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Single Sundays: Halo by R C Stephens

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 Halo (from Goodreads):
I fell in love with Thomas Wells and knew he was my forever.
I was sixteen when I gave him my heart.
Our love was the kind to last a lifetime.

But Thomas was broken.
The first day we met he told me he was going to become a Navy SEAL.
At nineteen he enlisted.
At twenty he married me.
At twenty five he left me pregnant and didn’t turn back.
I knew he was suffering….
I also knew I couldn’t save him.
He left me broken.
I was scared and alone.
Until I met Ryder St. John a wounded soldier…
He was lost.
I was lost.
Together we made sense.
I fell in love again…
What Ryder forgot to mention was that he held a secret so explosive that it could shatter both our worlds.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: R C Stephens
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Military
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source & Format: Read It, Review It (New Adult Book Club)–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While this novel looked like it could have a love triangle, I really, really wanted to know what the ” secret so explosive ” was. Plus, I’m a sucker for military heroes in my novels. If I need a good mini-cry, those heroes always get me.

I didn’t know that R C Stephens was Canadian so that also swayed my decision. I love supporting my fellow Canadians <3

New Adult or Adult:

I heard about this book in a New Adult Book Club. But after reading it, I felt more comfortable labelling it as an Adult Contemporary Romance. Primarily because the lead characters are 25+ which is that cut off for me, especially if they aren’t in a “college” setting and are living in “the real world”.

However, it almost reads like a NA read so it’s one of those bridging reads that straddles the line in between.

The Plot:

This story is told through a series of past and present chapters, which is a brilliant way to execute this story. The story builds as you go and you start to put all the pieces together. And even then, I didn’t see the reveal coming at all–which is fabulous! Major bonus points for me for that!

However, this story seemed a little lop-sided as a whole. I felt like so much of the time was used to build up the relationships–which you have to for sure–but that it lacked a little more “drama” post-reveal.  Not that the ending was rushed by any means; it’s just that it could have been flushed out a tad more I think. There was definitely a lot you could do with that reveal and I felt like it never truly reached its potential in that respect.

The Characters:

I really liked Halo. She’s a strong girl but she has her weaknesses too. While she is raised on a pedestal by the guys and her family, she does have her flaws and personal struggles that she has to endure. She was a much more rounded character than I expected going into this story.

Thomas and Ryder irked me a little with their constant high praise of Halo (like I said, she’s on a pedestal) but I liked that they too had developed personalities and growth.

The Romance:

The flashbacks of Thomas and Halo in high school are sickeningly sweet; you know that couple that just sees nothing past their love? It leads to very long “sexy time” scenes which I wasn’t totally expecting. So that particular aspect I wasn’t a fan.

But what I did like is how they loved and supported each other through all their difficult times. In my books, I love seeing romantic leads that are partners in life and that definitely shows at times in this novel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this novel! Once the “secret” was revealed, I had a hard time putting this one down. It’s just a solid romance that makes you believe in the power of love.

Read if You Like: military heroes, big twists
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries romances

similarreads

  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin (Out of Time Series #1)
  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick
  • Trapped by Beverley Kendall (Trapped Series #1)

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Series Review: Marked Men by Jay Crownover

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

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, Sad to See Go (2015), Best New Adult
Series: Marked Men Series

There is going to be a spin-off series called the Saints of Denver to be published October 2015. This is a series set in the same world as the Marked Men series but not a direct spin-off with a specific main character from this series. More info on Jay Crownover’s Website. Though please be warned that there is a spoiler on that page regarding Rule’s book in the question following the reading order!

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 6  (Rule, Jet, Rome, Nash, Rowdy, Asa)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological

Note: You can read each book as a standalone but they all follow a chronological order of events that may spoil an earlier story if you choose to read a later book first.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Bad Boys, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

The Marked Men series is a review blog fan-favourite. Whenever I browse a New Adult fan list, some character or book from this series graces the list. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take a chance with this series despite my hesitation after reading the synopsis for Rule.

I was hesitant to read Rule for two reasons: one was that the synopsis gave me the impression Shaw was going to be an airhead (not sure why when I reread it) and two was the fact that Shaw was Rule’s “dead twin brother’s girl”. I’m not a fan of reading stories where one person is unfaithful or there are love triangles; so when I read this line and the line that Shaw has “loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him” I winkled my nose in distaste thinking if she was his twin’s girlfriend, why did she love Rule?

I should have known that there was more to this book than the synopsis. Because the truth of the matter is: this book wasn’t what my first assumptions were–AT ALL! I actually really enjoyed Ruleone of the best New Adult stories I have read in a while in all honesty!

Shaw was a great, strong character and nothing like I assumed she would be; Rule was just plain awesome and together I really could see how they worked. The plot was also unexpected and a lot more suspenseful than I anticipated despite the fact that certain aspects were rather predictable. Regardless of its predictability, I still had a lot of fun reading it and it managed to capture my attention from start to finish.

I was super excited to read Jet simply based on the small taste we get of the leads in Rule. However, when I finally did read it, I felt like something was missing. I felt like there was more focus on their personal individual lives than there was with them as a couple; which was totally fine but not what I was really expecting when I picked up the book. I guess their relationship wasn’t as apparent to me as it was with Rule and Shaw and I just needed that little bit more.  I also felt like this book was acting as a bridge for the rest of the books in the series because we learn more about each of the Marked Men and their histories so it made me really excited to read the rest of the series. So while Jet was a good follow-up, it just wasn’t entirely what I was expecting so I gave it a lower individual rating than I thought I would.

Rome was more on par with what Rule was to me. I laughed, I cried and smiled to myself throughout the whole book. I really felt the relationship with this couple more so than in Jet. There was a good balance between them working on their relationship as a couple and them working on their individual lives. I would say it is my favourite of the series. It also served as the perfect segue to Nash which I immediately picked up after finishing Rome despite exams and a mountain of library books.

Nash was super cute and everything I thought it would be. It was a great blend of character growth and romance and also has a awesome message/theme about self-esteem which I really appreciate. And, no surprise, it made me super excited to read Rowdy.

Rowdy was everything I thought it was going to be though I didn’t find it as addicting as I expected it to be (though I did read it really fast!). I think it was because this couple has a strong history between them so everything felt like it was already established between them. But I still thought it was super cute and I liked the more dramatic/suspenseful elements featured in this novel.

Asa is going to be the last novel of the Marked Men series which makes me sad despite being super, super excited for this novel. I feel like this story has been building since Jet so I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

My understanding from reading Jay Crownover’s website is that she is planning a similar spin-off series that is set in the Marked Men universe but doesn’t directly involve the cast we see here. One character who makes a very brief appearance in this series is already slated to get a book. I’m hoping that two characters that I would love to see get a book but I guess we will have to wait and see what is in store!

UPDATED (June 2/15): I finally grabbed a copy of Asa and while I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped, it was still a very solid novel. As I said earlier, Asa’s story has been building since Book 2 and it was nice to finally have it all wrapped up. It definitely picked up near the end in terms of plotline and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Asa was a great way to wrap up this series but also get you excited for the spin-off series. I already have a few ideas about who the next set of leads will be but I definitely expect to be surprised with some things!

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

I’ve really enjoyed reading this series because it is so addicting and fun and just really well done! If you like tattooed swoon-worthy heroes and strong independent heroines this is a great series to read!

Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: Yes!!!

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Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want—and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.

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Novella Serial Review: Disarm by June Gray

Serial Saturdays: On Saturdays, I review serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Series: DISARM
Author: June
# of Parts: 6 (Disarm, Besiege, Retreat, The Henry Sessions, Engage, Capture)

There is a novel that takes place after with different characters called Surrender that will be published November 2014

Complete?: Yes, the serialized part is but the sequel is to be published.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Drama, Military
Heat Rating: getting hot
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

This was actually one of the first serialized series that I read and I really devoured it.

I liked this series because it was realistic but enjoyable. The military aspect of it is really interesting and adds to the story in a that you don’t see in contemporary romances where a younger sister is in love with her brother’s BFF. It makes the story darker but nothing that would disturb anyone if they enjoy reading military-based stories.

The romance in the story is enjoyable to watch unfold. It blends well with the other aspects of the plot and I felt like they balanced out with each other.

There isn’t too much to say about the series without giving it away but Elsie and Henry’s story ends within the serialized parts. Surrender is about Elsie’s brother and will be published in November. I will probably check it out when it is published because I liked the world everything is set in and am interested in the story.

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed reading this series. Fans of military reads will want to pick this up!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller and Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

Synopsis for Disarm (from Goodreads):
Even the deepest secrets always find a way to surface…

26-year-old Elsie Sherman has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Henry Logan, since she was twelve years old. Unfortunately, Henry has only ever treated her like a younger sister, stepping into her brother’s shoes after he was killed in action.

That is, until one night, when one dance ignites a sensual fire between the two, leaving Elsie aroused and confused. Is she allowed to lust after her surrogate big brother who also happens to be her roommate?

But Henry, an Air Force officer, has been harboring two secrets–one will bring them together and the other will tear them apart–and it is up to Elsie to decide if their relationship is worth fighting for.

Series Review: Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin

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

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Synopsis for Out of Line (from Goodreads):
Desperate to break free…

I’ve spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I’m finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules…

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She’s a rule I know I shouldn’t break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Reads of 2014, Author to Watch For
Series: Out of Line
Author: Jen McLaughlin
# of Books: 5 (Out of Line, Out of Time, Out of Mind, Fractured Line, Blurred Lines)
Book Order: Chronological; Connected (Blurred Lines)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance! I think Kobo suggested I read this one but I can’t honestly recall how it crossed my radar. I just knew I had to read it because it sounded right up my alley!

The Plot:

This story probably seems predictable and formulated based on the description but I found that there were enough little surprises along the way that it didn’t bore me.

I also like that this series really becomes character driven along the way. You really get to watch these characters grow and go through some rough things; it brings a realism to this series that I really enjoy.

Of course, it does have its flares for dramatics but I find those additions just add some entertainment to the story and don’t distract too much from the story at hand.

The Characters:

I will admit, I was worried about Cassie being a prima donna going into the book based on the synopsis. One thing I hate about heroines who are cast as “overprotected” is that they rebel just for the sake of rebelling which in turn leads them to do stupid things which leads to me being annoyed.

I’m happy to say that I loved Cassie! I truly respected her character because I never felt like she was rebelling just for the sake of rebelling. This book is just as much about her relationship with Finn as it is with her finding herself and becoming independent.

That isn’t to say Finn isn’t important–because he is–he is one of the best aspects of this series! I simply adored him. There isn’t much to say other than he is the total book boyfriend package 😛

The Romance:

This is probably the main selling point for me. I just loved these two together!

When characters bring out the best in each other, you can’t help but love them. The sexual tension is fantastic! Exactly what I want in a “forbidden” romance.

 

updates

–January 12, 2014– Book #2: Out of Time

I did buy Out of Time right away and I’m both happy and mad at myself that I did it. I’m happy because I really loved it! Hate it because I have to wait for the next one!

I liked how this one focused on the establishment of a relationship and not stupid “break-up” drama. (You know how most books in a romance trilogy have the characters separated or apart for most of the story for some drama).

I didn’t think the story could get any cuter but it did! I also cried during this book–which is why I am mad at myself because now I have to wait until April to read what happens next!

–July 1, 2014– Book #3: Out of Mind

Although I bought Out of Mind as soon as it came out, I wasn’t able to actually sit down and read it until now. The book follows the same direction as the second book where it focuses more on the relationship and less on the other drama. That made for a pretty tame read but I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I also loved the realistic edge it had to it at times. It is a great conclusion to the series and fans will not be disappointed.

I can’t wait to see if spin-off books are in the works because I can’t wait to see what is in store for the other characters of these books.

–November 21, 2016– Book #4: Fractured Lines

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointment in the idea of this novel being a continuation of Finn and Carrie’s story. Everything wraps up so nicely in Out of Time so I was quite happy with how everything ended and wanted this “spin-off” to focus on a particular side character instead… (who gets his own book in Blurred Lines FYI).

But when I started to read this, I began to appreciate it more. I like how it challenged the previous books’ stories. It brought a touch of realism to this story that I really admired. It’s naive to think that everything these two go through can be solved so easily; that there won’t be any repercussions. And I feel like this was handled beautifully.

–November 23, 2016– Book #4: Blurred Lines

I was really looking forward to this book. I couldn’t wait to see how Riley would get his happy ending.

But I have have some mixed feelings on it.

I’m not a fan of love-at-first-sight romances; I don’t like how everything progresses because of some unexplained “feeling”/”connection”. As a reader, I like my relationships to be spelled out for me; show me why these two belong together.

However, I get why this trope was used in this particular novel. It actually really works well for Riley’s character as a whole. He’s a by the book type of guy and he’s drowning in those expectations. So I enjoyed the side of his character we get to see thanks to this storyline.

Nevertheless, things happen way too fast here. I’m sure the short page count contributes to it but I felt like the plot (not just the romance) was rushed. I wanted things to be teased out a little more and worked on. See how these characters deal with the challenges they’ve created.

So while it wasn’t what I particularly wanted, I can appreciate what the attempt was for this particular novel. I’m just glad to have that closure on Riley’s character as a whole.

Series Rating: 4/5

Out of Line 4/5 | Out of Mind 4/5 | Out of Time 4/5 | Fractured Lines 4/5 | Blurred Lines TBA

overall

If you want a series that will make you laugh, swoon, cry and freak out: this is it! It has such strong character development that you can’t help but root for these two. Add to it a touch of realism and a slight flare for dramatics and you’ve got yourself an entertaining series from start to finish!

Read if You Like: military heroes, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: don’t like romance trilogies following the same character leads

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