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Series Review: The Truth She Knew by J A Owenby

Synopsis for The Truth She Knew (from Goodreads):
Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me.
For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a rollercoaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love.

But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair.

Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth.

The Truth She Knew offers an honest and powerful glimpse into mental illness, the meaning of true love, and the psychological waltz that a daughter dances as she endures her mother’s unpredictable emotions, manipulation, and abuse.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: The Truth
Author: J A Owenby
# of Books: 3 (The Truth She Knew, Echoes Beneath, Whispers of Hers)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2016 – July 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

This is just a review of the first novel, The Truth She Knew.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE advocate for mental health. I think people often stay focused on the physical health of a person; I’m guilty of it at times as well because that’s what my job focuses on. But mental health is such a massive factor in a person’s overall health. I think we’ve come a long way in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health but we’ve still got a long way to go.

So when I saw that this book dealt with the impact a parent’s mental condition can have on their child, I desperately wanted to read this book! I’ve come across this premise in other books but rarely does the protagonist not know about the parent’s condition and so I was interested to see how it was dealt with here.

What I Liked:

–The DRAMA!!!–

I’m not one for unnecessary dramatics so when I find a novel that has the right amount of drama & it’s given in the right way, I feel like I’ve struck gold.

This story does that.

Everything just builds up as you read which makes this book pretty addicting. But what I liked was that the drama all stems from something. Whether’s it’s the result of Lacey’s actions or her mother–nothing ever felt like it was added simply for shock factor. It all serves a purpose and one that contributes to the grand scheme of things.

–That it is Set in the 1980’s–

I don’t read a lot of contemporary novels that don’t take place in the last 10 years. I loved how these characters had to call the home phone or use a payphone to contact each other then simply shooting off a text to their cellphone. It just brings a simplicity to the story that I like. Plus, it reminded me of my younger days (though I was born in the 1990’s–just sayin’).

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Love–

Maybe in the 1980s people fell in love really fast–I’m sure there are stats out there that can prove that–but I didn’t love how the romance progressed here. Mind you, I wasn’t reading this novel for the romance so it wasn’t a huge factor; I just thought it all happened really suddenly even though I enjoyed the dramatics it brought to the story.

–Everything Happens at the End!–

The shit literally hits the fan in the last few chapters of this novel and it just makes you wish the book didn’t end! It all just reaches its climax and you are left wondering: what is going to happen next?!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really want the next book to focus more on the mental illness aspect of this story. While it was present here, I want to see Lacey grow more from her experience still. And some resolution to the other dramatics would be great 🙂

My Rating: 3/5

The Truth She Knew 3/5  | Book 2  TBR

overall

This is a heartbreaking story that will definitely touch its readers. In particular, The Truth She Knew does a great job of building up this story for its sequel. While my rating is lower here, I know that great things are in store and I can’t wait to read them!

Read if You Like: books dealing with mental health
Avoid if You: want a straight romance novel

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J A Owenby

J. A. Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

She’s a published author of six short stories and is beginning her first full length novel. J.A. doesn’t mess around when it comes to working with a professional team in order to present her best writing.

She also runs her own business and helps people find jobs they love as a professional resume writer.

She is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and pop tarts. Her downtime consists of a beautiful summer evening, snuggling with her hubby outside underneath the stars. If it’s winter, listening to the rain and watching NFL football.

You can follow the events of her upcoming novel on https://www.facebook.com/JAOwenby

Author Links: Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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Series Review: Furious Rush by S C Stephens

Synopsis for Furious Rush (from Goodreads):
The first in an emotion-fueled, New Adult series from the #1 bestselling author of the Thoughtless novels!

Too fast, too furious—and way too hot to handle…

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense—and strictly forbidden—attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Furious Rush
Author: S C Stephens
# of Books: 1+ (Furious Rush, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Forever Publishing

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Google Play | iBooks | IndieBound | Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance and this one seemed to fit the bill perfectly when I read the synopsis. Rivals falling in love? It doesn’t get much better than this folks!

The world also grabbed my attention. Racing stories are few and far better–or they are for me–and the premise of a young women trying to break into a male-dominated world fascinated me. I dunno how many people remember the Disney Original Movie Motorcrossed, but it was a favourite of mine growing up.

The World:

I know nothing about professional racing but Stephens provides you enough to get easily understand the world. You aren’t bombarded with information nor are you left hanging wondering what the heck is happening.

It was great entering this world and a nice change in pace from the endless Football heroes…

The Plot:

This one started on the slower side for me. While the sexual tension was brimming from the get-go, I found the drama took awhile to reach its peak. In hindsight, it’s a great set-up for the rest of the series but I just felt like there were too many open-ended questions left.

The Characters:

Kenzie was a strong heroine. She sticks to her convictions even when the world is telling her not too. Her love and loyalty for her family is commendable and two of her best attributes. It made it easy for me to root for and empathize with her as the story progressed.

Hayden is the bad boy with a heart of gold that you can’t help to fall for. One of the nice things about not getting his POV is the mystery of who he is and why. I loved uncovering more about him as Kenzie did. I forget how nice only having a single POV can be in terms of suspense.

The Romance:

These two are perfect for each other and I love how obvious that is early on. If it is a forbidden romance, you need to convince me that these two belong together–and Stephens does that excellently! It was great watching these two fall in love, fighting every obstacle in their way!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I felt a lot of things were left open-ended so I’m very curious to see what is going to happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Furious Rush 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBA

overall
It was super refreshing to have a sports novel set in a non-traditional sport like racing. The forbidden love aspect provides the perfect slow burn romance to keep you eager for more. Plus, the drama promises lots of fallout in the novels to come!

Read if You Like: sport-based novels, drama, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike slow burn romance

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About S C Stephens:
S. C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Website| Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Series Review: Narrow Gate by Amyrn Cross

Synopsis for The Broken Crown (from Goodreads):
Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave 2016, Fave Heroine
Author: Amryn Cross
# of Books: 2+ (The Broken Crown, The Desolate Reign)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Desolate Reign , will be published in 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I will admit that I was first drawn to this title thanks to its cover. The colours, the title itself and the artwork seemed to promise me great things. And then I read the synopsis and was immediately sold. This story seemed to be what I wanted The Selection to be: a romantic yet politically intriguing novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Emilia seemed like she’d be a kick-ass heroine thanks to her military past and I couldn’t wait to see if she would be the next great heroine for me.

This book literally had everything I love about YA fantasy and I couldn’t wait to start it!

The World:

What I really loved about this world is the use of religion as the main political source for tension. Most High YA Fantasy novels use magic/powers or a caste system to entice conflict; but here, it all stems from religion. How realistic is that? Very if you ask me. I enjoyed reading about a world that wasn’t flowing with magic but instead looked at something we have in our own world and something everyone has had a brush with at one point or another.

Now, don’t let that scare you into thinking this book is all about religion. It doesn’t push some agenda other than the characters’ own motivations within the context of the story. I thought it was a great tool and really added depth to this story.

The Plot:


The balance between Emilia’s character development, romance and the political world was perfect. The plot moves at a fast, but constant pace throughout the story. I never got bored thanks to the various twists that happen and the way it shifted seamless from one plot aspect to the next. Amryn Cross has a great talent for writing and it shines in this novel.

The premise of Emilia competing amongst other princesses for the princes hand was very a la The Selection for me–but this was what I wanted the The Selection to be. Instead of a whinny girl who resists the opportunity to change the system, Emilia sees the opportunity for what it is and makes the best of it. Her trying to navigate this new world was such a thrill to watch. It made the story just as dangerous as it could be and that won major points with me.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Emilia as a character. I loved that she learned from her mistakes and that she wasn’t this flawless princess nor was she so flawed that she was jaded and hard to like. She’s strong and independent but knows that she can’t do this alone and she doesn’t resist change. She’s a fighter and a thinker and she easily makes my list of favourite heroines ever. Emilia seemed so real to me and I just really loved that.

As for the rest of the characters, they are fabulous. Well crafted and well developed even if Emilia takes centre focus. Everyone complimented the story so well that I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Romance:

While I feel like I predicted the romance situation pretty early on, I can’t say that I know how it is all going to end. I LOVED the romance here. I swooned, I sighed and I really got absorbed into it all. I liked that is shined when it needed to but took a step back to let the other parts of the story develop.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! I can’t wait! Honestly, I feel like everything is just getting started! There are so many promising story lines to work with in The Desolate Reign that I cannot wait to see what happens next!

My Rating: 5/5

overall
If you want a great fantasy novel that shies away from magic and instead focuses on the politics of a kingdom and how one princess tries to change it all, you NEED to read this book!

Read if You Like: stories dealing with politics, kingdoms, strong heroines
Avoid if You: want magic, more romance focused

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Amryn Cross
A tomboy with southern belle roots, Amryn Cross was born and raised in Tennessee where she learned the importance of God, family, Southern hospitality, and football. She’s loved the written word from the time she was a child, convinced the squiggly lines on top of the Hostess cupcake really spelled out a secret message.

Amryn is a proud momma to two adorable puppies–Argo and Luna–who provide lots of laughs and kisses. She is also an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and My Book Therapy (MBT) and answers writers’ forensic questions at Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Series Review: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles by Katie Hamstead

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

book2 book2

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Princess of Tyrone (from Goodreads):
Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone.

All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable.

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms.

But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever.

A quirky, adventurous retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a less than princess-ly princess!

breakdown

Series: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles
Author: Katie Hamstead
# of Books: 2 (Princess of Tyrone, Myths of Mish, Dwarves of Calcus)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Dwarves of Calcus, will be published March 2018
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person & Third Person
Publication Date: March 31, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore Fairy Tale retellings and reading the Lunar Chronicles earlier this year really reminded me of that. It also reaffirmed my love for Science Fiction reads. So when I saw the Blog Tour sign-ups for Princess of Tyrone–a fairy tale retelling set in another galaxy–I just had to sign up!

The Concept / The World:

Not only is it a retelling of my favourite princess (Sleeping Beauty) but it takes place in space! I love stories told in other galaxies that mirror Earth but have way cooler technology.

This world really reminded me of the one we get in the TV show Once Upon a Time, where the various fairy tales are woven together via their characters. (ie The idea that fairy tales share the same characters) My favourite aspect of this story was learning about the history of the galaxy and how all the different fairy tales fit in with each other. I won’t spoil it, but I really enjoy the path it takes through this.

I’m picky about my magic in my stories but I found this one was straight forward and easy to follow. You have curses at play and fairy godmothers so it could be complicated but I had no problems whatsoever.

The Plot:

I will not lie, I really misread the first part of the synopsis just before I picked this up. I thought Apolline was a pirate not that she lived on a pirate filled planet–so I was expecting a story more like Starflight by Melissa Landers when that really wasn’t the case. Regardless, I figured out pretty quickly I got it wrong and enjoyed the story we got instead.

The plot is definitely more romance and character based for the first half of the book. Apolline and Allard are trying to balance out their new-found relationship and their obligations and it’s cute to watch. I thought they were super adorable together so I didn’t mind the slower pace though I craved a little more to the story.

What I craved makes an appearance in the later half of the book and that was when I couldn’t put the story down. When everything comes together and character pasts and identifies are revealed, it was so much fun to read! This book definitely built itself up and it was worth it!

The Characters:

It may surprise you to hear that Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite princesses. I know it surprises me. Normally, I like my princesses with a little spunk and Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, isn’t that spunky. She is also your classic damsel in distress, so she gives the appearance that she isn’t independent. However, I really like the romance of her story (true love’s kiss) AND I like that she has met and fallen in love with him before everything happens (at least in the Disney Version). I’m a romantic sucker like that.

(I also think the animation is beautiful in that movie)

So I really liked that Apolline could take care of herself. She has a great shot (literally) and doesn’t need someone to save her. Simply put, she kicks major bum. She’s everything you expect in a princess (kind and caring) but there is something so real and genuine that I think girls will like and connect with her.

Allard was a charming and genuine character as well. He was so easy to like as was the rest of the cast. I really grew to like all of these characters and I found myself very invested in their happily ever afters.

The Romance:

This is definitely a romance novel first and foremost with a little action thrown in near the end. I loved watching everything develop before my eyes. In particular, I liked seeing the romance build-up because it let me understand why these characters are draw to each other. I have no complaints here about how the romance worked out. It was everything I expected.

New Adult or Young Adult?

While the characters are definitely of the “New Adult” variety (ie 21), this story read more like a Young Adult novel. Meaning it isn’t some hot, passionate romance that you are watching unfold, rather a tame, emotional connection. I think this is a great novel for those looking to jump into the New Adult world from the YA one or for those who are tired of contemporary NA reads.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to delve deeper into this world. Hamstead has created a truly fascinating world that has my full attention. I can’t wait to see what the next story (which features different characters) has in store!

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
It took me a while to get into this story, but once I saw the bigger picture and more history and characters were revealed, I was totally on-board. This series has great potential and fans of quirky fairy tale retellings will enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: fairy tale re-tellings, science fiction, non-contemporary NA
Avoid if You: want more than a romance, dislike fairy tales

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Katie Hamstead
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.
When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels now available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publishing.
Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Author Links:

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Fresh Fridays: Devious Minds by K F Germaine

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:

Devious Minds Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Devious Minds (from Goodreads):
When Sydney Porter transfers to Northern University, she’s ready to put her past behind her. Landing a job on campus as an irreverent radio personality, she uses the anonymity to air all the campus dirty laundry—earning the infamous Sunday Lane more than a few enemies. But her true passion is spinning records, even if Drunk Earl is her biggest fan.

Sydney’s junior year kicks off with the promise to be amazing. Or at least it does until Gray Peters, hotshot quarterback, unexpectedly reenters the scene. His presence threatens to destroy everything she has going, as well as resurrecting a night Sydney never wants to remember or repeat. She’d run away like a coward, but this time she’s determined to stay and fight.

A twisted battle of wit and trickery ensues, with one common goal—vengeance. Sydney and Gray set out to make each other miserable. But misery loves company, and soon, walls are destroyed and truths are revealed that could change their future forever.

*** Contains mature situations and language ***

breakdown

Series: Devious Minds
Author: K F Germaine
# of Books: 1+ (Devious Minds, TBA)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, a sequel book will be published in 2016
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Second Chance, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read2Review provided by author–eBook  |  Thank you K F Germaine!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book on NetGalley and was about to request it but when I went back it was gone 🙁 Lucky for me, the New Adult reading group on Goodreads that I am a part of had made arrangements with K F Germaine to offer this book for anyone who wanted to review it. I pounced on the chance!

The key word for me in the synopsis was “vengeance”. I’m a sucker for books where people fall in love with their “mortal enemy” and the use of that word “vengeance” filled me with promise. Promise of lots of sexual tension, a mysterious past encounter and lots of drama.

Needless to say, I was stoked to read this one!

What I Liked:

–The Drama–

This book had more going on than just a romance.

All the back and forth hi-jinks kept me entertained even if I didn’t totally like what was done (which I will comment on later). And even moving away from the conflict between the two leads, the subplots were also really interesting! They linked up perfectly with the main story and never took away from the real focus of the book which is essentially the romance and the subsequent character growth. I felt like everything was really balanced when it came to the delivery which made it really easy–and addicting to read.

–Their Past–

Normally, second chance romances aren’t really my thing but this really isn’t your typical second chance romance. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I loved learning bits and pieces about their previous encounters and seeing how those interactions shaped them into the people we get today. Which leads me to:

–The Character Development–

I will admit, I didn’t like Gray or Sydney when I first met them. They were mean, mean people and they weren’t afraid to show it. But all of that changed the more I read about them.

As you learn more about their individual pasts, their characters start to make more sense to you. You see why Sydney has the attitude she does and why she acts a certain way when it comes to her brother. With Gray, it wasn’t until I learned about their past together that made me understand his character. And once that got revealed, I easily found myself rooting for these characters.

I love a book that can make me change my impression of a character (or two) simply by reading more. I think it shows the strength of the character development in this book.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Some of the Antics–

I thought a lot of the things these two do to each other–in terms of vengeance–were a little extreme. It made them seem cruel, thus enticing my dislike of them. It took me a while to get past that but as I said before, that changed the more I read.

Some were just over the top dramatic which made things very entertaining to read. They were exactly the type of things I expected, it’s just that these crueller ones did some minor damage to my reading entertainment.

–the quickness of the romance–

This is definitely more of a personal quip than anything because I truly did enjoy the romance! It wasn’t apparent to me at the start why these two would like each other because they seemed like polar opposites. However, once again, the more I read the more I saw why these two would work together.

I just thought things escalated rather quickly in terms of their feelings. There was a lot of sexual tension there so I understood why things happened the way that they did, I just personally wanted more. (ie I really enjoyed watching these two and wanted more…so I guess that really isn’t something to complain about)

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I thought this was going to be a standalone but I read on Germaine’s blog that there will be a sequel with a different set of leads. I am super excited to see who these new leads will be and can’t wait to read the next one!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really, really enjoyed this one! Devious Minds was a great New Adult book that had me chuckling and swooning as I read. It started a little rocky with this characters but I quickly got absorbed into their world. Very, very entertaining and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next!

Read if You Like: New Adult romance, character development, second chances
Avoid if You: don’t like revenge game premises

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Series Review: Contours of the Heart by Tammara Webber

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

Easy by Tammara Webber | Contours of the Heart Series

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Read 2014 (Easy)
Series: Contours of the Heart
Author: Tammara Webber
# of Books: 4 (Easy, Breakable, Sweet, Brave)
Book Order: Overlapping + Connected

(Breakable is a prequel to Easy but is also an alternative POV of Easy); Sweet & Brave is Connected

Complete?: No, Brave, will be published in the near future
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Mature Subject Matter
Heat Rating: very warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

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

Easy is one of these New Adult reads that seems to be everywhere. I see it all the time I log into Kobo and all of my friends on Goodreads have read it and rated it very high so my curiosity was peaked. I wasn’t a fan of the vague synopsis but when my library got a digital copy of it, I grabbed it right away.

I’m glad I did–this book was great! It was a good blend of romance and cuteness but it also had some very intense moments that I thought were handled extremely well when compared to other reads of the genre.

I feel like I should mention that one of the main topics in this book is sexual assault and in particular, rape. I know that this makes a lot of people uncomfortable but it is a fact of everyday life that this occurs throughout the world. The opening chapter of the book describes Jackie’s assault and it was very hard to read and get past. So be prepared that this may strike a cord with you. Nothing is graphically described but you can easily get a clear picture of what is happening to her.

I know it will also probably upset some people regarding how Jackie handles the situation but I also found it to be realistic. There are some facts at the end of the book that capture the realism surrounding this topic. So while I personally don’t support her way of dealing with the problem, I could understand why someone would choose to follow that course of action and I tried to not let that dampen my respect or like for her.

Reading this book reminded me a lot of Veronica Mars’ third season–just without the funny wit and mystery solving. But both the book and the 3rd season deal with rapes and the Greek university system so I was used to this subject matter in these settings.

There is one part of this book that is very predictable–like I called it within reading the single sentence but I enjoyed watching everything unfolded despite that. I really felt the connection between the two of them and thought they were a good match for each other so I am happy on the romance front.

Breakable is described as a prequel and alternative retelling of Easy. DON’T read the synopsis unless you have read the book because it will be a spoiler. I’m really excited to read it because I feel like it will add another dimension to the story told in Easy.

UPDATED (Oct 5/14): I just finished Breakable and I have to say it was fantastic! It was everything I thought it would be. I was great getting the other side to this story and learning about this particular character’s past. Although it was pretty long (it’s 50 pages longer than Easy but it is longer than the average New Adult read) I never felt bored or dragged on. The flipping back and forth from the past to the current really drew me in, despite the fact that I already knew what was happening in the current since I read Easy. Just very well done and fans of Easy will love this hands down!

Although nothing appears to be planned for other books in this series, on Tammara’s website she has stated that Breakable is last we will see of Jacqueline’s story. However, she might write about other characters in the series. I personally hope that this will be the case because I really want to read about a particular childhood friend of the hero’s sometime in the future 😉 And it looks like I got my wish with the announcement of Sweet, set to be released April 2015!

Conclusion:

For people who don’t enjoy reading about more mature subject matter like sexual assault, you probably won’t enjoy parts of this book. But those who like realistic New Adult reads will like Easy so I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5

Similar Reads: Wait for You… by J. Lynn (Wait for You… #1) and Someone to Love by Addison Moore (Someone to Love #1)

Synopsis for Easy (from Goodreads):
Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

Series Review: The Bad Boys by M. Leighton

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

Series: The Bad Boys
Author: M. Leighton
# of Books: 3 (Down to You, Up to Me, Everything for Us)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm (Down to You); hot (Up to Me & Everything for Us)

Thoughts:

It’s no secret I dislike love triangles so why I decided to read Down to You is a little bit of a mystery to me considering the lead is torn between two brothers’ affections. But I went into this book with a good idea of what I suspected was going on and I really wanted to see if I was right.

This series is nice change from the common New Adult plot of taming a bad boy player with love as it is mostly a suspense series, especially in Up to Me and Everything for Us. Down to You follows more of the New Adult formula of a girl meeting a handsome rich boy who tries to sweep her off her feet but by the end of the book we learn what is really going on and that’s when the plot shifts to one of suspense.

Turns out my hypothesis was wrong but I was happy to be wrong because I really like the plot twist that we get at the end. I was super excited to read Up to Me but by the time I got there, I was really disappointed.

Part of the problem was the way the plot unfolds. It wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as I expected and I just felt let down. There was so much potential at the end of Down to You that was lost in Up to Me. Disappointing and meh are the two words I would use to describe the plot in Up to Me.

The other part of the problem is Olivia. I found her tolerable in Down to You but by the time I started reading Up to Me I was ready to hurt her. Her immaturity about the whole situation really irritated me and was uncalled for. I’m all for female independence in a relationship but her actions were just plain idiotic and juvenile. I find it hard to read a book when the lead irritates me like that and that really caused me to dislike this book.

Which is why I was excited to read Everything for Us because it focuses on two different characters we have gotten a taste of in the previous two books and that taste was enough to make me want to finish this series despite my disappointment in Up to Me. Unfortunately, this was another disappointment–just not as much as Up to Me. While I enjoyed the little twists, I found it hard to like these two at times. I was satisfied with the way it ended but I didn’t like it as much as I had thought or hoped.

Conclusion:

After all is said and done, I think I could have avoid this series and still have been happy with my life. These books were nice ways to pass the time I suppose, but I didn’t enjoy them as much as the other books I put aside to read these three. They showed a lot of promise but just couldn’t deliver in the ways I expected.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Nothing comes to mind at the moment…

Synopsis for Down to You (from Goodreads):
The scorching tale of one girl, two brothers and a love triangle…that’s not. Olivia Townsend is nothing special. She’s just a girl working her way through college so she can return home to help her father run his business. She’s determined not to be the second woman in his life to abandon him, even if it means putting her own life on hold. To Olivia, it’s clear what she must do. Plain and simple. Black and white. But clear becomes complicated when she meets Cash and Nash Davenport. They’re brothers. Twins.

Cash is everything she’s always wanted in a guy. He’s a dangerous, sexy bad boy who wants her in his bed at any cost. He turns her insides to mush and, with just one kiss, makes her forget why he’s no good for her. Nash is everything she’s ever needed in a guy. He’s successful, responsible and intensely passionate. But he’s taken. Very taken, by none other than Marissa, Liv’s rich, beautiful cousin. That doesn’t stop Olivia from melting every time he looks at her, though. With just one touch, he makes her forget why they can never be together.

Black and white turns to shades of gray when Olivia discovers the boys are hiding something, something that should make her run as far and as fast as she can. But it’s too late to run. Olivia’s already involved. And in love. With both of them. Both brothers make her heart tremble. Both brothers set her body on fire. She wants them both. And they want her. How will she ever choose between them?

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Series Review: The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter

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Series: White Rabbit Chronicles
Author: Gena Showalter
# of Books: 3  4 (Alice in Zombieland, Through the Zombie Glass, …)
Complete?: No, A Mad Zombie Party will be released September 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm *Spicy YA*

Thoughts:

Alice in Wonderland isn’t my favourite book or movie ever. It’s ok but I’ve always found it a little odd and I struggled to read the original book. I never bothered picking up Through the Looking Glass because I just couldn’t handle another round of weirdness. I like odd stories as much as the next girl, but Lewis Carroll is just that little too much over the edge for me. So I think it’s obvious to say that a retelling of Alice wasn’t too appealing to me. But what was appealing to me was “zombies”. My exposure so zombies isn’t that great to be honest. I don’t watch or read The Walking Dead but zombies are a paranormal creature that have always fascinated me so I decided to give this book a shot. Plus they seemed like a lot of fun in Shaun of the Dead 😉

I’m really glad that I did grab this series because I enjoyed both books immensely. They are filled with romance, paranormal creatures, action and feature smart AND mature high school students. I know that last part is a little shocking and it shocked me when I read Alice in Zombieland too.

First, I’ll start with Alice. I really liked her as a heroine. She was strong, brave and while she does suffer from lead-heroine sacrifice syndrome (ie she always has to be the one to save everyone even if it risks herself) I didn’t find it overly annoying. I think it helped that she seemed very mature for her age as did her companions in the book.

The maturity of all the teenagers really stood out to me in this book. This book is definitely for the older young adult crowd, especially Through the Zombie Glass. There are lot of more sexual situations present in these books that often get glazed over in other books–if they are even brought up at all. I would almost classify this book as New Adult except for the fact that all the leads are in high school. (Though when they have normal conversations, they do seem a little odd but I chalk that up to being a parallel to the original Alice in Wonderland with all its oddness)

Speaking of sexual situations, most of those happen to be courtesy of Cole. He is every young adult bad boy fantasy wrapped up into one. I really, really liked his character. I thought he was funny, tough and charming all at once. He has great character development throughout the series as do the other characters. I have to say that by book 2, I was just as invested in the secondary characters as I was in Alice and Cole.

I think what I like most about these books is the layers involved. The romance between Alice and Cole (and the other characters) is one of the main aspects I love but the paranormal aspect of everything is really interesting. While each book has its own plot that begins and ends within that book, there are aspects we learn about the zombie world that carry into the next books that keep you coming back. It goes without saying that these books are non-stop action and something is always going on that causes you to never want to put the book down.

Through the Zombie Glass was even better than Alice in Zombieland in my opinion. So many things came together in this book that I just couldn’t put it down. I didn’t know what was going to happen and what I love about Ms Showalter’s writing is that she isn’t afraid to go places you think she isn’t going to go. Both books have a lot of shocking reveals but Through the Zombieglass went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and one I am super excited to see where it goes in the next book, The Queen of Zombie Hearts.

UPDATED (November 14/14): The Queen of Zombie Hearts was a great way to end the series. It was action-packed, featured lots of twists and turns and was a lot of fun to read. Again, this series went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and I loved the unpredictability. Fans of the series will be happy with how it all wraps up!

Conclusion:

You don’t need to be a fan of Alice in Wonderland or even know the basics to enjoy these books. If you like paranormal action series with bad boy heroes and strong female heroines, grab these two books!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Starling by Lesley Livingston (Starling Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Alice in Zombieland (from Goodreads):
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

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Novella Serial Review: Blurred Lines by Breena Wilde

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

Blurred Lines

Series: Blurred Lines / Wrong John Serials
Author: Breena Wilde
# of Books: 8 (See Goodreads for full Reading Order and Titles)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Erotica, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’

Thoughts:

NOTE: As of August 13, 2013, I have not read Crossed Lines, book #3. I will update this review once I have.

I actually picked up Blurred Lines and Distorted Lines when they were FREE on Amazon. Normally I wouldn’t pay a dollar for a 50 page book but when things are free, I grab them! I also wanted to test out my new Surface tablet’s Kindle Reading App and figured these quick books would do the trick!

That is the one main problem with Blurred Lines–it is was too short. I’m not sure why authors are all following the “serialized” format of releasing books–I guess it is a good way to make some more cash as readers have to pay ~$6 to read the whole series when it would otherwise be listed at $3 or $4. And while I understand why some authors, especially those who are self-publishing, do this, as a reader it pisses me off. I feel like I just get into the story then, BAM! Wait for the next volume to come out in a week. I guess it worked for Charles Dickens back in the day so who am I to criticize? But I wish we could move away from this format–it just causes me to lose interest and is one of my least favourite aspects about the popularity of eReading. This story would make a great novel and I wish that was how it was delivered.

However, despite the shortness of the text, I feel like we get some well-developed characters. Perhaps “developing” is a better word as more about them gets revealed in each volume. I liked Candace as a character overall. She is smart and independent and I find that there is something likeable about her but I’m just not sure what it is exactly. I have a feeling in Crossed Lines I am going to become annoyed with her just because of the way the plot is going–but when all is said and done, I liked her character more than I expected and I liked this book more than I expected. There are a few plot twists along the way that put an interesting spin on things and make me want to read the rest of the series despite the serialization aspect.

I feel like I should mention that this book’s subject matter isn’t for everyone. Despite the label of “New Adult” this book isn’t really what is typically seen in the genre, or at least what a majority of the books contain. It boarders almost on adult erotica but with new-adult aged characters. There is a lot of sex in this book, and not just your regular “vanilla” scenes either but some BDSM scenes that may make some readers uncomfortable. Prostitution is another topic mentioned in the book (in case you don’t catch what “hooking” means in the synopsis below) but I think it is handled in good taste.

Distorted Lines, volume 2, was a nice follow up to Blurred Lines. Again, an interesting twist happens that I think makes the story a bit more exciting though it is again, too short of a book. It is hard to say more without giving away spoilers (because if I did give you a suggestion of what happens, there really is no point in reading the 50 pages is there?) but I enjoyed it, just not as much as Blurred Lines as I feel this book was more of a bridge to the next volume.

Conclusion:

I’m glad I got these books for free from Amazon. I’m not sure if they are worth the dollar because I think I enjoyed them that little bit more because they were a free read–so keep an eye out on Amazon for a sale. Overall, they were a good way to pass the time (and test out my Kindle App on my tablet) and it was nice to read a different type of story not always seen in the New Adult genre. Though it definitely isn’t for everyone–especially those who don’t enjoy really sex-focused reads or serialized stories.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: none come to mind that I have personally read

Synopsis for Blurred Lines (from Goodreads):
*** Cadence lives her life without holding back. She’s all in. Her life is raw, real, and unapologetic. If you aren’t afraid to experience all Cadence has to offer, read this series. ***

Hooking has four important rules.

1. Cash only.
2. Use protection.
3. Carry mace.
4. Don’t fall in love.

Twenty-year-old Cadence is a prostitute and she lives by the rules. They keep her alive and they keep her heart protected. But when she agrees to take one last job to get out from under her pimp, she discovers some of the rules might be worth breaking.

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Book Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Macguire

NOTE: I feel it is important to clarify that this book is actually part of the “Wicked Years” series. However, I have never read, nor do I plan to read, the rest of the books in this series. As such, I have decided to review Wicked as a stand-alone novel.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
In Baum’s land of Oz, animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

Review:

I have never watched the musical Wicked; however, it is on my bucket list and has been on my “MUST SEE” play list for YEARS. It just never fails that when it comes to my area that I can’t make it to the show and I won’t be going to Broadway anytime soon so I decided to read the book in the hopes it would satisfy my craving.

Yeah, that was my first mistake.

I really feel like I should have read the book reviews about this book before I decided to read this book. If I had, I probably would have saved myself the hours it took me to drag myself through this book :S

I just didn’t enjoy this book. It was boring, and just plain weird at times. I also feel like it didn’t answer any of my questions about why the Wicked Witch becomes “Wicked” in the first place. I can see why the events Elphaba has gone through in life would make her “wicked” but it wasn’t enough to convince me. I felt like I should finish the book and sympathize with her character but when I finished, I was indifferent to her. I think the recent Disney movie, Oz, does a WAY better job at explaining the pre-story to the Wizard of Oz than this does.

I only finished this book for the sake of my pride and in the hopes that it would get better. I think for the most part it got a little more interesting for Elphaba once she reaches university but it still wasn’t enough to make me happy that I continued to read the book. I really should have put it down.

From what I have learned, this book is nothing like the musical and thank goodness or else I would be very concerned and curious about how it is so successful!

Conclusion:

This book is definitely more for adults, but I still wouldn’t recommend it for anyone unless they enjoy reading bizarre stories. If you want an interesting prequel for the Wizard of Oz, I highly recommend watching Oz: The Great and Powerful recently released by Disney–much more enjoyable and makes much more sense!

Rating: 1/5
Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Adult, Prequel, Fantasy,
Recommended for: no one, but it is geared more for the 18+ crowd