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Single Sundays: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Single Sundays: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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 Birthday Girl (from Goodreads):

JORDAN
He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE
I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

breakdown

Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm (gets Toasty later on)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 15, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Very, very rarely do I pick up a novel the same day I get it, especially a freebie but I was craving a quick, hot read and this seemed to fit the bill. Penelope Douglas writes one of my favourite forbidden romances ever, Rival, so when I read the premise for this one I was really curious. I love reading about unconventional romances and I’ve never read one quite like this before (though I have read some similar ideas).

The Plot:

So I definitely went in with the wrong expectations and that lead to some massive disappointment; but truthfully, I think I would have still been disappointed if I knew what to expect.

I had hoped this book would be a quick and–let’s face it–dirty read given the premise. Something that bordered on erotica but had some more substance to it. This was nothing of the sort.

I’m all for slow burn romances but I held on a little too long and got burned. This was painfully slow; like I’m talking 50% of the way through a very long novel slow.

The tension was pretty dismal; Jordan was a rehash of ever heroine I’ve ever encountered and not enough steam. You could have easily cut 100 (of the 400) pages out of the start of this novel and still got your point across without dragging the reader through mundane things.

The Characters:

Jordan was just meh as a heroine. I can appreciate her struggles in life but it wasn’t anything new to me. But what really got me is how she became this whole other person when the sexy times came about. It was really crazy how she brought out this whole other side that just seemed so out of character.

Pike was alright. He’s a decent guy who tries to do the right thing. Again, nothing new.

The Romance:

This took far to long to become a thing. I wasn’t really sold on the whole forbidden romance thing because it really doesn’t go anywhere until the halfway mark.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Just a miss for me. I think if you really love the slowest burns of romance, this is a great one for you.

Read if You Like: unconventional romances, slow starts
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a faster story
similarreads

  • Everything Between Us by Mila Ferrera (Starving Artists Series #2)
  • Illicit by June Gray

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Series Review: Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

Series Review: Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for This Savage Song (from Goodreads):

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

breakdown

Series: Monsters of Verity
Author: Victoria Schwab
# of Books: 2 (This Savage Song, Our Dark Duet)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2016 – June 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I opted not to pick up the finale, Our Dark Duet. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I felt like you couldn’t escape this series when it first came out in 2016. Schwab is one of those highly toted authors in the blogging community and after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I understand why. She creates really cool worlds and intriguing stories. But I didn’t have a stellar experience with A Gathering of Shadows (I found it to be dreadfully slow until the last half of the book) so I wasn’t sure about this series.

When I saw my library had the audiobook copies of both books, I decided to make it the next series I read via audio. I was looking forward to it but I was also hesitant after reading some mediocre reviews from some trusted bloggers I follow. But I went in with an open mind and hoped the outcome would be positive.

The Concept / The World:

Alright, the concept here is super duper cool. The idea that these actual monsters have come to life because of people’s actions is really neat. It’s such a unique world and gives this series an interesting spin.

But I felt a little lost in it as well. I mean, I got the politics of the world. That was easy to figure out. What I struggled with was the various monster types. Now this might have been a result of listening to it via audio–I often struggle with remembering terms when I don’t physically see them–but it’s hard to say.

The Plot:

Given my experience with 2 other Schwab novels, I knew that this story was going to take a while to build up. I’ve always noted how slow it takes to get to whatever has been listed in the synopsis with her novels.

In this case, I was at the 56% (approximately) mark when the “failed assassination attempt” occurs. Now, perhaps I just read the synopsis wrong, emphasizing the wrong aspect. But for me, when something is listed in the synopsis, I expect it to happen well before the 50%–usually closer to the 20% because that’s what I expect the novel to be about. So to say I was a little disappointed in the plot for this story is a bit of an understatement.

As a result, the pacing for this just seemed off to me. When I was a quarter of the way through, I contemplated DNFing it because it wasn’t holding my attention. I felt like nothing was happening. But I stuck with it, figuring my crappy mood was to blame. And things did pick up a bit after that but never to the levels I was expecting.

Once the plot got to its climax, I did find everything to be interesting. However, I thought the twist was terribly predictable. I had figured out what was going to happen before we even reached the assassination attempt that sets everything into motion. It just seemed so obvious to me. So in that respect, I found it to be very disappointing.

The Characters:

I think the hype people give these two dampened my potential to love August and Kate. To me, they were almost cliche in their delivery. I get why they are presented as they are: it’s the whole dynamic of the story that’s listed in the first two lines of the synopsis. So it works for the story.

It’s just that I never fell in love with them. They never become real to me in the way that I expected them to after reading how people just adored everything they did. And it surprised me because I find when I listen to audiobooks, I find it much easier to empathize and connect with characters because I am hearing their voices and emotion aloud.

The Romance:

I did find it nice that the romance isn’t the focus of this story. It’s hard to find an urban fantasy or a YA paranormal story that doesn’t become consumed by the romance between the leads.

Why I Won’t Be Picking Up Our Dark Duet:

Because I wasn’t overly impressed with the first novel, I didn’t want to read the second. Things wrap-up enough here that I am satisfied with leaving the story as is and moving on to other novels.

My Audiobook Experience:

As I said above, perhaps the audiobook dampened my world-building experience. It’s hard to say. But I did enjoy the audiobook production. For only having one narrator and a female one at that for a dual POV, it’s great. I think it worked well that I listened to this instead of reading it because I probably would have lost interest in the text a lot earlier.

Series Rating: DNF

This Savage Song 2/5 | Our Dark Duet N/A

overall

Get a second opinion on this one. I think fans of Schwab’s writing style (slowly building, often wordy prose) will love this. But if you’re looking for a quick YA urban fantasy that doesn’t focus on romance, look elsewhere because it takes a while to reach its peak.

Read if You Like: long books, slow building
Avoid if You: dislike urban fantasy, want lots of action

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Series Review: Ballers and Babes by Lauren Blakely

Series Review: Ballers and Babes by Lauren Blakely

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Most Valuable Playboy (from Goodreads):

Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns.

Don’t let the fact that I’m the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you. These days, I’m only a player on the field. I’ve kept my pants zipped all season long — and it has been long — because nothing’s more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the team owner’s recently-widowed and handsy-as-hell sister who’s dead set on winning more than a date with me.

Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary.

She’s my best friend’s sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don’t even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she’s my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me we’ve got to keep up the act while he’s negotiating my contract.

What happens next when faking it starts to feel all too real?

breakdown

Series: Ballers and Babes
Author: Lauren Blakely
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Most Irresistible Guy

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single (#0.5-#1); Alternating (#2)
Publication Dates: September 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Lauren Blakely‘s other adult contemporary series. They’re on the lighter side of things but they never fail to entertain me. And I love sports romances (they usually employ my fave tropes like fake relationships, etc) so I was super excited to start this series—hence the reason it was on my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a 2017 TBR item.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Most Irresistible Guy:

I read this before I read the first book in the series and that is the way to do it. Because we don’t get Violet’s POV in the full novel, this is where you get her insight instead. And chronologically, where the novella ends is where the novel picks up. Of course, you could read it after but I think reading it first will set the stage.

Why Most Valuable Playboy (#1) Was a Disappointment:

I LOVED the novella! It got me super excited for Violet and Cooper’s story because you could feel the underlying tension between them. It finished on such a high note for me.

But I almost DNF’d MVP within the first two chapters because Cooper’s POV was definitely not what I perceived it to be after reading the novella. He came across as this immature tool and not the sweet guy Violet had painted a picture of in her POV. And it definitely didn’t help that we only got his POV in the novel. His head wasn’t an enjoyable place for me to read from and irked me to no end.

As I got further into the novel, things improved or maybe I just got used to his POV. But the plot didn’t impress me and I really thought the romance scenes were severely lacking. Not what you want in a romance novel for those who like a little more substance.

Why Most Likely to Score was also a Disappointment:

When I was drafting this review, I was so confident that I would love Book #2 that I actually had titled this section “Why Most Likely to Score was a Homerun”…only it wasn’t.

I love slow burn romances but this was just a little too slow for me. These two have great chemistry, yet I felt like most of it had been established before the book. It just made things seem anti-climatic and especially rushed near the end. I also thought the “drama” keeping them apart was a bit of a stretch in one (Jones’) respect.

Series Rating: 2/5

Most Valuable Playboy 2/5 | Most Likely to Score 2/5

overall

There are a lot of aspects to like about this series but the execution left me wanting more. But if you want quick reads that aren’t overly complicated, this is a short series to dive into.

Read if You Like: light romance, sport romances, male only POV
Avoid if You: want more romance scenes

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Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

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 Dirty Headlines (from Goodreads):

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.

breakdown

Author: L J Shen
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Office Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few books marked on my TBR by L J Shen but when the opportunity to review this one came up, I figured it was the best one to start with. Why? It checked off a lot of my favourite romance tropes in the synopsis alone. Workplace romance after an awkward first encounter. Hate to Love You/Enemies to Lovers. Playboy lead. So I was ready to dive in.

The Plot:

To be fair to this book, I probably started reading it at a bad time in my life. I had a lot of things going on when I started this so I wasn’t able to read it as much as I wanted. But I also think the fact that it took me nearly 2 months to read (when I usually finish a book in 3 days) shows how not into this book I was. (Usually, when I’m in stressful times I read a book in one go but not the case here).

As for the plot, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t the drama that killed it for me. If anything, it’s what propelled me to keep going when I wanted to DNF it numerous times. It’s angsty and almost soap opera-esque because it is a little over the top but that’s exactly what I want from a story set in a News Room.

The Characters:

Despite all of Celian’s playboy, asshole-ish characteristics, he failed to charm me. I think because I didn’t find his falling for Jude to be realistic (more on the romance below). Sure, he can talk dirty (perhaps one of the best dirty-talkers I’ve ever encountered in a book), but I just didn’t get won over by his antics.

And Jude…well she was a huge disappointment as well. Talk about wish-washy in terms of her convictions. The poor girl is all over the place. One minute claiming she’s unlovable but in the next sentence uttering that she wants a relationship with the guy. Why? She’s also extremely quirky and that doesn’t usually work for me. I guess it was a sign when she kept talking about her Chucks (the shoe I loath most in this world) that we just weren’t going to be friends.

The Romance:

This is by far the biggest factor in my lower rating: I just did NOT see the chemistry between these two. Yes, they seem to have fantastic sex together but besides lust and a good romp, what was keeping them together? I really don’t know. Their quirky tendencies? I think this goes hand in hand with their character profiles and how I failed to get a solid read on who they were as people. Because if I don’t understand them as individuals, how can I appreciate them as a pair together?

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Lots of other people seem to love this book but besides the drama, there wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, office romances, enemies to lovers
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera drama

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Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

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 Touching Down (from Goodreads):

The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.

Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.

But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.

They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.

Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.

When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.

No man can take Grant Turner down.

But one woman certainly can.

One woman will.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Nicole Williams is the author who first introduced me to the world of New Adult romance and I’ve repaid the favour by picking up any book I can of hers…with mixed results. But I was hoping her Adult romance in Touching Down would break the funk I’d been having with her titles when I randomly picked it up to read for my Tackling the TBR 2019 Challenge.

The Concept:

The heart of this story is a second chance romance which is usually fine and dandy with me. But this one just had too many logistical pot-holes to have me fully on board. The reasons for the separation; the choices Ryan has made over the years and some other things had me going “really, that’s how this all plays out?”. Everything seemed like it was played out to an extreme and it just made it all seem unnecessary.

The Plot:

I think I was two chapters in when I figured out all the major twists that were going to happen. Nothing surprised me about the drama except the reason for the separation.

There are some extenuating circumstances that come to light and instead of enhancing the story, I actually think they dampened it. Nothing really gets elaborated on and we just gloss over those opportunities for character growth or plot developments.

The Characters:

I thought Ryan was an idiot–I didn’t understand a single choice she made in the last 7 years with the exception of one. Grant was so stereotypical and boring I forgot he was there half the time.

The Romance:

I always say this in second chance romances that I review but you have to show my why these two people should reunite after all this time. And this novel did not do that. I’m not sure why these two even loved each other besides proximity and shared tough experiences.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I really wanted to like this but I just wasn’t overly impressed with this story.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, football stars
Avoid if You: want a strong romance novel

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Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Single Sundays: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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

Synopsis for The Forbidden Wish (from Goodreads):

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

breakdown

Author: Jessica Khoury

There is a prequel novella on Wattpad: #0.5 The Jinni

Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My all time favourite Disney movie is Aladdin. The music is great, the animation is superb, the Genie is one of a kind, Jasmine is kickass and Aladdin is a street rat who grows up along the way. So I was very excited for a retellling where things were a little different than that.

The Concept / The World:

So before I start any retelling of a story that has been done by Disney I try my best to clear all my preconceived notions. It’s easy to forget that the Disney version isn’t always the “true” version because it usually the most well known. Disney has taken some artistic licence to great a story to appeal to its audience and that’s what authors do too.

I liked this world we get here a lot. It’s rich in politics and turmoil. You’ve got some villains and magic so that gives a bit of a darker edge to the story. Jessica Khoury’s writing prose is lush and has a great flow (honestly, if you like Renee Ahdied’s writing you’ll love hers!) so it’s a pleasure to read (or in my case, listen to).

I really enjoyed the rich history of the Jinni and the everyday people. And Zahra’s backstory was also great.

The Plot:

I’ll admit I probably wasn’t in the best headspace when I started this book so I might have just missed some key sentences while listening to the audiobook. BUT, some of the logic for the dramatic events escaped me so I had a hard time fully understanding what was happening and why.

I will say that all of the events that I thought would be “big deals” didn’t have as large of an impact as I expected but perhaps my focus was on the wrong devices.

The Characters:

While I enjoyed Zahra’s lush history as a Jinni, I found her to be kinda bland as a character. I know why–she’s been trapped in her lamp for centuries, lamenting over past mistakes–but I still wanted a larger than life character.

Aladdin was about as thrilling as a wet blanket and had the personality of one too. I found him to be super underdeveloped and shallow. Not the charming clever street rat I wanted him to be.

Caspida really stole the show for me. I could have easily read a whole book about her, she was fascinating!

The Romance:

People (other readers) rave about this but I was seriously underwhelmed. Besides a physical attraction and being within a certain radius of each other (seriously, while Aladdin had her lamp, Zahra couldn’t be a specific distance away from him) I didn’t get the love between these two at all! Not even the forbidden nature of a jinni and a human could get me interested.

When to Read The Novella?

I didn’t read the novella but it is noted that there are some minor spoilers in it if you do decide to read it first. So perhaps, read it second.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Leave your ideas at the door and go in with a fresh mind.

Read if You Like: retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance
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Series Review: Hudson Valley by Alice Clayton

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nuts (from Goodreads):

Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.

breakdown

Series: Hudson Valley
Author: Alice Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Nuts, Cream of the Crop, Buns)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I consider Alice Clayton’s Cocktail Series to be one of the best romantic comedy series in Adult Romance. I loved its humour, the unique characters and the fun but heartwarming plot lines. So I was very excited to start another series by her and was prepared to be entertained.

The Plot:

The first book in the series, Nuts, started out so promising. Roxy gets fired from her job in dramatic fashion, she meets Leo and sparks fly as hilarity ensues. I was totally on board until a few chapters later when the book hit snooze-ville.

It’s the same situation with all these books: the middle just drags. As soon as the leads start their sexual relationship the chapters become about said sexy times and repetitive inner monologues about how these girls are scared to love. And I could have tolerated that “scared to love” aspect if anything was really done about it. That’s the perfect opportunity for character development but that doesn’t happen until the very last chapter or two when the girl realizes the error of her thought process and does the “big change”. But other than that, these books failed to go anywhere.

The Characters:

I wasn’t overly impressed with our heroines. The only exception was Natalie (Cream of the Crop #2). I liked her brash personality and self confidence. But Roxy and Clara just never won me over.

The same goes for our heroes, though I will say they got better as the series progressed in terms of complexity. However, I felt like they were very under developed and I wish we got their POVs to help grow their characters a little more.

The Romance:

Because I felt like the characters were underdeveloped, it also made the romances that was as well. They all start out pretty superficially but they never dive deeper to truly establish that emotional connection. And I didn’t really feel the chemistry between our leads either besides physical lust.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the audiobooks were very well done. Each lead had her own unique voice (they used different narrators) and did a great job of bringing these heroines to life. I also liked that when they were doing the voice of a previous lead that they sounded very similar to the original narrator (if that makes sense).

I don’t know if listening to the audiobook (which took me twice as long as reading the novel would have) made this series seem prolonged but it might have been a factor. I do know that I enjoy humor more in audiobooks so I think that compensates for the somewhat longer read.

Series Rating: 2/5

Nuts 2/5 | Cream of the Crop 3/5 | Buns 2/5

overall

To say I’m disappointed is a huge understatement. I wanted to laugh and get carried away by eccentrically lovable characters but I ended up snoozing through cliches and sexy times.

Read if You Like: rom-coms, long (page wise) romances
Avoid if You: want better character development, want more plot

similarreads

  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • Caught Up in Us by Lauren Blakely (Caught Up in Love Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Finding Perfect by Ella Miles

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

Synopsis for Finding Perfect (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

Bad boy + flawed girl does not equal perfect.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 2/5

overall

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

Read if You Like: fake romances, drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: don’t like slightly over the top drama
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Series Review: Clayton Falls by Alyssa Rose Ivy

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Derailed (from Goodreads):

When you’re lost, sometimes the only place you can go is home.

Broken over the death of her fiancé, Molly leaves law school to return to her childhood home in North Carolina. Expecting to lay low until she can figure out what else to do with her life, she finds herself in the arms of her high school sweetheart, the boy who represents everything from the past she tried to leave behind.

Looking for an escape, she instead finds a way back to the girl she almost forgot existed and a future she never dreamed possible.

breakdown

Series: Clayton Falls
Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy
# of Books: 4 (Derailed, Veer, Wrecked, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: There is a Book 4 planned but no release date
Genre: Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Derailed); Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Derailed as a freebie one day on Amazon in 2013. I think I somehow knew that the “hero” was in a band because I always thought of it as a “band” novel–even though that is far from the case. I enjoy second chance stories for the most part and I thought this one had an interesting premise. I even picked up the boxset a few years later (2016) for a good price because I assumed I would want to read the sequels.

Like most books, I don’t get to them right away. If you check my activity on Goodreads, you’ll see that I moved Derailed (Book 1) on and off my “TBR” a total of 4 times over the span of 5 years. It was on my “pass” shelf until I drew the title from my TBR jar in January 2018 as a part of my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2018. So I did my best to go in with an open mind and started the book.

Why I DNF’d Derailed at 42%–but kept progressing through the series:

So I did end up DNFing Derailed at 42% (just at the start of Chapter 10) for a few reasons. The main one was that this story was not catching my attention. The romance didn’t seem to have any substance to it (I felt like they were just nostalgic for each other and the feelings they shared)–and I was 42% of the way there! And there was a bit of a love triangle which didn’t help. I also didn’t like Molly as a lead. She was so boring to read about yet she was pretty melodramatic. I just found that I couldn’t get a good read on her character.

After I DNF’d it, I went on to read the synopsis for the next two books (since I already owned them) and saw that the leads were some characters that did capture my attention so I decided to give them a shot.

The Plot:

I found it took me awhile to get into all the books. We get these weird meetings between the leads–where they seem to blow the tiniest things out of proportions in an attempt to add “tension” to the relationships–and then we slowly uncover who they are as people. The endings all seemed a little rushed to me in the sense that things I would have liked to have seen early on to provide depth are neatly wrapped up in a chapter or two. It gave the books a lopsided feel to them in that regard.

For me, a lot of the dialogue between the characters came across as stiff and I feel like a majority of the chapters are dialogue. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I found that the lack of inner monologue resulted in the drama being escalated rather quickly and in a more melodramatic fashion than I anticipated.

The Characters:

Besides not liking the leads in Book 1 (Derailed), I did like the rest of the cast. One of the nice things about this series is that it does take place in a small town so you see a majority of the same characters throughout the series.

Once we delve a little deeper into the characters, I found the stories became more enjoyable. With Book 2 (Veer) that was the case entirely. When you start to understand their actions and feelings based on their past it makes it easier to like them as characters.

However, I found the character development to be very underwhelming throughout the series. I felt like we only scratched the surface of these extremely complicated characters. It’s not enough to simply list their troubled pasts–you have to do something with that. And I feel like this series never does anything with the foundations it lays down.

The Romance:

Again, I think the romances suffer from the underdevelopment the rest of the series does. All these characters fall hard and fast; and any conflict is quickly resolved in a neat fashion. So while I could see the basic/initial draw they each had to each other, I wanted to see more conversations and moments of growth with the romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I think the premise for the 4th book is cute, after the ups and downs I’ve had with this series, it’s going to be a hard pass.

Series Rating: 2/5

Derailed DNF | Veer 3/5 | Derailed 2/5

overall

I craved more from each of these novels. But if you are looking for a straightforward, lighter romance that doesn’t feature in-depth sex scenes, this would be a good series for you.

Read if You Like: lighter reads, second chance stories, small town settings
Avoid if You: want more character development, want erotica

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Single Sundays: Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

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 Hotel Ruby (from Goodreads):

Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

breakdown

Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this book on my TBR after seeing a “Waiting on Wednesday” post by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books  all the way back in September 2015! At that point, I had read Young’s first two novels in The Program Series and didn’t totally enjoy them. However, I loved the concept of the Hotel Ruby and quickly marked it on Goodreads.

Like many TBR books, I didn’t get to read it until years later and I saw my library had an audiobook copy. By this point, I had seen quite a few mixed reviews so I went in with somewhat lower expectations but an eagerness to uncover just what exactly is happening at the mysterious Hotel Ruby.

The Concept:

I always enjoy the idea of a “mysterious building”. (Like The Hollywood Tower of Terror anyone?). I really became enthralled by the Hotel Ruby and its mystery. I enjoyed the opulence of it all and the intriguing cast of characters. You definitely got the vibe that there was something creepy about this place.

The Plot:

I figured out the plot pretty early into the book–just before the 20% mark–though I wonder if that was its intention with the little eggs planted along the way? Regardless, there were a few links I was missing so I was interested in seeing how it all played out. I think I had bigger expectations than what I got in the end but I still really loved the whole concept of this novel even if the execution was lacking for me.

The Characters:

Audrey was a complete diva in my mind. Both her inner monologues and outer dialogues are very “ME ME ME” and it just irritated me. I mean, I get her frustration with the lack of an invitation but she was far too dramatic than I like my heroines to be.

The rest of the cast does their job well. The hotel staff and guests were particularly mysterious and that captured my attention throughout.

The Romance:

Elias is a pretty one dimensional character. He came across as such a cliché to me; simply saying all the right things at the right time. I get the allure of a mysterious rich boy but I did not get what was so swoon-worthy about him. I think the two talk a handful of times (I think they might dance more than they talk) before Audrey finds herself in love and wanting to change everything about her life–even while knowing (and saying) the whole thing is ridiculous. Ugh.

It’s a shame too that this becomes one of the main focuses of the novel and distracts from the larger story. I also think it stifles some of Audrey’s character development because she becomes to enamored with this romance and not much else.

My Audiobook Experience:

Well, I’ll just say I wasn’t overly impressed with the audiobook. I’m glad this wasn’t a book I started my audiobook experience with. I absolutely hated the way the narrator portrayed the male voices–in particular, Elias’ voice. I know it’s hard for a female to change their range to voice a male character and have multiple unique sounding ones for a single production. I totally get that. But it just threw off the entire tone of the novel for me and made me instantly dislike Elias’ character.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

For me this was a classic case of “great idea, not the best execution”. I struggled to connect to the main characters and their romance, while craving more from the plot but I enjoyed the overall vibe of this novel. I think Suzanne Young fans will like this well enough but I think others might want a little more from it.

Read if You Like: basic mysteries, more romance focused novels
Avoid if You: get annoyed by heroines easily
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