Tag «Rating: 4.5/5»

Series Review: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

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 The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (from Goodreads):

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Mystery Read 2017
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
# of Books: 2 (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line; Mr. Kiss and Tell)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I didn’t watch Veronica Mars during its initial airing (long story but I missed the premiere and this was before the days of easy internet streaming) but I marathoned the entire series just before the movie came out and LOVED IT!

The wit, the intelligent writing and the amazing characters: there’s a lot to love about this series! So I was really excited to see that the creator of the show was writing series novels because who better to write a spin-off series than the visionary himself?

When I started my new job, I wanted to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and I thought what better than a novel set in a world I am already familiar with? It also didn’t hurt that mystery/thrillers were my current obsession at the time and so I decided to give The Thousand Dollar Tan Line a shot.

The Concept / Time Line:

These books take place a couple months after the movie (and the movie takes place 10 years after the TV series ends).  Which is great because it ties up some of those lingering questions you likely had at the end of the movie. I felt like I got a lot more closure reading these two novels than I did by just watching the movie.

And these books read like you are watching the TV show. Maybe that was just because I was listening to the audiobooks (one is narrated by Kristen Bell herself) but I felt like I was watching the TV show.

The Plot:

In true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery introduced is rarely cut and dry. There are twists on twists and it’s fabulous. You don’t want to know how many times I freaked out in my car when some plot twists (curious? more than 10 for sure).

The plot is always moving! I thought there was a great balance between the mystery, the character drama and Veronica’s character growth. There’s always something to pique your interest and everything just blends so well together.

The Characters:

Ok, I had so many great fangirl moments reading this series. There are so many returning characters that I freaked out many times. I adore all of these characters, but Veronica especially. She’s such a strong and independent female lead. I love her wit but I also love how she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

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The Romance:

I don’t want to spoil this but this was one of the many reasons for my fangirling 😉

Audiobook Experience:

OK, this series made me fall in love with fiction audiobooks!

I love that Kristen Bell (Veronica) narrates the first novel. It made me feel like I was watching the TV show and immediately got me comfortable with the story. She also does an AMAZING job when she narrates the other characters. She manages to capture their personalities in her delivery and it’s perfect!

Unfortunately, the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell (I think she was pregnant at the time) so I missed the true Veronica sass but the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line 5/5 | Mr Kiss and Tell 4/5

overall

I will say, I think it helps if you are familiar with the series in some complicity but the mystery is great regardless and I think if you aren’t a fan before you start this, you will be when you finish!

Read if You Like: Veronica Mars, thrillers, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike modern mysteries, crime
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Single Sundays: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

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 Wall of Winnipeg and Me (from Goodreads):
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Adult Contemporary 2016
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first came across this book when reading Sils’ guest post @ Dani Review Things in August 2016 when she was discussing her favourite NA Romance Tropes. Like me, Sil shares a love of fake marriages/relationships in her NA reads and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was her pick for this trope.

I had never heard of this book before despite the fact that it has the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the title (not many things do) and it would have probably never crossed my radar otherwise. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t tell you that they create a fake relationship–and telling you that isn’t a spoiler because it is the main plot point in this very long novel–so I would never have known.

Regardless, this one peaked my interest and when I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I needed to make my mistake worth it and decided to use this novel to get my money’s worth. And I sure am glad I did!

Is it Adult Contemporary or New Adult Contemporary?

Ok, Sil listed this as a New Adult read and I can see why. It reads very much like a New Adult read in terms of the character conflicts and stories (both have some darker backstories).

But for me, this is an adult read with some NA qualities. My primary characteristic for Adult/New Adult/Young Adult classification is the age of the characters; my secondary “requirement” for NA classification is whether or not it takes place in or shortly after college. In the case of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Vanessa is 26 and has been out of school for a couple of years. I usually classify anything with the youngest lead above the age of 25 as adult and because she is out of school, that just reaffirms that for me.

Nevertheless, this book with appeal to fans of both adult contemporary and NA contemporary.

The Plot:

I think this is one of the longest romance novels I have ever read! The Kindle edition is just a little more than 600 pages–that’s crazy! Most Kindle reads average 200-300 pages; especially in the romance genre.

But surprisingly, this book didn’t really feel that long! It has such a constant pacing that it makes it really easy to read and get involved in the story. New plot points or events are added along the way that keeps everything fresh and the plot moving.

The Characters:

The characters really make this story I think. I really got addicted to seeing how these two interacted with each other. Vanessa was strong and determined; Aiden you just instantly love and want to see succeed.

But what I truly enjoyed about these characters was their growth. These two are flawed in their own ways but what was fantastic was watching these flaws transform. Vanessa and Aiden both evolve so much from the start to the end of the novel. But at the same time, they still remain the same characters underneath. Meaning they don’t become these unrecognizable characters; they just become better versions of themselves thanks to each other.

The Romance:

If you want an example of a slow burn romance, this novel is the very definition of that trope!

As someone who complains a lot about romances being underdeveloped in stories (more tell than show nowadays it seems), this book was uber refreshing. It was great watching these two slowly develop their relationship. It wasn’t focused on the sex or the passion; it focused on the partnership and friendship which is always important in establishing a believable relationship.

These two learn to love and support each other; and I just love when people finally see what has been in front of them the entire time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for adult contemporary enthusiasts who want a taste of a New Adult romance. And if you want to experience a true slow burn romance–look no further!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, sports, New Adult romance
Avoid if You: want a quick read

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Series Review: Wingmen Inc by Rachel Van Dyken

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 The Matchmaker’s Playbook (from Goodreads):

Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.

After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.

From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule.…

breakdown

Series: Wingmen Inc
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
# of Books: 2 (The Matchmaker’s Playbook, The Matchmaker’s Replacement)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Playbook); Alternating (Replacement)
Publication Dates: April – August 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of Rachel Van Dyken’s Ruin Trilogy. She writes some great New Adult series that don’t follow the typical plot-line pathways. Meaning, I’m always surprised at the stories we get in her books. They make you feel a little bit of everything; you laugh, you swoon, you may even shed a tear. She just writes consistently great stories and I have quite a few novels by her on my TBR.

When I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I made sure to fit this series in. The concept of The Matchmaker’s Playbook sounded like a lot of fun. I love when people unexpectedly fall in love with someone they shouldn’t. The plot also reminded me of the 90s movie “She’s All That”, where the “it” boy falls for the frumpy girl he is to transform. It’s a premise you don’t often see and so I couldn’t wait to see what she did with it.

Image result for she's all that gif

The Concept:

I just want to briefly touch on the “dating service” Ian is running. I don’t want people to focus too much on the “makeover” aspect of the synopsis. It makes it sound like he makes these girls into a set mold that guys find attractive and in turn, the girl becomes someone she isn’t. Rather, Ian works on building her self-confidence by making her see her self-worth. He’s not telling them to only act a particular way all the time in order to land the guy. Of course, new clothes do come into play but I think what you wear influences your confidence so it goes hand in hand.

I hope that makes sense! I just don’t want people to get the wrong idea from the get-go!

The Plot:

I thought these books were a lot of fun but at the same time, very heart-warming. While you have these matchmaking schemes happening you get to watch these two guys come to terms with what they want out of a relationship. It’s a little cheesy, but it reminds the reader that you just need to find that one person who can change your perspective on things.

What I also liked is that these novels weren’t needless dramatic. All the drama worked for evolving the story and that made for an enjoyable read.

The Characters:

If you don’t enjoy stories with a jackass for the male lead, I think you will want to stay away from this series!

Not that I thought the guys were particularly crude, but they do make some somewhat rude comments on occasion. They are also players to the extreme so I know that can be a bit of a turn off. I myself have a particular soft-spot for jerk male leads who get shown their place so it was a highlight for me, but I know that some people will not see it that way.

As for the girls, I really liked them. Despite not having the alternating POV in Matchmaker’s Playbook, I thought Blake’s character development was solid from start to finish. The heroine in The Matchmaker’s Replacement was fantastic.

The Romance:

The sexual tension in this series was great! What I really liked is that sex isn’t the main focus because of the slow burn approach to the romance. Everything just builds and builds until that big reveal. It was just nice not to read a story littered with sex scene upon sex scene.

I did want a little more out of the romance in The Matchmaker’s Playbook. I just wanted their relationship to evolve a little more. It seemed a little to “insta-love” to me even though no one is spewing “I love you” super early. I just wanted their connection to be teased out a bit. The Matchmaker’s Replacement does a better job developing the romance I think thanks to the alternating POV and the flashbacks.

Movie!:

Apparently these books have been optioned for film! Which is great because they do remind me of those great 90s rom-coms that we don’t really get nowadays.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Matchmaker’s Playbook 4/5 | The Matchmaker’s Replacement 5/5

overall

If you can handle charming jackasses, this is the perfect series for you! It’s light on the sex but has a great dramatic story that will have you laughing and eagerly reading to see what happens next!

Read if You Like: jackass playboy heroes, 90s rom coms, sexual tension
Avoid if You: want more sexy times
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Fresh Fridays: The Thousandth Floor (#1) by Katharine McGee

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:

The Thousandth Floor Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Thousandth Floor (from Goodreads):

NEW YORK CITY AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

breakdown

Series: The Thousandth Floor
Author: Katharine McGee
# of Books: 1+ (The Thousandth Floor, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 will be published in August 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *more implied*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: August 30, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Thousandth Floor first crossed my radar when I was voting for Stephanie @ In Wonderland Book Blog‘s Make Me Read It Readathon in the summer of 2016. I’ll admit, it was the cover that captured my attention (and vote) but the synopsis sounded great as well.

I like stories where there are lots of things going on and multiple character POVs is one way to do that. When I read the synopsis, the first thing that crossed my mind was: SCANDALS! I was hoping for a story rich with plot twists and characters whose lives somehow intertwine together. I couldn’t wait to uncover the dirt.

What I Liked:

–A Futuristic Gossip Girl

I adored the first few Gossip Girl books because I’m a sucker for delicious drama and gossip. Seeing how all these character’s lives interweave–sometimes in ways they don’t even know–is just so addicting! 

It’s the “haves” meets the “have nots” and when they meet dramatic chaos ensues. It was very reminiscent of the early Gossip Girl days–not the latter ones where things just got weird.

–Multiple POVs–

I like stories that have a lot going on; especially in my contemporaries because I don’t always enjoy the leads. So having multiple POVs allows me to attach to at least one character’s story that drives me to see what happens next.

What surprised me was that I was intrigued by all of these characters at some point or another. I really enjoyed their stories–and their secrets. There were definitely some characters I enjoyed more than the others.

–The Secrets–

This was what kept me reading! I just loved figuring out what everyone was hiding and how it all weaved together. Plus, the mystery of who fell from the roof had me spewing all sorts of theories!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Surface-Deep Characters–

Perhaps this is one disadvantage of the multiple POVs but you don’t get to see these characters on a deep level. I feel like each character briefly has a moment when we get to see more than the surface; but we change to another character so quickly that it never gets elaborated on. So I never felt like I knew more about these characters than what was necessary to drive the plot forward.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to see what happens to everyone next! So many secrets, lies and unresolved feelings; I don’t know how these characters are going to react to it all!

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousandth Floor 4.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

I was definitely in the right mind frame when I picked this novel up. It’s the perfect drama filled read for those who are looking to be entertained and not have to think so much. But if you don’t enjoy books with multiple POVs, this might not be the one for you.

Read if You Like: Gossip Girl, drama, scandals
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs, want more romance

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Fresh Fridays: Ruined (#1) by Amy Tintera

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:

Ruined Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined (from Goodreads):
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Ruined, Avenged, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Avenged, will be published in May 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

But this novel also promised to have a slightly darker edge to it; or at least, I hoped it would. Not that I like to have a lot of violence in my novels, but I do enjoy novels with action and the grittier scenes that happen from physical confrontations. It adds another layer of risk to the story.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this novel just after its release, but I still really wanted to read it. So I avoided reading too much into any other reviews so that I could go into this fresh…and I sure am glad I did!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

This book always kept moving! Whether it was romantic developments or character scenes or action scenes, I never had a dull moment while reading this.

Honestly, if I could have stayed in bed all day to read this, I totally would have!

–The Romance–

Like I said, I’m a sucker for this trope of characters falling in love with their enemies. So this was one of my favourite aspects. These two were a perfect match in my eyes and I like the character growth that is a result of their relationship.

A lot of people will probably struggle with this trope–especially with these two and all that happens between them–but I don’t think it overshadows the story too much. You still have a lot of great plot development outside of the romance even if it is often the main focus of the plot.

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

I like books that aren’t afraid to take risks. If that means killing off a character or two, that’s ok. It makes the story that touch more unpredictable and keeps me excited to see what will happen next because there are no restraints.

I also like that there seems to be true villains here. Evil characters are often water-downed but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s in store.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

I’m one of those readers who likes things spelled out for her, especially when I’m starting a new series.

When it comes to the term “ruined” I honestly had no idea what that meant when I first started reading. I knew these people had “powers” but it was never clearly explained. Or if it was, I totally missed it. Sure, it was easy to understand it once I got a grasp of their abilities but I hate when things are told as if you should already know what it all means. 

I also would have loved a map of the world! While it was pretty easy to orient it, I just think it would be neat to see.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There were so many interesting plot developments at the end of Ruined that I can’t wait to see what is in store. I’m hoping for a touch more world-building and maybe a dash more politics; but otherwise, if Avenged sticks to the same foundations as Ruined, it’ll be great!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

While this story does borrow characteristics and tropes common to the genre, (I think many readers will draw parallels to other novels) I still had a lot of fun with this story. It still felt fresh to me and it definitely has its own unique quirks to make it stand out on its own.

Read if You Like: in love with the enemy romances
Avoid if You: want stronger world-building

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Series Review: Casey Duncan by Kelley Armstrong

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 City of the Lost (from Goodreads):

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you’re accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. As a murderer, Casey isn’t a good candidate, but she has something they want: She’s a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn’t the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Canadian Author
Series: Casey Duncan or Rockton
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 4 (City of the Lost, Darkness Absolute, This Fallen Prey, Book 4)

City of the Lost was initially released as a serial novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, This Fallen Prey will be published February 2018
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover (City of the Lost); Publisher–ARC (Darkness Absolute)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I am a Kelley Armstrong fan. It’s not just because she is a fellow Canuck; she’s one talent writer in every genre she tries. I’ve enjoyed both her YA and Adult paranormal series over the years but I was really excited to see what she could do with a contemporary mystery/thriller.

I knew it was going to be suspenseful–full of great twists and strong characters–so I couldn’t wait to get started!

The Concept / The World:

First, I love the fact that this book is set in Canada! I don’t get to read many books set in my home country so that was a big bonus for me.

Then the idea that there is this isolated town filled with people trying to escape their previous lives? Fascinating. And the perfect place for trouble to brew! You’ve got this small town vibe where anyone can be a suspect and it’s just great to read about. I loved the setting for this series!

The Plot:

I loved, loved, loved the many layers to this series. Everything just builds from start to finish, book to book.

It’s hard to say much without giving anything away–especially for mystery novels–but I’ll just say that this book was far from predictable. There were so many great twists and the big reveals always had me going “say what!?” in surprise.

I will say, that City of the Lost did drag for me in the middle of the novel when the plot shifted more to character development than the actual mystery. Which was fine, because it really helped established the setting for the remainder of the book and the series, but it did feel slower than the first and latter half of the novel. I never had that problem with A Darkness Absolute however. It is a non-stop roller coaster ride from start to finish.

The Characters:

Like I said above, the small town vibe works extremely well for this series. The anticipation of figuring out whodunit when you’ve met everyone is just fabulous for a reader.

All the characters are just so well developed–even the side ones. I loved learning more about each person.

Casey in particular is a winner in my mind. She’s a strong heroine who definitely has her flaws. She’s complex but as the stories progress, you learn more about her and she learns more about herself. Her character development is a highlight for sure. She reminds me of a more subdued version of Lisbeth from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo–a scarred girl who learns to adapt as her world expands.

The Romance:

A very minor role here but one I really enjoyed. I don’t want to give to much away…so I’m just going to leave it at that.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope there are more books to this series! It’s a great world, a fantastic set of characters and the mysteries are just so good.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

City of the Lost 4/5 | A Darkness Absolute  5/5 | Book 3 ?

overall

Honestly, I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this series! (Maybe I hang out in the wrong crowds). It delivers in every way that you want a mystery/thriller to.

Read if You Like: mysteries/thrillers, small town stories
Avoid if You: dislike mysteries
similarreads

  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Underworld Series #1)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson (Millennium Series #1)

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Series Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

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 The Wrath and the Dawn (from Goodreads):

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2016 Fav
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (The Wrath and the Dawn, The Rose and The Dagger)

There is also 3 novella short stories. Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: warm *more implied than anything*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s a bit of a weird story. I always thought that I had The Wrath and The Dawn on my TBR (ie Goodreads) because it was around quite a bit on the blogosphere when it was first released and it sounded like a story I would enjoy. When I saw it again at the bookstore, it’s cover (the one I added below) caught my attention and I thought it was a new book. But as soon as I read the synopsis, I realized that I already had marked this book as TBR. So imagine my surprise when I checked on Goodreads to see that I hadn’t even added it! I think I just added it to my library wishlist and left it at that.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

The revenge trope is one of my favourites; especially when there is an assassination involved. Perhaps that is a little morbid, but I find stories with that “I must kill my enemy” element are grittier and have that (obvious) element of danger to them. The stakes are higher and that makes every subsequent action even riskier and more thrilling. Forbidden love is so much sweeter when you fall for your target.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to admit, I know nothing about A Thousand and One Nights nor The Arabian Nights. I’m sure I would get more out of the retelling if I was more familiar with these works but it really isn’t necessary.

The world here is beautiful! I loved how Ahdieh was able to create this magical world that was so easy to see and emerge myself in without copious amounts of detail. The pages weren’t littered with unnecessary descriptions and so I never felt lost or bored while reading.

Oh! Also, there is a glossary! There were a few terms that I had to Google because I couldn’t find the glossary when I first looked for one. But don’t let that scare you! It’s not like there are a ton of terms you have to learn to enjoy this.

The Plot:

What I really loved about this series is that it wasn’t unnecessarily complicated. It struck that perfect balance between world building, character development and dramatic plot.

The Wrath and The Dawn has a great suspense to it. Why is Khalid killing his wives? Will Shazi really fulfill her need for revenge? I loved watching all that unfold before me. It really hooked me into the story–in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. I really just wanted to sit all day and read this compelling work.

The Rose and The Dagger also had a suspenseful plot but more for the political aspects–which I absolutely adored. It just had that hint of danger to it that had me glued to the pages. And the twists were fabulous!

The Characters:

I think Shazi can be a hard character to like initially. She’s hurt and jaded and she gives off this aura of selfishness that makes it hard to root for her. But she really grows throughout the series and I really appreciated that. And it wasn’t long before I was on her side, wanting her to succeed.

As for Khalid, I really liked him. As much as he is the catalyst for the story we get, the story really is about Shazi and how she deals with everything. And because of that, his development takes a bit of a backseat. But he really is a fascinating character to uncover as the series progresses. I always love a good, mysterious male counterpart.

But one of the highlights of this series is the strong secondary characters. I really fell for the rest of the cast as the story progressed.

The Romance:

This was lacking a bit for me in The Wrath and The Dawn. Despite the fact that it was easy to see why these two would fit together as a reader looking in, I just wanted their sparks elaborated on more. The romance was more implied than I would have liked; more show and tell than watching it unfold. But I still enjoyed it and liked these two together.

And I think that’s why I enjoyed The Rose and The Dagger more. Everything there was just emphasized that little bit more and the romance was definitely amplified there. Here, it was obvious why these two felt the way they did and it was a joy to watch as a reader.

The Novellas:

Well, to call The Crown & The Arrow and The Mirror & The Maze novellas is being generous. They are merely deleted chapters totalling 9 pages and are free on eBook sites. However, I do recommend reading The Crown & The Arrow before The Wrath and the Dawn for some context. Same with The Mirror & The Maze before The Rose & The Dagger. Nevertheless, you could get by without ever reading them as well.

The Moth & The Flame is an actual novella that is probably best read after The Wrath & The Dawn because it is a little spoilery about some side characters.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Wrath and The Dawn 4/5 | The Rose and The Dagger 5/5

overall

The entire series is crafted beautifully. From the characters to the drama to the romance; it’s everything you want in a solid YA series.

Read if You Like: retellings, forbidden love, duologies
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike more romance-based stories

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Single Sundays: Shadow of a Girl by Shannon Greenland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

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

Read if You Like: rockstars, contemporary
Avoid if You: want a “spicier” read
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Series Review: Cottonbloom by Laura Trentham

Synopsis for Kiss Me That Way (from The Publisher):
A river divides Cottonbloom in two: the upscale enclave on the Mississippi side and the rundown, rough and tumble side in Louisiana. They’re worlds apart—but nothing can build a bridge like love…

Cade Fournette never had it easy Cottonbloom. He stuck around long enough to raise his orphaned siblings and then hightailed it out West—and never looked back. Even though he’s made a success of himself in Seattle, Cade never lost the toughness and the angry edge that helped him survive down South. His only weak spot: the girl he left behind…

Monroe Kirby came from the wealthy side of town, but that didn’t protect her from her mother’s drinking—or her mother’s boyfriend. It was Cade who did that, on a long-ago hot September night, before he disappeared…along with a piece of her heart. Now Monroe is a physical therapist who can fight for herself, and it’s Cade who could use some conditioning when he makes an unexpected return back home. Will he and Monroe pick up where they left off and finally explore their mutual passion—or will the scars and secrets of the past divide them once more?

Other books in the series:
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Author: Laura Trentham
# of Books: 5 (Full reading order here)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: No, When the Stars Come Out, will be published January 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 31, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St. Martin’s Press!

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**This post was originally posted as a Blog Tour 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:

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a strictly adult contemporary romance that wasn’t labeled as a “steamier” selection, so I was excited when the opportunity came along to read Laura Trentham’s new series, Cottonbloom Novels.

I wanted a contemporary romance that focused on the characters and their connection to each other–not simply a matter of getting each other into bed. While I normally don’t go for second chance romances, the synopsis gave me the impression that there was more at play in Kiss Me That Way and I was looking forward to finding out what it was.

The Setting:

Nothing gets you attached faster to characters than a great setting, which this series provides. Cottonbloom is such a fun, crazy little town that readers will fall in love with.

Forget the “wrong side of the tracks” motto, this is all about the “wrong side of the river”.

You essentially have a town split in two thanks to the river and that makes for some great, “forbidden” romances and connections. It makes the story a little lighter, providing an upbeat vibe to the somewhat darker stories of Cade and Monroe. Trentham does a beautiful job elaborating on this throughout the novel and you can see how the setting weaves together the next two novels in the series.

The Plot:

I loved the pace of this novel. There was great character development on all fronts–including the secondary characters, which is important for the next two novels. And when Monroe and Cade weren’t learning more about themselves or their families, their romance was so sweet to watch unfold.

But what I really loved was the overarching plotline of the festival. Like I said before, it gives the story a happier vibe without taking away from Cade and Monroe’s past. It also ramps up the anticipation for the rest of the series–which I cannot wait to see!

The Characters:

While the character elements of Monroe and Cade are ones I have encountered before, I still found their characters to be unique and genuine. You can’t help but root for them to succeed in whatever they want, whether that’s love or family matters.

Before I started, I worried that Monroe might be a stubborn woman who resisted all help because she was “independent” now (if that makes sense) and I find those types hard to immediately connect with as a reader. But that honestly wasn’t the case. I really liked her from start to finish. She was strong and smart and perhaps a bit stubborn, but not to the point where it was frustrating. She also didn’t become some simpering fool the minute Cade walked into her life again–she kept true to herself and her independence and I really respected that.

The Romance:

Normally, second chance romances aren’t my thing but I truly enjoyed this one. These two had great chemistry from the get-go which made it so much fun to watch. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but I definitely enjoyed every minute watching these two come together.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

With the little tastes of everyone we got in this first book, I am dying to read the next two! Kiss Me that Way served as a great introduction into this series, and I can’t wait to see how the next two build on it!

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–July 10, 2016– Book #2: Then He Kissed Me


This book was everything I wanted it to be…and a little more!

I had just finished the second chapter when I realized I LOVED Nash! He was so sweet and so adorable that I immediately added him to my select list of book boyfriends. It was so refreshing to read about a hero who wasn’t totally confident in himself and I loved watching his character grow.

Tally was also fantastic. Her growth and self-discovery throughout this novel made it a treat to read.

They complimented each other so well which made the romance awesome to read. They had a great connection and palpable chemistry that I loved all their scenes together.

I enjoyed this novel from start to end and highly recommend it to contemporary romance fans!

–July 31, 2016– Book #3: Till I Kissed You

This story has been building from the very first Cottonbloom novel and building throughout. So I had high expectations going in…and every one was met!

The tension between these two was sizzling off the pages! I loved watching them reunite and battle all the obstacles in their way. It was absolutely perfect–everything fans of this series will want!

Not only was the romance really strong, but the drama plot line was also fantastic. I loved the mystery/suspense aspect to it. It kept you interested as a reader and balanced out the romance beautifully.

Overall, it was an AMAZING way to end this series! I will definitely be checking out more books by Laura Trentham in the future!

–August 3, 2017– Book #4: Leave the Night On

When I learned that there would be new books in the Cottonbloom Series, I thought it was a joke. A very cruel joke because I absolutely loved this series and it was a highlight of my 2016 summer.

I adored Leave the Night On. It has one of my all time favourite tropes, the fake relationship, and it is executed flawlessly. These two has sizzling chemistry from the start and I loved watching them fall deeper and deeper for each other. They were perfect for each other and I couldn’t help but root for them to get together.

And the plot was excellent as well. It had that perfect balance between character development and romantic development. These two had a lot of growth to do as characters and I loved that they did so not only together but independently as well. I had a very hard time putting this one down!

And of course, we got just enough of a taste of what’s to come that I cannot wait until the next Abbott brother gets his story.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Kiss Me That Way 4/5 | Then He Kissed Me 5/5 | Till I Kissed You 5/5 | Leave the Night On 5/5

overall

This book really wasn’t what I was expecting–but in a totally good way! It wasn’t the typical second chance romance that I thought it was going to be. The slow burn romance intermingled with the character development and overall series plot made this one a blast to read! Definitely a great summer book series to get your hands on!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, second chances
Avoid if You: want an erotica romance

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Series Review: Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy

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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Synopsis for The Deal (from Goodreads):
She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite New Adult 2016, Canadian Author
Series: Off-Campus

There is a spin-off series to come!

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 4 (The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, The Goal)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: hot (perhaps a mild kink in The Mistake and The Score)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2015 – September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m rather embarrassed that it took me so long to get around to reading this series despite the fact that I knew about The Deal shortly after it was released last year and that everyone seems to love it. Add to the fact that the author is a fellow Canadian and I shake my head in shame. So it was a no brainer to add The Deal to the priority list of my Rock the TBR challenge.

I love New Adult novels so I was really excited to read this series everyone praises so highly. In particular, I was really excited to read The Deal because it seems to have every New Adult trope I adore (fall in love with the tutor, lover arrangement, a bet/deal, nice guy player) AND it focuses on hockey players! While I love football, it gets a little tiring reading about the star quarterback with a heart of gold in most New Adult Sport titles.

And, I’m Canadian: hockey is a strong passion of mine 😉

The Concept / Reading Order:

I say this series is “Connected yet Chronological” because it does follow a particular order of events with some of the previous plot points reappearing in the next novel. It essentially follows 4 hockey teammates/roommate in their last 2 years of college together as they navigate life and find love. You definitely don’t have to read these books in order, but I feel like you will get a better experience if you do. 

Especially when it comes to The Goal. It overlaps with The Score in terms of chronological events, so you’ll get more out of it if you read it after the previous 3 novels.

The Plot:

All these novels had a great balance between everything that makes a fantastic New Adult novel. You have a passionate romance that is the main focus of the plot but not the only thing happening in the novel. You also have strong character development and some additional drama that keeps things interesting.

In other words: you never get bored.

I felt like all these books moved at a great pace and it was one that kept my full attention at all times. I easily could have finished The Deal in one sitting if I didn’t have school that day. It is sheer New Adult perfection in terms of its delivery if you ask me. And the other books do a great job of following that pattern but with their own unique twists.

The Characters:

I really liked all of these characters! They were so genuine and charming that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. At one point or another they had me laughing at something they said or did, making it so much fun to read their stories.

Garret and Hannah especially were great in The Deal. I just loved watching their interactions and appreciated who they were as people. They just seemed so real to me and they are easily one of my favourite new adult couples.

The cast as a whole has great, relatable stories the make each of their stories unique and so it was great to get to know each of them on a more personal level as the series progressed.

The Romance:

Again, I thought the romance in these novels was pretty damn-well near perfect. While some of the romances start off based on insta-attraction, you really come to see how these couples work the more you read. I’m one who likes to see the emotional connections and I got that in spades here. While these couples do share their “steamy” moments together, they also have those moments that remind you of what it’s like to fall in love with someone who just “gets you”.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:


I thought this series was only 3 books when I bought The Score but I am very excited to get Tucker’s story in The Goal. I honestly can’t wait! I wish I had it in my hands right.now.

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–February 12, 2017– Book #4: The Goal

There were two reasons why I didn’t read this right away: 1) I’m cheap and was waiting for a sale; and 2) I really didn’t want this series to be over. I just love this cast so much that I don’t want to part with them.

Honestly, this novel was perfect. I DEVOURED IT!

Tucker is such a sweet-heart. We didn’t get to see much of him in the previous novels, so unraveling his character was a joy. And his lucky leading lady was fabulous as well. I definitely fell in love with them the more I read.

Given the ending of The Score, I thought The Goal was going to pick up right from there. Instead, it takes the route of a companion novel and starts around the same time as The Score. This works to its benefit and gives you the story you wanted the moment you finished The Score. It’s a great way to wrap up this series.

I’m SO EXCITED that there is going to be a spin-off series! I already have some people in mind 😉

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Deal 5/5 | The Mistake 4/5 | The Score 4.5/5 | The Goal 5/5

overall

Fans of the New Adult genre as a whole will love this series but I also think it is a great starting point for those who are new to the genre or want to try it out. If you like romances with great characters and connections, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: New Adult, stories about athletes
Avoid if You: dislike New Adult, contemporary romance

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