Tag «must read author»

DNF Series Review: Aligned by Ella Miles

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a 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 or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Aligned (from Goodreads):

He’s an arrogant complication.

I don’t care if Landon Davis has sold millions of records. I don’t care that his damn crooked grin makes my panties wet.

I can’t want him.

I should be mourning, but I can’t. I just need him gone. Then I can align the chaos floating in my head.

——

She has a f*cking boyfriend.

I’ve seen the picture of them together. But Alex Blakely still wants me. And who am I not to oblige when her body is begging for me?

I need one night to own her body.

I should be focused on getting my career out of the gutter. I’ll take one night first. Then I’ll be gone.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Aligned
Author: Ella Miles
# of Parts: 4 (1+2 are novellas; 3+4 are novels)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2015 – June 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I only read Aligned Volumes 1 + 2 and never picked up Volumes 3 + 4. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m an Ella Miles fan without a doubt. Her stories always surprise me with the direction they take and they keep me on my toes. I actually grabbed this series after I read my first Ella Miles’ read, Maybe but didn’t actually read it until I had a few more Ella Miles’ titles under my belt.

What I Liked:

–The Rebuilding of Alex’s Past–

I really enjoyed the first volume thanks to the suspense of Alex’s missing past. Watching her try to establish her new life while completely oblivious to her old one was intriguing. It kept me curious trying to figure out what would happen next.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Landon–

I just couldn’t get myself to like him. I think he suffers a little bit from underdevelopment in the first volume since we spend more time with Alex and her situation. He starts to get more interesting in Volume 2 when his secrets are alluded to more but by then I just didn’t care.

–Not Enough in Volumes 1+2 to Keep Me Hooked–

I enjoyed Volume 1, probably because I knew it was just the start and that more things would come given the foundations it had set. But Volume 2 just felt like filler to me with not a whole lot else happening. I know that the full novels are jammed pack with twist after twist thanks to other reviews I read while contemplating my DNF decision, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care and it felt like a chore to try and get there.

Will I Finish It?

No. I read the spoilers for Volumes 3 & 4 and I definitely missed out on some interesting developments to say the least. In some ways I do regret not sticking it out but I just didn’t like the characters enough to try.

Series Rating: DNF

overall

This one just wasn’t for me. But if you like stories with crazy twists that build and build, you will love this!

Read if You Like: dramatic stories, lots of twists, crazy characters
Avoid if You: want a more traditional romance read

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Fresh Fridays: I, Guinevere (Mythic Maids #1) by C K Brooke

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:

Mythic Maidens Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for I, Guinevere (from Goodreads):

If you think you know the story of King Arthur and his mythical sword, think again. Your legends have it wrong. Here’s the truth: I was never married to Arthur, and he wasn’t a king. Because Arthur never pulled that sword out of the stone. I did.
I, Guinevere.

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword in a stone appears in the churchyard. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives it a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: she is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was born royalty. Now, between apprenticing the eccentric wizard, Merlyn; swordplay lessons with an abrasive—albeit, attractive—boy named Lance; and clandestine, magical meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by the barbarous Saxyns and visitations from mysterious dark forces continually warn that she may be in over her head. Can Guinevere defend the kingdom from the darkness and deception that threaten to seize it? Despite her doubts and the sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

From the unstoppable pen of C.K. Brooke comes a fresh and unforgettable new retelling seeped in Arthurian mythology. Queen Guinevere has her own tale to share, and it’s nothing like what you thought! Experience the magic and myth of Camylot, Avalon, Merlyn, and Exkalibur like never before as, in the vein of Brooke’s award-winning SECRETS OF ARTEMIS, this legendary maiden of lore recounts her side of the story.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Mythic Maidens
Author: C K Brooke
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 14, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last few years, I’ve really become a fan of C K Brooke’s work. She writes some really intriguing, entertaining stories that I’ve had a hard time putting down. So when I was asked to read her new Arthurian Legend based novella, I was so there! I love anything and everything to do with King Arthur (I’ve seen the musical Camelot at least 3 times) so I couldn’t wait to see what unique spin she’d give Guinevere.

What I Liked:

–I Saw Guinevere in a New Light–

Guinevere is one of those legendary characters that we all have a preconceived notion of–and I know for me, I have a not so favourable one. (Unless we are talking about Gwen from the TV show Merlin–she’s the best!).

I feel like she is one of those characters that is often defined by the men she is involved with but that really wasn’t the case here at all. It was nice to read about her in a more positive, independent light and based on the merits of her own character. In the author’s note, Brooke explains her main goal for writing this story was to allow readers to see Guinevere in a different way and she most definitely succeeds in doing that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing was Slightly Off–

While I enjoyed this story and the blending of classic Arthurian elements, there was just something about the pacing that caused this book to lose the momentum for me. I felt like nothing happened for the vast majority of the pages and everything was rushed together at the end. The twists (both in the plot and the character roles) were great but I almost feel like they happened too late to truly allow me to appreciate them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I got a little hint about who the next book will be about and I CANNOT WAIT! I love the concept of this series so much and I’m excited to see what will happen to our next heroine!

My Rating: 3/5

I, Guinevere 3/5| Book 2 TBP

overall

It’s an enjoyable read and C K Brooke never fails to deliver fresh, entertaining YA reads so fans of her work will no doubt enjoy this!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, novellas, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy/magic, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Finding Perfect by Ella Miles

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 Finding Perfect (from Goodreads):

I want the perfect man, and Ace Knight isn’t him.

He’s a foul-mouthed, pothead, tattooed bastard.
He may have saved my life, but he also cost me my nursing career with one smug kiss.
Now I’m broke, homeless, and jobless.

I wanted a man in a suit.
Tall, dark, and handsome.
Not broken, cursing, and cynical.

Knight thinks I’m the perfect woman for him.
Perfect to help him keep his ex-wife from inheriting his millions.
I can’t refuse his offer. I need the money.

But what if he expects me to…sleep with him.
I can’t…I won’t…until he smirks and then I’m toast.
I think I need a new plan.

Bad boy + flawed girl does not equal perfect.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 24, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this novel because the synopsis doesn’t give much away. But I always anticipate that something is up Ella Miles’ sleeve so I was eager to get started.

The Plot:

This whole story felt disjointed. At first, I thought it was just the first few chapters but it continued throughout. I liked the various parts but I didn’t think they worked well together. The chemistry between the two was lacking; the timelines were a little off; and some plot points just didn’t seem logical.

Of course, you have that classic Ella Miles twist in there (where the story takes a turn you’ve never anticipate) but even that felt underdeveloped. It didn’t save this unfortunately.

The Characters:

On the surface, I like both characters. Mila has drive and strives for independence so I enjoy that in my heroines. Ace has that bad boy exterior but sweetheart interior that is irresistible. However, I wasn’t impressed by them when it was all said and done; and I think the quick, chemistry-less romance was the reason for that.

The Romance:

I just didn’t see the draw between these two besides contention and proximity. It started so promising too because they really had some conflict at the start and I love a good “hate to love you” romance. But the shift from hate to love just didn’t work for me.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This isn’t my favourite Ella Miles novel and that’s a shame because I think all the right ingredients were there.

Read if You Like: fake romances, drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: don’t like slightly over the top drama
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Single Sundays: Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

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 Dating You / Hating You (from Goodreads):

 

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a fan of Christina Lauren’s series for a while so I was curious to see what they could do with a standalone. This one looked like it would be a lot of fun and I couldn’t wait to see the chemistry between Evie and Carter come to life as they competed for the job.

The Plot:

I laughed a lot while listening to this which is always a big plus. The antics these two get into were creative and hilarious. I got some very high intensity ideas to prank my co-workers with 😉

The other big highlight for me was the emphasis on sexism in the workplace. I read this book in February 2018, just on the cusp of the #MeToo movement and it further resonated with me the systemic problems women face in the workplace. Watching both Evie and Carter come to terms with it was an interesting aspect to this novel.

There was something off about the pacing which is why this isn’t a 5/5. This book was utterly addicting thanks to the characters and the chemistry between them. But I felt like it got lost in some of the more filler moments.

The Characters:

I really loved these two. Evie was a strong heroine and her attitude and drive is admirable. She’s hilarious ad completely her own person which is great. As is Carter who is equally charming and sincere.

Both had some great character development and I got sucked into their stories.

The Romance:

I loved the chemistry between Evie and Carter. They were a perfect match from the start. Carter is just adorable with his infatuation. This book has a bit of a slow burn feel to it so the tension is just palpable between these two.

Compared to other Christina Lauren novels I’ve read, I liked that this one wasn’t so focused on the sex scenes. They’re really aren’t all that many (just your standard for contemporary romance nowadays) and I really appreciated that in a way because it just highlighted the great connection between these two instead of their physical chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m really glad with my decision to read this as an audiobook. It just made this thing seem like a rom-com movie to me. One of the funniest audiobooks I’ve listened to. Shayna Thibodeaux  and Deacon Lee did great jobs as the narrators. Their tone and performance was just fabulous!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a funny and charming contemporary romance. It isn’t as erotica based as previous Christina Lauren novels so take with that what you will. But returning fans and new readers alike will enjoy this novel!

Read if You Like: Chick Lit, office romance, rom-com
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Cocktail Series #1)
  • Lace Up by Shae Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)
  • Smut by Karina Halle

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Single Sundays: The Wrong Prince by C K Brooke

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 Wrong Prince (from Goodreads):

Two princes. One bride. A dire misunderstanding…

Geo and Dmitri are the princes of Tybiria. Though Geo is the obvious athlete, it’s bookish Dmitri that yields the credit – and consequences – for slaying a foreign prince. But whose arrow really struck the boy?

Luccia Camerlane is the Baron of Backshore’s enigmatic daughter…as well as Prince Geo’s secret mistress…until she learns of her disastrous betrothal to none other than his brother, Prince Dmitri.

When Dmitri is abducted by the deranged King of Llewes, star-crossed lovers Geo and Lucie must set aside their woes and differences to rescue the Crown Prince from the formidable Wintersea fortress. A precocious castle ward, a fascinating love-quadrangle, and a hit-woman harlot complete this action packed rom com in another wickedly fast-paced fantasy adventure from C.K. Brooke, author of The Red Pearl and the Books of Jordinia.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: C K Brooke
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 17, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank You C K Brooke!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adventure stories are not my favourite reads. I find them boring and drawn out but there is just something about C K Brooke’s adventure stories that keep me coming back. I’m always entertained when I read her books thanks to their twisting, never dull plots and the eclectic cast of characters. So even though this story’s synopsis boasted of a love triangle (ugh, my least favourite trope ever), I knew that there was likely more to this story than mooning teenagers…

The Concept / The World:

I always love the worlds C K Brooke’s creates. They just have so much to them and you can tell she is one creative writer who plans out exactly how things are going to work in her worlds.

I will say though that there was a slight disconnect for me in terms of the sexual content. While there aren’t any straight up sex scenes, it’s alluded to quite frequently. Now, I like a “grittier” side to my stories but for the most part this story was pretty light and airy–almost wholesome to a degree–and the visits to brothels and the like just seemed slightly out of place with the rest of the story in terms of maturity. I hope what I’m trying to say is coming across… I guess, while this book feels very young in its audience there are some aspects that people who enjoy “clean” reads will not like (though nothing is full out described).

As for the concept, like I speculated before I started this book, there is more to this book than a love triangle gone awry. Yes, it’s an important factor in the story but there are other plot lines happening.

The Plot:

The synopsis gets it right: “Action packed rom-com” is the perfect way to describe this plot. This story was the perfect mix of fun, serious and heartwarming all at once. I just loved the way the story kept building and moving. Yes, it helps that we get multiple character POVs so we are constantly getting new layers to the story. Like the Jordinia Series, reading this book had me thinking about The Princess Bride and how they have similar vibes and styles when it comes to plot development and interesting characters.

The Characters:

I really liked all these characters, but Dmitri and Pavi take the cake for me. I just really loved their storyline. But the rest of the cast is unique and entertaining and you really can’t ask for much more. All the female characters are strong and independent so that was great to see. I thought the character development was good for the shorter length of the story. Everyone is complex and we get enough backstory to get a solid read on their characters so that was great.

The Romance:

While the love-quadrangle is definitely at play, I think you know where everyone’s hearts lie so there isn’t anything overly frustration about the love triangle. It doesn’t become the main focus of the novel though it does play a role in the overall story. Part of the reason this isn’t a 5 star read is because I did get frustrated though with the lack of communication between 2 characters because it came across as immature even though they were having an affair which seems pretty mature to me…

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of fast-paced adventures with a dash of romance!

Read if You Like: rom-com adventures, fast stories, multiple POVs
Avoid if You: dislike YA fantasy

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Series Review: The Bet 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 Bet (from Goodreads):

“I have a proposition for you.” Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. It’s been years since Kacey’s seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they’re engaged for her sake-so be it.

But Kacey wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis still being there. She calls him “Satan” for a reason: she’s never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis’s gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey’s more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake’s deal . . .

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Bet
Author: Van Dyken
# of Books: 3 (The Bet, The Wager, The Dare)
Book Order: Connected (but chronological events)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple (The Bet); Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – July 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

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NOTE: I only read The Bet (#1) and The Dare (#3). I DNF’d The Wager at 14%. Find out why below.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Rachel Van Dyken’s previous series in the past and I’ve had this one marked on my TBR forever. I only had the first book on my eReader and that’s why it was selected for my #ShelfLove Challenge for 2017.

I didn’t know entirely what to expect going into The Bet. It gets a few polarizing reviews on Goodreads but I went in with an open mind and the need to be entertained.

The Plot:

As whole, this series is about a meddling Grandmother who wants her grandsons to get their heads out of their butts and get married to the “ones that got away”. Grandma Nadine is an over the top character as are her antics. Her meddling isn’t a huge focus in The Bet (#1) but it does become a huge part of the latter two novels.

This results in some mixed feelings for me in terms of the plot. I enjoyed The Bet as Nadine is more of the filter-less Grandmother who inserts a comment or two along the way. But her interference in the next two novels is very hit or miss. Most of the time I enjoyed the concept of the second chance romance but not the execution–mainly Nadine’s manipulation–of the plot. It takes everything to this over-dramatic level that I wasn’t a fan of.

The Characters:

I think these characters really make it or break it for the readers. They aren’t the most mature out there and I wouldn’t say that all of them are completely likable either. I think I was just in the right mood for tolerating some of these characters when I read the books.

Case and point: Kacey. I really struggled with her because she does some down-right awful things to Travis when they are kids. I’m talking full out bullying the boy to the point where I’m shocked he turned out as nice as he did. But she does have these moments where she comes across as a genuinely nice girl (now that she’s older) so it was hard to pinpoint my exact feelings on her.

I think if you don’t take them all so seriously and focus on the silly things that happen along the way, you can enjoy this novel without loving the characters. (But I understand that is a hard thing to do in a romance novel–case and point why I DNF’d Book #2 The Wager).

The Romance:

These are all second chance stories that happen quickly (usually within a week or two), reestablishing this connection from the past. We only get a few flashbacks to the past so it was hard to convince me that all these characters were a great match. The connections of the leads in The Wager and The Dare just seemed so superficial to me because their past was a shared night of lust.

Why I DNF’d The Wager (#2) at 14%:

I was actually pretty excited to start this one because I love a good “player redemption story”. But the immaturity of these characters irritated me to no ends. Their opening chapters just seemed so ridiculous to me and I couldn’t get into.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Bet 4.5/5 | The Wager DNF| The Dare 2.5/5

overall

I think if you enjoy stories that don’t take themselves too seriously and can get past somewhat mature characters, you will enjoy this series. However, Rachel Van Dyken writes much (much) better romance novels so perhaps try Ruin or The Matchmaker’s Playbook instead.

Read if You Like: over the top drama, quick second chance romances
Avoid if You: dislike immature characters, struggle with humour in novels

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Rush by Nyrae Dawn

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series/novel that is a spin-off series/novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Rush is a spin-off of Four Summers

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, Fav Couples

This book features characters from Four Summers.

Author: Nyrae Dawn
Genre: New Adult, MM Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Realistic Fiction, Second Chances
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 16, 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

My Expectations?

When I first got into the new adult genre, I read quite a few of Nyrae Dawn’s novels. I just love her writing style and her ability to bring amazing characters to life. Her books always make me cry (in a good way) and laugh and swoon–basically all the feels.

I had every intention of reading Rush shortly after its release. I had never read a MM romance before and I figured Nyrae Dawn is the perfect author to start with. But I wasn’t able to get a copy right away and I ended up reading Leveled by Jay Crownover as my first MM romance–and absolutely loved it. Coincidentally, Leveled is inspired by Rush so I was curious to see how/why…

The Plot:

This isn’t really a novel about these two falling in love. They’ve already fallen but circumstances have kept them apart. It’s the “circumstances” that provide the plot for this story and that’s what the main focus is. That isn’t to say you don’t get those romantic moments (because you do) but this is a story about being comfortable and confident with who you are and living your true life.

And in that respect, it’s a very realistic story. I think the pressures Alec and Brandon feel from their families/friends/teammates/strangers is something we can all relate to. I might not identify with the sexuality aspect but the range of emotions they go through as a result is extremely relateable.

I would have very easily powered through this book in a day but I found I had to read it in small doses. These two go through so much that this book had a heavier feel to it. Their story felt so real to me and I was so invested in it. It broke my heart to see these two (who clearly belong together) feel like they can’t be their true selves or share that love with the world. I definitely shed a few tears while reading.

The Characters:

I really loved these two. To me, they were just so real and genuine. They have these layers to them that make them fascinating to watch as characters. Seeing them evolve and grow confident in themselves (and their love for each other) was such a treat.

The Romance:

Swoon! Usually, I prefer to see my characters fall in love right before my eyes because I love watching that connection establish and grow. But I didn’t need that here to know that these two belonged together.

Wow. Talk about the perfect pair. I loved how these two challenged each other to grow as people. I loved how they communicated and shared their feelings and fears. This book made me believe in soul mates because if these two aren’t, then I don’t know how to describe their relationship adequately.

How it Connects to Four Summers:

You don’t need to read one to enjoy the other. I read Rush without ever reading Four Summers. But i feel like if you read one, you’ll want to read the other.

 

Rating: 5/5

overall

Do yourself a favour and pick up this book! It’s a great love story about fighting for your love and your self when it feels like the world is against you.

Read if You Like: romance, new adult, sports, mm romance
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike second chances
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Rush (from Goodreads):

This new adult, male/male romance will capture the audience who fell in love with Nyrae Dawn’s Games Trilogy.

For the love of the game.

Brandon Chase has always defined himself by one thing: football. Tough and athletic, he is a great college player who enjoys the hard hits and the sweaty grind of the gridiron. But when Brandon is injured, only one person can help him get back on track-a forbidden love he’s desperately tried to put behind him.

Alec Andrews has never quite forgiven Brandon for walking away when their friendship turned into something more. But he can’t deny help to one of his closest friends. As the two spend the long, hot summer working together, their old attraction comes flooding back.

Now as Alec thinks about coming out to his conservative family and Brandon considers revealing he’s a gay football player, the two men must be strong to fight for a love that could be the greatest rush of their lives.

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Single Sundays: War and Love by Winter Renshaw

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 War and Love (from Goodreads):

My lies? Impeccable.

My heart? Cold as ice.

My only job? To convince her what we had was as real as the diamond I was hired to place on her finger.

The battle was someone else’s.

I was merely a soldier, recruited by a wealthy stranger who made it unapologetically clear that my future—and everything I’ve ever worked for—depended on the successful completion of this mission.

I was prepared for war.

I wasn’t prepared for Love Aldridge.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 30, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read enough Winter Renshaw books to know that she writes solid, heartfelt romances every time. And this one definitely met my expectations in that regard. She simply writes great romances. So obviously, I was going to pick this up!

The Concept:

What drew me in about this story is the mystery behind Jude’s role as it is described in the synopsis. Why has he been hired to make Love marry him and by who? I love secrets like that and the tension they bring to the story. So I was disappointed that we had all the answers by the end of Chapter 4. It sucked that anticipation out of the story because you know everything right away. But it was the characters that kept me invested moving forward.

The Plot:

How the characters deal with these events is what truly surprised me. There were some interesting twists in that regard so that kept me on my toes. It provides some great character growth as a result and turned this novel into a more character driven narrative rather than a drama/mystery filled one.

The Characters:

The characters are really what makes this story. Love is a great heroine to follow. She’s finding her individuality and I loved watching her come into herself throughout the story. Jude is also an intriguing character and it was interesting to see him struggle with his role and his feelings for Love. I dare you not to fall in love with him!

The Romance:

I really liked the chemistry between these two. It was fairly obvious to me why they would be drawn to each other. And Jude is a sweetheart so it definitely had its swoon-worthy moments!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Overall, this is a great story for new and returning fans of Winter Renshaw! The perfect romance binge read!

Read if You Like: character driven stories, contemporary romances
Avoid if You: want more secrets/mystery
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Novella Serial Reviews: Past Life Chronicles by C K Brooke

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a 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 or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Past-Life Chronicles: Volume 1 (from Goodreads):

My name is Willow Raven Solomon, and I hate cars. I suffer from a phobia no one’s been able to cure. Part of that is because we don’t know the origin. My only clue is a chronic nightmare that’s haunted me since I was a child, of an auto accident I was never in.

My Wiccan mom and her friends think it’s past-life related. While I may have been raised by a witch, I don’t know a lot about reincarnation. A cute hypnotherapist is helping me navigate it. But my stepbrother in med school is skeptical. Somehow, he’s part of the puzzle too – they both are.

As I dig deeper, I’m finding more questions I’d never thought to ask. What if my fear originated not with me, but with someone else? What if my nightmare isn’t just a dream?

What if it’s a memory, from another time, another place…another me?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Past Life Chronicles
Author: C K Brooke
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Supernatural, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January – March 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you C K Brooke!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

C K Brooke always has the coolest story concepts. So while I was drawn in by that AMAZING cover, I love a good mystery! I couldn’t wait to uncover Willow’s past life and find out why she hates cars.

The Concept:

I’m always a little hesitant to read stories featuring witches. I rarely enjoy them (there’s just something about the magic that irritates me) so I was a little worried when it mentions that Willow’s mom is a Wiccan because I thought this might focus on witches. But I worried for nothing because it is not a huge aspect to this story in the slightest. This series is all about Willow rediscovering her past and putting the pieces together. 

I really enjoyed the overall message of the book and moving on from the past. It was nice to explore that idea of reincarnation and why souls might return to the earth. But more importantly, I liked that it focused on the “what happens after” they figure it out. I like a book that makes me think and after I finished reading, I wondered what I would do if I had been in Willow’s shoes.

The Plot:

I had a lot of fun trying to solve the mystery as the clues come in. I love stories that always keep my guessing and changing my theories as they get more evolved.

I will say that in the middle of Volume 1, I felt like things got a little mundane. In a shorter story like this, I don’t like dwelling on stuff that seems routine and common. However, once I finished Volume 1, I could see that there was a reason for that focus and it built the anticipation nicely for Volume 2.

Volume 2 kept the pace throughout and had my full attention. It was nice to see everything come together and get the answers we’d been looking for. While I had my own theories, there were certain aspects that surprised me and made me think.

The Characters:

Willow is a great lead for this series. She’s got a good heart and it shows throughout the volumes. You really want her to solve this problem and find peace. I also loved her commitment to her family and how she was open to accepting their beliefs even if they differed from hers.

Everyone else is well developed and unique. They all contribute positively to this story.

The Romance:

In some ways this fell a little flat for me. I didn’t mind the bit of a love triangle we get because I could see how it served a bigger purpose. I just found that the two options didn’t share as much chemistry with her as I wanted in the first volume. I’d say the romance in the second volume was much stronger. I started to see why she was drawn to each of them.

Unfortunately, another reviewer spoiled the love triangle reveal for me so that took away some of the anticipation. PSA to all reviewers: Mark spoilers in your reviews! And that’s a shame because that part of the series always had me guessing (but not in annoying way if you know what I’m trying to say).

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a refreshing YA read, check this series out! It had its fun moments as well as some serious ones as well. It made me think and I always love when a book can do that!

Read if You Like: shorter stories, mysteries, past-lives
Avoid if You: want more complex story and characters

similarreads

  • The Hollow by Jessica Verday (The Hollow Trilogy #1)
  • Swoon by Nina Malkin (Swoon Series #1)

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Series Review: The Hook-Up by Isla Madden-Mills

Synopsis for I Dare You (from Goodreads):
I DARE YOU!

Badass Athlete: I dare you to…
Delaney Shaw: Who is this?

The late night text is random, but “Badass Athlete” sure seems to know who she is…

Delaney Shaw.
Good girl.
Lover of fluffy kitties and Star Wars.
Curious.

His dare? Spend one night in his bed—a night he promises will be unforgettable—and she can solve the mystery of who he is.

She knows she shouldn’t, but what else is she going to do with her boring Valentine’s Day?

One sexy hook-up later, her mind is blown and the secret’s out.

Maverick Monroe.
Bad boy.
The most talented football player in the country.
Just ask him.

Too bad for him Delaney’s sworn off dating athletes forever after her last heartbreak.

But Maverick wants more than one night and refuses to give up on winning Delaney’s heart. She isn’t one to be fazed by a set of broad shoulders.

Will the bad boy land the nerd girl or will the secrets they keep from each other separate them forever?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Hook-Up
Author: Isla Madden Mills
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 28, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last two years, Isla Madden-Mills has become a must read author for me. I just love all the stories she writes thanks to her ability to write unique stories and characters. While she has a definite style to her writing, it never comes across as formulaic which I greatly appreciate as a reader.

I’ve been dying to read I Dare You ever since I read about it in her newsletter. The whole concept is one of my favourites to read and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen when sports jock meets witty nerd.

The Plot:

The synopsis is slightly misleading in the fact that it makes it sound like Delaney only has one interaction with “Badass Athlete” before she jumps into his bed. But what actually happens is a series of interactions and flirty texts over a good amount of time before the prospect of sleeping together happens.

It’s these interactions that I loved reading about. These two have such great banter and watching them tests each other’s limits with the texts was a treat. It just brought so much tension to the story that I just couldn’t put it down.

But once the “big reveal” is done, I found some of the momentum was lost as they focused on the secrets. Perhaps if the reader didn’t know Maverick’s secret already thanks to his POV, that tension would still be there. But that isn’t the case. However, I really did like how they handle all the “secrets” and the like so it wasn’t a huge impact on my rating.

The Characters:

I loved Delaney and Maverick. They are just great people and the type of characters you really want to see succeed in whatever it is they do. Together, they just complement each other as leads and this story wouldn’t be half as entertaining as it is without them.

The Romance:

SWOON! I definitely found a new book boyfriend in Maverick. He just says all the right things–but is a totally sweet guy too so you know it’s sincere. I loved all their scenes together and couldn’t get enough of their amazing chemistry.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I know what characters I want to see more of and I can’t wait!

updates

–November 4, 2018– Book #2: I Bet You

I really enjoyed this romance! Madden-Mills writes great banter and these two had it. The chemistry is instant. I think I wanted a little more from the plot and a little more from Ryker as a character (most povs are from Penelope). But I enjoyed every page of this book!

Read more of my review in my Blog Tour post!

My Rating: 4/5

I Dare You 4/5 | I Bet You 4/5

overall
With swoon-worthy heroes and entertaining characters to boot, this is an addicting series to read!

Read if You Like: college romances, jock heroes, hot romance
Avoid if You: dislike sport romances

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Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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