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DNF Series Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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 Magonia (from Goodreads):
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

breakdown

Series: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
# of Books: 2 (Magonia, Aerie)

There may be a novella that is released.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2015 – October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Magonia at 19% (Page 60 of 309; Start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it’s obvious the cover is what had me picking up this book. I mean, it’s gorgeous and in person you can easily see all the details on the feather and it’s beautiful.

The synopsis immediately brought the Worldwalker Trilogy to mind: a girl who is (physically) just scraping by in this world due to some immunological reaction to the air around her. But that seems to be the only similarity. Regardless, it’s an intriguing concept and I was curious to see what was really happening.

What I Liked:

–Aza is Pretty Jaded/Cynical–

You have to be in the right mood for a cynical/jaded character and I happened to be when I started this story. I enjoyed Aza’s attitude about life. Her humour is slightly on the darker side which I find funny but I know that is off-putting for other readers.

But I understood her stoic mood. She’s been having a rough go of things and it’s easy to see that her attitude is her coping mechanism. Not everyone would be happy if they have a medical condition that no one can seem to pin-point, so it works for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Plot Development–

This is the main reason why I DNF’d it: I just felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere.

While I liked Aza’s narration style, it did wear on me a bit. I swear, the first 3 chapters were her just moaning on about her circumstances. And while that is necessary to establish her character and to see what sets her apart from the rest of earth, it just got monotonous to me. I felt like we were repeating the same notion over and over and not getting any further in the plot.

I could see the inklings of the plot emerging through when I stopped reading. We were starting to get some context for what the ship might be, but by that point I was over it.

In a book that is 300 pages, I want the plot to start before the 20% mark to make it worth my while.

Will I Finish It?

No. No matter how beautiful that cover is, I have no plans to finish this series. I even read the synopsis for Aerie (because I had taken it out from the library as well to binge the series) and it sounded even duller to me.

Series Rating: DNF

Magonia DNF | Aerie N/A

overall

If you like slower moving stories with unique worlds and characters, this is probably the series for you. Otherwise, there are better Sci Fi and Fantasy combo novels out there.

Read if You Like: slow stories
Avoid if You: dislike jaded heroines
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Series Review: Existence by Abbi Glines

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 Existence (from Goodreads):

What happens when you’re stalked by Death? You fall in love with him, of course.

Pagan Moore doesn’t cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him.

Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn’t let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he’s dead.

Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn’t realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul at all.

He is Death and he’s about to break all the rules.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: Existence Trilogy
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 3 (Existence, Predestined, Ceaseless)

There is a novella #2.5 called Leif

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single (Existence); Alternating (Predestined onwards)
Publication Dates: December 2011 – September 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I never read Ceaseless (Book 3). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought this series within the first year of me getting my Kobo…and it took me 4 years to get around to. Oops!

In those 4 years though, Abbi Glines has become one of my most read authors on Goodreads. I’ve devoured her New Adult series in days and absolutely love her works. But I never got around to this series until I had to set some priority reads for my Rock my TBR 2016 Challenge.

It has been a long time since I read a YA paranormal series (I mostly read fantasies or dystopian novels) but the concept sounded unique and I love Glines’ ability to write addicting romances so I was excited to start this.

The Concept:

I feel like the synopsis does a bit of a disservice to the story because you really don’t know Death is “Death” until you are past the halfway mark. I think I would have liked not knowing what type of paranormal creature he was until later. Seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity but Glines does throw some other twists in there to give you some surprises.

The Plot:

I kinda forgot what it was like to read a YA paranormal romance until I picked this up. You know, little plot besides the heroine mooning after some mysterious hero who she inexplicably feels drawn to. It was very Twilight-y to say the least.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I did find myself easily drawn into Pagan’s world and there is a bit of a mystery to uncover which made it exciting to read. But as I found myself nearing the end of Existence (say the 80%) when the real plot started to unravel, I realized that nothing really happened for the first 80% of the book. Predestined had a lot more going on in it, but I just didn’t care enough…

The Characters:

Pagan is a bit on the dull side if you ask me. I also didn’t like her character progression once she meets death. She’s one of those heroines who loses who she is when she meets her love interest and that annoyed me.

I felt like more could have been done with these characters. They are pretty surface level in terms of their development.

The Romance:

This was a little lacking for me. Why does Death become obsessed fall in love with Pagan? Why does Pagan fall for Death? I didn’t get the connection at all. It’s a little too insta-love for my preferences.

Oh! Did I forget to mention the love triangle? To be fair, it wasn’t that bad and actually contributes positively to the plot at times.

When to Read the Novella, Leif:

Read this after book 2, Predestined. But it’s really just some deleted scenes from another character’s POV from the first two novels.

Will I Finish It?

I wasn’t very attached to these characters, so I’m happy with not continuing. I read enough reviews of Ceaseless to know what goes down.

Series Rating: DNF

Existence 3/5 | Predestined 2/5 | [Leif] N/A | Ceaseless N/A

overall

If I read this when I was a teenager when my preference was for YA paranormal, I would have LOVED this series. Glines has a solid plot for a series of this type but unfortunately, at this point in my reading life, I need that little bit more to keep me interested.

Read if You Like: YA paranormal, Twilight
Avoid if You: dislike dull heroines
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Series Review: Avoiding by K A Linde

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

booksynopsis

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

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

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

breakdown

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

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

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

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

That quickly changed though…

The Plot:

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

And what a picture you get!

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

The Novellas:

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

Series Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

Read if You Like: romance drama, stories with flashbacks
Avoid if You: dislike cheating
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Series Review: English by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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 Dirty English (from Goodreads):
A scarred fighter.
A girl with rules.
One night of unbridled passion.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Bennett: she’s smart as a whip, always in control, and lives by a set of carefully crafted rules. She’s learned the hard way that people you love the most always hurt you in the end.

But then she meets Declan Blay, the new neighbor at her apartment complex.

A tattooed British street fighter, he’s the campus bad boy she’s supposed to avoid, but when he saves her from a frat party gone bad, all her rules about sex and love fly out the window.

She gives him one night of unbridled passion, but he longs for more.

With only a cardboard-thin wall separating their bedrooms, he dreams of possessing the vulnerable girl next door forever.

One night. Two damaged hearts. The passion of a lifetime.

*A modern love story inspired by Pride and Prejudice*

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New Adult 2016
Series: English
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 2 (Dirty English, Filthy English)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2015 – July 2016
Source & Format: Kindle/Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought Dirty English when I it popped up on the “Hot New Releases” in the Kindle Store one day. Like most, I’m a sucker for a good British (bad) boy and this one looked promising. The reviews were mostly positive and I was really curious to see how it was inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

The Concept:

Each novel is inspired by a famous love story. Dirty English is Pride and Prejudice while Filthy English is Romeo and Juliet. As someone who enjoys both of those classics, it was a lot of fun for me to try and see the parallels in each novel. But by no means do you have to be overly familiar with either to enjoy these works.

The Plot:

I like that these novels are just as much a romance story as they are a coming of age. All these characters have their flaws and they try their best to navigate them as they fall in love. Plus, there’s some great drama thrown in that isn’t unnecessary, rather it is entertaining and adds to the overall story.

These novels also had me laughing out loud as I read them (Dirty English more so). I just had fun with these!

I have to say though that Filthy English seemed rushed at the ending. I wanted a little more to it but overall I still enjoyed the story.

The Characters:

Do Declan and Dax actually exist somewhere? Please, I need to know! I loved these two. While I know Madden-Mills likes to write alpha males, I didn’t find these two to be over the top with their male-dominating tendencies.

I also liked their leading ladies. They were strong females who had tremendous growth as they overcame their pasts and issues.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was stronger in Dirty English because it had a little more substance to it. It was really easy to see why these two would be drawn to each other besides physical attraction. In other words, it mirrors Pride and Prejudice very well.

Filthy English though gets a bit of hit against it because it is inspired by Romeo and Juliet–the ultimate love at first sight story. Why they liked each other–besides fantastic sex–took a longer time to surface I thought. I still liked them together, I just wanted a little more and I was a little underwhelmed by their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

Dirty English 5/5 | Filthy English 3/5

overall

If you want fun but touching New Adult contemporary romance check these two out! Did I mention they have British “bad” boys with hearts of gold? If that doesn’t convince you…

Read if You Like: stories inspired by classics, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult contemporary

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Series Review: Finding by Megan Smith

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

book3

booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

Finding Ours is technically a novella

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Novella — Finding Ours

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

similarreads

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

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Series Review: Layers Deep by Lacey Silks

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 Layers Deep (from Goodreads):
He needs her to save a friend.
She needs him to plan her revenge.
Their pasts scar them Layers Deep.
Their passion distracts them…
…and distractions can be fatal.

Tristan Cross is battling emotional demons from the past. He lives in a world where trust is earned, loyalties are tested, and love is impossible. That is, until he meets Allie Green. She’s the only woman who can help him find a kidnapped friend and to top it off, she captivates him. All he has to do now is persuade her to work for Cross Enterprises, his top investigations firm.

Allie Green is a rookie cop seeking revenge and she’s willing to sell her soul to get it. With an opportunity to use Tristan Cross’s resources Allie calculates her time for payback. As vengeance boils her blood she can’t keep her mind off her new boss and Allie finds it difficult to keep her employment professional. With the mouth watering Tristan Cross distracting her, she struggles to prioritize an undercover job she’s been assigned and her hunger for revenge.

And when you’re ready to give up your life to save someone else, distractions can be fatal.

breakdown

Series: Layers Deep Trilogy
Author: Lacey Silks
# of Books: 3 (Layers Deep, Layers Peeled, Layers Off)

There is a prequel novel, Dazzled by Silver that is FREE on eBook sites.

There is a spin-off series called Crossed.

Book Order: Chronological (Layers Deep, Layers Peeled); Connected (Dazzled by Silver, Layers Off)

However, these all follow a series of Chronological Events.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Steamy; Kink: mild (Dazzled by Silver)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2013 – March 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I read both Dazzled by Silver and Layers Deep but will not read Layers Peeled or Layers Off. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s been a long time since I’ve read an erotica novel but I was in a reading slump when I decided to read this Rock My TBR 2016 title in the hopes it bring me out of my slump.

I’m not sure how this trilogy crossed my radar. I want to say it is because it shares the same cover work as one of my all time favourite adult contemporary romances, Fixed Trilogy but I’m not sure. It also could have been a sale from Kobo…it’s been on there for a long time but I’ve been looking for a good romantic suspense novel for a long time and this one showed some promise.

What I Liked:

–They Were Quick, Easy Reads–

I finished both books in 2-3 hours so I didn’t feel like I slaved over them. The plots move fast thanks to their simplicity. When I needed a quick, contemporary fix, they did the job perfectly.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Much Sexy Times, Not Enough Action–

I really wanted this to be a suspense novel and not so much of an erotica novel. However, it is definitely the latter. And while I like the steamy scenes just as much as the next person, that really wasn’t what I wanted to read.

Besides the leads wanting to bang each other’s brains out, there isn’t a lot to the story. I suppose things get a touch more exciting near the end of Layers Deep but I just don’t care to pick up the next two books.

–The Characters–

Tristan was a more healthy version of Christian Grey but I found their family structure to be similar. Allie was a strong, independent woman but as soon as she meets Tristan she becomes a little bit needy and I feel like her development gets stinted because of it. But, I did like the fact that she was strong and wasn’t necessarily defined by him either.

But they weren’t anything new to me–and I didn’t grow attached to them; definitely not enough to make me want to read their continuation of their story despite the cliffhanger of Layers Deep.

Will I Finish It?

If I get the last two books as freebies, maybe I’ll read them. But when I read Dazzled by Silver a week after Layers Deep, I still was OK not knowing what happens in Layers Peeled.

When to Read Dazzled by Silver:

Honestly, I think you can read it before Layers Deep and it won’t give away much. BUT, I think you’ll get more out of it and save yourself some minor spoilers if you read it after Layers Deep or Layers Peeled.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

[Dazzled by Silver 2.5/5] | Layers Deep 2.5/5 | Layers Peeled N/A | Layers Off N/A

overall

If you want a quick erotica read that has a bit more substance than your typical short stories, pick up these freebies!

Read if You Like: erotica, quick reads
Avoid if You: want more suspense, more plotline
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Single Sundays: Spiral by Mila Ferrera

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 Spiral (from Goodreads):
Nessa Cavanaugh, psychology student, knows how to stay on an even keel. Despite the urging of her mother and her academic advisor to get a life and have some fun, “all work and no play” sums up her plan to survive her grueling internship year at a children’s hospital. She doesn’t want to end up like her father, whose constant ups and downs broke her family, and avoiding unnecessary emotional entanglements is a must.

Then she (literally) runs into Dr. Aron Lindstrom in the middle of her disastrous first day on the job. The attraction is instant—and terrifying. Nessa knows she should stay away—especially when she finds out he has a reputation for being a player—but Aron is brilliant, intense, and as sexy as they come. When he challenges her to take a chance on him, her plans to stay focused on work start to crumble.

But what begins as passion takes on a dangerous edge, becoming an emotional roller coaster that’s frighteningly familiar. As things spiral out of control, Nessa must decide whether she should hold on for the ride or run … even if it means leaving her heart behind.

breakdown

Author: Mila Ferrera
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Mental Health, Realistic
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Mila Ferrera’s novel Everything Between Us years ago and enjoyed it a lot. I like the mental health aspects she incorporates into her reads and the complexity of her characters. I find the stories to be real and fascinating, always grabbing my full attention with their approach. I bought Spiral during a bulk buy and it got buried under the mass of Kobo books I own until I pulled it out for my Rock my TBR Challenge in April.

The Concept:

This novel isn’t your everyday romance novel though it starts off that way. It does a fantastic job of exploring mental health and the stigma around it. Perhaps that is a bit of a spoiler but I feel like if a reader goes into this novel thinking it’s about some hero who has a tragic past that the heroine saves him from, you won’t enjoy this book for what it really is: an exploration of mental health in relationships.

The Plot:

Like I said before, this book starts off like your everyday romance novel. Boy meets girl and their explore their connection. But the drama of it all comes from the barriers they soon discover about themselves. Of course, there are some other dramatic elements at play but I found they never took away from the main story which is Aron and Nessa attempting to navigate their relationship and new-found careers.

The Characters:

I really warmed up to Nessa as the story progressed. I’m not sure what I found off-putting about her at the start but I didn’t immediately love her. But as I learned more about her character and saw how she interacted, I really respected her as a character. She was a solid character and does a great job of carrying this story.

Aron is also great. Again, a strong character that has great development despite the fact that we don’t get his POV directly you still have a firm grasp on who he is.

The Romance:

This was a really sweet romance to watch unfold. I was worried it was going to be a little “love-at-first-sight” with the way it was initiated but it really develops into something strong and solid. They have great chemistry so the sexual tension really drives the story forward. This story is really about the romance and the partnership that comes from it and it was definitely my favourite aspect of the novel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy romances that focus more on the mental health aspect of its characters, this is a great novel for you to read. It’s sweet but powerful and will have your full attention from start to finish.

Read if You Like: stories about mental health
Avoid if You: want a “lighter” read
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Series Review: Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

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

Gold Seer Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Walk on Earth a Stranger (from Goodreads):

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

breakdown

Series: Gold Seer Trilogy
Author: Rae Carson
# of Books: 3 (Walk on Earth a Stranger, Like a River Glorious, Into the Bright Unknown)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Into the Bright Unknown, will be published in October 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Western, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read Vengeance Road, I was on the look-out for another great Western YA read. I stumbled upon Walk on Earth a Stranger when I was reading Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat’s review of Vengeance Road. I read Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns years ago but never managed to read the rest of the series. That one started slow but I came to really enjoy it by the end, so I was curious to see what another series by her had in store.

It went against some self-imposed rules I had in place (ie, I’m trying not to start new series by authors that I have unfinished series for) but the wait-list was super long for this one. I actually started Walk on Earth a Stranger in November but couldn’t get into it. So I re-added myself to the wait list and patiently waited.

What I Liked:

–The Nitty, Gritty Western–

What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was very realistic. The pilgrimage to the West was a gruesome and often deadly journey for those who decided to try it. Whether it was for gold or a new life of freedom, some people and families found it to be worth the risk and I think that is all beautifully represented here. Carson has done her research about what was in store for these people and it shows throughout her writing. For world-builder fans, you will be more than satisfied with this.

–The Premise–

I liked the supernatural element of Leah’s ability. It really isn’t too much of a focus–I think that’s going to come into play more later in the series–but it puts a unique spin on this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was more Adventure than Action–

That isn’t to say that things don’t happen in this story–because they do and Carson isn’t afraid to throw some hard realities in along the way. What I mean to say is that this story is pretty much documenting Leah’s journey West once she discovers the truth about her uncle. I wanted gun fights and showdowns, not the dark reality of a pilgrimage West. 

I don’t enjoy adventure stories all that much. I need my brain to be stimulated by conniving plot twists or revealing secrets or a romance. Adventure stories don’t provide that for me. They move at a slower pace that just builds and builds yet never seems to go anywhere. I actually contemplated DNFing this book at 60% because there didn’t seem to be anything happening and I knew that I wouldn’t be impressed by the ending or, at the very least, enticed to pick up the sequel when it came out. (For the record: guilt and the fact that it took be almost 9 months to get a copy of this book made me push through).

–The Romance–

Not that I was expecting a lot of it in this novel, but I wish it was established more in the story. It’s a minor side aspect that only gets brushed upon here and there. I wanted it to distract me from the slower pace of this novel but it didn’t.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m hoping that Leah’s ability takes more of a focus in the future books and the possible revenge plot-line emerges. Little inklings of information were given out early on in Walk on Earth a Stranger but nothing was ever expanded upon, leading me to believe they will be in the next book. But, I won’t be sticking around to find out.

My Rating: 2/5

Walk on Earth a Stranger 2/5 | Like a River Glorious N/A | Into the Bright Unknown N/A

overall

If you want a gunslinging story about revenge: pick up Vengeance Road instead. If you want a historical journey through the midwest with a dash of supernatural elements, pick up Walk the Earth a Stranger. This is perfect for fans of adventure stories!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, Westerns, realistic historical novels
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

similarreads

  • Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
  • Girl of Thorns and Fire by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)

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Series Review: Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy

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

booksynopsis

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

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

…and it’s going to be oh so good

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

breakdown

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

There is a spin-off series to come!

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

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

The Concept / Reading Order:

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

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

The Plot:

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

In other words: you never get bored.

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

The Characters:

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

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:


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

updates

–February 12, 2017– Book #4: The Goal

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

Honestly, this novel was perfect. I DEVOURED IT!

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

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

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

Series Rating: 4.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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Series Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

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

The Falconer Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Falconer (from Goodreads):
One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

breakdown

Series: The Falconer Trilogy
Author: Elizabeth May
# of Books: 3 (The Falconer, The Vanishing Throne, The Falling Kingdom)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Fallen Kingdom, will be published in North America in June 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Steampunk, Faeries, Action, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook, 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 reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere early last year and the cover captured my attention. What made me super eager to pick it up was the fact that it was set in Scotland AND had faeries! I love faery stories and pretty much reading anything featuring them. This one promised to have a lot of action with a dash of romance and so I put it at the top of my TBR for 2016.

The Concept / The World:

I totally forgot this book was steampunk until I started to read it. It gives the world a really neat flavour to it and makes everything seem so much more badass. Steampunk is another favourite genre of mine and I really liked the world we get here–it has its own unique spin on everything.

I thought it was the perfect hybrid between the aristocratic world of Scotland and England during that era, and the supernatural elements like the faeries. It was an easy world to understand and has a lot of complex features to it so you pay attention to what is happening. I highly recommend reading the “bestiary” glossary at the back to keep everything straight though.

The Plot:

I thought there was a great balance between the social aspects of Aileana’s life–such as her duties as a daughter of the upper class–and her supernatural pass times. This book honestly had a great flow to it and kept you interested. I always felt like it was building to a grand moment and that kept me reading.

I also love the action! It has been a long time since I’ve read a book with such great action scenes that are easy to understand and visualize in my head. I had a lot of fun reading this book!

The Characters:

I liked Aileana a lot! I really liked the fact that she isn’t some heart of stone heroine who can kick serious ass but that she has emotions and isn’t too afraid to show them. Sure, she wants vengeance but I liked that her character had more depth than that to her. It was great watching her grow as a young woman and I find it easy to root for her.

Everyone else does their jobs perfectly and add to the story without taking too much away from Aileana.

The Romance:

This is probably why I dropped my rating to a 4.5/5 instead of a 5. I just didn’t like the way this one progressed exactly. The romance really plays a very small role in this story and so it takes a bit of a backseat. While I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen romantically, I felt like its flow was a little off and perhaps a little sudden? I wasn’t in love with the romance as much as I thought I was going to be but I’m hoping that changes in the sequel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m looking forward to learning more about the fey world and how Aileana is going to handle everything going forward. There were some great developments and I’m stoked to see how everything unfolds in the next one!

updates

–November 3, 2016– Book #2: The Vanishing Throne

This novel was super easy to get reoriented with. There was enough recap to quickly get you up to speed with everything that had happened but not so much that you were bored out of your skull waiting for some action.

When compared to The Falconer, I thought this one had less physical action. It’s more political and drama filled, meaning you get some fantastic reveals and character developments. So it’s a strong sequel in that sense because it starts to bring everything together.

However, I did find it lag a bit in the middle. In a series like this where action is at the pinnacle, it’s easy for you to see when things slow down. But that being said, I never got bored with this book and I am desperately in need of the finale!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Falconer 4.5/5 | The Vanishing Throne 4/5 | The Fallen Kingdom TBD

overall

If you want a historical fantasy that is lighter on the romance and heavy on the action, I think this is a great one for you to grab!

Read if You Like: action, steampunk, faeries
Avoid if You: want more romance

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