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Single Sundays: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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 It Ends With Us (from Goodreads):

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Read 2017, Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I am a huge Colleen Hoover fan. With the exception of one series, I’ve read all her works. I eagerly await her new releases every year. So I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get my hands on this book. It took FOREVER for my hold to come in from the library because I added my name to the list late.

But boy, was this book worth the wait!

The Concept:

Normally, I refrain from keeping spoilers in my reviews but I think it is very important that I highlight two things from the synopsis. The first being:

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

While I’ve read other books that get a lot more specific in terms of the descriptions of the graphic scenes, these moments were still hard for me to read. So if that makes you uncomfortable as a reader, just be prepared.

And looking at the synopsis you probably think, ‘Gee Lauren, why so serious? This sounds like a love triangle type of story’ because that’s what I thought when I read the synopsis for the first time. But it isn’tfar from it actually. Which brings me to the other highlight of the synopsis:

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer.

There is so much more to this story than what the synopsis implies and I really don’t want to give it away. It’s obvious to anyone who reads this that it is such a deeply personal story for Colleen Hoover to write as an author. It shows in every word and every scene. That’s what makes it so beautiful to read. So thank you Colleen for sharing something so personal with the world.

The Plot:

This plot sucked me in from the start. Part of that is because I instantly loved the characters and became so invested in them. More on that below.

As for the plot itself, it was heart-wrenchingly beautiful as the synopsis implies. It moves at the perfect pace; never dwelling on inconsequential things for longer than necessary.

You feel every range of emotions while reading this.


And I really have a hard time saying anything more without giving it away and I literally just finished the book 2 hours ago (January 26, 2017, 1pm) and I’m still at a loss for words.

The Characters:

What really makes this story is the characters. They become so real to you as a reader from the moment you first meet them. I fell in love with Lily and Ryle by the end of the first chapter. I loved Atlas from the moment Lily shares what her past with him is. And I loved every other character we meet along the way. It has been a long time since I loved a cast of characters as much I do with this one.

These are all strong characters in their own rights and so heartbreakingly real. Lily in particular really tore at my soul. How she handles everything that comes her way was so empowering yet so sad all at once. It was wonderful to see her evolve as a person throughout the novel.

The Romance:

It’ll tug at your heart from the start until the very end. I’m still shook up over it.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Before this novel, I would have told you that Maybe Someday is my favourite Colleen Hoover book because it is such a powerful story. But It Ends With Us is now my absolute new favourite work by her. It’s a story that everyone should read because it is beautiful, sad and most importantly empowering to read as a reader, no matter who you are.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, strong characters
Avoid if You: dislike books about mature subject matter
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Single Sundays: If I Wake by Nikki Moyes

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 If I Wake (from Goodreads):

Will is sixteen year old Lucy’s best friend. Their lives intersect in dreams, where destiny pulls them together through different times in history. Even though their meetings are more real to Lucy than the present, Lucy is uncertain if Will exists outside her mind.
Lucy’s mum thinks there is something wrong when Lucy sleeps for days at a time.
She is so caught up with finding a cure she doesn’t see the real problem. Lucy is bullied at school and is thinking of ending her life.
When the bullying goes too far and Lucy ends up in a coma, only Will can reach her. But how do you live when the only person who can save you doesn’t exist?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Standalone 2017
Author: Nikki Moyes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 10, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This story appealed to me for two reasons:

  1. The dream aspect
  2. Bullying & Lucy’s contemplating suicide

I’m a firm believer that mental health is something we should always be talking about and I love when books explore that. So I was curious to see how the dreams would interweave with Nikki’s message about bullying.

The Concept:

While the traveling back in time aspect is great, for me it was all about the bullying. And this is a beautiful story about how your actions impact a person. It was so hard for me to watch Lucy get beaten down in her everyday life. I remember thinking to myself that this can’t happen in real life because there is no way people could be so cruel.

But the scary thing is that it does.

All the things Lucy goes through have more than likely happened to someone at some point. It’s probably happening right now. And I think you can see why those actions can lead someone to feel like they are alone in the world and how that can lead them to contemplate suicide. I think this book does a fabulous job of conveying that. The only other book I can think that shows this so well is 13 Reasons Why.

The Plot:

I absolutely loved trying to figure out what the dream world had to do with the real world. And I’ll admit, I really didn’t figure it out until the last chapter. It was like this big eureka moment for me where I put it all together and my mind was blown a bit because it was a great link. (And I don’t want to say more because I think it’s a great thing for the readers to figure out on their own).

The trips to the past were definitely enjoyable. I liked that the situation was always a little different with what Lucy had to do and how she was received. They’re very detailed scenes and it really makes you feel like you are there living the experience with Lucy.

The Characters:

Lucy’s character evolution is fantastic, even if some of the moments were disheartening. It was so hard for me to watch this girl get beaten down (in the real world) at every turn for no reason at all. (Why are people so cruel?!?) Which is why I liked those moments in the dreams where she literally transforms into a confident person before your eyes. It was great to see her have those moments of joy in her life.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance here which I was happy about. This story is truly about Lucy’s self journey and not so much on what her relationship with Will is romantically (which I’m sure lots of people will assume given the synopsis).

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is just a fabulous story about the multi-layered impact bullying can have on a person. Such a beautiful novel.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, magical realism, bullying stories
Avoid if You: want a romance
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Blog Tour: Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for Ninja Girl (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary Standalone 2017
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 30, 2017
Source & Format: YA Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cookie O’Gorman’s debut, Adorkable was just amazing! I loved every minute of that book and I was so excited to see what she would write next. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to see what she would do next and I was so stoked when I saw what Ninja Girl was all about. This book promised to be an entertaining, albeit touching, ride that I couldn’t wait to start!

The Concept:

I love the gender role reversal here! I love girls that can fend for themselves but the fact that Snow is hired to protect a boy just ups the ante for me. It defies stereotypes in that respect and I really appreciated that.

I feel like that is the whole point of this novel: to challenge stereotypes. The cast here is also very diverse ethnically speaking as well. Snow is Korean while Ash is from the Southern United States. Both have these ideas that they don’t have similar interests and personalities. But I think this book goes to show that you have to get to know a person for who they are and not just what you see on the outside.

The Plot:

This novel moves at a stellar pace. Honestly, there was never a dull moment! If you weren’t swooning over Ash and Snow together you were watching Snow kick some serious butt or having these great moments of individual character growth. I loved every page.

I also liked how the suspense of who was behind the attacks lurked throughout the pages. It just built itself up at a great pace and added to the big reveal.

The Characters:

Well, I obviously loved Snow. Her character growth was fantastic. While she is such a strong girl physically, her self-esteem is pretty low. It’s unfortunate that she is so susceptible to high school cattiness so early in the book because she is such a great girl. I’m glad that Ash brings out the stronger side in her.

Ash…swoon! He says all the right things but he is such a genuine guy as well. I would say his character growth takes a bit of a backseat to Snow’s but he really does evolve as well. Even though he is perceived as the “damsel in distress” at times, he doesn’t just sit around and let things happen to himself either.

The Romance:

These two are so adorable! I’ve added them to my favourite couples list ever. They just compliment each other so well. Not only do they make a great team but they also make each other stronger as individuals. Never did I feel like these two were losing who they were in order to appease the other–which can easily happen in this type of story where gender roles are more emphasized than usual. They just have fabulous chemistry together from the start.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting because I could not get enough of these two! Not only was this book a bucket of fun and completely swoon-worthy, it also teaches you to be yourself above all else. Whether that means you are a girl who can kick everyone’s bum or a guy who needs a girl to save him: never be ashamed of who you are! (cheesy but so true!)

Read if You Like:  diverse reads, kick butt heroines, “clean” YA
Avoid if You: dislike ya contemporary

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!

Author Links:

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Fresh Fridays: If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles #1) by Anna Harrington

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:

Capturing the Carlisles Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for If the Duke Demands (from Goodreads):

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Regency Romance 2017, New Must Read Author
Series: Capturing the Carlisles

This is a spinoff of the The Secret Life of Scoundrels Series.

Author: Anna Harrington
# of Books: 3 (If the Duke Demands, When the Scoundrel Sins, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, When the Scoundrel Sins, will be published August 2017
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was the main concept of this novel that captured (pun not intended) my attention. I LOVE the romance trope where the two people work together to get the objects of their affections, only to fall in loved with each other. It promises to have a ton of sexual tension, swoon worthy moments and leads you can’t help but root for.

So I was really excited to dive into this series!

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Honestly, I didn’t stop smiling when I was reading this book! It was just pure enjoyment from start to finish for me.

These two were PERFECT for each other and it was so much fun to watch them discover that. I literally got butterflies reading some of their scenes together because they were just so adorable. They had fantastic banter and the chemistry was just dripping off the pages.

But my favourite part was the emotional connection these two develop. It’s my favourite aspect of this trope. They just get each other. The fact that these two grew up together in some capacity provides a solid foundation to start this story off. I liked they they didn’t really like each other until they talked and got to know each other on that intellectual level. And from that, their romantic attraction to each other develops. It’s not just insta-love or physical lust that drives them together. Perfection.

–Miranda–

I find heroines in this genre can be a little over-bearing or rebellious just for the sake of being different. But Miranda is never like that. While she is independent, she’s intelligent about it. She’s willing to fight for things but never in a brash or irresponsible way and that made her extremely likable to me. I couldn’t help but root for her.

And I also liked that she grew as the story progressed. She isn’t this totally confident girl right away and as she learns to accept who she is, she really blossoms.

–The Brothers–

I just love this whole family (which readers are first introduced in Harrington’s How I Married a Marquess). They were just so much fun and quite the cast of characters. I’m really excited to learn more about the brother’s and see how they get “captured”!

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s Over and I Have to Wait for the Next One–

I want the rest of this series NOW! Good thing Anna’s other series is out so I can get into that while I wait.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

With the little teaser we got of When the Scoundrel Sins, I wish that August was next week. It looks like it is going to be just as awesome as its predecessor and I’m so excited to read it!

My Rating: 5/5

If the Duke Demands 5/5 | When the Scoundrel Sins TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If The Duke Demands reminded me why I love historical romances. Swoon-worthy heroes; strong-willed, intelligent heroines and brimming sexual tension from the start. I’m definitely going to be picking up Harrington’s previous works ASAP!

Read if You Like: historical fiction, emotional romances
Avoid if You: want more erotica based
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Single Sundays: Come This Way by Michelle Schlicher

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 Come This Way (from Goodreads):

A hiking and outdoor enthusiast, fifty-year-old Fern Conrad can’t imagine spending her time doing anything else, much to the dismay of her daughter, Colby.

Kara Dawson, a twenty-five-year-old student therapist, has shut life out to focus on her sister’s illness. That is, until a chance meeting pushes her to confront the possibilities—by letting go and moving forward.

Eighty-three-year-old Nettie Campbell heals in the hospital while facing the consequences of her actions. Can she repair relationships and forge new bonds as she comes to terms with the truth?

Come This Way is an emotional, honest look into the lives of women who are discovering their own strength. It is a story about difficult choices and the people around us who help us find our way.

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Author: Michelle Schlicher
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 21, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I rarely venture outside my little reading bubble of New Adult, YA and Adult romances, but every once and a while, I’ll take a chance on a piece of adult fiction. I’ll admit, when I was asked if I wanted to read this one, I hesitated. I had no excuse other than the fact that it wasn’t my usual read–but all the more reason to give it a shot.

And I am so glad that I did!

The Concept:

I just have to say that this reminded me a lot of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: the concept of 4 women trying to navigate their lives as they enter the next phase of life. Only here, you have these women from various backgrounds and age-ranges with an unknown (if any) connection to each other.

It’s like the life stages version of the Sisterhood Series.

The Plot:

Each character has such a unique yet relatable story. I had a blast learning more about these characters as the novel progressed. There were so many great reveals–it was like watching a well thought out TV drama the further you went.

I also loved how realistic this story was. These are situations many people will find themselves in; and these are relationships that most of us will have in our life times. It was just so well-rounded in that respect.

I also liked the mystery of whether or not these characters were all linked together somehow. It gave a little dose of suspense to the story for me.

The Characters:

I really didn’t think I would relate to all of the characters (I’m not a grandmother nor a mother) but I was immediately drawn into all their stories.  In each of them, I found little pieces of myself and that was what surprised me the most. I truly felt for these characters on all levels and rarely do I connect to every single character in a story of this format (multiple POVs).

So don’t let the ages of the characters dissuade you from picking this up! I’m sure most readers will find a character (if not a few more) to relate with in this story: it’s just that good!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Needless to say, this was a great read about life, love, family and being comfortable with yourself. I think lots of readers will enjoy this for its simple yet compelling stories. It’s not just light chick lit! There’s so much more to it!

Read if You Like: books about life and relationships, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance
similarreads

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood Series #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

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:

Frostblood Saga

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Frosblood (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: Frostblood Saga
Author: Elly Blake
# of Books: 3 (Frostblood, Fireblood, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Fireblood is to be published in September 2017
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Since 2015, I’ve been devouring any YA fantasy novels that I can get my hands on. They’ve replaced my dystopian obsession (which had replaced my paranormal YA obsession). So, I think it goes without saying that I am a little picky about my fantasies and what I want to see in them.

World-building is a big one. Recently, I’ve found newer series to be lacking that in particular. I don’t want to be thrown into a world and having to figure it out on my own. I also want a heroine or hero I can root for. I don’t need them to be perfect or all powerful, I just want them win me over to their side. And of course, a little romance never hurt anyone. Unless it becomes an unnecessary love triangle: nobody wins with those.

What I Liked:

–The Worldbuilding!–

I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels lately that have something to be desired when it comes to the worldbuilding–but that isn’t the case with Frostblood. I loved that the world was straight-forward but complex all at the same time. Ice vs fire is a battle that is so simple but has a lot of play with it, and that’s what Blake does here.

It takes the time to explain the history of the world and how the magic/powers work, which I greatly appreciate. It also adds a unique flare to the world as well. While readers will probably see parallels to other YA fantasies, this one still had its own refreshing take on the genre that made it so much fun to read.

–Ruby–

I really, really liked her as a heroine. She’s got this sassy, independent side to her that you can’t help but love and root for. Her passion and drive to control her own destiny is exactly what I want to read about in a heroine.

But she also has her flaws and her weaknesses and that makes her a well-rounded heroine who can only grow as this series continues.

–The Pacing–

This novel always felt like it was building. While some of the events might be seen as minor, they all contribute to the plot overall. Whether that was establishing character relationships, giving background on the world or leading to the ultimate plot climax, this story kept me on my toes.

–The Romance–

While not a huge aspect of the novel, it was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The banter between Ruby and Arcus was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

It really isn’t that big of a deal but I did think the story was going to focus more on this “king’s tournament”. So I was expecting a lot of physical action. But truthfully, that particular aspect doesn’t start until past the halfway point.

And in the end, I much preferred the story we get instead building up to that point. There was plenty of action even if it wasn’t of the variety I was necessarily expecting.

In short: don’t expect this book to be about a heroine fighting her way to the top in a tournament, there is so much more at play!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a solid start to a series! I’m not sure what exactly the future will hold but I’m excited to see more of these characters!

My Rating: 5/5

Frostblood 5/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

From the sassy lead to the rich world, this is a fantasy series that will surely entertain!

Read if You Like: fantasy, sassy leads
Avoid if You: dislike action/violence, want more romance
similarreads

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Single Sundays: Porn Star by Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone

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 Porn Star (from Goodreads):
You know me.

Come on, you know you do.

Maybe you pretend you don’t. Maybe you clear your browser history religiously. Maybe you pretend to be aghast whenever someone even mentions the word porn in your presence.

But the truth is that you do know me.

Everybody knows Logan O’Toole, world famous porn star.

Except then Devi Dare pops into my world, and pretty soon I’m doing things that aren’t like me—like texting her with flirty banter and creating an entire web porn series just so I can get to star in her bed. Again. And again.

With Devi, my entire universe shifts, and the more time I spend with her, the more I realize that Logan O’Toole isn’t the guy I thought he was.

So maybe I’m not the guy you thought I was either.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Laurelin Paige)
Author: Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I read anything by Laurelin Paige. She writes some of my favourite contemporary romances. The drama is amazing, the characters are strong yet flawed and I simply get addicted to any story she writes.

So I was more than curious when I saw this title. A porn star falling in love? It’s something I would probably shy away from if it was anyone other than Paige writing it. I knew she would write a compelling, well thought out novel.

The Concept:

These ladies have done their research! They’ve managed to capture the modern porn industry in a way that is real and not fantasy or idealistic. They touch on a lot of the current issues that are plaguing actors in pornography like actor consent and piracy. It really grounds these characters and their stories, making the reader feel like this could actually happen in real life.

The Plot:

This is just as much a love story as it is a character building story. Basically, it is everything I love about New Adult. I want to see these characters battle their demons while falling in love. Is it an easy path? Hell no! And that’s what makes this journey so enjoyable as a reader.

The Characters:

I LOVED THESE TWO!

Logan was cocky yet heartwarming. He was so adorable, intelligent and passionate; I instantly fell in love with him. But he also shows great growth as a character. It was awesome to watch his journey unfold.

Devi–what a confident woman! I loved how comfortable she was with her body and how she presents herself to the world. Honestly, we need more leads like her in novels. Yes, she has her flaws but her confidence is inspiring.

The Romance:

This is a very sex-positive story (if you couldn’t have guessed from the title). Notably, I like the focus it gives on sex in a relationship. I think some stories add the heat as a “fan-service” as sorts; like an expected feature to show character chemistry. But here, it is an integral part of the story and heavily influences the romance. Are these two really in love with each other or are they in love with the personas they are on screen? It’s a fascinating question and one that is asked throughout the novel.

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My Rating: 5/5

overall

I was really impressed with the overall approach of this novel. It delivers an awesome, entertaining romance while providing a deeper theme. However, if you don’t like books with lots of sexy times, this one will probably turn you off. But I encourage everyone to give it a try because it is a league of its own.

Read if You Like: sex-positive novels, romance, new adult
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with the idea of porn

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Fresh Fridays: Caraval (#1) by Stephanie Garber

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:

Caraval Series

Other books in the series:

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Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 1+ (Caraval, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC  | Thank you so much Jamie!!!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

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Movie Mondays: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen (2009) | Movie: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Series: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Horror, Action, Zombies, Retelling
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Source & Format: Own–Paperback

thoughts

I had just finished Pride and Prejudice (PP) when I picked up this zombified version. I’ll admit, I was more interested in this horror version than the classic simply because I had heard really good things about it. But I wanted to be familiar with the original story (not just what I watched in movies) and so it served as good motivation to pick up the classic novel.

The two books are very, very similar. The best way I can think to describe Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) is PP with new scenes added to include the zombie aspect. Of course, certain things are reworked to account for the fact that all the Bennet girls are warriors but lots of scenes are word-for-word the Austen writings–which is why she is listed as an author on this novel.

As a girl who likes action in her stories, the zombie slaying battles were a lot of fun to read. It (ironically) adds a little life to the story and makes such a well known story fresh and exciting. Not that PP isn’t great on its own, it’s just cool to see a different spin on a story we know so well.

And dare I say, it actually made me really like the Elizabeth and Darcy pairing even more. Their love-hate relationship really works well for this zombie version. You could see why they liked each other so much and how great of a pair they were for each other.

overall

I think fans of the classic novel will enjoy this fun take if they don’t mind zombies. I also think it will appeal to people who want to read the classic but might find it on the drier side. It serves as a great introduction to the classics of Jane Austen and will hopefully ignite a love for her work.

Rating: 5/5

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First, it took me wayyyy too long to watch it! I wanted to see it opening weekend but it wasn’t playing in my local theatre on my Reading Week break and by the time I got back to a bigger city a week later, it was gone! So I had to wait forever to get my hands on a copy!

Were My Expectations Met?

I just wanted to have fun watching this movie and I definitely did! While I love the other PP movies, this one lacked the more sombre and seriousness of those presentations. This one exaggerated characters more (like Mr Collins) and had great action sequences so it moves at a fast and exciting pace.

All the Bennet girls kicked serious ass; especially Lizzie. She’s still that strong and stubborn heroine who doesn’t give up a fight–only in this case it is literally!

How Close is it to the Book?

I read the book ages ago so I’m not sure how close it truly was. While I know the PP classic story very well, I don’t really recall all the action and zombie scenes all that much. But everything seemed to be the same to me or if it was different, it was all in the same vein so I truly didn’t notice.

Did I Like the Cast?

I’m a huge Lily James fan. Don’t ask me why exactly; I think she just does a great job at playing strong heroines. I know that Natalie Portman was originally tapped to play Lizzie but I think Lily was the much better choice.

glitter zombies pride and prejudice and zombies jane austin

Sam Riley will never be Collin Firth’s Darcy in my eyes (the standard for all Mr Darcy’s past and future), but he really did a fantastic job. He’s got the whole stiff and proper vibe going on and it works.

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But you know who really stole this one for me? Was Matt Smith as Mr Collins. He was just hilarious! His character adds a lot of humour to this story which can be pretty depressing at times (I mean, they are killing undead people they sometimes know). In other adaptations, I always feel sympathetic to Mr Collins and how he gets tossed aside as a husband; but here he is the Shakespearean fool and it makes it easy to see why he isn’t that much of a catch.

Image result for matt smith gif pride and prejudice

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I think we can all agree that the original novel by Austen is the real winner. I mean it’s a classic that is adored by generations and is one of the most well known romances in history.

But I think it depends on what you want when it comes to PPZ and its forms. The book rings more true to the classic novel simply because it shares a lot of the same passages. So if you want a retelling, perhaps the book is your pick. But if you want to be entertained with a loose adaptation, the movie is just a lot of fun. It has the action and it has the romance and it’s simply a joy to watch.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (from Goodreads):

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

Trailer:

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Movie Mondays: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (2012) | Movie: Me Before You (2016)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Series: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Truth be told, I really hummed and hawed over whether or not to read this book. I knew I was most definitely going to be watching the movie. Sam Claflin has a special place in my heart after watching Love, Rosie so I wasn’t going to miss my chance to see him on the screen again. But I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to read the book first or watch the movie first. I also read a bit of a spoiler on a blog and that diminished my enthusiasm to read it. In the end, I decided I would probably never read the book if I watched the movie first and it seems like one of those books that you just have to read at some point.

I almost didn’t finish the book though when I started to read it. It was really just a timing thing–I had a lot going on and I was in a bit of a reading slump–but then I got sucked into this book and I had a hard time putting it down.

Truth be told, it was Louisa’s character that sucked me in.

She was quirky in a way I found endearing and she had me laughing at times. Her situation tugged on my heartstrings a bit and it was so easy to want to root for her. And the same can be said for Will as well. It was amazing how attached to these characters I got.

After seeing the movie trailer, I figured this book was going to be a full blown romance and that really isn’t the case. Yes, romance does play a part in it but it isn’t the main theme of the book. The main theme is really about life and what it means to the people who live it. Its a good philosophy question that will never get answered because it really is a subjective topic.

And yes, I cried. I really didn’t think I would but I totally did.

overall

I really enjoyed this book! It was a great story about life, love and friendship. I laughed and I cried. However, I don’t plan on reading the sequel. I’m really happy with how things ended and I’m not really interested in what happens next.

Rating: 5/5

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Were My Expectations Met?

YES! This movie was so sweet and funny. I thought I might cry but I was able to keep back the tears. I think it helped that I pictured Sam and Emilia as the leads while I read this so I was prepared to see them in the movie.

How Close is it to the Book?

Very close actually. I was impressed by how much of the dialogue was word for word from the book. Of course, it helps when the author writes the screenplay.

All the major moments are shown so it was great to see those on the screen. A few things were omitted–like Lousia’s tension with her sister; or her research–but the heart of the novel is still there and it shows.

Did I Like the Cast?

Yes! Emilia was fantastic as Louisa! She had me laughing throughout just like in the novel. I don’t know who else you would get for that role.

Sam was also great as Will. His facial expressions to Louisa’s actions were exactly what I pictured when I read the novel. He was perfect.

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I connected a lot more with the characters in the book. I liked the focus the novel had on life and friendship more so than the movie. It just went that little bit deeper for me. But I thought the movie was great and a solid adaptation of the novel.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Me Before You (from Goodreads):

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Trailer:

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