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Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stalking Jack the Ripper (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

breakdown

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
# of Books: 4 (Full List Here)
Book Order: Chronoglogical
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be released September 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2016 – September 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw Stalking Jack the Ripper a few months before its release while visiting Stephanie @ In Wonderland’s Make Me Read It Readathon voting page. I loved the cover and so I checked out the synopsis and immediately added it to my TBR.

I love murder mystery crime shows though it’s a genre I don’t often explore in my books. I also have this somewhat inexplicable, never-ending interest in the Jack the Ripper case; so I was curious to see how it would be woven into a fictional story. But the biggest expectation I had was Audrey herself. As a scientist myself, I couldn’t wait to read about a heroine who seems to shatter every expectation society has for her by pursuing her scientific passions.

The Concept:

All these novels feature famous crime and/or folklore stories in one way or another. And it’s very obvious when you read them that Kerri Maniscalco has done her research. Everything is rich and seamlessly woven together; it makes it a pure joy to explore as a reader.

In particular, the use of scientific and forensic methods really impressed me. It’s very accurate to the time-frame and it makes you appreciate how far we have come in terms of scientific advancements when it comes to solving crimes. It reminded me a lot of the use of forensic sciences in Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Plot:

It’s hard to write a good mystery story but these ones are super well done. You get enough clues (and red herrings) along the way to keep you interested and engaged in the story. But there is also a good percentage of time dedicated to character development–which is always really important in a series that follows the same characters.

I will say though that I thought the mystery for Stalking Jack the Ripper was very obvious so that impacted my reading experience. However, the mystery of Hunting Prince Dracula was much stronger and had a solution I hadn’t guessed at right away. And the same could be said for Escaping From Houdini.

The Characters:

I really loved Audrey and Thomas in all the books. Audrey is a strong lead heroine. Not only is she very intelligent but she also has this passionate drive that keeps her pushing through even when times get tough. But she also has her flaws and I loved how she took those one and constantly challenged herself to be better.

Thomas–oh boy do I love Thomas! He is everything I love in a charming jerk of a genius. He’s got that Sherlock Holmes’ “I’m better than everyone” attitude that is so hard to resist.

But together, these two are unstoppable. They have this great banter–like every good partnership should have–and they really bring each other to the next level. All their scenes together truly amplifies this series.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge aspect of the story but you get just enough to keep you wanting more but not overly disappointed that you aren’t getting more because the plotline is so engaging. But I mean, I wouldn’t have been disappointed to get a few more scenes 😛

My Audiobook Experience:

I really went back and forth on whether of not to read the audiobook or the eBook but I’m really glad I opted for the audiobook in the end. I loved the posh accents–it really reminded me that we were in London or wherever else the adventure takes us. But, like I say with all audiobooks, I get a much better read on the emotions of it all and I love that. It truly brought the characters to life in a way that I might have missed out on if I read a printed version.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next adventure and to see how this series will wrap up!

 

Series Rating: 4/5

Stalking Jack the Ripper 3.5/5 | Hunting Prince Dracula 4/5 | Escaping from Houdini 4.5/5 | Book 4 TBP

overall

With a rich setting and utterly charming characters, this murder mystery series will hook you in!

Read if You Like: historical, mysteries, partnerships
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike murder mysteries

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Series Review: Burying Water by K A Tucker

Series Review: Burying Water by K A Tucker

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 Burying Water (from Goodreads):

The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away.

Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?

Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried.

The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: Burying Water
Author: K A Tucker
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2015
Source & Format: Owned & Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I came across this series in a really weird way. I actually won Chasing River (#3) from a Twitter giveaway from the publisher and then I bought the other novels to complete the collection on my bookshelf without ever reading that book. But I knew I would enjoy them. K A Tucker simply writes great contemporary romances that have this edge to them that is right up my alley. So needless to say, I was very excited to see what she had in store for this series!

The Plot:

I’m a fan of dual POVs in my novels and I think this series is a perfect example of when it enhances the story. You would think in a series that is rooted in suspense like this one is that having that additional POV would ruin some of the anticipation but that isn’t (always) the case. In some ways, you lose the mystery of what the other person is thinking and/or what their motives are. But because you are kept in the dark about the actual drama there is still enough drive to keep you reading.

The Characters:

I really liked all the leads and side characters we meet along the way. Because we get the dual POV I found that all the leads had great development and dimensions to them. You learn nearly everything you can about them and I enjoyed watching them grow throughout the stories.

The Romance:

Fantastic chemistry between leads can go a long way and I think it shows here. The romance is just as addicting as the drama. I thought the connections weren’t as strong in the last two novels of the series as the first two were. However, because we get such strong character development, I totally saw why these pairings would work based on what I knew about the individuals.

My Audiobook Experience:

Despite owning the actual paperback copies of these novels, I decided to listen to the audiobooks from my local library (simply for the convenience!). But I’m so glad that I did! I loved the audio productions so much. The narrators were great and I think hearing their stories aloud helped get me even more invested in their stories and dilemmas because the emotions are much rawer.

Series Rating: 4/5

Burying Water 4/5 | Becoming Rain 4/5 | Chasing River 3/5 | Surviving Ice 4/5

overall

If you want a romantic suspense story that strikes the perfect balance between the romance and the thrills, this is a fantastic series for you!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, dual POVs
Avoid if You: erotica, dislike violence

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Series Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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 Anna and the French Kiss (from Goodreads):
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

breakdown

Series: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2010 – August 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw Anna and the French Kiss years ago at my local library but I never got around to picking it up (I think it was the hint at a love triangle). I actually thought it was related to Lauren Henderson’s Flirting in Italian Series (which I put on my TBR YEARS ago!). I never gave this book a second thought until I started following more blogs and noticed everyone seemed to love this book. So call me intrigued…I put this book on hold and waited to dig in.

I’m not a huge fan of stories where the object of affection is in another relationship. In general, I don’t enjoy books with cheating or love triangles; and while I didn’t think Anna and the French Kiss was going to be a book dripping in cheating escapades, it didn’t appeal to me too much. (Nor did its sequel that had a similar situation). But who can refuse a literary trip to Paris?

The Plot:

These books are your typical contemporary Young Adult fare. When I was just a few chapters into Anna and the French Kiss I already had a good idea of what one major plot twist was going to be; however, there definitely was one I never saw coming. It wasn’t that way with the sequels though. I had the story figured out for the most part and so that dulled my enjoyment moving forward.

Also, perhaps it is just due to the age of the characters but somethings just seemed needless overdramatic. This was especially the case in Lola and the Boy Next Door. Maybe I’m just used to reading older contemporary romances now but I kept thinking “that’s all that drove you two apart?”–I guess I was anticipating a larger falling out considering how reactive Lola was to his return.

I ended up DNFing Isla and the Happily Ever After around the 21% mark because the pacing was just off. It also didn’t seem to have a plot either other than Isla obsessing after the object of her affection.

The Characters:

I was a little hit or miss with the characters here and I think that has to do with everyone’s quirkiness. Every one has their own larger than life personality (especially Lola) and that may clash you with you. I know that was the case in Book #2 (Lola) where I wasn’t a fan of Lola but I enjoyed Cricket’s character.

One thing I will say is that even if you don’t directly relate to the character, you likely have experienced a similar situation when it comes to relationships with family and friends. We’ve all had those strained times between others and I think that is especially true when you are a teenager and are trying to find yourself.

The Romance:

I’m really torn over the romance of the novels. In all of the novels, I really loved the pairings. I thought everyone was a great match and the whole “find someone who loves you for you” motto really rings true.

However, I don’t really enjoy love triangles–especially ones where someone is already in a relationship. Emotional cheating (having romantic feelings for someone else) isn’t something I like to read about. I don’t like the revelations that the “perfect” partner isn’t so perfect anymore because you can find flaws in anyone.

Why both Books #1 (Anna) and #2 (Lola) needed that angle is beyond me because I think both stories would have been great without that particular trope.

My Audiobook Experience (Lola and Isla):

I enjoyed the audio productions. Most of my dissatisfaction comes from the actual story and not the audiobook. Perhaps if I had read the novel (which would have taken me a fraction of the time the audiobook did) may have allowed me to enjoy the story itself but I’m not entirely sure that would have been the case.

My Rating: DNF

Anna and the French Kiss 4/5  |  Lola and the Boy Next Door 2/5 |  Isla and the Happily Ever After DNF

overall

Perfect for YA contemporary fans who enjoy quirky characters and don’t need an overly complicated plot.

Read if You Like: YA contemporaries; lighter stories
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike love triangles
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Single Sundays: Only Between Us 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 Only Between Us (from Goodreads):

Last semester, Romy escaped from an abusive relationship with the guy she’d thought was the man of her dreams. This semester she’s putting herself back together, determined to reclaim her passion for art and for life. When she signs up for a painting class at the local art co-op, the possibility of passion becomes very real — in the form of her teacher, Caleb. Both mysterious and seriously hot, Caleb bares his soul on his canvases, and Romy’s fascinated by what she sees.

Caleb is just trying to keep his head above water. Caring for his traumatized, unstable sister is getting harder every day, and his paintings are so dark and bleak that no one is buying. Teaching classes at the co-op is no longer enough, and now he’s going to have to sell more than just his art to the wealthy, sex-starved women in his classes. But when Romy comes along, she makes everything more complicated. She sees the truth in his paintings — a truth no one else has realized, until now.

Romy and Caleb might have a real shot together — one that could heal them both. But when ghosts from their pasts re-emerge, determined to keep them apart, will they be strong enough to hold on to each other?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author

This novel has a spin-off: Everything Between Us

Author: Mila Ferrera
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Mental Health
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually read the spin-off novel, Everything Between Us before I ever heard of this one. But after loving that novel and getting a quick glimpse at Romy and Caleb, I immediately bought this book so I could get the full story.

The Concept:

This is my third Mila Ferrera novel and I can say with total confidence that she is one of the best writers out there when it comes to mental health in contemporary romances. Not only does she seamlessly interweave that aspect into the story but she also manages to do so in a genuinely realistic way that captures my full attention. Yes, sometimes that means we go to the darker side of things but I never feel like she is doing is for simply the shock factor. Rather she is humanizing her characters by sharing their struggles, ups and downs and fighting that stigma we have surrounding mental health.

The Plot:

I hadn’t been having the greatest luck with novels when I picked this one up but this one reminded me what I love about the New Adult genre. We had strong, developed and complex characters; a solid plot line and a passionate romance to top everything off.

There’s enough drama and obstacles to keep the story fresh and moving while contributing in a strong way to the character development.

The Characters:

I loved both of these leads so much! The focus shifts from Romy to Caleb when it needs to and that keeps the story moving. But both of these characters have their flaws and their strengths and it just contributes in a great way to their stories.

The Romance:

In some ways, this story is a slow burn romance because they take their time to get to know each other. But the spark is there from the start and it heats up in a way that will suck you in.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Mila Ferrera never fails to impress. I love the way she handles mental illness in her novels. It’s so raw, genuine and powerful.

Read if You Like: mental health, romance, darker stories
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike sensitive conversations, want a light read
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Series Review: Broke and Beautiful by Tessa Bailey

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 Chase Me (from Goodreads):

College drop-out, Roxy Cumberland, moved to New York with dreams of becoming an actress, but her dwindling bank account is quickly putting the kibosh on that fantasy. To make some quick cash, she signs up to perform singing telegrams. Her first customer is a gorgeous, cocky Manhattan trust-funder if she ever laid eyes on one. And what could be more humiliating than singing an ode to his junk, courtesy of his last one night stand? Maybe the fact that she’s dressed in a giant, pink bunny costume…

After a night out to celebrate winning his last case, lawyer Louis McNally II isn’t prepared for the pounding in his head or the rabbit serenading him from the front door. But the sassy wit and sexy voice of the girl behind the mask intrigues him, and one look at her stunning face—followed by a mind-blowing kiss against his doorjamb—leaves Louis wanting more.

Roxy doesn’t need a spoiled rich boy who’s had everything in life handed to him on a Tiffany platter. But there’s more to Louis than his sexy surface and he’s determined to make Roxy see it…even if it means chasing her all over NYC.

breakdown

Series: Broke and Beautiful
Author: Tessa Bailey
# of Books: 3 (Chase Me, Need Me, Make Me)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild in Need Me and Make Me)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2015 – August 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had Chase Me marked on my library wishlist for a long time and when my library card was expiring, I decided that this was one of the “new” series I was going to binge read before I lost access. The premise seemed fun and I’m always up for a lighter New Adult read.

The Plot:

The plot in these books is all about the chase (pun intended?) and the obstacles these couples face as they try to make their seemingly impossible relationship(s) work. Sometimes these books get a little too caught up in the back-and-forth of it all (Make Me #3 for example) but I still enjoyed the story. They get into a lot of hi-jinks along the way thanks to their unique personalities and circumstances so I always found each book was a refreshing story to me.

The Characters:

I really liked all the characters. As I said above, they were each unique and not carbon copies of each other.

I will say that I didn’t like our hero in Make Me as much as I had anticipated. It’s not that I didn’t like him, I just didn’t expect one of his character traits and that threw me off a bit. I actually read Make Me (#3) before Need Me (#2) as was the order I got them from the library. Had I read Need Me first, I probably would have known what to expect a little more but I still really liked him as a hero when it’s all said and done.

The Romance:

While all these couples had great romantic tension and chemistry, I feel like we only scratched the surface of their relationship. The stories are kept light, fun and flirty so we don’t get more than your necessary amount of soul baring from each character. So while I could see the basis of their relationships forming, they fall quick and hard solely based on a few interactions and not much else.

Series Rating: 4/5

Chase Me 4/5 | Need Me 4/5 | Make Me 3.5/5

overall

This series is perfect for fans who want some lighter New Adult romances with plenty of laughs and steam!

Read if You Like: new adult romances, humours contemporary
Avoid if You: want deeper characters

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Series Review: Stolen Empire by Sherry D Ficklin

Series Review: Stolen Empire by Sherry D Ficklin

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 Queen of Someday (from Goodreads):

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?

breakdown

Series: Stolen Empire Trilogy
Author: Sherry Ficklin (or Sherry D Ficklin)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2014 – November 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I’ve opted not to pick up Books #2 and #3. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVE stories set in Imperial Russia. I just adore the setting; the politics; the forbidden romances; the folklore–everything about it sucks me in as a reader. So I was super excited to read this series and managed to snag the boxset when it was on sale (though I had already grabbed Queen of Someday as a freebie prior).

It has been awhile since I read a book set in Imperial Russia so I made sure to add this series as a pick for my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a selection for the year 2014. I also added it to my 2018 #MakeMeRead It Readathon where it tied for 1st place for the greatest number of votes.

What I Liked:

–It’s Inspired by Catherine the Great–

I will admit that I missed that part when I actually started reading but once that became apparent to me, I was definitely intrigued. I even had to do some research on Catherine to see what her story was about. I love books that make me dig a little deeper.

–Video Bonuses at the End of Chapters–

You can tell that Sherry Ficklin has put a lot of research into this series in terms of history, characters and setting. So it was a neat treat to get video bonuses at the end of some chapters where she explains her inspiration or what she was attempting to do in that chapter.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Couldn’t Get a Read on Sophie’s Character–

I was definitely a Sophie fan in the first few chapters. She isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and that shows in the opening scene when her carriage is attacked. She came across as strong and independent and I liked that a lot.

But then something happened where it seemed like her character almost had two different personalities. I get it, she’s 15 years old and has the pressure of the Empress and her mother on her back so I don’t expect her to make flawless decisions at all times. Yet, I craved some consistency in her character. One moment she’s this docile thing falling into love within moments of talking to a man and in the next she’s this bold and cunning heroine laying down threats like she owns the place. It was just a weird disconnect for me and I almost felt like I was reading about two different characters in one body.

–The Romances–

Yes, that’s a plural and no, I’m not talking about different characters. I’m talking about the numerous romances Sophie finds herself entangled in. Thanks to my research, I know that Catherine the Great was a lady who liked her male company so that isn’t overly surprising that in her youth she’d be the same. What irked me was how fast Sophie fell for these guys. They share one conversation and she’s willing to risk anything to be with them.

Again, she’s 15 and I get how fickle the heart can be. But add to that my issues with her character and I quickly lost interest in her romantic relationships–which do take up the vast majority of the book.

–Peter–

You can’t label some as “sadistic” in the synopsis and then not show that side of him until the last quarter of the novel. I had to reread the synopsis multiple times to make sure that it was Peter who was supposed to be the cruel one because for the most part, he was just an immature royal who toyed with Sophie’s feelings like any 16 year old boy would.

Will I Finish It?

Nope! I read the real Catherine the Great’s biography and I have a good sense of how her story ended and what was to come in the future books so I’m good with leaving this series here.

My Rating: DNF

Queen of Someday 2/5 | Queen of Tomorrow N/A | Queen of Always N/A

overall

If you like teenaged historical fiction and don’t mind love at first sight triangles and drama, you’ll likely enjoy this.

Read if You Like: Imperial Russia, teen soap operas
Avoid if You: want a more mature story

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Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

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 Game. Set. Match. (from Goodreads):

Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech, right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break.

breakdown

Series: Outer Banks Tennis Academy
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a tween, there was this Canadian TV drama called 15/Love that was set at a tennis academy and followed teenage tennis up-and-comers. It wasn’t the greatest show ever (in terms of acting) but I did get addicted to the drama of relationships and athletics.

I’m not entirely sure how this one crossed my radar but I liked the athletic approach. I also liked that it would be told by multiple leads because I find I enjoy contemporaries more when told that way.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not overly familiar with the tennis world. While I understand the game of tennis, I’m pretty clueless about how one becomes a professional tennis star. I was a little worried that I would get lost in that aspect of the story but that was never the case. Everything is kept to the basics or explained in a way that the reader will immediately understand so don’t let that deter you.

The Plot:

The synopsis gives the impression that this series is all about the romances but there is a strong focus on character development as well once you start reading. I thought there was a great balance in this respect and was pleasantly surprised that the character growth is so prevalent. More on that below.

Add to that some drama and some high stake situations and I was completely addicted to the story. It moves at a great pace and you can’t help but want to keep reading!

The Characters:

Usually I am a fan of multiple POVs because it pretty much guarantees that I will enjoy at least one character’s POV. (This does fail sometimes: City Love is a great example). HOWEVER, that wasn’t the case here at all!

That doesn’t mean I immediately loved all the leads though. This is where character development and growth truly enhanced the reading experience. As you learned more about the girls and their pasts, you are able to understand why they act the way they do. I don’t mind angsty characters so long as it is “justified” (meaning explained) to me while I read. Even better is that you get to see them change as a result and I really enjoyed that aspect. This is very much a character driven series.

The Romance:

Definitely a highlight for me! I really liked all the pairings for the girls and the resulting drama and character growth that comes from these relationships!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope the third book gets published. While things are wrapped up at the end of Losing Love, it didn’t feel complete to me at all. So I’m eager to get the closing chapters on these girls’ stories.

Series Rating: 4/5

Game. Set. Match. 4/5 | Losing at Love 4/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

This is a great contemporary sports read for those who want a somewhat lighter tone to their read but still has solid character growth and swoon worthy romance.

Read if You Like: sport stories, tennis, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs
similarreads

  • For Everly by Raine Thomas
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kinneally (Hundred Oaks Series #1)

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Series Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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 Cage (from Goodreads):

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures, all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer appears—a handsome young guard called Cassian—they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

breakdown

Series: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella (#0.5) called The Caretaker

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: ARC Paperback (The Cage); Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually got a paperback copy of the ARC of The Cage from Lola @ Hit Or Miss Books as a part of her giveaway three years ago. I loved the concept so I was very interested in reading it but never managed to actually get to it. Which is why I picked it as a 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 pick for the year 2015; especially since the series was now complete!

The Concept / The World:

I love stories where an unlikely group of people find themselves together in a dire situation. Will they band together or will they tear each other apart? Will their secrets be exposed? It just adds to the suspense of the novel and keeps you wondering what will happen next.

When it comes to The Cage (#1), this was one of those books where I loved the concept more than the actual execution. The overall idea of why these characters find themselves in this weirdly crafted world kept my attention but the stuff in between (like romance) caused it to wane. This definitely changed in the sequel novels where I found the attention stayed on the overall plot (ie why they have been captured by the alien species and what they are going to do about it).

As for the world itself, it’s easy to grasp and definitely intriguing in its own way.

The Plot:

The plot of The Cage was very slow for me. I found the mystery of why these 6 were being kept in a cage pushed me to keep reading. But at the same time, I thought some of the other elements were repetitive. Cora in particular seems to cycle through the same plot line (attempt escape, talk to the Caretaker, repeat) and she is the character we follow for a majority of the novel. The other characters get their own POVs which was a refreshing change; however, we know all the other characters secrets early on so their POVs weren’t overly enthralling. There are some good twists near the end though.

And I thought the sequels did a good job of building on that momentum at the end of the first book. The narrative of the novels shifts away from the romances and the petty stuff and instead hones in on the bigger plot of the story: saving humanity. I really enjoyed the pacing of The Hunt and the various twists we got along the way. The Gauntlet has the same great pacing; my only reason for a slightly lower rating is my dislike of some of the plot resolutions (or at least how they are resolved).

The Characters:

I really struggled to like the characters in The Cage (#1). They all seemed a little bland to me. I wasn’t a Cora fan in the slightest though I understood her desire to escape. But I never really got the logic behind the other characters’ motivations (except Rolf) and actions. We also don’t spend a lot of time getting to know them because Cora’s chapters outweigh them, so I never really grew attached.

So in the sequel novels I found them to be the right pieces to move the story forward but I never really “connected” to any of them.

The Romance:

I did NOT see the attraction between Cassian and Cora whatsoever. Well, I guess I get Cassian’s fascination in a way but not Cora’s. The love triangle that ensues is painful to watch. Thankfully it gets toned down in the sequel novels so it isn’t a huge part of the plot moving forward.

The rest of the romances served their purposes. There was one couple in particular I was rooting to see happen so I liked that.

My Audiobook Experience (The Hunt [#2] & The Gauntlet [#3]):

I LOVED the audio version–it almost makes me wish I read the first book as an audio. The narrator does a great job giving everyone a unique voice with unique tones and accents. It was just a blast to listen to!

When to Read the Novella, The Caretaker?

I read it after I completed the series mostly because I forgot it existed 😛 You can read it for free here and I would definitely read it AFTER you’ve read The Cage because it definitely gives away some of the plot twists (plus, it’ll will give you more context if you already know the scenes).

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Cage 3/5| The Hunt 4/5 | The Gauntlet 3.5/5

overall

Despite a really rough start with The Cage, I truly to end up enjoying this series. Once we move away from the petty character moments, we do get an intriguing and unique fast-paced story about humanity’s survival in the later two sequels.

Read if You Like: dystopian science fiction, romance
Avoid if You: need fast paced plot ASAP

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DNF Series Review: Contrite by Kathy Coopmans

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 Contrite (from Goodreads):

Clove Calloway knows within an hour of picking up her husband Turner from the airport that something is different, yet she can’t pinpoint what. Together since college, they know everything about each other… so why has she spent the last few days watching everything he does, hoping for a clue? What could have happened within the week he was gone?
One way or another, she’s going to find out.
When Clove enlists the help of her brother Zach, a police detective, she’s afraid her suspicions of infidelity will be confirmed. Terrified that such news will crush her heart, she sets about preparing for the worst, only to find it’s much more than she could have imagined- there is no other woman.
Clove’s life is about to descend into a web of deceit, lies, and betrayal.
Appearances can be deceiving…and only the Master Manipulator will be left standing. 

*Note* This book contains graphic scenes of physical and sexual violence. Reader discretion is advised.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Read 2018
Series: Contrite Duet
Author: Kathy Coopmans
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2015 – June 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read Contrite (#1) and have opted not to pick up Reprisal (#2). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had never heard of this series but when I got an email alerting me to the fact that the duet boxset was on sale for $1, I decided to check it out. I enjoy a dark romance on occasion and I love the idea of a suspenseful romance as well (though they often don’t meet my expectations). The reviews for this were pretty positive and while I kinda knew what was “off” with her husband, I liked the idea that there was a bigger plot line at play.

For me, this is one of those cases where I go “why does it have so many 5 star reviews”?!?

What I Liked:

–Epilogue–

I could say something like “I was just glad it was over”; but I will admit that the twist we get with the epilogue was a good one. It’s a good mind-f**k for the reader and I always enjoy those.

What I Didn’t Like:

–All the Sex–

I’m all for a good erotica novel but this was just too much for me! When you are getting smut in place of actual plot development, I’m not a fan. I didn’t pick this book up for sexy times–I picked it up for suspense and we don’t really get that.

–Clove–

She is perhaps one of the most frustrating leads I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. She is just all over the place. As she says at one point during the book “my libido overruled my common sense” but I’m not sure the girl even had common sense at any point.

There are two scenes in particular that really had me shaking my head and I just have to share them in spoilers because I need to get it off my chest.

Why Clove is an Idiot:

Context: it turns out that the man Clove picks up from the airport is her husband’s identical twin brother that no one knew about. So I can forgive the girl for sleeping with him when she doesn’t know better. But when Clove does find out, she still sleeps with the twin because he makes her super horny and gives her the best sex of her life! She even lets him use the “backdoor” if you know what I mean! Why? She doesn’t want him to know that she knows he isn’t the real Turner. Then she laments on and on about how guilty she feels. But then later, after the evil twin assaults her, she worries that her husband will never forgive her because she was assaulted AND willingly slept with the brother. I don’t think he would care about the assault in that respect, but willingly sleeping with his brother? Yeah, I would question your commitment to him too.

[collapse]

–Plot Holes–

I’ll give a specific example in my spoilers but there were just some things that didn’t add up for me when it came to the plot. The basics were there but how it develops is lacking.

Example of Plot Hole:

So Trent (evil twin brother) takes Clove with him to force her husband to sign something for the inheritance. But why can’t Trent just pretend to be the brother and sign the document for the money–isn’t that the whole point of stealing his brother’s identity and life in the first place? Why are we going through all this crap at all?

[collapse]

Will I Finish It?

The only reason I finished Contrite was because it was like a bad movie you just can’t help watching. I just wanted to see how far everything would go (and the answer is pretty far). But I have no desire to continue on with the series. I’ve read a few spoilers from Reprisal (#2) and I have a general gist of what happens but my brain can’t take another dive back into this series.

My Rating: DNF

Contrite 1/5 | Reprisal N/A

overall

This is like a bad soap opera that you can’t help but watch even though you know it isn’t good for you.

Read if You Like: very dramatic reads
Avoid if You: want a well developed novel

similarreads

  • Retrieval by Aly Martinez (The Retrieval Duet #1)
  • Maybe Yes by Ella Miles (Maybe Series #1)

 

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Single Sundays: Pretend I’m Yours by Ella Miles

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 Pretend I’m Yours (from Goodreads):

I’m a twenty-two-year-old virgin. Tonight that changes.

I thought my first time had to be magical. The perfect date. The perfect place. The perfect guy. I thought I wanted to be in love.
But now, I’m desperate.
I’ll take any guy as long as he’s decent looking and treats me well, at least for the night.
Turns out Mr. Perfect isn’t so hard to find. He’s hot, dreamy, and filthy rich. And he wants me.
Sex with him is going to be better than I ever imagined. He’s going to ruin me for all other guys. I know that it is just for one night, but it doesn’t matter. I’m happy to get my perfect night.
One night isn’t enough, for either of us.
Because Mr. Perfect just fake proposed to me. And he wants this proposal to last a lot longer than one night.

Will you pretend to be my wife?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I love Ella Miles’ books. If I want a steamy contemporary romance (sometimes with a darker edge to it) that will surprise me in its plot, she’s the author I turn to.

I would say fake relationships are my favourite book trope of all time. I devour anything with that in the synopsis so I was SUPER DUPER excited when Ella announced she was writing a contemporary romance with that as a feature. Of course, I knew there would be more to this story than that and so I was eager to dive in!

The Plot:

I’ll admit that the synopsis is slightly misleading, especially once you get two chapters into the novel. But like all of Ella’s books, things often go in a direction you don’t expect. This book kept me on my toes. It’s full of angst and steam and I just got sucked into it all as soon as these two lay eyes on each other. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in their story.

The Characters:

I really liked Larykn. I wasn’t sure what she would be like considering the synopsis (I worried she was going to be driven by sex and lust) but I really grew to like her spunk and independence. She doesn’t really play any games and is pretty open to voicing her opinion which I like.

I’m not going to name “Mr Perfect” because that is part of the suspense of the first part of the novel, but I also loved him as a lead. He’s a bit of a bad boy but has a good heart two so it was easy to fall for him.

The Romance:

Talk about palpable chemistry! Wowza, you could really feel it between these two! I loved all their scenes together. They are such a good match for each other so watching them inevitably falling in love was such a treat!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is probably my favourite Ella Miles book to date! I just loved the chemistry and the pacing of the story. I was sucked in from the start!

Read if You Like: fake romances, drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: don’t like slightly over the top drama
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