Tag «Rating: 4/5»

Single Sundays: None of the Above by I W Gregorio

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 None of the Above (from Goodreads):

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex… and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

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Author: I W Gregorio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It seemed to me that 2015 was the year of “must-read” YA contemporaries. I marked off quite a few as TBR that year thanks to rave reviews from fellow bloggers. Not my usually genre but buzz can do that.

I was drawn to None of the Above for the intersex aspect. As someone who studied science–particularly health sciences–I know what it means to be intersex medically speaking but what does it mean as an everyday person? I was eager to explore that with this book.

The Plot:

As you might have expected, you follow Kristin’s journey from “normal” teenager to learning she is intersex and what that means for her going forward. It’s a heartbreaking journey at times because this girl really does go through a lot. (Truthfully, I lost a little hope in humanity with some of the things people say and do to her).

But there really isn’t much else to the plot. Which is fine because I like the focus on Kristin coming to terms with her diagnosis and becoming comfortable–I mean that’s why I picked up the book.

I do have one peeve with the plot that I have to get off my chest and it’s a spoiler so proceed with caution before opening it.

Spoiler

When Josh assaults Kristin at the club after he realizes she is intersex, I didn’t like that she doesn’t report the assault. I understand that she just got comfortable with other people knowing about her condition but her reasoning that “it being on file will stop him from doing it again” is such bullshit. He will do it again because he thinks he can get away with it. I really wish she would have reported it because it sets a precedence that it’s ok to defend yourself by filing charges but not following through. You aren’t being a hero by letting it slide.

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The Characters:

Truthfully, I wasn’t a big Kristin fan. I can appreciate her journey and how she does grow up from the situation but she was a little too…stereotypical? (Not sure if that is the right word. Maybe cliche?). She’s your classic teenage girl who focuses on popularity, keeping her hot boyfriend and college. And those aren’t bad things necessarily–I just feel like she didn’t evolve from that.

While Kristin learns to accept her condition, her character growth remains pretty stifled. I really wanted her to have this big epiphany that there is more to life than high school and a good-looking boyfriend and she doesn’t really have that.

The Romance:

I’m a little torn on this. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t a huge focus. On the other hand, I don’t like how it is used as a validation that Kristin is a girl because a boy likes her. (Maybe I’m reading too much into it?)

I get that Kristin worries she won’t have that relationship because she isn’t a “true” girl. The difference between gender and sexual orientation is something that is unfortunately linked together. It’s something she struggles with and it does add to her story in a positive way. I just feel like she didn’t think she was complete until she got that “love” from a boy despite the great support from Gwen and her dad.

The Audiobook Version:

This was really well done. One of the nice things about listening to contemporary audiobooks is the emotions they convey. It’s like listening to someone tell you their life story and it’s so easy to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

While the subject matter of None of the Above is superb, it does sometimes slip into the typical flow of YA contemporaries instead of keeping its focus elsewhere. However, it is an eyeopening read that I recommend to everyone.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: (honestly, this is a book everyone should read)
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Series Review: The Rules by Monica Murphy

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 Fair Game (from Goodreads):

Bad enough Jade Frost’s boyfriend drags her to a boring poker game. Even worse that he actually threw her into the betting pot during an intense round…and lost. Talk about the perfect excuse for Jade to make him her ex-boyfriend.

Now she supposedly belongs to the ultra rich, extremely gorgeous Shep Prescott. He could have anything he wants yet he seems to be in hot pursuit of her. No matter how rude, how snarky, how impossible she acts, it doesn’t stop him. More like her horrible behavior seems to make him want her more.

When she finds herself starting to fall for him, Jade’s confused. There’s more to Shep than the carefree rich charmer he portrays. No way could he want a serious relationship with her…or could he?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Rules

Crosses over with the One Week Girlfriend Series in Safe Bet

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 4 (Fair Game, In the Dark, Slow Play, Safe Bet)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Monica Murphy is my go to author for fun but heartwarming New Adult romances. She just writes really good stories that I get into from start to finish. And every series by her is unique in its execution and motivation.

I’ll admit, I picked this series up a little bit earlier than I planned to just because I wanted to read the crossover with the One Week Girlfriend Series in the 4th novel, Safe Bet. And, I needed a lighter series after reading a heavier contemporary novel.

The Plot:

Monica admitted at the end of Book 2, In the Dark, that she isn’t trying to reinvent the New Adult romance genre with these books. They’re supposed to be lighter, fun reads for her readers. And they definitely succeed in that aspect! I just had a lot of fun reading these books! And they definitely brightened my mood 🙂

But what I also liked is that they are toned down in the drama department. You don’t get that petty, soap opera-esque scenarios (like overly jealous girls or “cheating” situations). Instead, the focus stays on the characters as they learn who they are and why they want to pursue their respective relationships. It just keeps the story focused on what matters and I loved that.

The Characters:

I’ll admit, it took me a while to warm up to a few of these characters. In particular, I struggled with Shep and Jade in Fair Game and Tristan in Slow Play. I did warm up to Shep and Jade as their story progressed though. It just took some time to see the deeper side of their characters. Tristan…he suffers a bit from his presentation in the first two books (where he is a total dog) and so he really had to work hard to get me on his side. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed his story.

But Gabe and Lucy’s story stole the show for me in In the Dark! They were perfect! I thought they had the best connection but also the best individual character development.

The Romance:

While the connections are a little insta-love, they do progress into genuine connections. It’s a little more “told” than “shown” when it comes to the writing, but it’s obvious why they all fall for their respective partners.

It’s not too spicy and it’s not too cheesy: it just hits that perfect mark.

Series Rating: 4/5

Fair Game 4/5 | In the Dark 5/5 | Slow Play 3/5 | Safe Bet  4/5

overall

Need a nice pick-me-up? This is a great contemporary romance series for those looking for a cute and addicting read that is light on the drama.

Read if You Like: straight forward romances, heartwarming reads
Avoid if You: dislike player heroes
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Fresh Fridays: Flame in the Mist (#1) by Renee Ahdieh

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:

Flame in the Mist Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Flame in the Mist (from Goodreads):

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love, Must Read Author
Series: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
# of Books: 2 (Flame in the Mist, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you asked me what my top 3 Disney movies are, I would say without hesitation: Aladdin, Mulan and Hercules. I loved Mulan as a young girl because she is like every girl you will ever meet. She’s bound by family duty and love and pressured by society to be a certain way. What girl doesn’t feel that at some point or another? And her transformation to assert her independence is inspirational for any young girl who watches it.

So I think it goes without saying, I was very, very excited to pick this book up. Even if this story wasn’t based on Mulan, I was eagerly awaiting Ahdieh’s next series after I completely fell in love with her The Wrath and the Dawn Duology last year.

Best Advice: Forget Disney’s Mulan & Keep to the Basics!

I know I just touted Disney’s Mulan (and I could write a very long post praising the movie) for its awesomeness, but I think it important to go into this remembering that that movie is based on the Chinese legend Hua Mulan–as is this book.

So expect plot differences and new characters; don’t expect songs and a talking dragon.

What do they share? A heroine who has always struggled with her place in society and her family. A girl who is smart in ways people don’t expect; who has a knack for crafting military devices that save her friends. A young woman who begins a journey to learn that she is more powerful and independent than she ever thought.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I love everything about Japan, particularly feudal Japan. I just find its history and culture to be fascinating. So having the novel set here immediately hooked me in. Ahdieh has a great power to weave worlds and it shows here. It’s rich and layered and even though it is influenced by another source, she makes it her own.

–The Politics–

I’m a sucker for political intrigue in my reads. It’s one of the reasons I adored The Wrath and The Dawn series so much. I love when you don’t know who you can trust; when there is more at play than you can ever imagine. This book has that thanks to the multiple POVs we get. You have this 360 degree view of the world and everything that is at play and I loved it.

–Mariko’s Character Development–

Mariko really blossoms before your eyes in terms of her growth. She’s shy and reserved at the start but slowly begins to break out of her shell. Her journey isn’t without fault, and she sure isn’t perfect but she continues to learn as she goes. Definitely a heroine you can root for.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place for it, but its appearance just seemed so sudden and abrupt that it took me a long time to realize what was happening. (It’s hard to elaborate without spoilers).

I genuinely grew to like the two of them together by the end but I just didn’t like how this was handled at the start. I guess I wanted a little more build-up.

–Slower Start–

I’m not sure what I was expecting at the start of the novel. I thought it was action but when I thought about it, I think I knew that there wasn’t going to be physical action immediately. Mariko’s character definitely isn’t at that point at the start and you know that thanks to the synopsis. So what was my problem?

Truthfully, I think it just takes the reader a few chapters to get acquainted with the world. Like I said above, this world is rich and layered and you don’t really get the full picture of what is happening until you are a few chapters in. It needs to build, and it definitely does as you go, just give it some time to get there.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! This start has so many great inklings to lead into the sequel. It’s building up to a fantastic climax that I can’t wait to see!

My Rating: 4/5

Flame in the Mist 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This story kept my attention from start to finish; from the rich setting to the intriguing characters, there’s a lot to like about this retelling!

Read if You Like: feudal Japan, world-building, Mulan
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more action

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Breaking Point by Jay Crownover

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Breaking Point Series is a spin-off of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy

book2 book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Breaking Point

This is a spinoff of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy Series.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 3 (Honor, Dignity, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Dignity, will be published in October 2017
Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was really excited to learn that Jay Crownover was returning to the Point. There were so many stories left untold in the original trilogy that I wanted to read and I was afraid I would never get to see them. But never fear, Jay Crownover knows she has created an addictingly dark world and is just as eager to continue these stories.

How Does it Compare to the Original Series?

–Perfect Balance Between Suspense & Romance–

Like the inaugural series, this one strikes the right balance between romance and the suspenseful plot. While the romance is a driving feature of these novels, there is also a fabulously thrilling plot happening as well. Unlike other romantic-suspense novels where your romantic moments are a little sparse (they feel like you are just checking off the romance requirements as you go), these are integral throughout the novel. But they never overshadow the plot itself which is fully developed and not something that is left to the very end to quickly wrap up.

–Romantic Partnerships–

I just love all the pairings in these world. They are so well matched for each other. It isn’t just physical attraction that brings the two leads together. They just understand each other so well and bring out the best in each other.

–Not Your Everyday Heroes–

I like that these characters aren’t your typical romance leads. They aren’t always the nicest people but that saves them from being cliche I think. Their stories are fresh and unique and that wants you to learn more about them. They all are fabulously crafted.

–All The Stories Are Connected via a Sequence of Events–

While each book focuses on a different set of leads, you are still integrated with the world. There’s this overarching plot line that is threaded throughout all the books and you just want to read the next one to see what happens next.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not particularly. This is just a solid novel and highly entertaining.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have to wait until Book 3 for the one story I am literally dying to read but the little cliffhanger we got at the end of Honor has me excited for Dignity–the story I never knew I wanted.

Series Rating: 4/5

Honor 4/5 | Dignity TBA | Book 3 TBA

overall

I think you will get more out of this series if you read the Welcome to the Point Trilogy first but, if you love anti-heroes and true bad boys, this is worth your time.

Read if You Like: bad boys, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike violence, crime

similarreads

  • Slade by Victoria Ashley (Walk of Shame Trilogy #1)
  • Ignited by J Kenner (Most Wanted Trilogy #3)

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Honor (from Goodreads):

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one front and center.

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Series Review: Fortunate by Jessica Roe

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 Because of Him (from Goodreads):

Blair Ackerman is a girl with crazy hair and a bad attitude. She’s a girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She’s a girl with only a duffel bag and a car named Nancy to her name, and that’s okay by her. She’s tough because she has to be. Nobody gets inside her head, nobody gets inside her heart.

Silver is everything she’s never wanted. He’s a good guy, a smart guy, a guy who’s never met a girl like her before. He’s the kind of guy who loves history, who laughs at his own jokes, who kisses like a sinful dream. He’s the kind of guy who might just break down her walls and get inside her heart and make her feel.

Too bad he’s forbidden.

Because when Blair’s mom dies and she’s sent to live with the father she’s never met and a family that doesn’t want her, Blair and Silver cross paths in ways they never could have imagined, and they discover that even though they know they should, they can’t quite bring themselves to stay apart.

Opposites really do attract.

breakdown

Series: Fortunate
Author: Jessica Roe
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading List)

The novels that start with “Something” are longer novellas, not full novels.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: More books are planned
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Because of Him); Alternating (Falling For Him, onwards)
Publication Dates: December 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Once again, who knows how this series crossed my radar but I bought Because of Him a few years ago and finally got around to it thanks to my 2017 #ShelfLove Reading Challenge. Which worked in my favour because by this point, my library got the rest of the novels in the series (minus one) and I could binge read the series.

I was drawn to Because of Him thanks to the line:

Blair and Silver cross paths in ways they never could have imagined, and they discover that even though they know they should, they can’t quite bring themselves to stay apart.

I love books with secrets and this one sounded juicy (though Goodreads spoiled it for me a bit when I saw the tags associated with the novel. Ugh.) so I couldn’t wait to find out what this forbidden love was.

The Plot:

What I really enjoyed about these books is that they have the right balance between character development and romance. You get to see these characters evolve and learn from their pasts in a way that is tied to the romance but not necessarily because of the romance. What I mean is that the leads don’t change who they are simply to get the “girl/guy”, rather they better themselves for themselves. I just love that.

I also like that you get integrated into the lives of the side characters–who eventually become the next novel’s leads. While you could definitely read these books as standalones, you get little hints of what is happening next (and where those past couples are now) and it makes you addicted to finding out the future holds for everyone.

The Characters:

I liked all of these characters. They all seemed very real and genuine to me. I easily got very invested in their stories which was great and had me eager for the next story.

The Romance:

All of these couples have fantastic chemistry: that is apparent from the start. Even when it seems like the romance might be based solely on physical chemistry, it evolves to be so much more. The best way I can describe it is as a slow burn romance that takes it time to reach the end goal but gives you enough along the way you aren’t deprived of those romantic moments you love.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I definitely have one character in mind that I want to see the story for so I’m excited for that to come!

Series Rating: 4/5

Because of Him 4/5 | Something Real 4/5 | Falling for Him 5/5 | Something True 4/5 | Nothing Like Him 3/5

overall

Definitely one of the most solid NA romance series I’ve ever read in terms of consistency. Each book on its own is great, filled with awesome characters and fantastic romance. Readers will definitely enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: NA romance, connected series
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike slow burn
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Fresh Fridays: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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:

Other books in the series:
book3

Synopsis for My Lady Jane (from Goodreads):
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

breakdown

Series: My Ladies Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane, My Calamity Jane)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This novel was everywhere in 2016! And I’ll admit, I didn’t know much else about it other than it was a retelling of Lady Jane Grey who was somehow connected to the British throne and it was supposed to be funny. I’ve also read series by all three of these authors in the past and enjoyed them. Sounded like a winning combination to me!

So I went in without reading any other reviews in order to not raise my expectations too high. I was hoping for a fun and entertaining read–and if I learned something about the British Monarchy, bonus!

The Concept / The World:

Years ago, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and really enjoyed it. So I am completely open to magic/supernatural changes to a classic story or history. But I really wasn’t expecting the animal shifter storyline we got here. It took me a long to time get comfortable with it.

I also think part of the problem was that I’m not entirely familiar with English History. It was a similar problem to when I picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer–I don’t know American history and so I couldn’t make the little connections between the parody and actual history and that diminished my reading experience.

I really didn’t know who Jane Grey was before I picked this up.  So I read Wikipedia a lot to find out who all the players were and what actually happened in history just so I knew what the authors were trying to do.

Once I made the connections between history and this fictitious story, I started to appreciate it a lot more. The writing here is smart. The conflict between shifters and nonshifters here and its parallel to the religious conflicts of Jane Grey’s time (for example) is fantastic. It’s those little things that make this story interesting to read overall.

The Plot:

I really found the first half of this book to be slow–so slow that I almost contemplated DNFing. Yes, I did love the humour but the animal shifting really threw me off and I wasn’t sure if I liked how the story was progressing. But once I got familiar with the history and got comfortable with the world, I started to enjoy it a lot more.

Plus, I really wanted to know how it was going to end!

And I have to say, that once I got to the halfway point, it really started to pick up. It got a hell of a lot more exciting and I started to get won over by the characters and the plot.

The Characters:

What I liked about this story was that it was told from Edward, Jane and Gifford’s POVs. Not only do you get to learn more about these characters through their POVs, but I find multiple POVs help keep the story moving even when it doesn’t feel like it is.

All of these characters have their little quirks which makes the narration a lot of fun to read. So even when the plot was slow to get somewhere, the characters kept me entertained.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge part of the story but it is pretty cute. The romantic in me was happy with the little spurts we got throughout the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see what will happen next and what these ladies have in store.

 

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

My Lady Jane 4/5  |  My Plain Jane TBR  |  My Calamity Jane TBR

overall

I’m in the minority with this book I think because I know a lot of people who LOVE this novel. If you go into it knowing that it doesn’t take itself seriously and has magical elements to it, you’ll enjoy this a lot more.

Read if You Like: humour, historical novels, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike parodies, want a serious retelling

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Single Sundays: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

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 Zenn Diagram (from Goodreads):

The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.

Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.

Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.

Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

breakdown

Author: Wendy Brant
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had never heard of this book until I stumbled upon Poulami @ Daydreaming Books review back in April. I’m not one for YA contemporaries in general but the mathematics aspect as well as Eva’s gift made this book seem unique and fresh. So I was definitely interested in seeing how everything plays out.

The Concept:

Eva’s gift of reading people’s emotions and anxiety was a very neat addition to this story. It helps to reinforce her personality and actions in a way that you wouldn’t get otherwise. And of course, it adds some drama to the backbone of this coming of age story.

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if this story would have been stronger without it. While it plays a very important role in the first half of the novel, it doesn’t have too much of a role in the latter half. It gives the story a whimsical feeling to it that almost diminishes the overall emotion of the story–or it did to me a little bit.

But it’s still a super refreshing aspect and the story wouldn’t be what it is without it.

The Plot:

This story reads very much like your typical coming of age story, but with lots of twists. I have to say that this plot surprised me more than I ever anticipated! There is so much more to this story than a girl crushing on a boy she can’t touch and I was totally invested.

The Characters:

I thought Eva was absolutely hilarious as a heroine. I totally laughed out loud throughout this story at some of her comments and her wit.

She’s also very relateable as well. The inner math geek in my found a kindred spirit for sure. But the teenage girl in me resonated with her insecurities too. Like strains on your friendships because of boyfriends or other after-school commitments; anxiety with post-secondary school and simply just being confident in yourself. I think many of us have felt those things at one point or another.

However, I did find her a little judgey (or perhaps the word I want is pessimistic?) when it came to her fractals. She really jumps to some steep conclusions and assumptions about people simply by touch and not through knowing who they are. It’s easy to do for sure and I can’t blame her either (the feelings are powerful and overwhelming) but it irked me a little.

The Romance:

This was super cute and completely adorable. Zenn is such a swoon-worthy hero and I immediately fell for him. He’s got that mysterious aura around him and is so genuine that it’s hard not to like him.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting! This book is fun but also serious when it needs to be and it’s just a heartwarming read that will have you laughing, swooning and perhaps shedding a tear along the way.

Read if You Like: coming of age, unique premises
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries

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Series Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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

Three Dark Crowns Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Three Dark Crowns (from Goodreads):

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

breakdown

Series: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
# of Books: 4 (Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Throne, book 3, book 4)

There is a prequel novella, The Young Queens.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 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’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my TBR for YEARS but have never managed to pick it up. But when I saw this book on Stephanie @ In Wonderland‘s Make Me Read It Readathon options, I was more than intrigued.

The simple cover and that dangerous synopsis sounded AMAZING! I love stories with a darker edge to them and what is more sinister than 3 sisters having to duke it out to become queen? The answer: nothing. Well, maybe brothers having to battle it out.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world we got here. It was easy to follow but is pretty complex and interesting. I never got lost in how the world or political system operated which was nice. The girls have such unique powers–it isn’t just straight magic and differing abilities in that respect–so that was really refreshing for me as a reader.

–The Strong Female Characters–

I’m not just talking about the sisters here; I’m talking about the world as a whole. One of the really cool aspects of this series is the matriarchal society. Women are the rulers and decision makers for the entire populace. It isn’t young women being carted off to the potential King to get married: it’s the young men to the potential Queen. It isn’t the men who decide what the triplets will do, it’s the women.

–Game of Thrones Political Vibe–

Essentially, this story is about 3 different groups competing to be the ruler of the entire world. Sound familiar? It’s basically the premise of every “kill to get the throne” novel but it really reminded me of Game of Thrones. All these people are trying to propel who they think deserves to be the Queen by whatever means necessary. There really is no holding back here and I enjoyed that a lot. I hate books that can’t take those risks.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s a really, really slow start when you expected something else–

I went into this novel thinking I was going to be getting action right away. Not the case. At all.

Instead, we get long chapters establishing the 3 girls in their current homes and communities. And yes, it was nice to establish the setting and all the players involved in the game, but I wanted action and I wanted it ASAP.

In fact, I feel a little let down by the synopsis. It made me think this battle for power was going to be the pain plot point. When in fact, what we get is the building up to that moment when the girls will have to fight it out. We wait a long time for “the night the sisters turn sixteen”.

But once I got over the fact that the plot I thought we were getting wasn’t actually the plot, I started to enjoy the novel more for what is truly was.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This series ended with a bang which made the struggle at the start worth it. I feel like what I expected this novel to be, is what One Dark Throne will be. So I am very excited to read what happens next.

updates

–October 22, 2017– Book #2: One Dark Throne

THIS is what I thought the first book would be! It was nonstop in action and intrigue and kept my full attention. I loved all the turns the plot took; it always kept me guessing and eager to see what would happen next. This series was originally supposed to be a duology but you would never know that based on how this novel is crafted. There are a lot of places this plot could still go.

The only thing holding me back from a 5/5 is that there wasn’t a big “wow” moment for me. It’s a solid novel–a fantastic book 2–but it didn’t amaze me.

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My Rating: 4/5

Three Dark Crowns 4/5 | One Dark Throne 4/5

overall

If you know what to expect going into this, you’ll probably enjoy yourself a lot more than I did at the start. But if you want a strong world with a promising story, you’ll love this!

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

similarreads

  • Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (Age of Legends Trilogy #1)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Halo by R C Stephens

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 Halo (from Goodreads):
I fell in love with Thomas Wells and knew he was my forever.
I was sixteen when I gave him my heart.
Our love was the kind to last a lifetime.

But Thomas was broken.
The first day we met he told me he was going to become a Navy SEAL.
At nineteen he enlisted.
At twenty he married me.
At twenty five he left me pregnant and didn’t turn back.
I knew he was suffering….
I also knew I couldn’t save him.
He left me broken.
I was scared and alone.
Until I met Ryder St. John a wounded soldier…
He was lost.
I was lost.
Together we made sense.
I fell in love again…
What Ryder forgot to mention was that he held a secret so explosive that it could shatter both our worlds.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: R C Stephens
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Military
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source & Format: Read It, Review It (New Adult Book Club)–eARC

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While this novel looked like it could have a love triangle, I really, really wanted to know what the ” secret so explosive ” was. Plus, I’m a sucker for military heroes in my novels. If I need a good mini-cry, those heroes always get me.

I didn’t know that R C Stephens was Canadian so that also swayed my decision. I love supporting my fellow Canadians <3

New Adult or Adult:

I heard about this book in a New Adult Book Club. But after reading it, I felt more comfortable labelling it as an Adult Contemporary Romance. Primarily because the lead characters are 25+ which is that cut off for me, especially if they aren’t in a “college” setting and are living in “the real world”.

However, it almost reads like a NA read so it’s one of those bridging reads that straddles the line in between.

The Plot:

This story is told through a series of past and present chapters, which is a brilliant way to execute this story. The story builds as you go and you start to put all the pieces together. And even then, I didn’t see the reveal coming at all–which is fabulous! Major bonus points for me for that!

However, this story seemed a little lop-sided as a whole. I felt like so much of the time was used to build up the relationships–which you have to for sure–but that it lacked a little more “drama” post-reveal.  Not that the ending was rushed by any means; it’s just that it could have been flushed out a tad more I think. There was definitely a lot you could do with that reveal and I felt like it never truly reached its potential in that respect.

The Characters:

I really liked Halo. She’s a strong girl but she has her weaknesses too. While she is raised on a pedestal by the guys and her family, she does have her flaws and personal struggles that she has to endure. She was a much more rounded character than I expected going into this story.

Thomas and Ryder irked me a little with their constant high praise of Halo (like I said, she’s on a pedestal) but I liked that they too had developed personalities and growth.

The Romance:

The flashbacks of Thomas and Halo in high school are sickeningly sweet; you know that couple that just sees nothing past their love? It leads to very long “sexy time” scenes which I wasn’t totally expecting. So that particular aspect I wasn’t a fan.

But what I did like is how they loved and supported each other through all their difficult times. In my books, I love seeing romantic leads that are partners in life and that definitely shows at times in this novel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this novel! Once the “secret” was revealed, I had a hard time putting this one down. It’s just a solid romance that makes you believe in the power of love.

Read if You Like: military heroes, big twists
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries romances

similarreads

  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin (Out of Time Series #1)
  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick
  • Trapped by Beverley Kendall (Trapped Series #1)

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Series Review: White Trash by Teresa Mummert

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 White Trash Beautiful (from Goodreads):
A word-of-mouth bestseller that’s captivating readers with its honesty, grit, and headstrong heroine, White Trash Beautiful is a story for anyone who has ever felt trapped in life, cheated by love—and longed for something more . . .

Cass Daniels isn’t waiting for her knight in shining armor. She knows that girls like her don’t get a happily ever after. Not if you live in a trailer with your mom, work at a greasy spoon diner, and get leered at by old men. Maybe that’s why she puts up with Jackson—her poor excuse for a boyfriend, who treats her like dirt. Cass has learned to accept her lot in life. That is, until he walks into her diner. . . .

His name is Tucker White, and he’s different from any man Cass has ever known. Tall, tattooed, and bad-ass gorgeous, he’s the lead singer of the rock band Damaged. From the moment they meet, Tucker sees something in Cass he just can’t shake. Something beautiful. Something haunted. Something special. And he’s determined to find out what it is—if only he can get her to open up and let him in. . . .

breakdown

Series: White Trash Trilogy
Author: Teresa Mummert
# of Books: 3 (White Trash Beautiful, White Trash Damaged, White Trash Love Song)
Book Order: Chronological; Connected (Love Song)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2013 – April 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read White Trash Beautiful and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how this series crossed my radar. It might have been because my library added the eBook version but I’m not sure. I read a lot of rockstar NA reads so I’m sure I saw it on a list somewhere.

Anyways, I love rockstar romances and I was really interested to see what would happen with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

What I Liked:

–Made me Believe in Soul Mates–

While their romance is a little “insta-love” connection, it was obvious to why these two were drawn to each other. They compliment each other so well even if that isn’t always elaborated on.

–Cass’ Character Development–

I find the romance takes a bit of a back seat here at times to focus on Cass and her growth.

Through her romance with Tucker, she is able to become independent. I hate when girls get caught up in their romantic interest and become dependent upon their man. It happens a lot in rock-star based romances because the girl gets caught up in the celebrity of it all. But here, I loved how Tucker lets Cass grow on her own. He is the catalyst for change but he doesn’t force her to be anything and she doesn’t rely on him to do that. She learns on her own that she is worth something on her own and not to let anyone else define her.

–Wasn’t too Focused on the “Rockstar”–

Like I said, Cass is really the star of this and I liked how the story kept her as the focus. It didn’t feel like every other rockstar romance novel out there.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lopsidedness to the Plot–

The exposition here was a little too long. While I appreciated the time taken to explore this relationship and the characters, it did need that touch of drama to give the story some oomph.

And we do get that oomph, just near the end of the story. That’s when all the dramatic twists come about; which makes the story feel rushed and underdeveloped. I would have liked to have seen those issues fleshed out a little more earlier on and watch the characters grow from that.

Will I Finish It?

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t pick up the sequels was because I’m too cheap to spend the money on them. If my library gets the sequels, I’ll pick them up!

I know, I marked it as a DNF but I recommend that it is worth a read…I’m just too cheap!

Series Rating: 4/5

White Trash Beautiful 4/5 | White Trash Damaged N/A | White Trash Love Song N/A

overall

This is a refreshing take on the rockstar romance. If you want a series with strong character development and an even stronger romantic connection, this is it!

Read if You Like: rockstar romances, character development
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances

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