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Fresh Fridays: Defy The Stars (#1) by Claudia Gray

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:

Defy the Stars Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Defy the Stars (from Goodreads):

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is a seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

breakdown

Series: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 1+ (Defy the Stars, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 4 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was lucky enough to snag one of 500 Read Now copies of Defy the Stars thanks to Lilly @ Lair of Books back in February. I’ve read (and enjoyed) all of Claudia Gray’s YA series in the past so I was excited to see what she could do with her own Science Fiction series (I’ll admit I’ve never read her Star Wars novels).

What I Liked:

–Abel & Noemi–

Noemi is such a strong heroine that you can’t help but love her as she evolves to see the bigger picture of the universe and herself. Abel won me over from the start as well. His character development is probably my favourite part of this novel. Together they make a fabulous team that compliments each other supremely well.

–The World Building–

The universe this story is set in is fabulous; it’s complex and layered but easy to follow at the same time. I never found that aspect to be lacking the entire time I was reading. You don’t have to be overly familiar with technology or other science fiction works to understand the plot.

–Romance Wasn’t the Focus–

Far too often the romance becomes the sole focus of the story. And while I am a huge romance fan, I really liked that it didn’t play a huge role in the novel. It’s a very slow burn type of love and when it is there, it contributes to the story in a positive way instead of a distractor from the main plot-line.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was so Slow!–

For me, the plot was far too slow. It reads more like an adventure book where you get little hiccups of excitement (often only a chapter or two long) along the way. A chapter would end on an awesome note and we would either switch POVs or it would resolve by the end of the next chapter. Then the story would continue at a slower pace until it happens again.

Eventually, you reach a climax at the end where all the threads weave together. The last 25% of the book was fantastic and I can’t help but wish the excitement happened earlier in the novel to keep me interested.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book felt like a very extended prologue laying down the foundations for more exciting sequels and I’m curious to see where it goes from here.

My Rating: 3/5

Defy the Stars 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is perfect for fans of the adventure story. I actually think this is the perfect bridging book for those who want to break out of dystopian novels and try science fiction.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building, adventure stories
Avoid if You: want lots of action
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ARC Review: Feels Like the First Time (Destiny Bay #2) by Marina Adair

ARC Review: I share my review of a brand new release!

Destiny Bay Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Feels Like the First Time (from Forever Publishing):

There are a lot of things Ali Marshal doesn’t do: pink anything, a day without chocolate, and Hawk, her sister’s ex-husband. Sure, he’s a sexy former NHL star who can make her pulse pound with just a wink. But he belonged to Bridget first. And no matter how long she’s had a crush on him, how great he’s always been to her dad, or that her sister is engaged to someone else now and Ali needs a date to their engagement party, she can’t give in to temptation. Can she?

It’s been years since his disastrous marriage crashed and burned, and Bradley Hawk has finally moved on. So when Bridget blows back into town with her new fiancé, throwing the engagement party of the year, he could care less…until Ali tells one little lie that lands him smack dab in a fake relationship. After one promise to be Ali’s date and two of the hottest kisses he’s ever had, Hawk can’t deny how much he wants her. But what happens when this fauxmance starts to feel very, very real?

breakdown

Series: Destiny Bay
Author: Marina Adair
# of Books: 2 (Last Kiss of Summer, Feels Like the First Time)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

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**This post is only a review of the second novel, Feels Like the First Time. It does not include a review of the first book of the series, Last Kiss of Summer.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for fake relationship romances. I find they usually have stronger romances because the two leads actually get to know each other instead of just physical passion all the time. So naturally, that’s what drew me to this novel even though I never read the first novel in the series.

But what really peaked my interest was the fact that the hero was married to the heroine’s sister (I love unconventional romances) and that said hero was a former hockey player (I’m Canadian ‘nough said).

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

In most fake relationship stories, I usually find that only one character has really great growth while the other (usually the person roped into the relationship) sits by the sidelines. But that wasn’t the case here.

While I would say Ali was the main focus on character development, Hawk had fabulous development. Both have to come to grips with the past in order to move forward. I felt like I had nice full characters to read about and I loved that.

–Small Town Vibe–

I love small town settings because it’s super easy to become integrated into the world. You don’t have a revolving door of characters to remember or get acquainted with. The same character appear throughout the series and become integral to the story. They also make you feel like you are a part of the “inside joke” because you are familiar with these character’s antics and know their stories.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Humour Didn’t Stay All the Way Through–

The first few chapters had scenes that made me chuckle out loud. Ali and Hawk had great chemistry in these scenes and I loved watching them navigate these fun scenes.

But the novel loses a bit of that light-heartedness as the story progresses. This isn’t a bad thing as this book does tackle a lot of issues about family and relationships that add in a positive way to the story. Those moments of seriousness were great in developing both the characters and the plot. I just enjoyed watching these two have fun.

My Rating: 4/5

Last Kiss of Summer N/A | Feels Like the First Time 4/5

overall

This is a great read for romance fans who adore small town settings and enjoy more character based stories. It’s light on the sexy times but there is plenty of tension and romance to be had!

Read if You Like: small town, sweet romance
Avoid if You: want more sexy times
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Blog Tour: Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks // Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Cindy Anstey’s debut, Love, Lies and Spies. It had everything I love in a novel: wit, fun and a swoon-worthy romance. As soon as I finished, I had to know what else she had written and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the last year awaiting Duels & Deception.

The Plot:

Anstey has such a talent for writing entertaining stories. Should a kidnapping scene have you laughing out loud? Not likely but Anstey manages to do it. That whole event was super entertaining and it made me wish it lasted longer.

However, I did find the momentum of the novel slowed a bit after the kidnapping chapters. The mystery of who is after Lydia is enticing but unfortunately, I had a pretty good idea of the culprit before the big reveal. What I didn’t guess who how everything was going to be resolved so that had a few good twists for me to read.

The Characters:

Lydia was everything you like in a historical fiction leading lady. She’s as sharp as a whip, a compassionate daughter and definitely independent. If she was real, she would be my best friend.

And starring opposite her is Robert, pretty much the ideal hero. Again, he’s super smart but he is also adorably sweet and caring. He isn’t some over the top hero and I loved how grounded he was.

The rest of the cast is quirky and entertaining and adds to the story’s fun and lighter tone.

The Romance:

SWOON! Talk about two leads who are perfect for each other! Not only did they compliment each other in every way but they also had fantastic banter. I loved every scene with these two in it.

My favourite part was watching these two slowing coming to the realization that they were falling in love. The slow burn romance was so on point!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a perfect read for fans of historical romance who love quirky, witty characters and a romance that has you swooning from the start!

Read if You Like: regency reads, witty leads, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction
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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Single Sundays: Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Royce Rolls (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiance inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.
Really real. Like, not reality show real.

Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.

breakdown

Author: Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Satire, Drama, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Margaret Stohl is a co-author on one of my all time favourite series, Beautiful Creatures. Yet, despite that fact, I’ve never picked up another one of her novels! So when I saw this title on Netgalley, I knew I had to change that depressing thoughts.

One of my favourite TV shows is UnREAL. For those who don’t know, UnREAL gives you a behind the scenes look of what “theoretically” happens on a Bachelor-esque show. It’s so addicting to watch and when I read the synopsis for Royce Rolls, I knew I found that in book form. I love satires on popular culture and I think the world needs a book like this one in our lives to remind us that what we see on TV isn’t always reality.

The Concept:

Like I said before, I love satires on popular culture and what better than the realm of reality TV. I’m one of those people who doesn’t understand the appeal of reality TV shows that are based on celebrities’ “everyday” lives. It’s boring to me and, most of the time, it’s fake.

So having this book explore the nuts and bolts of what makes a reality TV show was a lot of fun. And it’s also intelligent. From the character’s antics to the production footnotes throughout the chapters, this novel is beautifully crafted and so on point to current trends in the reality TV world.

(You can read an interview with Stohl here about her inspiration!)

The Plot:

I liked that the plot wasn’t always about the (often hilarious) antics for the show. You get those moments of character development and mystery as well.

While I enjoyed reading this novel from start to finish, I did feel like the first half of the book was rather slow when it came to the plot. The first half does a create job of establishing the characters and the setting, getting the reader acquainted with the circumstances. But it kind of moseyed along; especially when you compare it to the latter half of the novel which was non-stop plot-movement and suspense.

The Characters:

Bentley’s love for her family is endearing and she is such a likeable heroine that you can’t help but root for her to succeed in whatever she has put her mind to.

The rest of the characters grew on me too. Once you get below the surface of their TV personas, you see that they are real people too who aren’t always who they pretend to be.

The Romance:

Not a huge aspect here but what is here works perfectly for the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Stohl has written a novel packed with wit, hilarity and above all, intelligence. It’s beautifully crafted and so on point with modern popular culture it is nothing but impressive.

Read if You Like: books about reality TV, satires, YA contemporary without a romance focus
Avoid if You: dislike books about hollywood/celebrities

 

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Fresh Fridays: If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles #1) by Anna Harrington

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:

Capturing the Carlisles Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for If the Duke Demands (from Goodreads):

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Regency Romance 2017, New Must Read Author
Series: Capturing the Carlisles

This is a spinoff of the The Secret Life of Scoundrels Series.

Author: Anna Harrington
# of Books: 3 (If the Duke Demands, When the Scoundrel Sins, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, When the Scoundrel Sins, will be published August 2017
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was the main concept of this novel that captured (pun not intended) my attention. I LOVE the romance trope where the two people work together to get the objects of their affections, only to fall in loved with each other. It promises to have a ton of sexual tension, swoon worthy moments and leads you can’t help but root for.

So I was really excited to dive into this series!

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Honestly, I didn’t stop smiling when I was reading this book! It was just pure enjoyment from start to finish for me.

These two were PERFECT for each other and it was so much fun to watch them discover that. I literally got butterflies reading some of their scenes together because they were just so adorable. They had fantastic banter and the chemistry was just dripping off the pages.

But my favourite part was the emotional connection these two develop. It’s my favourite aspect of this trope. They just get each other. The fact that these two grew up together in some capacity provides a solid foundation to start this story off. I liked they they didn’t really like each other until they talked and got to know each other on that intellectual level. And from that, their romantic attraction to each other develops. It’s not just insta-love or physical lust that drives them together. Perfection.

–Miranda–

I find heroines in this genre can be a little over-bearing or rebellious just for the sake of being different. But Miranda is never like that. While she is independent, she’s intelligent about it. She’s willing to fight for things but never in a brash or irresponsible way and that made her extremely likable to me. I couldn’t help but root for her.

And I also liked that she grew as the story progressed. She isn’t this totally confident girl right away and as she learns to accept who she is, she really blossoms.

–The Brothers–

I just love this whole family (which readers are first introduced in Harrington’s How I Married a Marquess). They were just so much fun and quite the cast of characters. I’m really excited to learn more about the brother’s and see how they get “captured”!

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s Over and I Have to Wait for the Next One–

I want the rest of this series NOW! Good thing Anna’s other series is out so I can get into that while I wait.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

With the little teaser we got of When the Scoundrel Sins, I wish that August was next week. It looks like it is going to be just as awesome as its predecessor and I’m so excited to read it!

My Rating: 5/5

If the Duke Demands 5/5 | When the Scoundrel Sins TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If The Duke Demands reminded me why I love historical romances. Swoon-worthy heroes; strong-willed, intelligent heroines and brimming sexual tension from the start. I’m definitely going to be picking up Harrington’s previous works ASAP!

Read if You Like: historical fiction, emotional romances
Avoid if You: want more erotica based
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Fresh Fridays: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

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:

Frostblood Saga

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Frosblood (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: Frostblood Saga
Author: Elly Blake
# of Books: 3 (Frostblood, Fireblood, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Fireblood is to be published in September 2017
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Since 2015, I’ve been devouring any YA fantasy novels that I can get my hands on. They’ve replaced my dystopian obsession (which had replaced my paranormal YA obsession). So, I think it goes without saying that I am a little picky about my fantasies and what I want to see in them.

World-building is a big one. Recently, I’ve found newer series to be lacking that in particular. I don’t want to be thrown into a world and having to figure it out on my own. I also want a heroine or hero I can root for. I don’t need them to be perfect or all powerful, I just want them win me over to their side. And of course, a little romance never hurt anyone. Unless it becomes an unnecessary love triangle: nobody wins with those.

What I Liked:

–The Worldbuilding!–

I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels lately that have something to be desired when it comes to the worldbuilding–but that isn’t the case with Frostblood. I loved that the world was straight-forward but complex all at the same time. Ice vs fire is a battle that is so simple but has a lot of play with it, and that’s what Blake does here.

It takes the time to explain the history of the world and how the magic/powers work, which I greatly appreciate. It also adds a unique flare to the world as well. While readers will probably see parallels to other YA fantasies, this one still had its own refreshing take on the genre that made it so much fun to read.

–Ruby–

I really, really liked her as a heroine. She’s got this sassy, independent side to her that you can’t help but love and root for. Her passion and drive to control her own destiny is exactly what I want to read about in a heroine.

But she also has her flaws and her weaknesses and that makes her a well-rounded heroine who can only grow as this series continues.

–The Pacing–

This novel always felt like it was building. While some of the events might be seen as minor, they all contribute to the plot overall. Whether that was establishing character relationships, giving background on the world or leading to the ultimate plot climax, this story kept me on my toes.

–The Romance–

While not a huge aspect of the novel, it was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The banter between Ruby and Arcus was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

It really isn’t that big of a deal but I did think the story was going to focus more on this “king’s tournament”. So I was expecting a lot of physical action. But truthfully, that particular aspect doesn’t start until past the halfway point.

And in the end, I much preferred the story we get instead building up to that point. There was plenty of action even if it wasn’t of the variety I was necessarily expecting.

In short: don’t expect this book to be about a heroine fighting her way to the top in a tournament, there is so much more at play!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a solid start to a series! I’m not sure what exactly the future will hold but I’m excited to see more of these characters!

My Rating: 5/5

Frostblood 5/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

From the sassy lead to the rich world, this is a fantasy series that will surely entertain!

Read if You Like: fantasy, sassy leads
Avoid if You: dislike action/violence, want more romance
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Series Review: Dark Desires by Zara Cox

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

Dark Desires Series

 booksynopsis

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Liar (Formerly Porn Star) (from Goodreads):
People call me many things: CEO, billionaire, bastard. Q.

I love women. I love sex. I love money. I love hot, wild nights with no promise of a future, because a future is one thing I don’t have. I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.

Nobody plans for a life like this. Some of us just end up here.
They call me Lucky, though luck has never been on my side. Before I met Q, my life was a big, twisted mess. Never enough money, never anyone to trust. No way out. With Q, the shame and fear disappear. Instead I feel pure pleasure, and that’s something I’ve never had before. But if what I’ve just learned is true, we’d better enjoy every second together while we can…before our time runs out.

breakdown

Series: I Series or Dark Desires
Author: Zara Cox
# of Books: 2+ (Beautiful Liar, Black Sheep)

Please Note: Beautiful Liar was previously published as I, Porn Star; and Porn Star

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, a novella is to be published is to be published in March 2017
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Dark, BDSM, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high  |  Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

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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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I’m not going to lie: the title drew me in. I was browsing through my blog reader when Karine @ Bookshelf Dreaming‘s Release Day Blitz for I, Porn Star (what the book was first published as) popped up. Curious, I clicked on it wanting to know more about the story for a book titled “Porn Star”.

Now, depending on what title’s summary you read (“I, Porn Star” vs “Porn Star” and lately “Beautiful Liar”), the synopses differ but the stories are the same. My first impressions of I, Porn Star were that this is a book about two people falling in love while making a series of porn videos. My first impressions of Porn Star were about the same only there was this added element of suspense with the line:

“I’m twenty-eight years old. I won’t live to see thirty, and I don’t care. Or I didn’t, until her.”

Hook, line and sinker.

What I Liked:

–It’s A Dark Read–

It’s been a while since I’ve read a great “dark” romance. It’s hard to totally describe what I mean here but I’ll try.

Some dark romances take things that little bit too far in the hopes they’ll achieve shock factor. I often find these attempts make things seem over the top or almost cheesy. Part of the problem is the use of one-dimensional characters that the reader only knows surface stuff about.

However, where Porn Star succeeds is in its character development. These are complex characters–Quinn in particular is extremely layered–and it shows throughout the novel. So it makes their actions seem polished and expected. I didn’t feel like anything was out of character nor did I feel like they were changing their minds on a dime for unnecessary dramatic effect.

–The Twists–

I really liked how things came out of left field here sometimes; meaning there were a lot of great twists that surprised me. There were aspects of each character’s life that are kept secret until the last minute and they really amp up the story and shock you. It’s been a long time since a book surprised me in that respect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Many Pages–

This is by no means a fast read. There are a lot of pages to get through and it makes the story lag a bit. This book could have easily been 50 pages shorter in my opinion. It just took longer than expected to get to the good stuff (ie the romance and the “mystery”) and I was losing interest just after the halfway point.

I feel like too much time was spent in the exposition. While I appreciate the time taken to get to know the characters and understand their motives, I just wanted to dive into the grittiness of it all. I wanted to start to uncover Quinn’s big plan sooner rather than later. And I also wanted what is described in the synopsis (ie their filming of videos) to happen much sooner than 50% of the way through. Not that I wanted the sex scenes (which were tamer than I expected btw); rather, in the synopsis it seemed like the sex tapes were going to be a major plot point and usually those points are introduced around the 20% mark. I mean, that’s why I am likely reading the book in the first place–that is what’s advertised.

–Insta-Connection Romance–

I’m starting to dislike this insta-connection more so than insta-love. Yes, there is a difference for me even if they do seem pretty synonymous.

Despite the longer exposition, I still didn’t see the connection between Lucky and Q all that much besides their physical attraction. Their romantic feelings seem more implied–like there is some unspoken thing drawing them together. I like things spelled out for me and I didn’t totally get that with the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is a teaser at the end of the Forever Publishing edition for the sequel Black Sheep so I expect it will come out sometime next year. The choice of character is someone we didn’t see all that much in Porn Star but from what I glanced at in the teaser, it looks like it’ll be just as juicy drama-wise as Porn Star

updates

–March 9, 2017– Book #2: Black Sheep

I went into Black Sheep expecting a dark and twisted story…and that is exactly what I got!

This book excelled in everything I wanted it to. A heartbreaking romance, lots of drama and twisted secrets. It’s probably one of the darkest stories I’ve ever read and I loved that.

For me, this book was a vast improvement over its predecessor. The romance is stronger thanks to a great backstory and it tugs on your heartstrings from start to finish. It is also a source of great drama and intrigue as well. Unlike the previous novel, I found the story never truly lagged. There were great plot and dramatic twists along the way that this book was always suspenseful.

This was a highly addictive read for me and one that met every expectation!

My Rating: 3/5

Porn Star 3/5 | Black Sheep 4/5

overall

If you want a dark erotica romance that takes its time, this is the PERFECT novel for you. But if you want something quick and dirty, try another novel.

Read if You Like: dark romance, erotica
Avoid if You: dislike BDSM

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Fresh Fridays: Addicted to You (Port Lucia #1) by Renita Pizzitola

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:

Port Lucia Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Addicted to You (from Goodreads):
In the sleepy fishing town of Port Lucia, everyone knows everyone, but Isla Diaz really knows Colby Callahan, with his blue-gray eyes and the tousled brown hair always tucked sexily into his cap. After all, Isla has been crazy about Colby ever since she can remember—even if he treats her like a kid sister. Now, without her best friend, Felicity, around, Isla spots a golden opportunity to take things to the next level . . . or at least wrangle a kiss out of Colby.

By random chance, a tropical storm is headed toward the coast, leaving them stranded together overnight—and there’s nothing to do but drink. As the evening wears on, Isla gets the feeling that her not-so-secret crush may finally release her from the friend zone. With her dreams finally coming true, Isla isn’t about to pump the brakes, but is this just a one-time thing? What if the next morning, she needs more than Colby’s prepared to give?

Little does she know, Colby would like nothing more than a real relationship with Isla. She’s always been the one. But there’s a very good reason he’s been keeping his distance. Someone else loves her too, someone who also means the world to Colby: his brother.

breakdown

Series: Port Lucia

This series intersects with the 3rd novel of the Crush Series.

Author: Renita Pizzitola
# of Books: 1+ (Addicted to You, Book 2)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Renita’s Crush Trilogy. Cade from Just a Little Flirt is on my list of Ultimate Book Boyfriends so I think it goes without saying, I like Renita’s works.

So I was really excited to start her new series! It wasn’t until I started reading it and they mentioned characters from Just a Little Kiss that I remembered we briefly meet the stars of this new series in the old one. I remember being eager to see what was going to happen next thanks to the little tidbits we got. And when I read the synopsis, even with the promise of a love triangle, I was excited to get started!

What I Liked:

–This is a Spin-Off!–

I’m embarrassed that it took me a chapter or two to realized this was a spin-off. We got a little taste of Isla and the Callahan boys in Just a Little Kiss so I’m always up getting those new stories just waiting to be told.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Love Triangle (And for the reason you think!)–

For the first 50% of the book, I wouldn’t have known there was a love triangle if the synopsis hadn’t told me. I even contemplated excluding that portion of the synopsis from this blog post because it is a huge spoiler! (In my opinion).

You really don’t know where Colby’s stance is and his feelings for Isla (we don’t get his POV at all). His reservations aren’t really mentioned until you are past the 50% mark and to me, that’s not where something mentioned in the synopsis should be. It should be in the first 20% of the novel.

–Not a Lot Happening–

There was no drama besides Isla fretting over their hook-up (and rightfully so) and Colby going from hot-to-cold without “knowing” why (but you do as the reader because of the synopsis giving it away!). So that made for a boring read for a good majority of the book. I wanted something to focus on besides their “love-triangle” that had yet to be introduced and that wasn’t happening.

–Lack of Colby’s POV–

I think this would have been a much more enjoyable if we got Colby’s POV. Insight into his thought-process would have added a depth to this story that was seriously lacking. He really doesn’t get elaborated on besides Isla’s commentary about how amazing he is. I wanted to see for myself how amazing he was and I didn’t feel like I got that.

I also think it would have pushed the love triangle aspect of this novel to the forefront early in the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I feel like Addicted to You was just a missed execution on the love triangle trope. I know Renita can write solid NA reads, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she has in store for these Callahan boys.

My Rating: 2/5

Addicted to You 2/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

A blah start to a series but the potential is there!

Read if You Like: slower stories, “sweet” romance
Avoid if You: want more drama, want more spice, dislike love triangles

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Series Review: Love Unplugged by Jamie Howard

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

Love Unplugged Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for All the Ways You Saved Me (from Goodreads):
Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.

Law school? Check.

Camera-ready smile? Check.

A dull and boring existence? Double check.

But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend’s unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.

It’s while she’s checking off her first item on the list–buy coffee for a stranger–that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he’s a complication Bianca doesn’t need but desperately wants.

With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she’s buried under what’s expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she’s willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author –> Favourite Author
Series: Love Unplugged
Author: Jamie Howard
# of Books: 2+ (All the Ways You Saved Me, The Feeling of Forever)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 3 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

disclaimernetgalley

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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you’ve been following my blog at all this year, you should know that I found one of my new favourite authors in Jamie Howard. Her novel, Until It’s Right is one of my all-time favourite NA reads–like I plan on rereading it over the years to come–because it is perfection. So when I was asked if I wanted to read her latest novel, I think you know what my answer was…after I jumped around like my butt was on fire!

Image result for jumping freaking out gif

Even if Howard wasn’t the one to write this one, the premise of All the Ways You Saved Me sounded fantastic. It promised to have amazing character growth accompanied with a heartwarming romance. And given my experience with Howard’s other works, I knew that was just what I was going to get!

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

Without a doubt, this is the strongest aspect of this novel. If you want a solid NA story where both characters transform before your eyes: this is it.

Bianca was a great lead! I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect with her given her family background but I didn’t find that to be the case. I think anyone who has dealt with pressures from someone else on how to live their life with empathize with her. I loved her story from start to finish.

But it was really Ian’s story that really surprised me. I didn’t expect to love him as much as I did! His story is told as flashbacks to the past and I thought that was a great method. Instead of simply getting told during some “grand reveal” scene, the reader gets to experience what he went through–and let me tell you, it is a heart-wrenching (albeit beautiful) story…

–A Romance Focused on Friendship–

What I really liked about these two together was how their relationship made them better people individually. I hate when couples get so absorbed into each other that they lose sight of themselves. That really isn’t the case here. It’s easy to see why these two work together. They start as friends that challenge each other to do things they might not usually do and it blossoms from there.

It’s just a heartwarming story that makes you believe in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like. It was just a really good, solid story that captured my attention from start to finish and reminded me what I love to see in romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, there are so many great directions this series can go. I know I have a few stories I would like to see unfold…so I can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #2: The Feeling of Forever


**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own and not influenced by my source.**

Is it possible to rate a book higher than 5 stars? Seriously, this book deserves more than 5/5!

WOW, just WOW! This is one of the best Contemporary romances I’ve read recently. No doubt about it!

This story had it all for me: extremely likeable characters, a heart-melting romance and a heart-pounding plot. I could not put this one down!

Jules and Gavin are just a great pair. Their relationship had a solid foundation right from the start. The way they communicate and interact with each other: swoon. It’s just a beautiful story. I loved these two so, so much.

As for the rest of the book, it was great. It had the perfect balance between the romance and the drama. And what fabulous drama it is! It just added another layer to this already great story but without overshadowing it.

Honestly, Howard has perfected her craft. I literally cannot wait for the next book in this stellar series!

My Rating: 5/5

All the Ways You Saved Me 5/5 | The Feeling of Forever 5/5

overall

If you want a New Adult romance that is somewhat lighter on the romance but features strong characters that transform before your eyes while melting your heart: this is it!

Read if You Like: character development, books about grief
Avoid if You: want more sexual content, dislike New Adult

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Single Sundays: Shadow of a Girl by Shannon Greenland

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Shadow of a Girl (from Goodreads):
Use cash and keep moving.

After I ran away from home, these were the two rules that dictated my life. Scoring a job as a roadie fit perfectly for what I needed. Traveling, cash, and life out of the spotlight. But when my path collides with West, the lead singer of Bus Stop, I can’t seem to stay out of his spotlight—especially since we’ll be touring together for an entire year.

West is determined to break down my walls. He won’t give up. And little by little they come crumbling. But if he knew what lurked behind them, he wouldn’t be so eager to get rid of them.

The more time we spend together, the more the lines of our friendship become blurred. He makes me dream of things I never thought possible. But while our friendship has been evolving into a romance, my secrets have been closing in. And just when I’ve decided to reveal my past to West, I’m confronted by it. The cost of my freedom could ruin the life of the guy I love…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary
Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rockstar
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 19, 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Teen!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Normally, I’m not one for YA contemporaries but I am a sucker for rockstar based stories and I LOVED The Heartbreakers last year. So when I came across Shadow of a Girl, I just had to request it! The runaway premise also had me curious and I couldn’t wait to uncover it.

The Plot:

This story had a great balance between the romance and the dramatic plot line.

I was hooked into Eve’s story from the get-go. We only get bits and pieces about her past, building the anticipating for the big reveal. Her story is unlike anything I’ve encountered before in a contemporary story so it was very refreshing to me as a reader.

I find rockstar romances can be a little unrealistic (it’s part of their charm) but this story was very natural to me. Everything progresses at an acceptable pace–not too fast or too slow–in terms of plot development and character growth. This story just builds itself up organically, making it a joy to read. (Especially great for someone who was on the verge of a reading slump–it made getting hooked into the story so easy)

The Characters:

Eve was great. She has some of the best character development I’ve ever encountered in a contemporary romance. I loved watching her grow and get comfortable in her own skin. I liked that she isn’t brash or someone who jumps to one conclusion or another. She thinks about things and knows her own limits but knows that she needs to do something to challenge those in a healthier way.

And West…swoon! While I love an arrogant rockstar as much as the next girl, it was nice to read about a guy who is just genuinely a good guy. He’s patient and kind and I just love how he treats Eve. I also liked that his story and character never overshadowed Eve’s story as well.

The Romance:

This was very sweet. I love how it was a romance that started as a strong friendship before it became something more. It was so easy to see why they would like each other and that’s what I love in a good romance.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This was just a great novel. It had a fantastic balance between the drama and the romance and everything just progressed so naturally. A must for fans of contemporary romance!

Read if You Like: rockstars, contemporary
Avoid if You: want a “spicier” read
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