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Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Single Sundays: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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 The Game of Love and Death (from Goodreads):

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

breakdown

Author: Martha Brockenbrough
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (via Hoopla)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobook selections at my local library, the cover of this title immediately drew my attention in. I had never heard of the book before, but I liked the premise a lot when I read it. So, I added it to my TBR and actually added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2019 as a pick for the year 2015.

The Concept / The World:

I love the idea of fate or some greater beings controlling our everyday lives. It’s a cool premise to explore in a story and one that is done flawlessly here. Death and Love are compelling characters and their motives reflect that.

I love historical fiction set in this era; it’s so culturally rich and the issues people face are so basic and genuine. It adds this layer to the story that would be lost if it didn’t take place in this time-frame.

The Plot:

I think what I liked best about this story is that despite the larger premise (a game controlled by Love and Death), it’s a human story without all the over the top theatrics. It’s achingly real and heartfelt. The essence is a timeless story, though it is enhanced by the setting.

I’ll admit that the resolution of the game was a little lost on me. Well, one aspect was at least. The flashbacks (not that there are too many) also had me a little lost because I was listening to the audio and am not the best at remembering dates when they are said aloud.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed all the characters stories–Love, Death, Flora, Henry, Ethan–just intriguing characters and stories. They truly are the heart and soul of this story. I loved getting all the different POVs and I was never overwhelmed by them either.

The Romance:

You aren’t getting copious scenes of stolen moments or kisses but it’s a romance at its core. It’s like a slow burn romance with an edge of suspense with the “will they or won’t they” vibes the story entices.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production is beautiful. The choice to actually sing the songs just brings everything to life and perfectly captures the emotion of the songs.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

It’s not your everyday story or romance but there is something compelling about this story. I highly recommend the audiobook version!

Read if You Like: thought provoking novels, classic romances
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction, want a contemporary romance

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Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

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 Dance for Me (from Goodreads):

Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries…or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.

Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.

As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses…but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?

This New Adult Romance is recommended for 17+ due to mature themes, sexual situations and language.

breakdown

Series: Fenbrook Academy
Author: Helena Newbury
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 Losing My Balance

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Losing my Balance)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited (Acting Brave)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely certain how this series crossed my radar; probably when I browsing NA reads that were a little darker. I know that I liked the idea of the series taking place at an academy for performing arts. It’s very Fame-esque (the old TV show that they rebooted in a so-so movies a few years ago).

The Concept / The World:

Each novel focuses on a girl who attends the school but for a different art. One’s a dancer, one’s a musician and the other is an actress. They also have different familiar situations and pasts so I found each story had its own unique spin and plot. There isn’t a linear overall plot but you get a taste of what is going to happen in the sequels in the previous novel; and you still see the previous leads in the sequel novels as well. However, you could read each one as a standalone if you desired.

The Plot:

Because our three heroines differ, the plots for their respective novels are also very different.

Dance for Me (#1) definitely has a darker, twisted edge to it; one I wasn’t entirely expecting so in that respect it was refreshing. But because of those vibes, everything seemed rushed to me and I wasn’t a huge fan of that.

Whereas In Harmony (#2) was lighter and more of a coming of age type of story. Unfortunately, it suffered from some logic holes with the plot near the end but I really enjoyed it! It was definitely my favorite of the series.

And the final novel, Acting Brave had its own feel to it. There was a dash of suspense but it seemed to focus more on a slow burn romance. Or maybe it only felt slow because it is such a long novel! The pacing was a little off for me on this one and while it was my most anticipated of the stories, I ended up a touch disappointed.

The Characters:

There are many layers to these characters and I liked how this book explored them. A good new adult romance novel should have a fantastic romance but it should also have strong character growth and I felt like these books had that latter aspect. Of course, not every reader can relate to all the situations the characters face but I think we can all identity with the need to find your own identity and fight the possible demons from our past.

The Romance:

With the exception of In Harmony (#2), I thought all of the romances happened really fast. What I mean by that, it that they get very intense really quickly (like “I love you” is thrown out pretty early within the couples even meeting each other). I’m ok with that but a lot of the times, I felt like the characters were more in love with the idea of their partner than the partner themselves. My opinion did change further into the stories when we learn more about the characters but it was a little off-putting how quickly these people were falling in love with each other.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 Losing My Balance:

I read this after I had finished the novels in the series but you can safely read this following book #1. And I would actually recommend that you do read this right after Book #1 when you still remember the tension and how the scenes from it are integrated in the first novel.

Series Rating: 3/5

Dance for Me 3/5 | [Losing my Balance 3/5] | In Harmony 4/5 | Acting Brave 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a different type of New Adult Series–and don’t mind a copious amount of pages–this will be a great series for you to pick up.

Read if You Like: darker new adult stories; long novels
Avoid if You: want better pacing; dislike long novels

similarreads

  • The Mad Tatter by J M Darhower
  • Chasing River by K A Tucker (Burying Water #3)
  • She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla (Sheridan Hall Series #1)

 

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Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

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 Blocked (from Goodreads):

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

breakdown

Series: Blocked
Author: Jennifer Lane
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Blocked); Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I think I got this series mixed up for another when I was selecting my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge Titles. I blame the very similar covers. (The book I’m thinking of is Love Garage by Liz Crowe). Regardless, I thought  the premise for Blocked was very interesting; especially in the politically charged environment we find ourselves in today.

The Concept:

While the political system is quite different where I live in Canada, I know enough about the American system to understand why the “hate to love you trope” is quite the obstacle for our leads to overcome. I’ve read books in the past where modern politics are a theme but never to the levels that are displayed here. By no means are the characters preachy to the reader; but various views are expressed throughout the novels and they are used well as plot devices.

Another major theme in these novels is sports and how athletes balance sports and their everyday lives. There is a big emphasis on therapy and counselling–which I loved. Mental health is often something shied away from in novels and I liked how these books broke down the stereotypes and included the sessions in the scenes.

The Plot:

For me, all of these books had a weird pacing to them. We spend so much of these novels focusing on the individual characters and their stories that the romance gets a little lost in the shuffle. It all felt a little repetitive to me at times; and more often than not, it felt like we were trapped in the mundane of everyday life. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than it could have used a little polish to fine-tune everything.

The Characters:

First, hats off for diverse characters! It was awesome to read about Latino and Black leads and get that layer to our characters.

What I didn’t like about the leads was the maturity level…or the lack of a higher one. I get that they are freshman in college but I don’t think anyone talks like that as freshmen (or maybe I’m just getting old). I wasn’t a fan of how we would go from serious conversation about therapy to wanting to “bonk” the girl. Nope. It was almost like a parent was trying to be “hip” with the kids but used all the wrong slang…

The Romance:

While I could see the draw to all the romantic pairings (they had a lot of common interests with the exception of politics), I wasn’t entirely sold on them either. They all seemed to be based on lust and some unspoken connection that never gets built upon. For the majority of the story we get their individual stories and then in one instance they are a couple and declaring everlasting love. And perhaps the romance is just a small piece of the story the author wants to tell but I went into this series thinking it was the main one…thus my disappointment.

Series Rating: 3/5

Blocked 3/5 | Aced 3/5 | Spiked 3/5

overall

I think I had the wrong set of expectations for this series. The premise is refreshing and if you want more politics in your contemporary reads, pick this up! But I think it needed a little polish to get the pacing just right.

Read if You Like: modern politics, sports
Avoid if You: like more romance
similarreads

  • Dirty English by Isla Madden Mills (English Series #1)
  • Unbreakable by Rebecca Shea (Unbreakable Series #1)
  • Pretty Smart Girls by Shea Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

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 Touching Down (from Goodreads):

The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.

Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.

But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.

They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.

Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.

When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.

No man can take Grant Turner down.

But one woman certainly can.

One woman will.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Nicole Williams is the author who first introduced me to the world of New Adult romance and I’ve repaid the favour by picking up any book I can of hers…with mixed results. But I was hoping her Adult romance in Touching Down would break the funk I’d been having with her titles when I randomly picked it up to read for my Tackling the TBR 2019 Challenge.

The Concept:

The heart of this story is a second chance romance which is usually fine and dandy with me. But this one just had too many logistical pot-holes to have me fully on board. The reasons for the separation; the choices Ryan has made over the years and some other things had me going “really, that’s how this all plays out?”. Everything seemed like it was played out to an extreme and it just made it all seem unnecessary.

The Plot:

I think I was two chapters in when I figured out all the major twists that were going to happen. Nothing surprised me about the drama except the reason for the separation.

There are some extenuating circumstances that come to light and instead of enhancing the story, I actually think they dampened it. Nothing really gets elaborated on and we just gloss over those opportunities for character growth or plot developments.

The Characters:

I thought Ryan was an idiot–I didn’t understand a single choice she made in the last 7 years with the exception of one. Grant was so stereotypical and boring I forgot he was there half the time.

The Romance:

I always say this in second chance romances that I review but you have to show my why these two people should reunite after all this time. And this novel did not do that. I’m not sure why these two even loved each other besides proximity and shared tough experiences.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I really wanted to like this but I just wasn’t overly impressed with this story.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, football stars
Avoid if You: want a strong romance novel

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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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Fresh Fridays: These Rebel Waves (Steam Raiders) by Sara Raasch

Fresh Fridays: These Rebel Waves (Steam Raiders) by Sara Raasch

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Steam Raiders Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for These Rebel Waves (from Goodreads):

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

breakdown

Series: Steam Raiders
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, These Divided Shores to be published August 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: August 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been looking forward to Sara Raasch’s next work ever since I finished the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy. And this new series sounded like something I would love. Pirates, magic, deception, a kickass heroine? Those were just many of the reasons why I added this series as a pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge.

What I Liked:

–Lu and Vex’s Chemistry–

I loved the tension between these two from the moment they meet. Both deny any true feelings but there is something palpable whenever they are together. In a lot of ways, they reminded me of June and Day from the Legend Series where the odds against them to ever meet but when they do, something magical happens. Their banter was top-notch!

–Magic, Science and Religion–

I enjoyed the concept of this series a lot when it comes to the magic properties of plants. It’s a cool fantasy spin on real world concepts like the clashing of science and religion.

–The Politics–

I loved the political dilemma of this series and how all our leads are stuck in the middle of it all. It added a great air of tension.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lagged a Little in the Middle–

I was really invested for the first half of the story (though a lot of info is thrown at you) and then just past the middle, the excitement died for me a little. I’m not sure what it was that made it seem that way. Perhaps the physical action just simmered out a bit.

We do get some great twists at the end (though one I thought was super obvious) that have me eager to see how it’ll all wrap up.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio version was very engaging considering it is told in third person. I often struggle with third person audio stories but not here. It was very well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see how things will come together in the finale now that some major truths have been uncovered!

My Rating: 3/5

These Rebel Waves 3/5 | These Divided Shores TBP

overall

I’m waiting to see how things will wrap up because there are some great leads to build the sequel on!

Read if You Like: following multiple leads, fantasy with politics
Avoid if You: want lots of action, want more romance

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SERIESous’ Reading Plan for 2019

2019 Is the All About Cleaning Up My Bookshelf

In the last 3 years or so, I’ve worked really hard on maintaining healthier reading habits. That means not borrowing 3 books from the library at one time; or having 20 books on hold simultaneously; or requesting every book on Netgalley that sounds remotely interesting. I’ve also come a long way in terms of DNFing books when they just aren’t working for me and not feeling guilty about it after the fact.

Last year, my reading plan focused on keeping those good habits going and I would say for the most part that I succeeded. I got my “TBR” to less than 500; I read more books than I anticipated (according to my Goodreads Goal) but I powered though a lot of titles in December in order to accomplish all my 2018 Reading Challenges. While I always come up with these great reading plans at the start of the year, life just gets in the way and I always seem to scramble by the end of the year.

So this year, I’m mixing things up a bit. I’ve still created my standard reading plan but I’ve shifted the focus and method of completing it. Here are the 3 goals I had in mind while I crafted my plan:

#1 – Clean Up my Backlogged Owned Bookshelves

I have an almost absurd number of unread novels on my Kobo and Kindle eReaders thanks to a combination of freebies and book sales. Every year, I always intend to read more of my own books with various challenges but I never seem to read as many as I want.

So I wanted to change that this year. Reading books I already own is the cornerstone of my reading challenges for 2019. I’m bringing back my Tackling the TBR Challenge and I’m also bringing back my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge, only this time, the vast majority of my “highly anticipated” reads of the last 5 years are titles I own.

>> 2019 Reading Challenge: Tackling the TBR

>> 2019 Reading Challenge: 5 Year 5 Book Challenge

Last year, I discovered the Down The TBR reading meme and I used it as a monthly TBR checkup. Thanks to it, I eliminated 45 books that I probably wouldn’t have ever read from my TBR, most them being owned/freebie novels. I plan on continuing that monthly habit in 2019 as a part of my Monthly Inventory Recap.

#2 – Finish Previously Started Series

When I wrote my plan for 2018, I had 131 book series on the go, totalling nearly 179 unread books! This year I have 124 book series with 174 unread books! A slight improvement but still a lot of novels! I have a lot of series post drafts waiting to be released for the blog and I hope to get most of them out by year’s end.

I had a sequel challenge last year and it had mixed results. I liked that it made me pay attention to reading sequels but I found I had too many “must-reads” each month and it got to be too much. This year, I intend to dedicate 1 month per quarter solely to sequels. I do this successfully every year with “Sequel September” and I want to bring it to other months as well. I’ve also incorporated sequels into my Reading Plan for Wishlist Reads and Library Holds by making one title of the two a sequel for my monthly reads.

#3 – Reduce the Number of ARCs

In the past, I usually limited myself to 3 ARCs per month but I wasn’t always the best about sticking to it. I definitely think I got some ARC fatigue near the end of 2018. It’s hard because I love promoting authors I adore and their newest releases but I never want it to feel like a chore (and it was starting to be in some ways).

This year, I plan on reading no more than 2 ARCs a month. I think this will be the biggest challenge because it is always so tempting to say “yes” and sign-ups/opportunities can appear months to days before a release. To succeed, I’m trying to keep with the mindset that I can support the author by buying a copy of the book when I am able to do so and have just as much as an impact while giving the promo opportunities to another blogger/reader who wants to participate.

Introducing my 2019 Reading Plan:

Like the Reading Plans of the past, it features a list of set categories to complete throughout the month. I’m hoping this year’s will be more flexible than the others I’ve created. I found the amount of books I read in a month really fluctuated in 2018 depending on my work and social schedule so I wanted something that was specific yet broad enough to give me the direction of what I should be reading while being open about what titles I actually read.

The Highlights:

  1. TBR Picks [2] – purchased novels on my Kobo/Kindle/bookshelf
    • I’m keeping this at 2 as a minimum
    • This doesn’t include titles from my 5Y5BC
  2. 5 Year 5 Book Challenge [2] — a Personal Challenge to read 25 books from the last 5 years
    • 15 of the 25 books selected are titles I already own
  3. Wishlist [2] —“available now” titles from my library

    • I add books my library owns to a library Wishlist
    • The idea here is to not be waiting for holds all the time, but to read titles that are ready immediately for reading
  4. ARCs/Tours/Requests/Netgalley [2]

    • I’m setting a hard limit of 2 books per month
    • If I get declined, I will not be replacing the title with another
  5. Library Holds [2]

    • One will be a new-to-me title; the other will be a sequel
      • They will remain on the list until I receive and read them
    • This isn’t a reading requirement, more so a way to limit the titles I have on hold at one time so I’m not panicking to read 5 books when they come in all at once!
  6. Audiobook Series [2]

    • Much like the “library holds” category, it’s just a way of keeping track of what audio series I have on the go at one time
  7. “Sequel Month”
    • All books read in that month must be a sequel to a previously started series
      • Exception is library holds & audiobooks

Going Forward:

I’m excited to see what 2019 has in store! I’m hoping with this more open plan that I won’t feel as stressed out about not reading all the books I need to on a monthly basis.

Do you create a yearly plan or do you just go with the flow?

What are some of your 2019 reading goals?

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Series Review: Men of Laguna by Kim Karr

Series Review: Men of Laguna by Kim Karr

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

Synopsis for No Pants Required (from Goodreads):
I, Makayla Alexander, am on a mission to reinvent myself. So when a super hot guy boards the plane and flashes his rock hard abs, I pay attention. When he sits next to me and offers me his nuts, I can’t resist. But when I choke on them and he tells me I need to work on my gag reflex, I realize I might be in over my head.

Before I know it we’re in the lavatory and attempting to join the Mile High Club. Let me just say this…anyone who tells you it’s easy to get it on at 37,000 feet isn’t telling you the truth. After the flight attendant busts us for getting frisky in the air, the only thing that can ease my total and complete mortification is the simple fact that I am never going to see him again.

Hours later, I can’t help but wonder if fate will ever allow me to become a new version of myself.

Because Fate, she’s a fickle bitch.

Case in point…my seatmate is my new next-door neighbor.

Even with the whole fate thing we have going on, we are so not meant to be together. He’s all cool and sexy in that make love not war kind of way. Guys like him are dangerous. With that bring-you-to-your-knees body, that handsome-as-hell face, and that dirty, dirty mouth, I guarantee one glance from him wets every girl’s bikini bottoms.

And then there’s me…the quirky girl looking to find herself in California. All I want to do is learn to let loose. Say words like peace and groovy. Bury my toes in the sand. Who knows, maybe even have sex on the beach.

Unable to get him out of my head, I entertain the thought of being more than just friends. I know the idea is absurd. And yet, I go with it. You see Camden Waters gets me. Really gets me. Like no other guy has before.

On this 7-mile stretch of paradise, I decide to keep things simple and just have fun…that is until fate decides to screw with me, again.

Can two people hell-bent on finding themselves realize the search should have ended the day they met? Find out in No Pants Required—a sexy, funny, romantic stand-alone, that will have you hurrying to grab your bathing suit and rushing to the beach to check out every lifeguard on duty.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Adult Fave 2016
Series: Men of Laguna
Author: Kim Karr
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure — more books planned
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Humour
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 11, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook (#1); Own–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a standalone review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this novel when Lauren @ Shooting Stars Mag did the cover reveal for it back in June. I’ll admit, the title is what caught my attention but I’ve had Kim Karr on my TBR for a long time with her Connections series.

This one sounded like a lot of fun and would make the perfect lighter read between novels. It has been a long time since I read a novel that was actually funny and I was hoping this one would break that streak.

The Plot:

Ok, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time! If I hadn’t started it close to midnight, I would have finished it in one sitting.

This book had a fantastic balance between fun, drama, character development and romance. It hooked me in with its fun and HILARIOUS start–seriously, I was laughing out loud during those first few chapters–making me fall in love with the characters while getting a taste for their stories.

I liked that this story wasn’t filled with lots of dramatics. By keeping it simple, you get to focus on the characters and their growth. And the characters are really what make this story.

The Characters:

I was worried I wouldn’t like Mikayla because of the synopsis. I feared that she was going to be an airhead or something. A very silly concern because she was great! I loved her story and her personal growth throughout the novel. Plus, she was pretty funny. She was exactly what this story needed.

It was a real treat that we got Cam’s POV. I definitely thought this was going to be a Single POV story when I read the synopsis. But getting inside Cam’s head was fabulous. He was so funny and charming. Plus, he has a great story as well.

The Romance:

These two complimented each other so, so well! It’s insane how much I love these two together. They would just feed off each other and it was fantastic watching them fall in love.

I was worried that this was just going to be lots of sex but that isn’t really the case. It plays a huge role in the story but honestly, there is so much substance in everything else that those scenes are just a bonus.

updates

–November 5, 2019– Book #2: Bedwrecker

This book was a lot of fun to read! It had plenty of sweet moments laced with some pretty steamy ones. From the start, these two had great chemistry and I found their story to be so easy to read. At times though, I thought some scenes were a little redundant by rehashing previous sentiments. But this book has a great flow to it so I didn’t mind to much. While it wasn’t as laugh out loud funny as its predecessor, there were some charming moments.

–November 9, 2019– Book #3: Hollywood Prince

So I had actually marked this book as one to read after viewing a Blog Tour post by Alicia @ Shooting Stars Mag before I realized that this was part of this series.

This was a solid book! It had more of a slow burn to it than the previous two novels but that was refreshing in a way because it allowed our leads to grow a bit as people and grow-up as well as get to know each other as people.

There was a lack of something–perhaps some drama?–that stopped me from becoming completely engrossed. But overall, it was an enjoyable read!

Series Rating: 4/5

No Pants Required 5/5 | Bedwreaker 4/5 | Hollywood Prince 4/5

overall

Honestly, this series is so much fun! It’s everything I want in an entertaining New Adult novel! Highly recommended for those who like lighter but well constructed contemporary romances with plenty of steam.

Read if You Like: humour, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult

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