Tag «love at first sight»

Fresh Fridays: From Here to You (Crash and Burn #1) by Jamie McGuire

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

Crash and Burn Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for From Here to You (from Goodreads):

As Darby Dixon sits in a tiny Texas church bathroom on her wedding day holding a positive pregnancy test, she realizes that of all the bad decisions she’s made in her life, marrying her abusive fiancé would be the worst. She’s never been able to stand up for herself, but she’ll sure as hell stand up for her baby. With just the cash she has on hand, she runs to get a bus ticket to the farthest place she can afford. Between her sheer grit and pageant-queen smile, she lands a job as a front desk clerk at the Colorado Springs Hotel. It’s not a glamorous life, but she and her baby are all that matters.

A former Marine, Scott “Trex” Trexler has worked in the most dangerous, corrupt, war-torn places on earth. Now he finally has a chance to return to the last place he’d felt at peace–Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take a new job with the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a top-secret military installation buried deep within the granite.

The moment Trex walks into the inn, Darby knows he’s dangerous. There’s no way she wants to get involved with another man who seems to be keeping way too many secrets. As charming and devastatingly gorgeous as Trex is, he clearly isn’t telling her everything. But as wildfires rage on the mountain and Darby’s ex-fiancé shows he isn’t so willing to let her go, both she and Trex are soon to find out that what you don’t know absolutely can hurt you.

breakdown

Series: Crash and Burn

This series crosses over with The Maddox Brothers Series

Author: Jamie McGuire
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 21, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading From Here to You at 32% (start of Chapter 11). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was really excited when Forever Publishing offered me the opportunity to read Jamie McGuire’s new series. At that point, I had only read (and enjoyed) Beautiful Disaster but I planned to read its spin-offs in the coming months.

I can’t remember how this book was marketed to me but I knew I wanted to read it. Reading the synopsis prior to starting it for my #ARCAugust 2018 Challenge, I was hoping for a slightly suspenseful yet heartfelt read about two people finding each other in an unlikely place.

What I Liked:

–Darby’s Strength to Leave Her Abusive Fiance–

I started out really liking Darby. She definitely has her flaws but I liked the little bit of strength and resiliency that I saw when she makes the decision to leave her fiance on their wedding day at the start of the book. That takes guts to leave everything behind and essentially live on the run to take care of your unborn baby. I admired her drive to do that as she comes across as a very dependent person given her circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Really Happens–

I swear that the first 10 chapters alternate between Darby rejecting everyone’s offers of help (tiresome even if it is understandable) and Trex’s weirdly secret job. That last one is what irked me the most. I don’t want to read a FULL chapter about some purposely vague government operation that I can’t know about–what does that have to do with the story? Jamie McGuire does that “intentionally left out” information in her books all the time and it drives me NUTS.

–Everything Hits You Like a Slap in the Face–

I won’t tell you the number of times I’m just reading along and then BAM! Revelation from the past suddenly–and out of nowhere–appears. Darby’s dropping stuff about previous abuse; Trex is suddenly in love with her after literally saying 5 words to her. I had to reread a few things to just be sure I had a grasp on things. It all felt a little forced in the end.

–Love At First Sight–

I have a low tolerance for love at first sight but I can admit that sometimes it has its place. This isn’t it.

I didn’t get why Trex was so in love with Darby after literally running into her in the hall. Perhaps that was because I didn’t really know Darby either so what makes her so appealing? I didn’t really connect with either character so their romance came up dry for me.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. There was one character I was interested in and if she gets a book, maybe I’ll read it but I’m not returning to Darby’s story anytime soon.

My Rating: DNF

From Here to You DNF | Book 2 TBP

overall

This book just didn’t come across as organic to me. Everything felt a little forced and as a result, I didn’t get invested into the characters or the story like I wished.

Read if You Like: slower stories, insta-love
Avoid if You: dislike secrets, dislike insta-love, are triggered by abuse

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Series Review: Hot Shots: Men of Fire by Bella Andre

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 Wild Heat (from Goodreads):
HE’S A HOTSHOT FIREFIGHTER ADDICTED TO RISK. SHE’S THE SULTRY BEAUTY HE NEVER SAW COMING.
Maya Jackson doesn’t sleep with strangers. Until the night grief sent her to the nearest bar and into the arms of the most explosive lover she’s ever had. Six months later, the dedicated arson investigator is coming face to face with him again. Gorgeous, grinning Logan Cain. Her biggest mistake. Now her number-one suspect in a string of deadly wildfires.
Risking his life on a daily basis is what gets Logan up in the morning. As leader of the elite Tahoe Pines Hotshot Crew, he won’t back down from a blaze-or from beautiful, lethal Maya Jackson. She may have seduced him with her tears and her passion, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before Logan lets down his guard again. Until Maya’s life is threatened. With his natural-born hero instincts kicking in, Logan vows to protect the woman sworn to bring him down. And as desire reignites, nothing-not the killer fire or the killer hot on their trail-can douse the flames…

breakdown

Series: Hot Shots: Men of Fire
Author: Bella Andre
# of Books: 3 (Wild Heat, Hot as Sin, Never too Hot)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense, Action
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2009 – May 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I read Wild Heat in July 2013 but did not pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first started blogging, my reading tastes weren’t what they are now. I hadn’t discovered the New Adult genre yet and so I mostly alternated between Adult Contemporaries and Young Adult reads. Bella Andre quickly became a go-to adult contemporary author for me since her books weren’t all that long and lean towards the lighter side of romance. And so I started to make my way through her collection of titles.

I picked up Wild Heat in the hopes it would be a light, quick read in between some other books I was reading.

What I Liked:

–It was a romance suspense–

This book is “darker” than the other Andre reads I have read. It is definitely more of a mystery suspense novel than a straight romance. Again, not necessarily a bad thing but not what I was looking for at the time. The book started really slow and then picked up after a few chapters in. I had a hard time putting it down once I reached the climax.
Bonus was that it wasn’t overly predictable either!

–Closure!!!–

In my mind, Bella Andre is notorious for rushed endings that leave me little to no closure. So I was really pleased that this story seemed to have a complete ending.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Just Didn’t Wow Me–

While it was an enjoyable way to pass the time, I wasn’t blown away by this book. It did start a little slower so I don’t think I got as invested into the story as I would have liked.

And despite the fact that the romantic suspense genre appeals greatly to me, this one just didn’t have me convinced this is the genre for me to explore more.

Will I Finish It?

Considering the fact that I read Wild Heat in the summer of 2013, drafted a review for it and never thought about the series again until I cleaned up my draft folder on my blog in October 2016—the short answer is no.

Series Rating: DNF

Wild Heat 3/5 | Hot as Sin N/A | Never too Hot N/A

overall

I’m sure fans of Bella Andre will enjoy this one. But I feel like there are better romantic suspense novels out there if that is what you are looking for.

Read if You Like: firefighters, light romance
Avoid if You: want a stronger romantic suspense

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Fresh Fridays: The Glittering Court (#1) by Richelle Mead

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

The Glittering Court Trilogy

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Glittering Court (from Goodreads):
Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Disappointment 2016
Series: The Glittering Court Trilogy
Author: Richelle Mead
# of Books: 3 (The Glittering Court, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected (might be more companion based)
Complete?: No, Book 2 has yet to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical, Alternate History, Adventure
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Richelle Mead is one of my favourite authors ever. Vampire Academy and its spin-off Bloodlines are two of my favourite series ever with some of my favourite book characters every written. She writes strong females in worlds that are complex yet never overly complicated and she is pretty great at writing forbidden, loads of sexual tension romance. After the flop that was Soundless (it was ok, but didn’t blow me away)–I was really excited to see her jump into a new series and one that was almost like an historical romance.

Tip: Don’t Expect something a la Vampire Academy (High Action)

I’m adding this centralized subheading because I think it is really freakin’ important. Don’t be like me and come in with super high expectations for a fast plot because you will be disappointed. If you are familiar with Mead’s paranormal romance works, you know she always has a ton of physical and often political action to her stories. That really isn’t the case here. It’s a slower plot (as I’ll explain below) and it really is so different from her previous works. Go in with a clear mind and leave your Richelle Mead expectations at the door.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world for this story. It mimics our own in terms of European explorers looking for the New World (North and Central America) but has brand new names and the like. If you have studied any history about this (which we do in Canada let me tell you), you’ll see all the parallels and see the political and social aspects Mead brings to life. I thought it was really smart and not overly complex and I simply loved it.

–Adelaide’s Character Development–

While I like that Adelaide is a head-strong girl, she really rubbed me the wrong way at the start. She’s a little selfish and a lot spoiled so she comes across as arrogant and stubborn. So that made it a little hard to be sympathetic to her situation at the start. BUT, she really comes a long way as the story progresses and I did warm up to her by the end.

She may not be my favourite heroine ever, but I can respect her progression as a character.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Plot–

I feel like this book could have been 50 (ebook) pages shorter. I think this book kinda shoots itself in the foot because it is the first book of the series and it needs to set up the world and the other girls’ stories. But I found the first third to be pretty dry (mostly when they were at school) and then it picked up when they went to the New World. Then it weened a bit near the end but I did enjoy the last half of the book way more than the first.

The plot is also pretty linear in its progression. There isn’t a whole lot happening at once–it reminded me of an adventure story in that aspect. It read like A to B to C–when one thing “finished” another would pop up but nothing really seemed overarching when it came to Adelaide’s story besides her hidden identity. I wanted a little more substance I suppose to the plot.

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. It felt like a love at first sight type of story because I didn’t get why they even liked each other besides some subconscious feeling. While the sexual tension in the middle of the book peaked, I found it quickly dissipated and I was left disappointed overall in the romance. Especially when the book was on the drier side, I really looked to the romance to give me some excitement.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

–The Interweaving Stories–

What I like about this series is that each book focuses on a different girl and the stories all interweave. I’m assuming the next two books will be about Mira and Tamsin since they are the only other girls we really meet but that’s just a guess. I was really intrigued by these two, especially when all this stuff happens–so I can’t wait to connect the dots.

My Rating: 3/5

The Glittering Court 3/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This book didn’t wow me like I wanted it to. I wanted a little more passion I suppose in all aspects. BUT, I am very curious what the next story will be so I am definitely sticking with this series.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate histories, adventure
Avoid if You: dislike initially spoiled characters, want more romance building

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Series Review: Real by Katy Evans

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

book book book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Real (from Goodreads):
A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…
Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.
He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .
But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.
I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.
If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

breakdown

Series: Real
Author: Katy Evans
# of Books: 6 (Real, Mine, Remy, Rogue, Ripped, Book 6)
Book Order: Real and Mine are Chronological, Remy is the alternate POV sequel to Real the rest of the series is Connected
Complete?: No, Book 6, will be published Fall 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (Real, Mine, Remy); Alternate (Rogue, Ripped)Publication Dates: April 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Real is one of those books that has been haunting me on my Kobo account’s recommendation list since it was published. And while I was intrigued by it and all the positive reviews my Goodreads’ friends had given it, I simply can’t afford to shell out $10 a book to read the series. So when my library got copies of the book, I immediately added my name to the hold list.

I knew that the males were going to be top alpha dogs before I even started and while that usually doesn’t appeal to me, I was going to keep an open mind. I also figured these books were going to be more erotica than contemporary romance so I didn’t expect thrilling, complex plot lines either.

How to Phrase this…

My feelings on Real (both as a book and as a series) are mixed and I can understand why some people might give it an extremely low rating after reading it while others love it. In all honesty, I was enjoying it until I started to write this review (because I was writing this as I was reading it) and after I creeped some of the reviews on Goodreads to see what others thought of it. Reading this book after I did that was like when you notice someone’s bad habit for the first time and then that is all you can notice in the future.

I found that all the books in this series were kinda like that: the more I thought about them, the more I disliked them. It was weird because when I started to read the book, I was really enjoying it. But when I returned to reading it later, I didn’t like it that much and the same can be said for the subsequent times I picked up these books. There are two reasons I think this happened to me: 1) is the development of the heroines; and 2) the repetitiveness of the writing. And they both go hand in hand at times.

The Plot:

So, the plot isn’t really anything stellar, especially in Real. They definitely improve in the subsequent novels where we get some more “suspense” romance plot lines but for the most part, these books are just the heroines describing the virility of their men.

Yup, you read that right: virility.

The entire first half of Real is literally Brooke describing how the primal instincts in her are attracted to the “virile” man Remy is (It’s the same situation in the other books as well, though the page count is a little less). Honestly: there is a paragraph describing how the “female” in her wants to “mate” with Remy because she wants his genetics for her babies–I kid you not. And while the scientist in me appreciates that fact that this is a true human reaction, it just seemed a little over the top to me.

Personally, I could have done without all the redundant descriptions of how Remy turns her on–I got it after the first two times thank you. Brooke uses the worst words possible to describe their sexual encounters and often repeats them numerous times within a paragraph. Some are just hilarious to me and even now I have a silly grin on my face because I can’t believe that anyone would refer to their private parts like that.

But it also seems to dampen the flow of the book because you will be getting narration about where they are and then suddenly, BAM–Brooke’s describing how hot Remy makes her for two pages before BAM–you get shoved back into the actual scene narration. This gets better in the sequel books but they definitely have the same vibe.

It’s a shame because Remy’s story is actually interesting and it kinda takes a backseat to Brooke’s descriptions of his eight-pack. Same in the other books with the other leads. And when we do get the drama, it is over the top and a tad ridiculous but I guess that is the consequence of fiction.

The Characters:

I really struggled with these heroines. Heroines really make or break a series for me. I think it’s because I am a female so I can easily put myself in their shoes as opposed to a male character. And I’ll be honest: the primal alpha male heroes we get in this series really do nothing for me but I came into this series knowing that I wouldn’t particularly love them so it didn’t necessarily bother me.

What bothered me was that Brooke has the maturity of a 16 year old fangirl–which means she has very little. Even when we switch narrators in the other books in the series, I found that the delivery was much the same. The heroines become those immature girls who don’t see their self-worth without a man in their lives. And as soon as they do find their partner, they get immediately clingy. Basically, it’s the grown woman’s condition of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome and it is just plain annoying. (Though to be fair, Pandora’s story, Ripped, doesn’t completely fall into this scenario.)

The Romance:

As I said before, these are basically books about acting on your lust. Two of the three couples have an insta-connection type of romance; the exception is Ripped where it is a second chance romance. I appreciated that one a lot more than the other two in that respect.

What I did love was the chemistry and the sexual tension. That is definitely one nice thing about insta-love stories because there is always so much frustration and close encounters before the big consummation.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really have no idea who the next story in the series is about though I have a pretty good guess. I’ll read it just for the sake of finishing this series but it’s not high on my “have to read it now!” list.

Fun Fact:

Before I read Real I never knew that “scent” could be used as a verb–and after reading it 10 times as a verb I understand why: it’s annoying and awkward!

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I’m not sure what everyone else was reading but I don’t think I read the same thing. If you don’t mind clingy heroines, alpha males and over the top dramatics with lots of sex scenes, this is a good series for you! It just didn’t live up to the expectations I had in place and I found that I felt more frustrated than happy when reading these books.

Read if You Like: alpha males, over dramatics, lots of sex
Avoid if You: can’t tolerate petty heroines, crude language

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Series Review: Gentry Boys by Cora Brent

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

book4 book book book

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Draw (from Goodreads):
“All my life I’d always known what the Gentry boys were. A set of fraternal triplets born to a depraved family, they were rough, sexy and wild as wolves.”

SAYLOR…
I don’t even know if love is real. After running from the bastard who brutalized me, I limped back to Arizona, choosing a vibrant college town in the hopes of starting over. I never expected to find him there. Cord Gentry. He and his brothers were tough, lusty forces of nature I’d known since childhood. Years ago, Cord seduced me as a sick game. I’ve hated him ever since. Now here he is again, a man who beats other men bloody for money.
Cord has always been heartless, dangerous, not to be trusted.
And I want him so much I can’t think.

CORD…
They called us ‘those white trash Gentry boys’ until we believed that’s what we were. Our people squatted at the edge of a hellhole prison town for generations. The childhood we endured was the stuff of nightmares. I’d learned early on that my brothers, Chase and Creed, were the only people on earth worth my time.
They all told us we were bad, that we’d always be bad.
The horrors of the past have scarred my soul.
But now I need to be better. For her.

breakdown

Series: Gentry Boys Series

Fall (#4) is a crossover between the Gentry Boys Series and the Defiant MC Series.

There is a spin-off series: Gentry Generations

Author: Cora Brent
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #5.5 Cross

Book Order: Connected but chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Bad Boys
Heat Rating: Toasty (it’s more crude than other series in terms of language)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I never picked up Fall (#4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

For some reason I was really looking forward to Draw. I think it was because the two leads had a not so nice past involving some sort of “sick game” and I love stories like that. There is just so much sexual tension and drama with those types of books so I was really looking forward to it. Plus, the whole series focuses on a set of bad boy triplets so that’s a bonus point in and of itself.

My Review:

However, Draw wasn’t what I was really expecting. I was expecting Saylor and Cord to have to work on their relationship given their past and her current situation but instead it was a love at first sight situation and ya’ll know how I feel about those (FYI: I hate them!). So while I loved them together I did not love the fact that things happened so fast between them. It just made me feel like the romance part of the book was lacking and because the last half of the book focuses more on a dramatic event the is important for the next two books it emphasized that thought even more. It’s a shame really and I think if the execution was a little different it would have made the book more enjoyable.

So I was happen when I was reading Risk because the execution was much better. I loved watching the leads work on their relationship and the balance between the romance and nonromantic elements of the was great. I also liked how it gave little tidbits about the leads in the next book Game which made me really excited to read it.

But when it came to reading Game it was a bit of a disappointment. Again, I felt like the romance part was shortened more than I wanted it to be. So while I liked it, I didn’t love it like I was expecting.

There will be a fourth book about the triplet’s cousin Delcan which will be published in early 2015. I’m looking forward to it based on the little we know about him and will more than likely pick it up.

Why I Won’t Be Picking Up the Rest (February 5, 2017):

I’ve just lost interest in the series. I liked it but not enough to invest in the next 4 books. I’m just so out of touch with this series now.

Series Rating: DNF

Draw 3/5 | Risk 4/5 | Game 3/5 | Fall  N/A | Hold  N/A | Walk  N/A | Edge  N/A

overall

Not the greatest series ever but I enjoyed watching these bad boys fall in love. If you like watching manly brothers falling in love and changing their ways, this is a cute series to pick up.

Read if You Like: reforming bad boys, quick love, overarching plots
Avoid if You: want stronger romances, dislike alpha males
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Single Sundays: Rewind to You by Laura Johnston

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 Rewind to You (from Goodreads):
Wish You Were Here

One last summer before college on beautiful Tybee Island is supposed to help Sienna forget. But how can she? This is where her family spent every summer before everything changed, before the world as she knew it was ripped away.

But the past isn’t easily left behind. Especially when Sienna keeps having episodes that take her back to the night she wants to forget. Even when she meets the mysterious Austin Dobbs, the guy with the intense blue eyes, athlete’s body, and weakness for pralines who scooped her out of trouble when she blacked out on River Street.

When she’s with Austin, Sienna feels a whole new world opening up to her. Austin has secrets, and she has history. But caught between the past and the future, Sienna can still choose what happens now…

Review:

I came across this book completely by accident when I was browsing eBooks from my public library and I’m glad that I took a chance on it and picked it up.

This book has so many layers to it that it’s hard to decide where to start. When I first grabbed this book, I thought it was going to be more New Adult in nature, and to a degree it is, but it is missing the sexual content that often accompanies New Adult reads. I suppose it is just an issue of semantics and what the definition “New Adult” means to you. To me, it means collage students who deal with heavier topics and have sex with their romantic lead. But, I’ve read a lot of “New Adult-like” books that have characters in high school who also deal with heavier subject matter but lack the sex-focus. Anyways…this book straddles the line between Young Adult and New Adult but I would say it leans more towards New Adult than it does towards a Sarah Dessen novel.

One thing I really loved about this book was the character development. When we meet the characters, they are already well developed and complete characters; but as the book progresses their layers really get revealed and that’s what drove the story for me. Laura Johnston did a great job writing this book and I loved how it never seemed to follow a formula in its presentation. When Austin’s story needed to be the focus, we got multiple chapters of him in a row and vice versa.

Another thing I loved was that there was a lot going on in each character’s life. It wasn’t focused on just Sienna with a little bit of a side story for Austin. I felt like it was really well balanced and both characters complemented each other very well.

My only disappointment with the book was that it felt a little too “love-at-first-sight”. It wasn’t really in the grand scheme of things–and I really don’t want it to deter you from reading this if you don’t like love-at-first-sight novels–but it was an element that wasn’t my favourite part of the story. However, unlike most love-at-first-sight novels I really felt like these characters had a connection that simply wasn’t lust and that was super refreshing.

Conclusion:

It was a very refreshing read and very well written; one of my favourite reads this year. If you want a book that is heavy on the dark drama that is often found in New Adult reads but without all the sex, this is a great book for you to grab!

Rating: 4/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Yes

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Tragedy, Coming of Age, Mental Health
Recommended for: 18+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Standalone 2014
Similar Reads: Kiss the Tiger by Raquel Lyon and Breathe Into Me by Sara Fawkes

Series Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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 Just One Day (from Goodreads):
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

breakdown

Series: Just One Day Series
Author: Gayle Forman
# of Books: 2 (Just One Day, Just One Year)

There is a followup novella to the previous books called: Just One Night

Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Coming of Age, Travel, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Adventure, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Just One Day); Alternating (Just One Year)
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

What I Expected / Why I Picked It Up:

While Gayle Forman’s most well known novel, If I Stay, isn’t my particular cup of tea, I’ve heard good things and decided to read this series instead.

The Concept:

I went into Just One Day thinking it was going to be a book that focused on “just one day”. So I was braced to emerge myself into a novel filled with love-at-first sight moments and the many sights in Paris. But that isn’t what I got.

Instead, Just One Day–and its sequel/companion novel, Just One Year–focuses on the growth of the respective characters (Allyson in Just One Day and Willem in Just One Year). Which is fine and dandy–just not what I was expecting.

The Plot:

This series is really about finding yourself–and what I really like is that each character works independently to accomplish this (ie they don’t become co-dependent “I can’t live without him/her” type of people). It gets a little dull at times because the journey it takes to reach this growth isn’t always a happy one. (I found it was a little blah during the middle of Just One Day because of this–it was a little too long for my tastes whereas Just One Year was the perfect length by being 50 pages shorter).

It’s a good blend of “fantasy” vs realistic fiction.  “Fantasy” isn’t really the right word–what I’m trying to say is that this series takes an unrealistic situation (I don’t know too many people who would go off to Paris with a random stranger for the day) and makes it realistic by having two characters learn from that situation in a truly real way. Perhaps that is the message of the series: seize every opportunity and don’t be afraid to make that leap that may seem like “fantasy” to the real world because you may grow from it. (Enough philosophical thoughts for this review).

The Characters:

These books are essentially about that one life defining moment many young 20-somethings will find themselves in and I think a lot of readers can identify to this and with these characters. I think the vast majority of us have been in Allyson’s shoes trying to bridge that gap between our teens and adulthood and managing our relationships with our parents as we do so. The same can be said for Willem’s book.

Anyone who has been to the places that are described in the book will have a lot of fun reading about them. I found that the tours around each place were just as interesting as the actual story. I liked Just One Year a bit more because I’ve never been to any of the places described in the book and I found Willem’s personal story more interesting.

The Novella–Just One Night:

All I can say is thank goodness for the enovella, Just One Night. I was a little peeved at the abrupt ending of Just One Year (though I understand why it ended the way it did) so I’m glad to get some closure with the novella. Make sure you have it on hand right away when you finish Just One Year 😉

Series Rating: 4/5

Just One Day 4/5 | Just One Year 4/5| [Just One Night 5/5]

overall

If Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill and Finding It by Cora Carmack had a child together, it would be this series. While the romance plays a big role in the grand scheme of things, this series is really about finding the true you given the circumstances life deals you and the journey to take to get there. Fans of coming of age novels and/or travel novels will love this.

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Single Sundays: Crossing Stars by Nicole Williams

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 Crossing Stars (from Goodreads):

While the city of Chicago sleeps, a war wages in the streets between two powerful families. While the public assumes organized crime is nothing more than a chapter torn out of America’s history, the Costa and Moran families battle for territory and domination.

Caught up in the middle of this sinister world is Josette, the only child of Salvatore Costa, the ringleader and notorious godfather of Chicago’s Italian mafia. After the Irish Morans attempted to assassinate her when she was a child, Josette’s parents hid her behind the walls of their sprawling estate and kept her contact with outsiders to a minimum. But now Josette’s eighteen, and she’s questioning if a long life behind walls is worth trading for a potentially short one filled with excitement and adventure and all the things she’s only lived in her dreams.

On the night she decides to risk becoming just an anonymous face in the crowd, Josette realizes that death isn’t only a possibility—it’s a certainty. Yet when a young man comes to her rescue, the turbulent waters between life and death are further muddied.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Authors, Worst Standalone Reads 2014
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 7, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Nicole Williams other works so when I read that her next standalone novel was going to be a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, I was excited and immediately put it at the top of my to-buy list. I loved the Romeo + Juliet movie with Leonardo DiCaprio all those years ago and Crossing Stars seemed like it was going to have that same edge to it with the two rival mafia families.

The Concept:

And for the most part it did have that interesting modern edge. The rivalry between the two families was well done and kept my attention. I also liked that this book wasn’t just a modern, word-for-word retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It did have its own plot events that weren’t necessarily parallel or occurred in Romeo and Juliet.

The Plot:

But that modern edge wasn’t enough to save this book. It really dragged in parts for me (the last two chapters were really fast-paced). Part of the problem was Josette. She was a dull heroine who couldn’t manage to capture my attention throughout the novel. Rylan was a bit more exciting to me but I think it was because he was more of a mystery to me because his POV is not given. I understand why it wasn’t but I wish it was because I think it would have made things more interesting.

The Romance:

I know Romeo and Juliet is the classic example of a love-at-first-sight story but I just had a hard time grasping it in this one. I think it was because Josette had just finished reading it and seemed to know that everything about it was crazy with her and Rylan but still did it anyway. It might have also helped to have Rylan featured more because he was missing for a good majority of the book. Perhaps that is the whole “romantic” part of the story but it’s not my cup of tea (even though I love Romeo and Juliet as a play).

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This story just didn’t do it for me. I’ve read better Romeo and Juliet stories. It had a few interesting twists but nothing outstanding. If you read anything and everything about Romeo and Juliet OR insta-love stories, then you will probably want to read this. Otherwise, watch the 1996 movie instead.

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  • Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman (Son of the Mob Series #1)

 

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Series Review: Reflect Me by K.B. Webb

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

Reflect Me by K.B. Webb | Reflect Me Series

Series: Reflect Me
Author: K.B. Webb
# of Books: 3 (Reflect Me, Follow You Down, Heartbreak Warfare)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, alternating

Thoughts:

Disclaimer: I stopped reading this series after Reflect Me. Find out why below…

After reading this book, I’ve come to a conclusion: I can’t read books that are set in the south. I’m not sure what it is exactly but there is just something about the characters and the stories in the south that aren’t my cup of tea. But, I will take a few stab at it: I think it’s the over dramatics. Maybe these books are trying to be the next Dallas soap-opera but even that show isn’t as senselessly dramatic as these books. And senseless drama just isn’t my thing. It frustrates me and annoys me and the last thing I want to do when I’m relieving some stress is get stressed out from reading about these silly characters’ lives.

Molly was just so wishy-washy in her convictions. She would be so independent in some situations and then not in others. Her whole reasoning for being with Brian was irritating and not completely logical. I’m going to give a little bit of a spoiler (though it really isn’t because we learn about it within the first few chapters), to read it highlight over this text–I can understand why she wanted to raise her daughter in the same house as the father because she believes it will be a more stable homelife for her daughter; BUT willingly putting yourself into an abusive situation that you KNOW is abusive and fully knowing that the father of your child doesn’t give a shit about the child is just awful and completely stupid.It defeats the entire purpose of staying with the jackass in the first place! –I get that Molly has some emotional issues based on her past, but she seemed to fully recognize the situation for what it truly is yet makes the wrong decision. I just felt like all the characters in the book were all on the same path but would just skip the last step and overshoot the conclusion.

As for Logan: he was just alright. I don’t enjoy love at first sight stories and this is the case here. I can appreciate what their relationship does for each of them, I just wish it wasn’t such an insta-connection at the start. Though to be fair, they do get to know each other so the love at first sight bit doesn’t bother me as much as other books that have it. My last comment on Logan is that I couldn’t keep a straight face when he would call Molly “Cookie” — gag 😛 I can appreciate the sentiment, it was just a tad overdone at times.

It didn’t help that when I started the book I thought it was going in a different direction (curse you vague book synopsises!) so I really didn’t know what to expect. The synopsis is true: it isn’t a story about a naïve virgin; but it started in a place that even I wasn’t expecting. Regardless, the book felt slow despite the dramatics and I just kept waiting for something to happen. I was going to enact the 50 Page Rule where if I wasn’t interested in the book after 50 pages, I was going to drop it. Unfortunately, I really wanted to learn the “big bad secret” just to see if it was something petty or something serious and interesting. So I begrudgingly kept reading. I’m not overly upset that I did (it was an interesting secret) but I’ve read better.

Conclusion:

I won’t be reading the next book in the series unless the synopsis promises to be an interesting and captivating read (which based on this book seems unlikely). I got this book for free on Amazon so it wasn’t a huge waste of money or time. I’ve read better that were free but I’ve read worse. If you like overdramatic books with nauseatingly sick love stories, you will like this one!

Rating: 2/5

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Synopsis for Reflect Me (from Goodreads):
If you’re looking for a story about a sweet, innocent virgin who rides off into the sunset with a reformed bad boy, then you’re looking in the wrong place.

Some people don’t get a happily ever after. Molly Scott is one of those people, and she knows it. With the kind of past that she has, and the secrets that she holds, she knows that even if she found Prince Charming, he wouldn’t want her. She refuses to dwell on her less than ideal situation though. This is her life, no point in complaining.

Logan Wade had his life planned out, until all his dreams came crashing down around him. Now, he’s come back to the town he swore he would never see again to start fresh. He has no plans to ever settle down again, that’s how he ended up back here in the first place.

When Molly and Logan meet, they are forced to rethink the lives they thought they knew and the futures they were so sure they wanted. Suddenly, Molly wonders if there is a better life outside of the hell she has built for herself, and Logan begins to rethink his resistance towards settling down again.

They say love conquers all, but Molly and Logan are about to find out that sometimes love just isn’t enough

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Single Sundays: Trouble by Samantha Towle

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Mia Monroe is running. Running from a person she doesn’t ever want to find her. Running from a past she doesn’t ever want anyone to know. Desperate to find a future, that yesterday, she could only dream of having.

Jordan Matthews likes easy. Easy women. Easy life.

Then he meets Mia.

She’s damaged, troubled and has more baggage than any person can carry. But the more Jordan gets to know Mia-for the first time in his life-he finds himself wanting to try hard for something … for someone … for her.

And then life isn’t so easy anymore.

Jordan is everything Mia shouldn’t want. A whole bunch of dirty hotness, tattooed, cocky bad boy, who made his money at poker tables and picked his women up in bars. Yet, Mia finds herself falling for him. Then the past Mia was running from, quickly starts to catch up with her. Because that’s the problem with running … you have to stop sometime.

And when you stop, you get caught.

Review:

This book was hard to read at the start: not because the writing is poor (because it isn’t) but because Mia is a person plagued with the mindset of someone who has suffered years of abuse. It was hard for me not to cringe as she describes her abuse or how she thinks of herself. Abuse is something that no one should ever have to go through and I want to warn people that this book is not for the faint of heart. I feel like this book handles abuse in a way that is both respectful and something that I haven’t really come across yet in New Adult fiction and I enjoyed (as much as you can “enjoy” something with that subject matter) watching the story unfold and Mia grow.

Getting away from the underlying plot of the book, I’ll focus on the romance. Jordan and Mia had great physical chemistry; however, it all happened a little fast for me. I would have liked it to progress over a few weeks than just one (seemed a little farfetched to me when everything else felt so grounded). But, I thought that they were really cute together and I liked their interaction.

As for the rest of the plot is starts off pretty fast-paced, gets a little slow and then picks up near the end. I really liked how the story ended (for a while I wasn’t sure how it was going to end so that is a bonus!).

Conclusion:

I liked that this book was different than books I have recently read. I don’t recommend this read if you can’t handle stories dealing with abuse and the aftermath of it. But if you like stories where people can overcome their abusive pasts, this is a great read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Realistic Fiction
Recommended for: 18+
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

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