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Fresh Fridays: Edge of Glory (Friendship, Texas #1) by Magan Vernon

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:

Friendship, Texas Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Edge of Glory (from Goodreads):
“Welcome to Conti’s. I’m Lia and I’ll nguhhhhhhhhhhhhh”.

I froze. Directly facing me was Olympic swimmer, Jay Morningstar… and I just made an idiot of myself.

The rest of the table looked up to see me standing there with my mouth practically gaping. His coach, who I recognized from TV interviews, and even two other swimmers from the Olympic team… they didn’t say anything, they didn’t even blink.

“Uh… I mean…”

I couldn’t even put together my words and Jay Morningstar was just staring at me with that Wheaties box smile and those icy blue eyes.

What was I supposed to say? Sorry I just made a weird noise, it’s just that I have a poster of you on my wall where you are wearing nothing more than your gold medals, a smile, and a pair of man panties?

breakdown

Series: Friendship, Texas
Author: Magan Vernon
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #2.5 Meeting Virginia

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Books 5-7 will be released in the future
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this on Netgalley but I didn’t have the time to request it. I was excited by the prospect of reading about an Olympic swimmer–a sports athlete I hadn’t come across in any other sports romance. Plus, I love when famous people fall for everyday people.

So I was super excited when I saw this as a title for Kindle Unlimited and moved it to the top of my list. Add to that, the Summer Olympics in Rio had just ended and I was in a bit of an Olympic withdrawal. (I live on my couch for 2 weeks watching everything).

What I Liked:

–Jay–

Jay was super adorable and said all the right things. He’s exactly what you want when you think about your favourite celebrity when he falls in love with you: a totally sweetheart. But I also liked that he had his flaws and that he was trying his best to work on them.

–Lia’s Lack of Self-Confidence–

Lia had a lot of growing to do in this novel and I think she does a great job with that. I like that she is able to see her self-worth because of their relationship but doesn’t define herself through the relationship. Meaning, she doesn’t become this girl who can’t live without her boyfriend.

–Lia’s Family & The Town–

Lia’s family was hilarious, especially her brother. While they felt a little cliche, I definitely enjoyed their scenes.

The same goes for the rest of the town and the other characters. There are a lot of potential stories here and I’m really curious to learn more about these characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Felt like Lia was 16, Not 20–

At times, this story read like a Young Adult novel. The restrictions Lia seemed to think her parents placed on her were frustrating to read about. For goodness’ sake: she’s 20! I think she can go out on a date without her parent’s permission… I know everyone’s family is different but it just bothered me. It was definitely something for her to work on (it goes hand in hand with her self-confidence issues)

But it gave this story a younger vibe that I never really recovered from.

–The Perception I Should Know Everyone–

I knew that this series takes place in the same town as another series, Forever Sweet which I had never read. I really don’t think that that much intersects but I felt like I was on the outside looking in. Like I was supposed to know all these people in this world already–like Jay’s famous sister. It’s not a huge deal but it did rub me the wrong way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really like that Magan Vernon is letting fans vote for who the next lead(s) should be. There are so many potential stories out of this little town so I’m curious to see what happens next.

My Rating: 3/5

Edge of Glory 3/5 | Rumour Has It TBA | Part of Me TBA | The One that Got Away TBA

overall

I thought this was really cute and I enjoyed it but I wanted a little more from it.

Read if You Like: sweet new adult, sports
Avoid if You: want more spice

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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

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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: Trapped by Beverley Kendall

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:

Trapped by Beverley Kendall | Trapped Series

The Trap (Trapped, #0.5) 

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite new New Adult Series 2014
Series: Trapped

This series intersects with Kendall’s other series, Unforgettable You, just before book 2 in the series, Always for You. However, you do not need to read that series to read this series.

Author: Beverley Kendall
# of Books: 2 (Trapped, Tamed)

There is a prequel novella for Trapped called The Trap (it’s FREE) that I recommend you read before you read Trapped.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary, Second Chances
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

Every since I saw the synopsis for Trapped, I’ve been counting down the days to read it. Though I didn’t love Beverley Kendall’s other full New Adult novel, Only for You, I did love its novella that took place after with a different set of characters (All Over You). So I wasn’t going to give up on her yet!

I started by reading the prequel novella, The Trap, which is FREE on all major eRetailers. I highly recommend that you read this novella before you read Trapped because it really sets the context for everything and does so better than the full novel did. I think reading the novella helped give me some sympathy (or at the very least understanding) towards the characters that I wouldn’t necessarily have had if I had just read the novel. Because let’s face it, Mitch is a bit of a jerk for doing what he did regardless; but getting the full story thanks to the novella helped me grow to like him in Trapped.

Trapped was great! Normally I’m not a huge fan of second chance romances because I find them very predictable but this one wasn’t entirely predictable in the sense that there are a few other plotlines going on that add interesting twists to everything. I found that very refreshing. It was a slower plot but I always found that it kept my attention

As for the characters, I thought everyone was great. Mitch and Paige were much more mature than Kendall’s other leads in Only for You despite being the same age and friends with them. They were also super cute together and weren’t over the top in anything that they did. The hotter scenes between them aren’t numerous but I’m glad that was the case because I think it would have taken away from the story. The other supporting characters were just as interesting as Mitch and Paige but they didn’t overshadow them in anyway which was super nice. But, I am excited to read book 2, Tamed, when it comes out next year! (I can’t find any further information on this sequel so I’m not sure if it is happening or not!)

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed The Trap and Trapped. They were refreshing in the sense that they were realistic with a dash of dramatics that one expects in a New Adult fiction read. Those who like second chance romances (especially with unexpected pregnancies) will really enjoy this one!

Rating: 4/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: Perhaps

Similar Reads: Forever Innocent by Deanna Roy (The Forever Series #1); Only for You by Beverley Kendall (Unforgettable You Series #1) and Fallen too Far by Abbi Glines (Too Far/Rosemary Beach Series #1)

Synopsis for Trapped (from Goodreads):
My life has turned out to be such a cliché. And not in a good way.

It’s not exactly Sixteen and Pregnant, but at eighteen my only advantage is a high school diploma. And if that’s not enough, the father—and I use that term loosely—couldn’t have hightailed it out of my life fast enough.

I thought I really knew him. Unfortunately, my boyfriend of three years transformed from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde once he realized his carefree, childless days would be coming to an end.

I’m over him now though. The real love of my life is chubby, has more gum than teeth, and stands a little over two feet tall. She may not have been planned, but I’ve never regretted having her. She is the center of my world.

A world that’s been turned upside down when Mitch returns ready to earn the love and trust of the child he abandoned before birth.

Letting him into my daughter’s life is one thing but letting him back into mine isn’t going to happen. Ever.

Now if only I can get my heart to heed the lessons of the past.

Series Review: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Series: Tantalize
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
# of Books: 4 (Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, Diabolical)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Vampires, Werewolves, Angels, Dark
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: I have not read the fourth and final book in the series, Diabolical, and I don’t plan to.

I was really excited to read Tantalize and when I saw my library had it, I dashed to go get it. It sounded unlike anything I had ever read before and I was interested to see where it was going to go.

And it was unlike anything I read before. It was darker but also slightly disturbing in terms of a certain relationship Quincie develops with an older man. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and not in a good way. It was cliché and not at the same time–which is hard to describe but it you ever read it you would understand. It was like a mash of teen stereotypes in one book topped with some teenage angst. It wasn’t as much fun as I hoped it would be.

I probably wouldn’t have read the next book, Eternal, if it wasn’t for the sample we got at the end of the book. Somehow it sucked me in and I wanted to read it. I enjoyed it more than Tantalize but I also didn’t love it. It was dark and if I recall correctly I didn’t love the direction it ended up going. But, it was different from other books out there so I enjoyed it in that respect.

I honestly don’t remember what happened in Blessed but I know that it left me with no desire to see what happens in the fourth book, Diabolical.

Conclusion:

I think some people will like the unconventional aspects of this series. In theory, it’s a cool mashup of paranormal trends but poorly executed. Although it’s a different spin on the young adult paranormal genre, it still has a lot of what people expect of the genre and what they probably don’t like about young adult series (aka teenage angst). But it definitely isn’t for everyone and I think most people will not enjoy it as a series.

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (Paranormalcy Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Tantalize (from Goodreads):

Are you predator or prey?
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SANGUINI’S: A VERY RARE RESTAURANT IS HIRING A CHEF DE CUISINE. DINNERS ONLY.
APPLY IN PERSON BETWEEN 2:00 AND 4:00 PM.
Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything?

Series Review: Wanted by Amanda Lance

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Freebie Series 2014
Series: Wanted
Author: Amanda Lance
# of Books: 2 (Wanted, Conviction)

The book, Outlaw, is Wanted retold from Charlie’s POV

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Dark, Crime, Suspense
Heat Rating: gets warm
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

One of my favourite books is a novel called Stolen by Lucy Christopher. It’s about a girl who gets abducted by a boy and the novel is told as a letter to her captor. It was so intriguing and unlike anything I have ever read and it’s always in the back of my mind. So when I saw the premise for Wanted one day when browsing the free bestseller’s list on Amazon, I immediately grabbed it (and eventually its sequel when it was available for free as well).

I’ve read a lot of crappy free books but this wasn’t one of them. The writing was well done (though it would be nice to have some page breaks when things change to keep things straight) and Ms. Lance does a great job describing the scene and how Addie is feeling. I really liked Addie as a character and I enjoyed the rest of the cast as well.

I was worried about the romance between Addie and Charlie but I have to say it really grew on me. I saw their connection and liked how they interacted. But, I didn’t like how quickly everything happens (but I’m not surprised because it is an extreme situation and things always escalate quickly in those situations) and the age difference between them. Addie is extremely mature for her age (even before the whole abduction thing) but she is only 17 and I think I would have had an easier time with things if she was 19 years old instead.

I was excited to see where Conviction was going to go and I quickly dove into it. I didn’t love it as much as I liked Wanted but I did enjoy it. I just didn’t find it as exciting and suspenseful but it does pick up near the end. And while I was more accepting of their relationship in Wanted, I found myself a little uncomfortable with their relationship now. The inner psychologist in me found a few things unsettling and I just didn’t like Addie as much as I used to. But, don’t let that discourage you from reading the series because it does compliment the story well.

I will be picking up Outlaw because I’m intrigued to read why Charlie does what he does in Wanted so I’m looking forward to that.

Conclusion:

This series isn’t for everyone and I think a lot of people will have a hard time accepting the relationship between Charlie and Addie. It isn’t the normal everyday relationship between a heroine and a hero and that is why I liked it, but I know others won’t.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Stolen by Lucy Christopher and Addicted to Him by Lauren Dodd

Synopsis for Wanted (from Goodreads):

Considering she’s a girl who calculates everything, Addie Battes knew the statistical probability of being abducted in her lifetime—too bad she never analyzed the odds of falling in love with her captor.

While stopping at a crowded rest area one summer night, seventeen-year-old Addie accidentally catches a truck hijacking in progress. Desperate to rid the crime of its only witness, one of the thieves kidnaps Addie. Yet surprisingly, when a renegade thief attempts to silence her for good, Addie is saved by the very man who abducted her. Now, forced on board a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean, Addie finds herself surrounded by international smugglers who want nothing more than to throw her overboard.

All except the artistic and intriguing Charlie Hays, whose strange protectiveness convinces Addie to trust him, even when common sense tells her otherwise. Yet, despite her doubt, and his unrelenting temper, their relationship develops into something much more. But, Charlie’s scorned colleague has stowed away, and as he seeks revenge against his coworker, Addie and Charlie are forced to put their new love—and lives—at risk.

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.