so in that respect it was refreshing. But because of those vibes, everything seemed rushed to me and I wasn’t a huge fan of that.

Whereas In Harmony (#2) was lighter and more of a coming of age type of story. Unfortunately, it suffered from some logic holes with the plot near the end but I really enjoyed it! It was definitely my favorite of the series.

And the final novel, Acting Brave had its own feel to it. There was a dash of suspense but it seemed to focus more on a slow burn romance. Or maybe it only felt slow because it is such a long novel! The pacing was a little off for me on this one and while it was my most anticipated of the stories, I ended up a touch disappointed.

The Characters:

There are many layers to these characters and I liked how this book explored them. A good new adult romance novel should have a fantastic romance but it should also have strong character growth and I felt like these books had that latter aspect. Of course, not every reader can relate to all the situations the characters face but I think we can all identity with the need to find your own identity and fight the possible demons from our past.

The Romance:

With the exception of In Harmony (#2), I thought all of the romances happened really fast. What I mean by that, it that they get very intense really quickly (like “I love you” is thrown out pretty early within the couples even meeting each other). I’m ok with that but a lot of the times, I felt like the characters were more in love with the idea of their partner than the partner themselves. My opinion did change further into the stories when we learn more about the characters but it was a little off-putting how quickly these people were falling in love with each other.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 Losing My Balance:

I read this after I had finished the novels in the series but you can safely read this following book #1. And I would actually recommend that you do read this right after Book #1 when you still remember the tension and how the scenes from it are integrated in the first novel.

Series Rating: 3/5

Dance for Me 3/5 | [Losing my Balance 3/5] | In Harmony 4/5 | Acting Brave 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a different type of New Adult Series–and don’t mind a copious amount of pages–this will be a great series for you to pick up.

Read if You Like: darker new adult stories; long novels
Avoid if You: want better pacing; dislike long novels

similarreads

  • The Mad Tatter by J M Darhower
  • Chasing River by K A Tucker (Burying Water #3)
  • She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla (Sheridan Hall Series #1)

 

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Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

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 Blocked (from Goodreads):

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

breakdown

Series: Blocked
Author: Jennifer Lane
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Blocked); Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I think I got this series mixed up for another when I was selecting my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge Titles. I blame the very similar covers. (The book I’m thinking of is Love Garage by Liz Crowe). Regardless, I thought  the premise for Blocked was very interesting; especially in the politically charged environment we find ourselves in today.

The Concept:

While the political system is quite different where I live in Canada, I know enough about the American system to understand why the “hate to love you trope” is quite the obstacle for our leads to overcome. I’ve read books in the past where modern politics are a theme but never to the levels that are displayed here. By no means are the characters preachy to the reader; but various views are expressed throughout the novels and they are used well as plot devices.

Another major theme in these novels is sports and how athletes balance sports and their everyday lives. There is a big emphasis on therapy and counselling–which I loved. Mental health is often something shied away from in novels and I liked how these books broke down the stereotypes and included the sessions in the scenes.

The Plot:

For me, all of these books had a weird pacing to them. We spend so much of these novels focusing on the individual characters and their stories that the romance gets a little lost in the shuffle. It all felt a little repetitive to me at times; and more often than not, it felt like we were trapped in the mundane of everyday life. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than it could have used a little polish to fine-tune everything.

The Characters:

First, hats off for diverse characters! It was awesome to read about Latino and Black leads and get that layer to our characters.

What I didn’t like about the leads was the maturity level…or the lack of a higher one. I get that they are freshman in college but I don’t think anyone talks like that as freshmen (or maybe I’m just getting old). I wasn’t a fan of how we would go from serious conversation about therapy to wanting to “bonk” the girl. Nope. It was almost like a parent was trying to be “hip” with the kids but used all the wrong slang…

The Romance:

While I could see the draw to all the romantic pairings (they had a lot of common interests with the exception of politics), I wasn’t entirely sold on them either. They all seemed to be based on lust and some unspoken connection that never gets built upon. For the majority of the story we get their individual stories and then in one instance they are a couple and declaring everlasting love. And perhaps the romance is just a small piece of the story the author wants to tell but I went into this series thinking it was the main one…thus my disappointment.

Series Rating: 3/5

Blocked 3/5 | Aced 3/5 | Spiked 3/5

overall

I think I had the wrong set of expectations for this series. The premise is refreshing and if you want more politics in your contemporary reads, pick this up! But I think it needed a little polish to get the pacing just right.

Read if You Like: modern politics, sports
Avoid if You: like more romance
similarreads

  • Dirty English by Isla Madden Mills (English Series #1)
  • Unbreakable by Rebecca Shea (Unbreakable Series #1)
  • Pretty Smart Girls by Shea Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)

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Single Sundays: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

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 When It’s Real (from Goodreads):

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read of 2018, Canadian Author
Author: Erin Watt (pen name of Elle Kennedy & Jen Frederick)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library (Hoopla)–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This novel was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. Not only is it written by a duo of authors I adore but it also has some of my favourite romance tropes. Fake relationship; in love with a celebrity; hate to love you; in love with a musician. In fact, I was so scared that I would pick up this book and end up disappointed that I kept putting it off. Which is why I made it a selection for my 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge for 2018. I needed to read this book and I was going to read it sooner than later.

The Plot:

Have you ever wanted a book not to end? Seriously, I could have followed these two until they day they die. The story just flowed so effortlessly from start to finish and I found myself getting caught up in it all.

I think the best part of this novel is that nothing seems rushed. The romance has a slow burn vibe to it so that continues to build and rope you in. But in the meantime, you get to focus on Vaughn and Oakley growing as characters, tackling their everyday (and as a result of their arrangement) problems. Everything just had a great balance for me.

The Characters:

These two easily became new favourite characters! They are written extremely well; I never felt like they were wish-washy in their convictions or actions. And I think that is the result of some great character development. The characters we get at the start of the book are not who we end the book with–only they are because you have watched these two evolve before your eyes.

And the rest of the cast is superb! They truly support Oakley and Vaughn and add to this story in a great way.

The Romance:

SWOON! Seriously, it’s a wonder I didn’t hurt anyone while listening (and swooning) to this audiobook as I drove. Oakley stole my heart and I loved watching Vaughn unravel his character. Their banter at the start of the book immediately sold me on their relationship and I couldn’t get enough of them as the story progressed.

I do have one issue with the romance and I put it in the spoiler box (even though one aspect is something revealed in the first three chapters) but I don’t like to do spoilers without warning.

My Little Complaint

One thing that really bothered me in the middle of the book was Oakley’s attitude that “he could get any girl he wanted” and that Vaughn should be “honoured” that he was even thinking about her. This attitude really got on my nerves because I felt like Vaughn was trading her toxic relationship with W (who kept reminding her that should be grateful he wasn’t pressuring her for sex when he could get it from anyone) for another one with Oakley. Thankfully, I felt like Oakley matured out of this attitude within the next few chapters.

[collapse]

My Audiobook Experience:

I am SO SO SO happy I (found and) listened to this as an audiobook! The narrators (Caitlin Kelly and Teddy Hamilton) were so amazing! I seriously found two new favourite narrators. They truly brought these characters to life for me. I felt every range of emotion in this book and I think it was amplified thanks to their stellar performance.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I don’t say this very often (especially with contemporary romances) but I definitely plan on rereading this book in the years to come. I just loved the characters, the romance and the story!

Read if You Like: fake relationships, swoon-worthy heroes, jaded celebrity hero
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary romances

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Series Review: Ryder Brothers by Laurelin Paige, Katie McGee & JD Hawkins

Synopsis for Close (from Goodreads):
Everyone wants to get close to a rock star.

The bright lights.
The music.
Those talented fingers strumming… a guitar.
Everyone wants to bang a rock star.

So why do I keep running from the one who wants me?

I’m America’s Sweetheart.
I have a reputation.
He’s a boy-band icon turned rock god.
I’m vanilla.
He’s every flavor of bad.
And he’s much, much too young for me.

If I end up in Nick Ryder’s bed, my career and I will both be screwed.

…but that’s only if I’m caught.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Ryder Brothers
Author: Laurelin Paige, Kayti McGee, JD Hawkins
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Celebrity
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 10, 2018 – December 22, 2018
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Blog Tour Stop 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:

I’m a huge Laurelin Paige fan. She writes fantastic contemporary romances and I always have a great time reading her novels. So I was SUPER DUPER excited about the concept of this novel (and subsequent series). I love musician romances and I’m a sucker for stories involving the rich and the famous so this was right up my alley.

The Plot:

It just has the right amount of everything. The romance is passionate yet well developed; the characters are charming and layered; and there is just the right amount of drama to make this entire story plausible. The lack of over-dramatics is what really made this book a winner for me. There is plenty of drama to be had but I felt like everything did a really great job circling back to this sweet and heated romance.

The Characters:

I really liked both of our leads. If you’ve read One More Time by Laurelin Paige, you might remember Natalia so I was excited to get a deeper understanding of her character. She’s a sweet woman who feels a little trapped in her famous persona. She’s struggling with who she is as a person and who the world views her as and I found that dynamic to be interesting to watch.

And Nick is an absolute sweetheart! He’s confident and charming. I like what he brings out in Natalia and vice versa.

The Romance:

Another thing I loved was the relationship between Natalia and Nick. They actually talked to each other! They make a fabulous pair together and I definitely saw why they worked in every way. There is nothing I enjoy more in a romance than two people who are oblivious to the obvious feelings between them so the tension is great throughout. Plus, there is plenty of steam in between those great character moments to pack in the heat.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! I can’t wait to learn more about Nick’s brothers!

updates

–November 9, 2018– Book #2: Want

I loved that these two had already established a friendship before the book started. They are great friends who support each other and just have a really solid relationship. And that translates well in the first few chapters of the book. I was able to see their great connection–not simply be told it existed–and that set up a great foundation for the rest of the story; especially when the romance begins to develop.

I don’t want to give too much away but I think it’s fairly obvious early on what type of situation Marlee finds herself in and why she needs Jake’s help. Regardless, I just wish the ramifications of her situation was elaborated on a little more; especially in the current climate we are in socially. Marlee gives a somewhat valid reason for her decision but it just gave me a bad taste in my mouth and one that stayed throughout the novel.

Full review found here!

–January 6, 2019– Book #3: More

While there are plenty of steamy moments between these two, there wasn’t only those moments. Both our leads have their flaws and seem to be in ruts when it comes to their lives. So it was great to see both of them work on their individual selves throughout the novel and grow. These two talk a lot and about a variety of things so I felt like a had a great grasp on who they are as people and why they’ve been holding back in their lives.

I don’t know how to describe what was missing from this book for me (ie why it isn’t a 5 star read). Perhaps it was the pacing? Something was just not there for me but I can’t place what that was exactly.

Full review found here!

 

My Rating: 5/5

Close 5/5 | Want 4/5 | More 4/5

overall
Simply put, this is just a really great contemporary romance series.

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, celebrities
Avoid if You: dislike sexy times

similarreads

 

Read an Excerpt Here!

 

Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 


Kayti McGee

Livin’ deliciously in beautiful Kansas City Missouri, where everyone else loves the Royals as much as I do. I like wine and murder shows and mountains and art.

I’m represented by Rebecca Friedman at Friedman Literary because I am a lucky, lucky girl. Call her if you want me to do Iron Chef, otherwise just hit me up on FB at http://www.facebook.com/kaytimcgeeauthor on Insta @KaytiMcGeeWrites, and stay sexy.

Author Links: Facebook | Readers Group | Bookbub | AmazonGoodreads | Instagram

 


J D Hawkins

JD Hawkins writes erotic romance with modern-classic alpha males and strong, independent women. He currently lives with his wife in Austin, TX. He loves to travel and has lived in many places, including LA, New York City, India and Thailand. When he isn’t writing, JD enjoys surfing, training in Mixed Martial Arts, reading and taking naps. He once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. He’s always loved making up stories, especially ones inspired by real life.

Author Links: Facebook | Readers Group | Bookbub | Goodreads | Twitter

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Series Review: Stage Dive by Kylie Scott

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 Lick (from Goodreads):

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is certain, being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.

breakdown

Series: Stage Dive

There is a spin-off series called Dive Bar

Author: Kylie Scott
# of Books: 4 (Lick, Play, Lead, Deep)

There is a novella, #4.5 Strong

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Lick); Audiobook; eARC (Strong)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

We all know that rockstars are my kryptonite so of course I would pick this up! I’ve heard great things about Kylie Scott’s works as well so I was excited to start this series.

The Plot:

There isn’t too much else to the plot besides these budding romances and the obstacles in the way, which worked for me. You get your typical drama but I never felt like things were overly dramatic.

I will say that because these are faster reads, some of the plot issues are resolved quicker than I like to see. But I was always entertained when reading to I can let that slide.

The Characters:

One of my biggest complaints about Lick (Book #1) was that the characters didn’t seemed as developed as I wanted them to be. They go through the motions of evolving as characters but we don’t get below the surface with them. But I didn’t feel that way with Lead (Book #3). I thought we had some great insight into the characters and their pasts. Unfortunately, Deep (Book #4) had the same problems as Lick did so that was disappointing, especially after I loved Lead as much as I did.

I also have to say that I did not like our hero at all in Play (Book #2). He was wayyyy too much for me to handle and I found him to be super annoying.

The Romance:

It was the lack of chemistry between the leads in Play (Book #2) that had me DNFing this book just after the first quarter mark. I just didn’t see how those two meshed at all and so watching their scenes together was just painful for me. It felt forced and a dash overly dramatic as well. Even watching their interactions in later books had me feeling good about my decision to not finish their story.

I also struggled with the romance a bit in Book #4, Deep. I just felt like our leads interacted for very little of the book and so I missed seeing that deeper connection form. And that’s a shame because I really loved the chemistry and slow burn romances that Lick (#1) and Lead (#3) had and I wished that transferred through.

When to read the novella, #4.5 Strong:

I would read this after you read Deep (#4) just because the romance is alluded too more in that book than any others (though our heroine is introduced in Lick [#1]).

>> You can read my full review of Strong here as a part of the release Blog Tour!

My Audiobook Experience:

I managed to read the eBook copy from my “big city” library before my card expired and then had to rely on my local library for copies. But they only had the audiobooks–which worked for me because I am becoming a huge audiobook listening. Andi Arndt does the narration for the entire series and she is fabulous! Definitely one of my favourite female narrators for audiobooks. She managed to have unique voices for all the girls from book to book.

Series Rating: 3/5

Lick 4/5 | Play DNF | Lead 5/5 | Deep 2/5 | [Strong 3/5]

overall

I was really all over the place with this series but those looking for cute, quick romances featuring rockstars and strong heroines will likely find themselves entertained.

Read if You Like: quick romances, rockstars
Avoid if You: want deeper characters
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Series Review: Friendship, Texas by Magan Vernon

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

Friendship, Texas Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Edge of Glory (from Goodreads):

“Welcome to Conti’s. I’m Lia and I’ll nguhhhhhhhhhhhhh”.

I froze. Directly facing me was Olympic swimmer, Jay Morningstar… and I just made an idiot of myself.

The rest of the table looked up to see me standing there with my mouth practically gaping. His coach, who I recognized from TV interviews, and even two other swimmers from the Olympic team… they didn’t say anything, they didn’t even blink.

“Uh… I mean…”

I couldn’t even put together my words and Jay Morningstar was just staring at me with that Wheaties box smile and those icy blue eyes.

What was I supposed to say? Sorry I just made a weird noise, it’s just that I have a poster of you on my wall where you are wearing nothing more than your gold medals, a smile, and a pair of man panties?

breakdown

Series: Friendship, Texas
Author: Magan Vernon
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook; Narrator–Audiobook (Rumor)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this on Netgalley but I didn’t have the time to request it. I was excited by the prospect of reading about an Olympic swimmer–a sports athlete I hadn’t come across in any other sports romance. Plus, I love when famous people fall for everyday people.

So I was super excited when I saw this as a title for Kindle Unlimited and moved it to the top of my list. Add to that, the Summer Olympics in Rio had just ended and I was in a bit of an Olympic withdrawal. (I live on my couch for 2 weeks watching everything).

What I Liked:

–Jay–

Jay was super adorable and said all the right things. He’s exactly what you want when you think about your favourite celebrity when he falls in love with you: a total sweetheart. But I also liked that he had his flaws and that he was trying his best to work on them.

–Lia’s Lack of Self-Confidence–

Lia had a lot of growing to do in this novel and I think she does a great job with that. I like that she is able to see her self-worth because of their relationship, but doesn’t define herself through the relationship. Meaning, she doesn’t become this girl who can’t live without her boyfriend.

–Lia’s Family & The Town–

Lia’s family was hilarious, especially her brother. While they felt a little cliche, I definitely enjoyed their scenes.

The same goes for the rest of the town and the other characters. There are a lot of potential stories here and I’m really curious to learn more about these characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Felt like Lia was 16, Not 20–

At times, this story read like a Young Adult novel. The restrictions Lia seemed to think her parents placed on her were frustrating to read about. For goodness’ sake: she’s 20! I think she can go out on a date without her parent’s permission… I know everyone’s family is different but it just bothered me. It was definitely something for her to work on (it goes hand in hand with her self-confidence issues)

But it gave this story a younger vibe that I never really recovered from.

–The Perception I Should Know Everyone–

I knew that this series takes place in the same town as another series, Forever Sweet which I had never read. I really don’t think that intersects much but I felt like I was on the outside looking in. Like I was supposed to know all these people in this world already–like Jay’s famous sister. It’s not a huge deal but it did rub me the wrong way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really like that Magan Vernon is letting fans vote for who the next lead(s) should be. There are so many potential stories out of this little town so I’m curious to see what happens next.

updates

–October 6, 2018– Book #2: Rumor Has It

Ever since we were briefly introduced to these two in the first book in the series, I’ve been curious about their story.

Second chance romances can be hard to write but I think Magan succeeds in delivering for the most part. We get plenty of flashbacks to the past so it helped define the relationship these two have and why they’ve always been drawn to each other. It was also great to get half of the story told from Brooke’s POV and then from Eddie’s. I personally would have liked to have seen more “present” day romantic interactions between the two–I felt like we focus a little to much on their individual developments–so I wasn’t entirely sold on why they work as a couple now.

I think I’m in the minority as well when it comes to character likeability. I really didn’t like Brooke as a character at all. She came across as vain, somewhat shallow and shameless. I hated how she treated her current boyfriend, Drake, and how she seemed to lack any remorse about her feelings and actions towards him. To me, there was nothing redeemable about her and I felt like she didn’t grow either by the end of the book (ie she didn’t learn any lessons).

I liked Eddie though. He seemed a little more level headed. And of the two, I think he showed a little more growth by the end of the novel.

As for the audio production, I thought it was FABULOUS! Kassiopia DeVora was a great narrator–I was truly impressed by her narration. The accents were spot on; each character had a unique voice; and she did a great job singing as Eddie when the occasion called.

My Rating: 3/5

Edge of Glory 3/5 | Rumour Has It 3/5 | Part of Me TBA | The One that Got Away TBA

overall

I thought this was really cute and I enjoyed it but I wanted a little more from it.

Read if You Like: sweet new adult, sports
Avoid if You: want more spice

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Series Review: Love Unplugged by Jamie Howard

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

Love Unplugged Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for All the Ways You Saved Me (from Goodreads):

Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.

Law school? Check.

Camera-ready smile? Check.

A dull and boring existence? Double check.

But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend’s unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.

It’s while she’s checking off her first item on the list–buy coffee for a stranger–that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he’s a complication Bianca doesn’t need but desperately wants.

With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she’s buried under what’s expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she’s willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author –> Favourite Author
Series: Love Unplugged
Author: Jamie Howard
# of Books: 4 (All the Ways You Saved Me, The Feeling of Forever, The Way Back to Us, After All This Time)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, After All This Time is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

disclaimernetgalley

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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you’ve been following my blog at all this year, you should know that I found one of my new favourite authors in Jamie Howard. Her novel, Until It’s Right is one of my all-time favourite NA reads–like I plan on rereading it over the years to come–because it is perfection. So when I was asked if I wanted to read her latest novel, I think you know what my answer was…after I jumped around like my butt was on fire!

Image result for jumping freaking out gif

Even if Howard wasn’t the one to write this one, the premise of All the Ways You Saved Me sounded fantastic. It promised to have amazing character growth accompanied with a heartwarming romance. And given my experience with Howard’s other works, I knew that was just what I was going to get!

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

Without a doubt, this is the strongest aspect of this novel. If you want a solid NA story where both characters transform before your eyes: this is it.

Bianca was a great lead! I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with her given her family background but I didn’t find that to be the case. I think anyone who has ever dealt with others pressuring them to live their life a certain way will empathize with her. I loved her story from start to finish.

But it was really Ian’s story that really surprised me. I didn’t expect to love him as much as I did! His story is told as flashbacks to the past and I thought that was a great method. Instead of simply getting told during some “grand reveal” scene, the reader gets to experience what he went through–and let me tell you, it is a heart-wrenching (albeit beautiful) story…

–A Romance Focused on Friendship–

What I really liked about these two together was how their relationship made them better people individually. I hate when couples get so absorbed into each other that they lose sight of themselves. That really isn’t the case here. It’s easy to see why these two work together. They start as friends that challenge each other to do things they might not usually do and it blossoms from there.

It’s just a heartwarming story that makes you believe in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like. It was just a really good, solid story that captured my attention from start to finish and reminded me what I love to see in romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, there are so many great directions this series can go. I know I have a few stories I would like to see unfold…so I can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #2: The Feeling of Forever

Is it possible to rate a book higher than 5 stars? Seriously, this book deserves more than 5/5!

WOW, just WOW! This is one of the best Contemporary romances I’ve read recently. No doubt about it!

This story had it all for me: extremely likeable characters, a heart-melting romance and a heart-pounding plot. I could not put this one down!

Jules and Felix are just a great pair. Their relationship had a solid foundation right from the start. The way they communicate and interact with each other: swoon. It’s just a beautiful story. I loved these two so, so much.

As for the rest of the book, it was great. It had the perfect balance between the romance and the drama. And what fabulous drama it is! It just added another layer to this already great story but without overshadowing it.

Honestly, Howard has perfected her craft. I literally cannot wait for the next book in this stellar series!

–December 6, 2017– Book #3: The Way Back to Us

This novel was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. To say I was super duper excited to start this is an understatement of possibly epic proportions.

It was nice to get some closure for Gavin. I was super curious to learn more about the girl who captured his heart and I was not disappointed in the journey to learn all about it.

Like The Feeling of Forever, this one has a romantic suspense vibe to it. Which was a little unexpected but kept me hooked and constantly coming up with new theories for what was happening. Of course, I was totally wrong so bonus points for that twist! But the whole premise gave this story a unique feel to it and I found it to be a refreshing take on the second chance romance.

My only complaint is that I wanted to see how these two fell in love. For me, it almost read like a sequel novel to their first book where they fell in love and this was the novel to wrap it all up to see if love can conquer all. Instead of being shown why they belong together we are told why they shouldn’t be together. I’m a reader who likes to see those romantic moments where couples fall in love. It doesn’t always work for me to be told why these two love each other as they battle the dramatic plot lines.

However, it did work here in a way. Obviously, these two make a great pair and I loved them together.  As I reader I definitely got why these two would fight everything to be together. In that aspect Howard succeeds in her writing. But I wanted a little bit of that “so called” first book of theirs because I’m a huge fan. I wanted to see them meet and establish what is a great relationship and partnership instead of seeing it already exist. We get little tidbits here and there but I craved more because I just loved these two characters so much.

My Rating: 5/5

All the Ways You Saved Me 5/5 | The Feeling of Forever 5/5 | The Way Back to Us 4/5

overall

If you want a New Adult romance that is somewhat lighter on the romance but features strong characters that transform before your eyes while melting your heart: this is it!

Read if You Like: character development, books about grief
Avoid if You: want more sexual content, dislike New Adult

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Series Review: VIP by Kristen Callihan

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

VIP Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Idol (from Goodreads):

Libby
I found Killian drunk and sprawled out on my lawn like some lost prince. With the face of a god and the arrogance to match, the pest won’t leave. Sexy, charming, and just a little bit dirty, he’s slowly wearing me down, making me crave more.

He could be mine if I dare to claim him. Problem is, the world thinks he’s theirs. How do you keep an idol when everyone is intent on taking him away?

Killian
As lead singer for the biggest rock band in the world, I lived a life of dreams. It all fell apart with one fateful decision. Now everything is in shambles.

Until Liberty. She’s grouchy, a recluse—and kind of cute. Scratch that. When I get my hands on her, she is scorching hot and more addictive than all the fans who’ve screamed my name.

The world is clamoring for me to get back on stage, but I’m not willing to leave her. I’ve got to find a way to coax the hermit from her shell and keep her with me. Because, with Libby, everything has changed. Everything.

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Series: VIP
Author: Kristen Callihan
# of Books: 3 (Idol, Managed, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 3, is to be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library & Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore rockstar romances…I don’t think I need to say anything else.

I will say, this is my first Kristen Callihan book. I do have her Game On Series purchased but unread on my Kobo. She’s one of those authors I consistently hear great things about so I was excited to see that she wrote a rockstar romance and that my library had it.

What I Liked:

–The Band–

One of my favourite aspects of rockstar romances is the band. I usually find myself attached to the side characters of a story and bands provide the perfect opportunity for that. You get a taste of who they are as characters and you just want to know what happens to them next.

I’m excited to learn more about the band and the management team as the series progresses!

–The Romance-

I liked how well Libby and Killian complimented each other. It was so obvious to me why these two would fall in love with each other. I know lots of people struggle with the idea of a major celebrity falling for an everyday person but I think this story would challenge that notation because it is so obvious why it could happen with these two.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maybe a Little More Drama?–

When I first started reading, I thought to myself that Idol could be a 5 star read. But as I approached the halfway mark, it lost that 5 start quality for me. And I’m not particularly sure why.

I really loved watching these two fall for each other away from the music scene (the first half of the book or so). It just seemed natural to me, even if the circumstances of them meeting is over the top. But when we get to the music world, the execution lacks something. My best guess is the lack of resistance to the conflicts presented to these characters. Things just seemed subdued and perhaps cliche–which sucks because the beginning had that great spark of life to it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I was a little surprised the next book is about the band’s manager but I’m really excited to see that story unravel. I can’t wait to see what happens to the rest of the band as well!

updates

–July 4, 2017– Book #2: Managed

I was really excited for Scottie’s book and I immediately loved his story from the start. These two had fantastic chemistry from the start and we’re just great partners in everything. I love that in my romances.

My only complaint (like with Idol) is that I wanted a little more conflict in the middle. This is by definition a slow burn romance and when that is the case, I need something else to happen to keep things fresh. I found that there wasn’t too much happening besides these two fighting their feelings and it got a little monotonous near the middle of the story. They do have some great character growth moments in that time but needed just a little more to keep things exciting.

My Rating: 4/5

Idol 4/5 | Managed 4/5 | Book 3 TBP

overall

A very refreshing rockstar romance series that focuses on genuine romantic connections, refreshing characters and keeps the drama light.

Read if You Like: rockstar romances, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike celebrity romance stories

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Series Review: The Rockers of Steel by M J Fields

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 Memphis Black (from Goodreads):
From bedroom performances to center stage, Memphis Black’s dreams have come true.

Together with his band mates—Finn, River, and Billy B—he takes some time for fun in the sun in Miami while gathering inspiration to finish their first full-length album. Some down time before hitting the road to tour the country, spreading their kind of rock like an STD.

Tallia Priest, a preacher’s daughter grew up next door to Madison Black, her polar opposite and very best friend. Tallia has harbored a crush on Madison’s older brother Memphis for a lifetime.

A boy like him would never notice a girl like her, yet he did … once.

After a tough freshman year of college, Madison invites Tallia to join her in Miami for a much needed break. Madison fails to mention they will be staying with ‘Steel Total Destruction.’

When Tallia arrives, there is no way for a stunned Memphis to miss the transformation of the once awkward, innocent girl next door.

Forbidden desires must be hidden, lines cannot be blurred, and no one can ever know.

Will the heat in Miami tempt them even further? Will buried secrets destroy lives? Can a broken heart ever be mended?

It’s all fun and games until someone gets rocked.

breakdown

Series: The Rockers of Steel

Set in the same universe as the Men of Steel Series

Author: M J Fields
# of Books: 3 (Memphis Black, Finn Beckett, River James)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author (Read It, Review It Program)–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In 2015, I fell in love with rockstar New Adult novels. They just have that great blend of drama, an interesting subplot, hot romance and more often than not, confident boys who get put in their place by a strong female character. So when the opportunity came to read Memphis Black via my New Adult reading group on Goodreads, I jumped on the chance.

What I Liked about Memphis Black:

–The Forbidden romance concept–

I’m a sucker for a forbidden romance and this one fit the bill to a T. You’ve got Tallia who is Memphis’ little sister’s best friend AND a preacher’s daughter. Then you’ve got Memphis who is everything you don’t want your daughter to date let alone look at. It’s the perfect set-up…unfortunately the execution failed for me (I’ll elaborate later).

–The boys are BAD

If you think rockstars do it, these boys probably do it at some point. They are bad boys and hold nothing back when it comes to embracing the rockstar lifestyle. I found that to be refreshing because most books I read are rockstars with hearts of gold or are misunderstood bad boys. Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but it made this book have a spin I wasn’t used to.

I thought I was pretty hip with the lingo people use nowadays but I liberally used Urban Dictionary while reading this and let’s just say I learned a LOT of new words and their meaning. Where do people come up with these terms?!

What I Didn’t Like ABOUT MEMPHIS BLACK:

–The Development of the Romance–

I felt like a lot of Memphis and Tallia’s relationship was implied given their past history. I wanted to see it develop more. I just didn’t see why they liked each other “now” besides physical attraction and that was really disappointing.

–The Character’s thought process–

While I get the need for dramatics (and love it), I felt like some of the drama here was unwarranted. I didn’t understand why the characters would act this way or that because I felt like I didn’t know who they were as characters. Everything seemed like a hot mess that  resulted in a roundabout manner and I just didn’t enjoy that.

Will I Finish The rest of the series?

Unfortunately I will not be finishing the rest of the series. Surprisingly, I didn’t really latch on to any of the characters enough to want to read their stories in the subsequent novels.

Book Rating: 2/5

overall

This book just missed the mark for me. It was a little all over the place and I just couldn’t get invested in the story.

Read if You Like: bad boy rockstars, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: want further character and romantic development

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Series Review: Sex on the Beach

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 Between Us (from Goodreads):
I’m just a girl…

I’m a famous country star who’s spent her life cultivating a good girl persona to avoid bad press, but I’ve reached my limit. I’m going away for spring break with my two best friends from college, and we’ve vowed to spend the vacation seeking out fun in the sun—along with some hot, no-strings-attached sex. The only thing I needed was the perfect guy, and then I met Austin Murphy. He might be totally wrong for me, but the tattooed bad boy is hard to resist. When I’m in his arms, everything just feels right.

And I’m just a guy…

I’m just a bartender who lives in Key West, stuck in an endless cycle of boredom. But then Mackenzie Forbes, America’s Sweetheart herself, comes up to me and looks at me with those bright green eyes…and everything changes. She acts like she’s just a normal girl and I’m just a normal guy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My past isn’t pretty, you know. I did what I had to do to survive, and she’d run if she learned the truth about my darkness. But with her, I’m finally realizing what it’s like to be alive. To laugh, live, and be happy.

All good things must come to an end…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Jennifer Probst & Jen McLaughlin)
Series: Sex on the Beach
Author: Jen McLaughlin (Between Us); Jennifer Probst (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You)
# of Books: 6 (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You)

There is a spin-off short story called Holding On by Jenna Bennett

Book Order: Connected/Companion and Chronological

The first three books (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You) take place simultaneously, following three different characters. The last 3 books (Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You) are sequels to each of those individual stories.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Before You); Alternating (Beyond Me; Between Us)
Publication Dates: March 2014 – March 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors decide to collaborate and create a New Adult series, you can safely assume you are going to get a good read. That’s the case for me with the Sex on the Beach novella series by Jen McLaughlin, fave #1, (Between Us); Jennifer Probst, fave #2, (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You).

The Concept / Book order:

The series is a little different from other series out there. Basically, the series is six novellas focusing on one of three best friends when she is on spring break with her other two best friends in Florida. Each author has one character and writes their two respective novellas.

What is really cool about this series is that all the stories overlap. So what is happening to Mackenzie in Between Us is occurring while Carrie and Quinn’s own stories are. Between Us, Beyond Me, and Before You take place during the first spring break while Losing Us, Chasing Me and Finding You are their respective sequels. All the authors do a great job of interweaving all the stories together, having them intersect at various points yet without giving away the other stories.

This means you can technically read these stories in any order or not read one and still get a great experience. But, my suggested reading order is:

Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, and Finding You

For me, that series has the best chronological flow, especially with the last 3 books.

The Plot:

Because these are novellas, everything happens at an accelerated paced. But at the same time, I was expecting that considering this series takes place over spring break (which is a week long). So things happen fast but considering the setting and the format, I took that in stride. Normally it would bother me but I really enjoyed it. It could have been really superficial but I felt like it was pretty grounded all considered. You’ll understand why when I get to the romance review.

Beyond Me and Between Us are your typical New Adult romance plot-line (not that that is a bad thing); Before You is more romantic suspense which was exciting albeit very predictable (Finding You had a much stronger plotline I feel like). But what really surprised me was that I felt like I was getting full stories from start to finished. They never felt underdeveloped like most novellas do so it made them very easy and addicting to read.

The Characters:

I liked all the characters we meet. I thought the girls all had their unique personalities which made it fun and enjoyable to read. My least favourite character was probably Cassie from Before You because I just didn’t like her personality or thought process (her story was painfully predictable). However, her sequel book (Finding You) was a lot more intriguing for me and I liked her character more in that book.

The Romance:

Things happened fast but in all cases, I felt like the relationships that were developed did have genuine emotional connections. Sure, they were rushed because of the time constraints but I was satisfied that I could see where things would be going if they had more time together. Which is why I appreciated the follow-up stories. It was nice to see how things developed and how things were worked out several months later.

Series Rating: 4/5

Between Us 4/5 | Beyond Me 4/5| Before You 3/5

Losing Us 4/5 | Chasing Me 3.5/5 | Finding You 4/5

overall

If you want great summer (or spring break reads) that are quick, fun and sexy, this is a great novella series!

Read if You Like: novellas, connected/interweaving stories, new adult
Avoid if You: don’t like insta-love, want a longer story

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