Tag «Rating: 3/5»

Single Sundays: Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

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 Follow Me Down (from Goodreads):

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

breakdown

Author: Sherri Smith
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adult mystery/thrillers are my latest obsession. I’ve tried to get my hands on as many as I can so I was really excited when this one crossed my radar. Lead returns home to her small town to solve a murder involving her brother? Thrillers were made for this.

The Plot:

Despite the intrigue, the first 30% of this novel was dreadfully slow. The focus shifts towards Mia as a character and shies away from the murder investigation–not what I wanted to read about truthfully. I felt like it stayed there a little too long and made the story dry. But once it got over that hump, it was a thrilling read.

The mystery itself was great. Not everything is what it seems and I really had no idea what the solution to it all was. It made the slower first half worth it in the end.

The Characters:

Mia reminded me a lot of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. She’s that unreliable narrator that is just on the edge of sobriety so it leads to some questionable events and circumstances. Her heart is in the right place but her actions aren’t always the wisest. It does make for an “on-the-edge” of your seat ride though.

The Romance:

Not really the focus here but it did bring an interesting layer to the story. But I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a “romance” either.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

While this story suffers from a long exposition, the mystery itself will have you guessing to the very end!

Read if You Like: mystery/thrillers, slower stories
Avoid if You: want more romantic suspense
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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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Series Review: Jamie Quinn Mystery by Barbara Venkataraman

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 Death by Didgeridoo (from Goodreads):

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

breakdown

Series: A Jamie Quinn Mystery
Author: Barbara Venkataraman
# of Books: 4 (Find all Titles Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2013 – September 2015
Source & Format: ARC–eBook

thoughts

**Please Note my review is only on the first 3 books of the series**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I mostly read New Adult and Young Adult novels, I do enjoy Adult Mysteries and Thrillers. So when I’m asked to try out a new mystery series, I jump on board!

What intrigued me about the Jamie Quinn Mysteries was their page length. The first 3 novels are more novella length, each just shy of 150 pages. They’re quick mystery reads and I was eager to see how they would develop in a shorter time span.

The Concept:

There is something awesome about an amateur detective blossoming in front of your eyes. While professional sleuths are entertaining, it’s always fun to see someone try solving a mystery for the first time. It’s a different type of suspense and one that works well here.

The Plot:

Compared to other mystery novels out there, this plot seems really simple. Don’t expect intricate plotlines or twist upon twist to happen. That simply can’t happen given the page length of the novels.

But this doesn’t mean you can solve the mystery by the end of the first chapter. There is still a mystery to solve here and you can’t solve it until Jamie uncovers it as the story progresses. And the solution is still a great twist–it’s just not overly complicated and I really enjoyed it.

The Characters:

It took me awhile to get comfortable with Jamie. She’s rather quirky and I definitely wasn’t expecting that. But once I got used to her unorthodox commentary, it was easy to follow her adventures. She also grows as the series progresses as well through various plot developments.

The rest of the cast are entertaining as well. I thought Duke was a fun character for Jamie to work with and he made me laugh in all of his scenes.

The Romance:

This has a very minor role in the first book but builds up in The Case of the Killer Divorce (Book 2) and into the third. I thought it was really cute and I like how it was integrated into the plot of the story. It works well to balance out the plot and character development.

 

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

If you want a great short story series to occupy your lunch breaks or for a day at the beach, this is a fun, quirky mystery series to read.

Read if You Like: short stories, mystery
Avoid if You: want a complicated mystery, want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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:

Carve the Mark Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Carve the Mark (from Goodreads):

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.

breakdown

Series: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
# of Books: 1+ (Carve the Mark, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: No, Book 2 will be released
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First & Third Person
Publication Date: January 17, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been waiting for Roth’s next series since the end of the Divergent Trilogy years ago. While the rest of the series paled in comparison to that first book, (something I only learned in hindsight), I was eager to see what she would come up with next.

Not only was the cover for this beautiful, but it sounded like something I would no doubt enjoy. Enemies become lovers? My ultimate trope.

The Concerns Surrounding this Book

I know that there is a lot of controversy out there about this book, especially on Twitter and Goodreads. One of the problems with Twitter is the 140 character limit, so I’ll admit, I didn’t fully know the issues people were bringing up before I started to read it. I only ever caught bits of it here and there; not enough for me to fully understand what the bigger problem(s) was(were).

But at the same time, I also didn’t want to read too much into the issues either. Not that I’m ignorant of the issues, just that I wanted to be able to form my own opinion and investigate further once I finished. I didn’t want any preconceived notions before I started to read (because it is easy to find things once they are pointed out to you). Plus, I like having a full understanding of the source material prior to reading the criticisms to understand the arguments.

What I Liked:

–The Galaxy Setting–

I really enjoy science fiction stories that take place in another galaxy. I love exploring new planets and their unique attributes. I especially like that there is no place called Earth. That this is a completely different entity in terms of its world. (Could have used a little more world-building but that’s an issue for down below).

–Cyra’s Development–

I’m sure people may disagree with me on this one, but I thought Cyra had a solid character evolution from start to finish. It isn’t the greatest development ever but you could tell by the end of the novel that she gained confidence in herself and that’s all I really want from my characters.

–Concept of Hiding in Plain Sight–

Ok, I got a few little Red Rising allusions here when Akos essentially conforms to the Shotet way of life in order to get revenge and get his brother back. It provides some anticipation for when the big betrayal is going to happen and kept my attention.

What I Didn’t Like:

–First and Third Person Narration–

There are times and genres for third person narration but for the most part, I prefer first person POV. It’s just a little easier to follow and I find it easier to connect with the characters.

In this novel, Cyra’s POV is first person and Akos’ is third person…and I’m not sure why it was that way. Obviously, I felt it easier to read Cyra’s chapters and connect more with her character. Akos just seemed so distant to me and I felt like I never knew his character the way I should have. His POV should have been first person in my opinion.

(An example of a series that does first and third person narration well is The Pledge Trilogy where our lead heroine is told in first person but multiple other characters gets POVs told in third person. The differing POVst help establish the narrative and the world as a whole I think).

–Easy to Get Lost in the Writing–

I’m not sure what it was about the writing, but I found myself missing tiny things in the narration which had big impacts on my understanding of the story.

Like a significant time change in the narration (that’s mentioned like once in the opening paragraph of a chapter); or understanding exactly WHAT the various currentgifts are. As I said above, the worldbuilding could have been stronger. Yes, we do get a glossary but it really only highlighted the “bigger” things and not the inner workings of the world.

–Very Slow Plot–

At the halfway point of the novel, I could count the number of important “events” that moved the story forward on one hand. It wasn’t a lot. You could have easily cut this books size in half and had a much stronger, fuller story.

Because we do get some exciting twists within the last few chapters of the novel that set up for the sequel beautifully. I just think a lot of people will lose interest wayyy before than.

My Final Thoughts on Issues Raised by Other Readers:

After reading the novel, I read arguments from “both sides” and I understand what both are saying.

I’m a firm believer that we should let fiction be fiction. Fiction is a medium used to explore things we can’t always explore in reality. But my favourite aspect about it is its ability to start a conversation; as this novel obviously has.

I know that for some people, the ideas present here are their reality; and I know that for others, they won’t see that reality because it doesn’t pertain to their life. Reading is such a personal experience that everyone reads (and interprets) something differently. And it’s ok that we do; so long as we can have healthy conversations and respect those differences of opinion in a civil way. Debate is healthy, it’s how change comes about. I’m glad this novel is bring conversations about diversity to the surface and I hope we can learn from it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see how the next novel will unfold. I think there were enough things introduced in the final chapters to keep my interest in picking up the sequel.

My Rating: 3/5

Carve the Mark | Book 2 TBP

overall

I was hoping for a Divergent type of read; instead, we got Allegiant. A lot of talking and not as much action. But I think that this series could really build upon its inaugural novel and have a solid sequel.

Read if You Like: slower stories, science fiction
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance-focus

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Single Sundays: Beyond the Stars by Stacy Wise

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 Beyond the Stars (from Goodreads):
Falling for him wasn’t in the plans…

Most girls would kill for the opportunity to work for Jack McAlister, Hollywood’s hottest actor, but twenty-one-year-old Jessica Beckett is ready to kick him out of her red Ford Fiesta and never look back. She should be spending her junior year in France, eating pastries and sharpening her foreign language skills. Instead she’s reluctantly working as Jack’s personal assistant, thanks to her powerhouse talent agent aunt.

Jack is private, prickly, and downright condescending. Jessica pushes his buttons—she’s not the type of girl to swoon over celebrity heartthrobs, precisely why her aunt thought she’d be perfect for the job—and Jack pushes right back.

But as she begins to peel away his layers, Jessica is shocked to find she craves her boss’s easy smile and sexy blue eyes. The problem is, so does the entire female population. And what started out as the job from hell soon has Jess wondering if a guy like Jack could ever find love with a regular girl like her.

breakdown

Author: Stacy Wise
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Celebrity, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 8, 2016
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book as a galley on NetGalley but never got a chance to request it. So it seemed like fate when a couple months later it was a part of the Read It, Review It program in my New Adult Book Club on Goodreads. I made sure I grabbed a copy ASAP!

I really enjoy the idea of celebrity romances with everyday people in my NA novels. Sometimes, it’s executed well but other times it’s a little whimsical and rushed. In other words, not my ideal. But this one sounded promising and I needed a good contemporary read to buffer a somewhat lacklustre one before I moved on to a fantasy novel.

The Plot:

This novel felt more like a coming of age story than a romance. Which is fine and even a little expected since New Adult novels tend to have this as a minor element. But the lack of a romance for almost 75% of the book drained me a bit. Especially when the last 25% seemed to pack everything in, rushing to wrap it all up. I would have liked to have seen those last few plot points scattered throughout the novel to give it that dramatic flare.

The Characters:

Jessica was alright. To be honest, something rubbed me the wrong way about her in the first chapter. I think it was her somewhat stubborn nature that made it hard for me to totally love her. But I did warm up to her as the novel progressed but she didn’t blow me away.

Jack was cute but unfortunately, a little to one-dimensional for me. I really wish this story was told in alternating POV because he did seem to have an interesting backstory that I would have liked to have explored more.

The Romance:

I really wanted some sexual tension and chemistry between these two but nothing ever happened. While I got that they had this emotional connection (the typical “she treats me like a real human being, not a celebrity” vibe), I didn’t really see much else between these two. At least, not enough to warrant the deep feelings they get so suddenly. Although it seemed to take forever to get to that romance point, only a couple of weeks had passed in the book so it made everything seem superficial to me.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you’re looking for a spicy NA romance featuring a celebrity, look elsewhere! But if you want a cute and sweet way to spend a summer afternoon, this is a great novel for you to read.

Read if You Like: sweet romances, coming of age stories, celebrity stories
Avoid if You: want a “spicier” read, more sexual tension

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Series Review: Players by Mackenzie Crowne

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 To Win Her Love (from Goodreads):
To win the game, they’ll have to risk losing their hearts…

When a bizarre child custody stipulation pits popular sports blogger Gracie Gable against football superstar Jake Malone, losing the battle for her twin nieces isn’t the only thing Gracie has to worry about. Forced to live for three months under the same roof as the sexy tight end, will she fall prey to his flirtatious pursuit? Or worse, will the skeletons in her closet destroy her chance for the love and family she so desperately wants?

Neglected by his parents as a boy, Jake doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Yet living with Gracie and the twins might be enough to change his mind—and his womanizing ways. But when the press unearths a scandal from Gracie’s past, will he lose the one woman he was ready to open his heart to?

breakdown

Series: Players Trilogy
Author: Mackenzie Crowne
# of Books: 3 (To Win Her Love, To Win Her Trust, To Win Her Heart)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I read To Win Her Love in its entirety but opted not to pick up the next 2 novels in the series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t recall how I found this series. I think Kobo had a sale and I saw the cover and decided to check it out. I adore stories where two people who initially dislike each other fall in love so that’s what drew me in. However, the premise of a custody battle sounded like a refreshing one I haven’t come across in a contemporary romance before.

Sure, the premise is a lot like the plot for the 2010 movie Life as we Know It where a single guy and girl find themselves the unexpected guardians of their best friends young baby. But the circumstances in this novel greatly differ and I liked the bigger sports spin this novel had.

photography kid romance lovely josh duhamel

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

Like I just said above, the premise was what really drew me to this novel. I thought it was a lot of fun even if it is a touch realistic. I mean why is the decision left to two 6 year old girls to decide who their guardian should be? I remember how wish-washy I was when I was 6 about what candy I wanted–a life altering decision like guardianship shouldn’t be left in a child’s hand even if I appreciate the sentiment.

But I liked that this story was about these two coming together to create a family and finding out what they want in life. They had some really cute moments with the kids that absolutely melted my heart.

–Gracie Knows Football–

I find the heroines in sports novels usually know nothing–or next to nothing–about the sport of their romantic interest. Every once in a while you’ll get a girl who is in touch with her sporty side and understands the world but it’s not a common occurrence. I loved that not only did Gracie understand football but that she actually works as a blogging analyst on football. Awesome.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Third Person POV–

When it comes to my romances, I prefer first person POVs. I just like getting that insight into a character by being directly in their head. I feel so far removed from characters when they are presented in third person. And while I appreciate the fact that it being third person keeps some of the secrets these characters have as secrets, I also found it hard to follow at times. I get a little out of practice with third person reads sometimes because I mostly read first person.

–Slow Moving Plot–

I would classify this romance as a slow burn romance for sure. And normally I don’t mind that because it gives these characters time to get to know each other in a more meaningful way besides sex. But here, I didn’t think that was the case. I wanted their connection to be elaborated on more, especially earlier in the novel when the plot focused more on setting up the circumstances of getting these two together. Which was rather slow in my opinion.

Will I Finish It?

While I enjoyed To Win Her Love, the next two stories don’t really interest me so it’s a pass.

Series Rating: 3/5

To Win Her Love 3/5 | To Win Her Trust N/A | To Win Her Heart N/A

overall

This is a cute story but I just wanted a little more from it.

Read if You Like: sports, family based stories, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: dislike third person stories, want erotica

similarreads

  • The Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick (The Jackson Boys #1)
  • Game for Love by Bella Andre (Bad Boys of Football Trilogy #3)
  • Rush Me by Allison Parr (New York Leopards Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

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 Cogling (from Goodreads):
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.

breakdown

Author: Jordan Elizabeth (Mierek)
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 25, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC
disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Jordan Elizabeth’s Escape from Witchwood Hollow earlier this year and enjoyed it for its unique story. I had never read a YA novel like that before–I tend to stick to the romances and that book definitely lacked one.

So I was curious to see what she would do in the world of Steampunk. I’m a sucker for a good steampunk novel. I pretty much read or TBR anything with the word steampunk in its description.

What drew me to this one was the premise. Automations impersonating people of power is something I’ve come across in steampunk before but I was curious to see what would happen with the addition of hags and other magic.

The Concept / The World:

First, the world was really cool. Like most Steampunk novels, this one has a unique spin to how the world operates. The use of “hags” (kinda like witches) was a neat approach and one that works well. But there are other creatures you get introduced to and Jordan Elizabeth does a good job of describing everything in a way that is easy to visualize.

The Plot:

I don’t really enjoy adventure novels too much; I find them very slow. And this novel was definitely more in that vein. Which is totally fine, I just found that it had its slower parts.

I also think the synopsis is a little misleading and a bit of a spoiler. The whole bit about them impersonating “nobility” doesn’t get touched on until later and I think it would have had more of an impact if I didn’t know. (Perhaps it did get mentioned earlier and I just missed it…that happens sometimes too.)

But where that mystery is lacking, there are plenty of other great twists along the way. There were definitely some things I never saw coming that kept me reading this story to see how it all played out.

The Characters:

Everyone is pretty straight forward here. Some of those twists I mentioned do have to deal with the characters which gives them a little depth; but otherwise they are all solid characters who help carry this story.

The Romance:

You really only get a dash here and there. It never distracts from the story at hand which is refreshing.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This was on the slower side for me so my attention waned at times. But there was always a great twist that kept me going forward. I think this is a great Steampunk novel for teens who want to explore more of this world!

Read if You Like: adventures, little romance, steampunk
Avoid if You: want a faster story, 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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Novella Serial Review: Addicted to You by Lucy Covington

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dangerously Damaged (from Goodreads):
Dangerous. Sexy. Damaged.

These are the words used to describe Justin Brown.

Intelligent. Capable. Responsible.

These are the words used to describe Lindsay Cramer.

Irresistible. Addicting. Passionate.

These are the words used to describe their relationship.

Good girl Lindsay Cramer has her life completely in order, and she keeps her goals on a checklist — obtain scholarship to Ivy League University, finish undergrad, and move on to med school. She’s worked hard to get where she is, and she’s determined not to let anything – or anyone — get in her way.

Until she meets Justin Brown. JB is gorgeous, and the kind of guy who is all wrong for Lindsay — the kind of guy who is all wrong for anyone . He drinks, he fights, and he has a secret past Lindsay’s not so sure she wants to know about.

But when the two of them are together, Lindsay can’t help but lose herself in him. It’s the way his eyes burn when he looks at her. The way his smile makes her dizzy. The way his hands feel on her body.

Soon, Lindsay and Justin are completely addicted to each other. But when their dangerous game culminates with Lindsay having to make a shocking choice, will she be able to keep JB in her life? And if so, will she lose everything in the process?

breakdown

Series: Addicted to You
Author: Lucy Covington
# of Parts: 9+ (See full reading order here)
Complete?: Unknown Series Status
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 25, 2013 – unknown
Source & Format: eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I feel like Kobo recommended this too me when it first came out. I waited a bit for the rest of the parts to be published before I start–because reading 50 pages at a time sucks.

Only, I didn’t read this until 2016 when I pulled it from my TBR jar for my Rock My TBR challenge.

Series Status?

Ok, I didn’t realize this series wasn’t finished when I started to read it. If I had known that I wouldn’t be getting a conclusion, I probably wouldn’t have started this.

I have no idea if the ending will ever be published or revealed. According to Twitter, 2013 was a hard year for the author so maybe she had to abandon it?

The Plot:

This is your typical “first year of college” story. You have good girl Lindsay trying to navigate the waters of being a little fish in a big pond when she meets a bad boy (Justin) she is inexplicably drawn to. Of course, unbeknownst to Lindsay, every guys she comes across wants her and they would be “better choices”. And Justin doesn’t do so bad with female attention either.

Cue the slow burn, jealousy and adolescent love story if you please.

Add to that mix Justin’s BFF friend dealing with a drug addiction (which I wish took more precedence because that was an interesting battle) and Justin’s fighting career and gym drama.

I like a lot of things happening in my novels, but in a serial, it almost becomes overwhelming. Especially if you have to wait a week or more for each instalment. Sure, it adds to dramatics but I feel like it prevents the other plotlines from developing at a stronger pace.

The Characters:

Lindsay wasn’t anything new or exciting. For a bright girl, she didn’t have that many shinning moments. I get it though, she’s growing up and has lots of hurdles thrown her way. But she kinda let’s everything happen around her and whines when it doesn’t go that great.

Justin was much more interesting to me. His life is more complicated and complex. I wish more was done with his story but it gets overshadowed a bit with the romance.

The Romance:

This is one of the most drawn out slow burn romances I’ve ever read. It takes a ridiculous amount of time for these two to even kiss! Which is fine, but it got tiring listening to each of them moan on about how much they wish they had kissed during their last encounter.

Like I said earlier, this romance was more “insta”, based on a connection that doesn’t really get expanded upon besides a physical connection.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

Besides the fact that this series will likely never be concluded, it’s a little all over the place. Not the best serial I’ve ever read. It would have been a great standalone novel I think instead.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance
Avoid if You: hate not knowing how it ends

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Series Review: Finding by Megan Smith

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Finding Us (from Goodreads):
Jasmine Jennings is running from her past, something she never wants to deal with again. Starting out fresh in a new city, life is finally looking up.

That is until she meets him — Knox Mitchell. She tries to elude him, but he’s everywhere. When she finally gives in, he begins to avoid her.

One tragic night, Knox’s future was ripped away. His body and soul crave revenge from the man who took everything away from him, but when Jasmine crashes into Knox’s muddled life, he’s torn. What is he supposed to do about falling for the girl who was to be part of his plan for retaliation?

When all secrets are revealed can they move forward without the past destroying any hopes of having a future?

breakdown

Series: Finding
Author: Megan Smith
# of Books: 3 (Finding Us, Finding Ours, Finding Happiness)

Finding Ours is technically a novella

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Finding Happiness, is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I found (pun not intended) Finding Us. I noticed that I had purchased it in March 2016 but have had it on my Goodreads TBR since January 2015. I thought that is was perhaps a recommended novel on Goodreads for Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker–but I can see that I read that particular novel after I added Finding Us so who knows.

But, when I got around to reading this series (which was first selected for my Make Me Read It Readathon and later read for my Rock my TBR challenge), I was very excited to read it. I love stories with secrets. I love stories with revenge. And like they do here, they often go hand in hand. So I was eager to uncover what Knox’s plans were for Jasmine and why they should never be together.

The Plot:

Finding Us started strong for me. Despite the cliched life of rich-girl-turned-rebel Jasmine, I did enjoy the start of this novel a lot. Knox was a bad boy who appeared out of thin air and I liked the feelings of suspense those scenes brought about. Who was Knox and what did he want with Jasmine? That anticipation is amped up with the brief and secretive Knox POVs included at the end of most chapters.

But somewhere in the middle, it just lost it for me. Sure, the secret is great–very unexpected and worthwhile–but it was the romance that completely fizzled for me.

The Romance:

There was this disconnect for me between Jasmine’s “I hate him; he gives me the creeps” and her “I want to jump his bones”. The same goes for Knox. What did Jasmine possess that made him want to give up his plans? I still don’t know the answer.

Romances can be based on some unseen connection; it’s not my favourite but it’s fiction. However, in a story like this where one character has been targeting the other for some seriously heavy revenge, I need more substance in the relationship–besides “the best sex of my life”–in order to say I’m on board.

The Characters:

Jasmine was pretty cliche I thought. Knox had his cliche moments as well but I was intrigued by the mystery he presented himself with.

What I really liked about Finding Us was the introduction of Knox’s friends. Their stories were much more interesting to me and they provided some bright spots; especially near the end.

The Novella — Finding Ours

This novella focuses on two characters you meet in Finding Us. It was exactly what I wanted the story to be; cute and heartfelt and romantic. The only bummer part was parts of it were recycled from Finding Us. Which makes sense because the later half overlaps with Finding Us but I didn’t really want a regurgitation word-for-word of what I had just read.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

If you had asked me at the 50% mark if I would have continued on with this series, I would have said no. But I’m really intrigued by the character who is the star of Finding Happiness. There was a great setup for that and I can’t wait to see what story we get.

Series Rating: 3/5

Finding Us 3/5 | [Finding Ours] 3.5/5 | Finding Happiness TBP 

overall

I had a bit of a disconnect with the leads in Finding Us but the rest of the characters have me interested to see what is next. I’m not sure when Finding Happiness will be released, but I’m going to keep an eye on it for the time being.

Read if You Like: revenge stories, family secrets
Avoid if You: want stronger romance connections

similarreads

  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Until We Fly by Courtney Cole (Beautifully Broken Series #4)
  • She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla (Sheridan Hall Series #1)

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