Tag «Rating: 4/5»

ARC Review: Feels Like the First Time (Destiny Bay #2) by Marina Adair

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

Destiny Bay Series

Other books in the series:

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

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

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

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

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

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

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

–Small Town Vibe–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

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

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

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

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Single Sundays: Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

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

Synopsis for Royce Rolls (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Concept:

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

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 4/5

overall

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

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

 

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Series Review: Playboys in Love by Gina L Maxwell

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 Shameless (from Goodreads):

People say I’m shameless. They’re right.

I like my sex dirty. It takes a hell of a lot to tilt my moral compass, and I always follow when it’s pointing at something I want. That goes double when it points straight at the one girl in all of Chicago who’s not dying for a piece of me.

She’s all I can think about, and that’s a problem, because she wants nothing to do with me. But I’ve seen her deepest secrets, her darkest fantasies, and they match mine to a fucking T.

I want her. Bad.

Now I need to show her how good it can feel…to be shameless.

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Series: Playboys in Love
Author: Gina L Maxwell
# of Books: 3 (Shameless, Ruthless, Merciless)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Merciless, will be published TBA
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild | BDSM: light)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Publisher–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had actually never heard of this series until I was asked if I wanted to review book 2, Ruthless. I’m not a huge erotica fan per say but I do like to read adult contemporary romances from time to time. This series sounded like it was the perfect in between, bordering on the New Adult spectrum but with an adult erotica spin.

The Concept:

It’s not mentioned in the synopsis, but this series follows a bunch of male strippers who strip for fun (aka they have other day jobs) and how they meet their match in some special girl. The concept is a lot of fun, it reminded me of the movie Magic Mike but focusing on individuals and not the whole troop. It also reminded me of the Walk of Shame Series that shares a similar idea but this series isn’t as overly dramatic though it shares the kink factor.

Which brings me to the kink factor. It isn’t as extreme as say, a Maya Banks series, but it is definitely present and provides for lots of sexy times. I think if someone is looking for a nice bridge into the erotica genre, this is a nice gateway. It’s well done.

The Plot:

I would say that this series is more focused on the romance and the sexy times than it is with high dramatic antics. Which I really appreciated because I hate when the drama is soap opera-esque. Of course you have some typical tropes thrown in there but otherwise, you get a pretty linear plot.

I will say that the plot had a much better balance in book 2, Ruthless. It actually had more substance to it than sexy times and worked on the character and romance development.

The Characters:

All these characters are very likeable. The females are strong and independent. I never found them losing themselves in their relationships or conforming to be something other than more self-confident.

I also liked the guys. Even though I’m not a huge alpha hero fan, I definitely liked these male leads. They (like the ladies) have great character development throughout the story.

The Romance:

I found the romance to be much stronger in Ruthless (#2) than in Shameless (#1). For me, the romance in Shameless was more insta-love because things move so fast and all seems rooted in instinct rather than emotional connection. I like my romances to spell things out for me when it comes to the romances and it just didn’t work in Shameless for me even though I could see, in theory, how they would work.

Which is why I enjoyed the romance in Ruthless so much more. Thanks to the balanced plot, we actually get to see these two interact in moments other than sex scenes. You see the emotional connection form and you can’t help but root for them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I definitely know what characters I want to see get their own story next. We get just enough of a taste of each of the male leads to get you excited to see what their story is going to be!

Series Rating: 4/5

Shameless 3.5/5 | Ruthless 4/5 | Merciless TBR

overall

If you like books with plenty of sexy times and just a dash of kink, this is a great one for you to read! The perfect series to bridge the NA and Adult erotica gap.

Read if You Like: erotica, books with kink, quick reads
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Single Sundays: Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern

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 Sh*t my Dad Says (from Goodreads):
After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:
“That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.”

“Do people your age know how to comb their hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their heads and started fucking.”

“The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.”
More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice

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Author: Justin Halpern
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humour
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Sometimes, I get car sick when I read. It puts a damper on my reading plans (that’s 3-6 hours I could use to starting/finishing a novel!) but when I discovered the awesomeness that is audiobooks last year, I saw a great alternative. So when it came to the summer and I had two road trips scheduled, I made sure I had some audiobooks on hand just in case I felt like tossing my cookies while I attempted to finish a novel.

Honestly, I found this novel by browsing the nonfiction>humour>available now options at my library. I was familiar with this story though and thought it would be a fun one to listen to, especially with my family who loves witty comedies.

The Concept:

This is a pretty fun concept. We all have that one family member who seems to say the randomest things that make you laugh. It could be your dad, your uncle, your mom, your sibling, your grandma–the list is endless. And then. ever once and a while, they impart this little nugget of wisdom. So I think it goes without saying that most readers can relate to this in some way or another. I know I can from all of the above.

The Writing/Narration:

Each chapter focuses on Justin coming to terms with his current life situation and how something his dad says applies to the lesson he learns. And in between the chapters, you get random quotes from his dad.

I honestly think this book is one the is 20x more fun to listen to than read it. By listening to the story, you get to actually hear the lines delivered to you the way they were delivered to Justin. It almost makes this book seem like a comedy routine instead of a novel.

Did it Impact My Life?

I’ve now started to compile a list of all the sh/t my dad says…just kidding 😉

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This book is short but highly entertaining. I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook over the physical book–it is so, so funny.

Read if You Like: humour, family based stories, memoirs
Avoid if You: dislike audiobooks, want a longer read

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Series Review: Rixton Falls by Winter Renshaw

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 Royal (from Goodreads):
His name is Royal, but he’s no prince charming. He’s not even a prince – though you could say I loved him once upon a time.

He was my older brother’s best friend.

Growing up, he sat at our dinner table every Sunday, teased me mercilessly, and pretended I annoyed him.

When I was old enough, he took me on my first date.

Royal taught me how to drive. Escorted me to my junior prom. Gave me my first kiss…amongst other things. He was my first taste of toe-curling, all-consuming, can’t-sleep love.

We had our whole lives ahead of us. There was never anyone else for me but him.

And then he disappeared. No letter. No explanation. Not even a goodbye.

My sisters and brother never forgave him, and my parents forbade me from speaking his name in our house ever again. For all intents and purposes, we were to pretend Royal Lockhart never existed.

I’ve spent the last seven years trying in vain to forget my first love, but just when I think I’ve finally moved on, guess who’s back in town?

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Series: Rixton Falls

This series crosses over with the Amato Brothers Series in Priceless.

Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Royal, Bachelor, Filthy)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February – June 2016
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought Royal after seeing it listed as an Amazon Bestseller one day when I was browsing the freebie section. Of course, the cover drew me in but the synopsis listed one of my favourite romantic tropes: in love with brother’s BFF. Forbidden love is my kryptonite! Especially when it is a second chance romance that promises a juicy secret for why these two have been separated for all these years!

The Plot:

My only peeve with the drama of this series was how quickly certain things are resolved. The drama isn’t overly complex but even then, I felt like things don’t get expanded upon enough and things are finished nearly as soon as they are introduced.

Especially in Royal where there has been 7 years of bad tension and feelings; certain plot points seemed to be brushed over and not expanded upon. I just expected these characters to have a bit more of a grudge or at the very least, some damaged feelings that need more than a handshake to fully resolve.

But on a positive note, it was nice to have straightforward–and understandable–drama. I didn’t feel like anything was added just for shock factor nor did things come out of left field. Everything follows a nice progression even if its resolution wasn’t for me.

The Characters:

I feel like Royal has the best characters in terms of uncovering their many layers. We actually get to learn more about these two because of their backstory together at the start of the book. I just felt like I knew these two better than the rest of the leads in the other novels.

For the most part, we just scratch the surface with the other leads. And you know what, it works for their stories for the most part. I would have liked a little more elaboration but I was satisfied with what we were given.

The Romance:

Royal I think had the best romance because they already had an established relationship. It was easy to see why these two liked each other. It was the same situation with Filthy as well.

The reason I downgraded Bachelor to a 3/5 was because the romance was almost insta-love. I just needed to a little more to convince me these two got each other on a deeper level because everything happens so fast.

Series Rating: 4/5

Royal 4/5 | Bachelor 3/5 | Filthy 4/5

overall

If you want a quick and romantic read with just the right amount of drama and likeable characters, this trilogy makes for the perfect weekend series read to binge on!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, new adult romance, drama
Avoid if You: dislike drama
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Series Review: The Sky by J W Lynne

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 Above the Sky (from Goodreads):

HER FIRST EIGHTEEN YEARS WERE FILLED WITH LIES.
SHE IS ABOUT TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH.

Eighteen-year-old Seven and her best friend, Ten, live where all is peaceful … except for the violent war raging above the sky. Lifelike humanoid robots and self-operated drones tend to everyone’s needs, leaving people free to spend their time stimulating their minds and enjoying life’s pleasures. But there are strict rules and few choices.

Every year, on Assignment Day, the path of each eighteen-year-old’s life is laid out. Some are given the jobs for which they have shown exceptional aptitude and are “paired” for mating. The others are sent off to fight in The War and never return.

When Assignment Day comes for Seven, the assignments shatter everything she’s ever believed. The rules force everyone to accept their fates, but Seven decides to do something unprecedented: to go against the Decision Makers’ wishes.

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Series: The Sky Trilogy; Above the Sky Series
Author: J W Lynne
# of Books: 3 (Above the Sky, Return to the Sky, Part of the Sky)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating: warm *more suggestive than descriptive*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

**This is a review of the first book only: Above the Sky**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love dystopian novels but lately I’ve been reading more high fantasy than science fiction. So I was really interested in reviewing this series because:

ABOVE THE SKY is perfect for readers who enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES (by Suzanne Collins), DIVERGENT (by Veronica Roth), THE MAZE RUNNER (by James Dashner), ENDER’S GAME (by Orson Scott Card), and THE GIVER (by Lois Lowry)

While I’ve only read the first three series listed there, I did enjoy them (some more than others). But those are big shoes to fill. So, I was excited to see what this series could bring to this genre and how it would stand out from its predecessors.

The Concept / The World:

Like any dystopian novel, there are certain staple features to the world but it never felt like a copy-cat. There are enough unique flares to make this story original and engaging for the readers.

My favourite aspect was the mystery element to the world. What is happening around Seven? What is “the war”? What does it mean to be a “warrior”? Why did society resort to this? I had so many questions and I could’t wait to get the answers! It was great getting those little reveals on the way.

The Plot:

While there isn’t a lot of physical action (ex. fighting, etc), the story moved at a consistent pace that never left me bored. Part of the drive to keep reading was the mystery of the world but also the society Seven is a part of.

Throw in some interesting twists along the way and you’ve got an intriguing story. The plot itself is something I haven’t really come across yet in the genre and I found that to be really refreshing.

The Characters:

Seven is a bit of an unintentional unreliable narrator because she too is exploring the world. But I liked her curiosity and her willingness to learn to adapt to the situation. It was nice to see her character grow as the situation changes.

The rest of the cast is also solid. Again, you only get tidbits when the time is right and I loved that.

The Romance:

While this aspect is important, it doesn’t become the sole focus like so many other dystopian novels. It’s super cute.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have so many questions I need answered! I can’t wait to see how the next one picks up!

Series Rating: 4/5

Above the Sky 4/5 | Return to the Sky TBA | Part of the Sky TBA

overall

If you like your dystopians to be more mystery than high paced action, this is a great series to try!

Read if You Like: Science Fiction, mystery
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action
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Series Review: Ravenspire by C J Redwine

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

Ravenspire Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Shadow Queen (from Goodreads):

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

breakdown

Series: Ravenspire
Author: C J Redwine
# of Books: 2 (The Shadow Queen, The Wish Granter)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books are planned
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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:

I really enjoyed Redwine’s Defiance Trilogy for its strong characters and thrilling plotline, so I was eagerly awaiting her next series. Not only did The Shadow Queen have an awesome cover but I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling and I knew Redwine would do a great job.

This book was one of my top TBR picks of 2016, but some not so favourable reviews scared me away from grabbing it right away. But when I reread the synopsis in December 2016, I just knew I had to give it a shot.

What I Liked:

–The World–

The premise in this series is that each kingdom is going to get its own retelling and I could not be more excited for that! Each kingdom is so unique and has its own little quirks so I can’t wait to uncover them.

The world itself is easy to understand and easy to visualize. Redwine doesn’t drone on about the setting but she doesn’t bypass it either. She finds that right balance to get you acquainted with the kingdoms without boring you.

–The Characters–

I’m not sure how many people watch ABC’s Once Upon a Time but Lorelai reminded me a lot of Snow (and not just because they are Snow White). She’s a kickass lead with a heart of gold but she also has her own flaws. I like that she isn’t perfect and I like that she isn’t defenceless and requires a “prince” to save her from her troubles. And the same can be said about Kol–he isn’t some flawless character either.

The cast as a whole was a lot of fun. It was easy to root for the good guys and despise the bad guys (you always need a good villain). They were all so likeable to me and that made me want to read more about their story. And there were some heartwarming moments as well.

–The Loose Retelling–

I like that this story wasn’t so focused on the retelling. That it isn’t a cut and dry Snow White story. It follows its own path and borrows some key features of the Snow White fairy tale along the way. It’s very reminiscent of The Lunar Chronicles in that respect where the fairy tale serves as the base but the plot goes its own way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Was that little bit too long–

Somewhere around the latter half of the book, I started to get a little bored. Which was weird because things were happening–it wasn’t like the characters were just sitting around waiting; there was plenty of action. I think I just wanted to get to the climax that little bit sooner. One plot device in particular seemed like it was just regurgitated in a slightly different way after it had been resolved and that really slowed down the story for me.

Otherwise, the pacing was great and the story kept my attention.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I’m excited to explore more of these kingdoms. I’m super glad that this story isn’t going to be dragged out across multiple volumes.

updates

–April 13, 2017– Book #2: The Wish Granter

I was really curious to see how the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale would be brought to life in The Wish Granter and I wasn’t disappointed. While the fairy tale itself is pretty classic, Redwine had some great creative twists.

The first being that Teague is fae–such a simple thing but one that is perfect. Faerie characters are known for their deception and tricky deals with others; perfect for a Rumpelstiltskin character. It also helps that he is a pretty evil dude that you can’t help but hate (in that great way you can detest a villain).

As for the heroes–I really loved Ari. It’s nice to have a strong heroine who isn’t strong because she can physically kick ass. Ari is intelligent, compassionate and you can’t help but root for her. She also has great character growth throughout the story. Sebastian was much of the same. I really liked how he evolved as a character throughout.

And the romance was just adorable. One of my new favorite couples. They just had great chemistry in all aspects and I loved every scene they had together.

My Rating: 4/5

The Shadow Queen 4/5 | The Wish Granter 4/5

overall

With any fairy tale retelling, you’re going to get comparisons and similar plot lines. (The source material is the same of course) But Redwine does a good job of creating an entertaining read that has its own unique twists on a story that has been done again and again.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, subtle romance, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike magic use
similarreads

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Series Review: Avoiding by K A Linde

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 Avoiding Commitment (from Goodreads):
Jack and Lexi never had a typical relationship. After 2 years without speaking, she receives a phone call that changes everything. He unexpectedly asks her to convince the new girl, Bekah, that he’s ready to commit. Jack is calling now after everything they had been through because there is another woman. She can’t believe it.

Follow Lexi in this heart wrenching drama as she relives her past relationship, or lack thereof, with Jack, and not just in her own mind, but to his fiance-to-be. Throw in Bekah’s hot brother who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, a past with more secrets to unravel than you can even imagine, and you get a recipe for disaster.

Find out what happens to Lexi as she travels to Atlanta to get the closure she so desperately desires from Jack, and how the bumps of life seem to keep getting in the way.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New Adult Read 2016 (Avoiding Commitment)
Series: Avoiding Trilogy
Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 3 (Avoiding Commitment, Avoiding Responsibility, Avoiding Temptation)

There are two novellas: #1.5 Avoiding Decisions & #2.5 Avoiding Intimacy

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2012 – December 2013
Source & Format: Own (Kindle)–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar; I think I might have seen it on Kindle or perhaps Kobo recommended it to me. Regardless, when the boxset was on sale on Amazon, I decided to buy it and give it a shot.

I’ll admit, I was hesitant to start this one. The main reason was that it reeked of a love triangle between Lexi, Jack and Bekah’s “brother”. I didn’t want to commit (see what I did there?) to a 3 novel story about a girl torn between two dudes. Which brings me to reason #2: I didn’t think I would like Lexi. The synopsis made it sound like she was a homewrecker who was going to stop at nothing to split Jack and Bekah apart. I’m not really sure how I got that impression reading it back again, but I didn’t have a favourable impression of Lexi before I started this series.

That quickly changed though…

The Plot:

What I really liked about this entire series was that we had chapters set in the present and chapters set in the past. Essentially, you are getting two stories at once so it makes for quite the addicting read. You slowly put together the pieces of the past to fill in your questions about the present to get the whole picture.

And what a picture you get!

I really worried that this story would just be Lexi torn between two boys and her being indecisive about who to choose. But there is so much more to it than that. As you learn more about the relationships you see that there is so much more to it than a girl in a love triangle. It’s one of those times where the love triangle as used as a necessary device to the story and not simply something added for some “excitement”.

The Characters:

Like I said above, I didn’t expect to like Lexi. I have very little patience for girls who get torn between two guys. However, it only took me two chapters to completely change my opinion about Lexi–and absolutely despise Jack. After seeing how awful Jack treated her, it was super easy to sympathize with her situation. Sure, she made some choices I vehemently disagreed with, but I understood why she felt like she had to make those choices and that worked well for me.

One of the best features of this series is the character development. The characters you start with are not the same people you get in the finale. All these characters evolve thanks to the events in these books and it’s truly awesome to watch. They have their flaws and their quirks, but it’s great to see how that contributes to the story. Solid character development never fails to impress.

The Romance:

Lexi’s relationship with Jack is the definition of unhealthy. The way he toys with her emotions makes it hard to read at times. But it also provided an interesting dynamic to the story that is the backbone to this series.

However, I can’t say that I really liked any of Lexi’s love interests. Part of the issue is that I never really saw the appeal of Lexi. Why did all these guys seem to find themselves in love with her? I truly don’t know. I get the impression she is physically attractive and perhaps ambitious when it comes to her career; but aside from that, it felt more implied than explained. Which is fine, I just like picking a side when it comes to my love triangles and I had a hard time choosing.

The Novellas:

I actually recommend that you read Avoiding Decisions (#1.5) after you read Avoiding Responsibilities (#2); even though the novella is listed as #1.5. It gives you a little too much insight into one character and I think that ruins your reading experience for Responsibilities. And Avoiding Intimacy (#2.5) is also best after Responsibilities (#2).

Series Rating: 4/5

Avoiding Commitment 5/5 | [Avoiding Decisions] 4/5 | Avoiding Responsibilities 4/5 | [Avoiding Intimacy] 4/5Avoiding Temptation 4/5

overall

It’s hard to say too much about this story without giving it away. All I’ll say is that this story really surprised me. It is so much more than a girl choosing between two love interests…it’s about growing up and dealing with whatever life throws your way. With just enough drama to keep you hooked!

Read if You Like: romance drama, stories with flashbacks
Avoid if You: dislike cheating
similarreads

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Fresh Fridays: Unknown (#1) by Wendy Higgins

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:

Unknown Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Unknown (from Goodreads):
Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

breakdown

Series: Unknown
Author: Wendy Higgins
# of Books: 3+ (Unknown, Unrest, Undone)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No Unrest, will be published February 2017
Genre: New Adult, Non-Contemporary, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It and Review It–eARC  |  Thank you Wendy Higgins!

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Sweet Trilogy is one of my all time favourite fallen angel series. I loved the dark and dangerous world Higgins created. Although it was labeled as a YA series, it definitely had a more mature vibe to it that I adored. So I was pretty excited to see she was taking on the New Adult genre with this particular piece.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery–

Ok, I have no idea what the hell is happening here and I LOVE IT!

This is the good kind of WTF: the type that keeps you in the dark until that moment of the big reveal–but you still know what is actually happening to the characters around you. Meaning this novel isn’t confusing to read, it just leaves you waiting in anticipation for the “unknown”. Fantastic.

–Amber’s Family–

Because the first half of the book really focuses on establishing Amber and her family’s lives, you really, really get invested into these characters. I loved their family dynamic and their relationships.

–The Romance–

There is just the right amount of romance here in this book. But what I really liked was the suspense it brought. You know, a lot of the time the “forbidden” relationships between a girl and her brother’s BFF are terribly predictable. It’s obvious that they’ve secretly loved each other for years yada yada. Not so much the case here. So I really enjoyed watching everything unfold for this aspect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Pacing–

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think I just had my own preconceived notions about what the actual plot of the story was going to be. I thought the aftermath of the bombings was going to be the main focus of the novel–and that isn’t totally the case. The bombings don’t happen until the 50% mark.

Instead this book takes its time by setting up Amber’s life and relationships–not the action packed novel I expected. However, as you can see from above, I rather enjoyed that part of the novel in the end. The pacing is still great and never lags so I wasn’t bored by this shift; I just wasn’t expecting it. I liked how invested I became in the characters and truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have been if we had just jumped right into the action.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When we finally get to the action, this book was addicting to read. I have so many unanswered questions and theories that I can’t wait to uncover in the sequel. Is it here yet?

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Unknown 4/5 | Unrest TBP | Undone TBP

overall

This is another solid series by Wendy Higgins. The characters are fantastic, the romance is there in just the right amount and the suspense is awesome.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, post-apocalypse
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

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