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Single Sundays: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

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 The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (from Goodreads):
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Adult Contemporary 2016
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first came across this book when reading Sils’ guest post @ Dani Review Things in August 2016 when she was discussing her favourite NA Romance Tropes. Like me, Sil shares a love of fake marriages/relationships in her NA reads and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was her pick for this trope.

I had never heard of this book before despite the fact that it has the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the title (not many things do) and it would have probably never crossed my radar otherwise. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t tell you that they create a fake relationship–and telling you that isn’t a spoiler because it is the main plot point in this very long novel–so I would never have known.

Regardless, this one peaked my interest and when I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I needed to make my mistake worth it and decided to use this novel to get my money’s worth. And I sure am glad I did!

Is it Adult Contemporary or New Adult Contemporary?

Ok, Sil listed this as a New Adult read and I can see why. It reads very much like a New Adult read in terms of the character conflicts and stories (both have some darker backstories).

But for me, this is an adult read with some NA qualities. My primary characteristic for Adult/New Adult/Young Adult classification is the age of the characters; my secondary “requirement” for NA classification is whether or not it takes place in or shortly after college. In the case of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Vanessa is 26 and has been out of school for a couple of years. I usually classify anything with the youngest lead above the age of 25 as adult and because she is out of school, that just reaffirms that for me.

Nevertheless, this book with appeal to fans of both adult contemporary and NA contemporary.

The Plot:

I think this is one of the longest romance novels I have ever read! The Kindle edition is just a little more than 600 pages–that’s crazy! Most Kindle reads average 200-300 pages; especially in the romance genre.

But surprisingly, this book didn’t really feel that long! It has such a constant pacing that it makes it really easy to read and get involved in the story. New plot points or events are added along the way that keeps everything fresh and the plot moving.

The Characters:

The characters really make this story I think. I really got addicted to seeing how these two interacted with each other. Vanessa was strong and determined; Aiden you just instantly love and want to see succeed.

But what I truly enjoyed about these characters was their growth. These two are flawed in their own ways but what was fantastic was watching these flaws transform. Vanessa and Aiden both evolve so much from the start to the end of the novel. But at the same time, they still remain the same characters underneath. Meaning they don’t become these unrecognizable characters; they just become better versions of themselves thanks to each other.

The Romance:

If you want an example of a slow burn romance, this novel is the very definition of that trope!

As someone who complains a lot about romances being underdeveloped in stories (more tell than show nowadays it seems), this book was uber refreshing. It was great watching these two slowly develop their relationship. It wasn’t focused on the sex or the passion; it focused on the partnership and friendship which is always important in establishing a believable relationship.

These two learn to love and support each other; and I just love when people finally see what has been in front of them the entire time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for adult contemporary enthusiasts who want a taste of a New Adult romance. And if you want to experience a true slow burn romance–look no further!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, sports, New Adult romance
Avoid if You: want a quick read

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Series Review: Wingmen Inc by Rachel Van Dyken

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Matchmaker’s Playbook (from Goodreads):

Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.

After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.

From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule.…

breakdown

Series: Wingmen Inc
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
# of Books: 2 (The Matchmaker’s Playbook, The Matchmaker’s Replacement)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Playbook); Alternating (Replacement)
Publication Dates: April – August 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of Rachel Van Dyken’s Ruin Trilogy. She writes some great New Adult series that don’t follow the typical plot-line pathways. Meaning, I’m always surprised at the stories we get in her books. They make you feel a little bit of everything; you laugh, you swoon, you may even shed a tear. She just writes consistently great stories and I have quite a few novels by her on my TBR.

When I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I made sure to fit this series in. The concept of The Matchmaker’s Playbook sounded like a lot of fun. I love when people unexpectedly fall in love with someone they shouldn’t. The plot also reminded me of the 90s movie “She’s All That”, where the “it” boy falls for the frumpy girl he is to transform. It’s a premise you don’t often see and so I couldn’t wait to see what she did with it.

Image result for she's all that gif

The Concept:

I just want to briefly touch on the “dating service” Ian is running. I don’t want people to focus too much on the “makeover” aspect of the synopsis. It makes it sound like he makes these girls into a set mold that guys find attractive and in turn, the girl becomes someone she isn’t. Rather, Ian works on building her self-confidence by making her see her self-worth. He’s not telling them to only act a particular way all the time in order to land the guy. Of course, new clothes do come into play but I think what you wear influences your confidence so it goes hand in hand.

I hope that makes sense! I just don’t want people to get the wrong idea from the get-go!

The Plot:

I thought these books were a lot of fun but at the same time, very heart-warming. While you have these matchmaking schemes happening you get to watch these two guys come to terms with what they want out of a relationship. It’s a little cheesy, but it reminds the reader that you just need to find that one person who can change your perspective on things.

What I also liked is that these novels weren’t needless dramatic. All the drama worked for evolving the story and that made for an enjoyable read.

The Characters:

If you don’t enjoy stories with a jackass for the male lead, I think you will want to stay away from this series!

Not that I thought the guys were particularly crude, but they do make some somewhat rude comments on occasion. They are also players to the extreme so I know that can be a bit of a turn off. I myself have a particular soft-spot for jerk male leads who get shown their place so it was a highlight for me, but I know that some people will not see it that way.

As for the girls, I really liked them. Despite not having the alternating POV in Matchmaker’s Playbook, I thought Blake’s character development was solid from start to finish. The heroine in The Matchmaker’s Replacement was fantastic.

The Romance:

The sexual tension in this series was great! What I really liked is that sex isn’t the main focus because of the slow burn approach to the romance. Everything just builds and builds until that big reveal. It was just nice not to read a story littered with sex scene upon sex scene.

I did want a little more out of the romance in The Matchmaker’s Playbook. I just wanted their relationship to evolve a little more. It seemed a little to “insta-love” to me even though no one is spewing “I love you” super early. I just wanted their connection to be teased out a bit. The Matchmaker’s Replacement does a better job developing the romance I think thanks to the alternating POV and the flashbacks.

Movie!:

Apparently these books have been optioned for film! Which is great because they do remind me of those great 90s rom-coms that we don’t really get nowadays.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Matchmaker’s Playbook 4/5 | The Matchmaker’s Replacement 5/5

overall

If you can handle charming jackasses, this is the perfect series for you! It’s light on the sex but has a great dramatic story that will have you laughing and eagerly reading to see what happens next!

Read if You Like: jackass playboy heroes, 90s rom coms, sexual tension
Avoid if You: want more sexy times
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Series Review: Rixton Falls by Winter Renshaw

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 Royal (from Goodreads):
His name is Royal, but he’s no prince charming. He’s not even a prince – though you could say I loved him once upon a time.

He was my older brother’s best friend.

Growing up, he sat at our dinner table every Sunday, teased me mercilessly, and pretended I annoyed him.

When I was old enough, he took me on my first date.

Royal taught me how to drive. Escorted me to my junior prom. Gave me my first kiss…amongst other things. He was my first taste of toe-curling, all-consuming, can’t-sleep love.

We had our whole lives ahead of us. There was never anyone else for me but him.

And then he disappeared. No letter. No explanation. Not even a goodbye.

My sisters and brother never forgave him, and my parents forbade me from speaking his name in our house ever again. For all intents and purposes, we were to pretend Royal Lockhart never existed.

I’ve spent the last seven years trying in vain to forget my first love, but just when I think I’ve finally moved on, guess who’s back in town?

breakdown

Series: Rixton Falls

This series crosses over with the Amato Brothers Series in Priceless.

Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Royal, Bachelor, Filthy)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February – June 2016
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought Royal after seeing it listed as an Amazon Bestseller one day when I was browsing the freebie section. Of course, the cover drew me in but the synopsis listed one of my favourite romantic tropes: in love with brother’s BFF. Forbidden love is my kryptonite! Especially when it is a second chance romance that promises a juicy secret for why these two have been separated for all these years!

The Plot:

My only peeve with the drama of this series was how quickly certain things are resolved. The drama isn’t overly complex but even then, I felt like things don’t get expanded upon enough and things are finished nearly as soon as they are introduced.

Especially in Royal where there has been 7 years of bad tension and feelings; certain plot points seemed to be brushed over and not expanded upon. I just expected these characters to have a bit more of a grudge or at the very least, some damaged feelings that need more than a handshake to fully resolve.

But on a positive note, it was nice to have straightforward–and understandable–drama. I didn’t feel like anything was added just for shock factor nor did things come out of left field. Everything follows a nice progression even if its resolution wasn’t for me.

The Characters:

I feel like Royal has the best characters in terms of uncovering their many layers. We actually get to learn more about these two because of their backstory together at the start of the book. I just felt like I knew these two better than the rest of the leads in the other novels.

For the most part, we just scratch the surface with the other leads. And you know what, it works for their stories for the most part. I would have liked a little more elaboration but I was satisfied with what we were given.

The Romance:

Royal I think had the best romance because they already had an established relationship. It was easy to see why these two liked each other. It was the same situation with Filthy as well.

The reason I downgraded Bachelor to a 3/5 was because the romance was almost insta-love. I just needed to a little more to convince me these two got each other on a deeper level because everything happens so fast.

Series Rating: 4/5

Royal 4/5 | Bachelor 3/5 | Filthy 4/5

overall

If you want a quick and romantic read with just the right amount of drama and likeable characters, this trilogy makes for the perfect weekend series read to binge on!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, new adult romance, drama
Avoid if You: dislike drama
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DNF Series Review: V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram

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 V is for Virgin (from Goodreads):
When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?

breakdown

Series: V is for Virgin
Author: Kelly Oram
# of Books: 2 (V is for Virgin, A is for Abstinence)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rock Star
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2012 – May 2014
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading V is for Virgin at 41% (start of Chapter 13). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Hello! The title! I was definitely intrigued by the title but it truly was the synopsis that had me on board.

There has been a big push for a long time to have sex (or at least talk about it) in Young Adult literature because it is something that happens in real life. And while I do support that movement, I’ve always wondered why abstinence isn’t talked about more. It’s a choice for a lot of young people and one that gets made fun of for some reason or another. So I was excited to explore this avenue of abstinence in YA literature.

What I Liked:

–It isn’t Preachy–

I think there is a preconception that people who choose to remain abstinent (and the people who write about it) can be a little preachy about sex and waiting. And while there are definitely cases that reaffirm that believe, it definitely isn’t fair to lump all those people together.

This book does a great job of presenting both sides. It doesn’t tell people to not have sex nor does it say that all people should refrain from having sex. Instead, it opens the conversation about why people might not want to have sex. And it isn’t just for a religious reason either. I loved the conversation it started about starting a sexual relationship and why there is so much pressure to have sex.

It tries to erase the shame people feel when it comes to talking about your sex life. You should never feel like less of a person because you have or have not had sex and that is the main message of this book.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Maturity–

While I love that this book is set in high school focuses on sex in that setting, the whole setting really cramped my style. Because–it is inevitable–that a book set in high school is going to feature all the high school drama. Like popularity and rivals and all that cliched nonsense. That really just doesn’t interest me any more and it truly dampened the sexuality part of the story for me.

It also made me dislike Val. I wouldn’t say that I loved her at the start–though I did respect her ability to stand-up for herself–but as the story progressed I just got annoyed with her teenage thought process. And it sucks because it totally isn’t fair to dislike her for that. It is the whole premise of the story and part of her development but I just found myself getting annoyed and bored by her actions as it progressed.

–Kyle–

I’m a sucker for a rockstar and so I was really looking forward to this aspect. But he was a dud for me.

I get it though–he is supposed to be the villain in all of this. The guy who is trying to get the girl to give up her ideals and sleep with him just to say he could. And so in that respect, it’s easy to hate him. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel like he is supposed to be charming; that as a reader you are supposed to like him. I mean, isn’t Val supposed to be contemplating going out/sleeping with him?

He honestly just annoyed the crap out of me.

Will I Finish It?

I’m really upset that I didn’t finish this book. I do think part of my motivation for DNFing this book was simply my mindset. Because all the reasons I didn’t like this book are truly all the reasons why I should have finished reading it. (If that makes any sense). It’s a refreshing book in that respect because it does challenge those everyday notions. So I might give it a shot sometime down the road; but I honestly wish I could go back 2-3 years ago and read it then because I probably would have really appreciated it then.

Series Rating: DNF

V is for Virgin 2/5 | A is for Abstinence N/A

overall

I think if you can get passed the high school drama, you will really enjoy this one! The concept and execution of it is really refreshing; I just couldn’t handle the maturity of high schoolers.

Read if You Like: high school contemporaries, books dealing with sex
Avoid if You: dislike the idea of sexually active teenagers

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Series Review: English by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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 Dirty English (from Goodreads):
A scarred fighter.
A girl with rules.
One night of unbridled passion.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Bennett: she’s smart as a whip, always in control, and lives by a set of carefully crafted rules. She’s learned the hard way that people you love the most always hurt you in the end.

But then she meets Declan Blay, the new neighbor at her apartment complex.

A tattooed British street fighter, he’s the campus bad boy she’s supposed to avoid, but when he saves her from a frat party gone bad, all her rules about sex and love fly out the window.

She gives him one night of unbridled passion, but he longs for more.

With only a cardboard-thin wall separating their bedrooms, he dreams of possessing the vulnerable girl next door forever.

One night. Two damaged hearts. The passion of a lifetime.

*A modern love story inspired by Pride and Prejudice*

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New Adult 2016
Series: English
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 2 (Dirty English, Filthy English)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2015 – July 2016
Source & Format: Kindle/Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought Dirty English when I it popped up on the “Hot New Releases” in the Kindle Store one day. Like most, I’m a sucker for a good British (bad) boy and this one looked promising. The reviews were mostly positive and I was really curious to see how it was inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

The Concept:

Each novel is inspired by a famous love story. Dirty English is Pride and Prejudice while Filthy English is Romeo and Juliet. As someone who enjoys both of those classics, it was a lot of fun for me to try and see the parallels in each novel. But by no means do you have to be overly familiar with either to enjoy these works.

The Plot:

I like that these novels are just as much a romance story as they are a coming of age. All these characters have their flaws and they try their best to navigate them as they fall in love. Plus, there’s some great drama thrown in that isn’t unnecessary, rather it is entertaining and adds to the overall story.

These novels also had me laughing out loud as I read them (Dirty English more so). I just had fun with these!

I have to say though that Filthy English seemed rushed at the ending. I wanted a little more to it but overall I still enjoyed the story.

The Characters:

Do Declan and Dax actually exist somewhere? Please, I need to know! I loved these two. While I know Madden-Mills likes to write alpha males, I didn’t find these two to be over the top with their male-dominating tendencies.

I also liked their leading ladies. They were strong females who had tremendous growth as they overcame their pasts and issues.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was stronger in Dirty English because it had a little more substance to it. It was really easy to see why these two would be drawn to each other besides physical attraction. In other words, it mirrors Pride and Prejudice very well.

Filthy English though gets a bit of hit against it because it is inspired by Romeo and Juliet–the ultimate love at first sight story. Why they liked each other–besides fantastic sex–took a longer time to surface I thought. I still liked them together, I just wanted a little more and I was a little underwhelmed by their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

Dirty English 5/5 | Filthy English 3/5

overall

If you want fun but touching New Adult contemporary romance check these two out! Did I mention they have British “bad” boys with hearts of gold? If that doesn’t convince you…

Read if You Like: stories inspired by classics, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult contemporary

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Spin-off Saturdays: Kick, Push by Jay McLean

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 Kick, Push (from Goodreads):
There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere
beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the
greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being
airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Kick, Push — or Road

There is a prequel novel about two side characters called Where the Road Takes Me. Together, all 3 novels make up the Road Series.

Author: Jay McLean
# of Books: 2 (Kick, Push; Coast)

See above note regarding Where the Road Takes Me

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – June 2016
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC (Kick, Push); Kindle Unlimited (Coast)

disclaimer

(Note: I only received a copy of Kick, Push for review. I read Coast via Kindle Unlimited)

Note: Where the Road Takes Me will be reviewed separately.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw Kick, Push on the list of upcoming New Adult Club Read It Review It titles, I was excited! I’ve really enjoyed Jay McLean’s work in the past for its addicting quality. While reading the More Than Series, I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I swooned–basically all the feels you can possibly feel while reading a book and I love that.

What really stood out to me about this book was the premise of a single dad. I don’t read a lot of single parent novels but when I do, they are mostly second chance stories where the mom has raised the baby without the dad knowing and they reunite–or something of that tone. But most of the time they are single moms; which is great but what about all the single dads out there? Plus, I’ve never really read a story about a skateboarder before.

The Concept:

While I don’t think any parent should abandon their child, I feel like women who do get a lot of flack compared to men who do. Maybe society is just more comfortable with the man leaving than the person who carried the child, I’m not sure. However, I don’t like this stigma that all women are expected to be instinctively maternal. So I was worried that this series would relay that stigma throughout its narrative. But I am happy to say that I never really felt like the book took that approach. While you will likely side with Josh once you know the whole story, I didn’t feel like it shamed or glorified the situation in any way and I truly appreciated that.

The Plot:

The story is just as much about Josh as it is Becca and I really enjoyed that. Both have so much growth and depths to their characters that I liked the balancing act between their stories as you read. The mashing of romance, character development and drama make this an addicting series to read.

And like Jay McLean’s other novels, there are just enough twists along the way to keep things interesting and exciting. I didn’t expect this story to go the way it did and I loved it!

The Characters:

Josh is an absolute sweetheart so it doesn’t take much for you to root for him. His heart is in the right place and I loved reading his story.

Becca, wow, what a story she has. It’s heartbreaking and she’s so sweet that it causes you to shed a few tears on her behalf.

Everyone else was great as well. I found the supporting characters did their job to a T and added a depth to the story that makes it so much more enjoyable.

The Romance:

When I first read the synopsis and started the book, I was confused about the line:

“Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.”

Everything starts so sweet and light that when the shit hits the fan, it becomes a huge mess. So the romance definitely leans to towards the darker side of love BUT, I love how it is elaborated on and becomes an integral part of the story. It isn’t there for shock value–it’s there because it is a part of their story and it adds to the depth of who these characters are as people.

Series Rating: 5/5

Kick, Push 5/5 | Coast 5/5

overall

If you want a book series that will make you feel every emotion, look no further my friends!

Read if You Like: New Adult romances, darker romance
Avoid if You: want a lighter, happier story, don’t want to cry

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Single Sundays: No Pants Required by Kim Karr

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 No Pants Required (from Goodreads):
I, Makayla Alexander, am on a mission to reinvent myself. So when a super hot guy boards the plane and flashes his rock hard abs, I pay attention. When he sits next to me and offers me his nuts, I can’t resist. But when I choke on them and he tells me I need to work on my gag reflex, I realize I might be in over my head.

Before I know it we’re in the lavatory and attempting to join the Mile High Club. Let me just say this…anyone who tells you it’s easy to get it on at 37,000 feet isn’t telling you the truth. After the flight attendant busts us for getting frisky in the air, the only thing that can ease my total and complete mortification is the simple fact that I am never going to see him again.

Hours later, I can’t help but wonder if fate will ever allow me to become a new version of myself.

Because Fate, she’s a fickle bitch.

Case in point…my seatmate is my new next-door neighbor.

Even with the whole fate thing we have going on, we are so not meant to be together. He’s all cool and sexy in that make love not war kind of way. Guys like him are dangerous. With that bring-you-to-your-knees body, that handsome-as-hell face, and that dirty, dirty mouth, I guarantee one glance from him wets every girl’s bikini bottoms.

And then there’s me…the quirky girl looking to find herself in California. All I want to do is learn to let loose. Say words like peace and groovy. Bury my toes in the sand. Who knows, maybe even have sex on the beach.

Unable to get him out of my head, I entertain the thought of being more than just friends. I know the idea is absurd. And yet, I go with it. You see Camden Waters gets me. Really gets me. Like no other guy has before.

On this 7-mile stretch of paradise, I decide to keep things simple and just have fun…that is until fate decides to screw with me, again.

Can two people hell-bent on finding themselves realize the search should have ended the day they met? Find out in No Pants Required—a sexy, funny, romantic stand-alone, that will have you hurrying to grab your bathing suit and rushing to the beach to check out every lifeguard on duty.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Adult Fave 2016
Author: Kim Karr
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Humour
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 11, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this novel when Lauren @ Shooting Stars Mag did the cover reveal for it back in June. I’ll admit, the title is what caught my attention but I’ve had Kim Karr on my TBR for a long time with her Connections series.

This one sounded like a lot of fun and would make the perfect lighter read between novels. It has been a long time since I read a novel that was actually funny and I was hoping this one would break that streak.

The Plot:

Ok, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time! If I hadn’t started it close to midnight, I would have finished it in one sitting.

This book had a fantastic balance between fun, drama, character development and romance. It hooked me in with its fun and HILARIOUS start–seriously, I was laughing out loud during those first few chapters–making me fall in love with the characters while getting a taste for their stories.

I liked that this story wasn’t filled with lots of dramatics. By keeping it simple, you get to focus on the characters and their growth. And the characters are really what make this story.

The Characters:

I was worried I wouldn’t like Mikayla because of the synopsis. I feared that she was going to be an airhead or something. A very silly concern because she was great! I loved her story and her personal growth throughout the novel. Plus, she was pretty funny. She was exactly what this story needed.

It was a real treat that we got Cam’s POV. I definitely thought this was going to be a Single POV story when I read the synopsis. But getting inside Cam’s head was fabulous. He was so funny and charming. Plus, he has a great story as well.

The Romance:

These two complimented each other so, so well! It’s insane how much I love these two together. They would just feed off each other and it was fantastic watching them fall in love.

I was worried that this was just going to be lots of sex but that isn’t really the case. It plays a huge role in the story but honestly, there is so much substance in everything else that those scenes are just a bonus.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Honestly, this novel was so much fun! It’s everything I want in an entertaining New Adult novel! Highly recommended for those who like lighter but well constructed contemporary romance.

Read if You Like: humour, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult
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Series Review: Balls in Play by Kate Stewart

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

Balls in Play Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Anything but Minor (from Goodreads):
“She’s a nerd.”
“Heyyyy!”
“Okay, she’s a flight instructor.”
“Better.”
“He’s a ballplayer.”
“The best that ever was.”
“Technically, you aren’t according to MLB stats.”
“See? Total nerd. She also has no filter.”
“He’s no southern gentlemen.”
“I had one last season to prove my worth.”
“I’d never seen a game.”
“He told me he was a player.”
“She told me she was a lesbian.”
“But you fell in love with me anyway.”
“Yeah, baby, I totally did.”

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Series: Balls in Play
Author: Kate Stewart
# of Books: 2 (Anything but Minor, Major Love)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2016 – November 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–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 reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this when I was browsing Top Romance reads on Kindle Unlimited. I’ll admit, it was the cover that first drew me in but when I read the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to start this book! I added it at the last minute when I was finishing up my Kindle Unlimited Trial, throwing a wrench in my reading plans but nevertheless excited to read a funny contemporary romance.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I really liked the sense of community this book created. When you meet all these characters and see their network, it made me excited to see what would happen to this crew in later books.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Insta-Love–

I couldn’t even tell you what these two liked about each other besides physical attraction. The romance just happened way too fast for me.

–It Just Bored Me–

Never have I contemplated DNFing a book more at the 50% mark than I have with this one. It’s a shame because this started so strong. I was chuckling along for the first 25% or so, getting used to the town and characters and then I just didn’t care anymore. Part of it was the insta-romance–I just wasn’t feeling these two together–but the other factor was the characters themselves.

Alice is quirky and I enjoyed that about her at the start. But then some of her traits just irked me. Like her inability to hold her bladder at certain times. Now, I’m not judging anyone who has bladder incontinence, but it was a little much for this story. And the humour started to die for me after that.

This story isn’t anything I haven’t read before and that just made it a little dull…

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Despite the fact that I really liked the people I met in this story, I just don’t really care to read what happens next. And I feel like things were semi-wrapped up in Anything but Minor so I’m OK with how things end.

My Rating: 2/5

Anything but Minor 2/5 | Major Love N/A

overall

This started strong but quickly bored me. If you haven’t read a lot of sports romances (or you really love them) this might be worth a read. Otherwise, if you don’t like quirky heroines, stay far away.

Read if You Like: quirky heroines, light romance, sports
Avoid if You: dislike sports
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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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Single Sundays: Where the Road Takes Me by Jay McLean

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

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

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

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

breakdown

Series Often grouped as the Road Series

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

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 3/5

overall

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

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

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