Tag «Realistic Fiction»

Movie Mondays: Love, Rosie

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

Book: Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern | Movie: Love, Rosie (2014)

Which did I read/see first? the MOVIE

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Point of View: First Person, Multiple (Told via letters, texts, insta-messaging)

thoughts

This is one of those rare cases where I decided to watch the movie before I read the book. Mainly because I wanted to be surprised when I watched the movie–and truth be told I wanted to watch the movie more than I wanted to read the book. Sometimes with certain movies/books it’s better to watch the movie first so that you don’t know what is going to happen in a movie and that’s what I wanted when I watched Love, Rosie. (I know that you are probably going: “It’s a rom-com, of course you know how it is going to end” but if you watch the trailer you can probably see why I felt this need to be surprised).

My good friend read this book before I did and lent me her copy. She told me that it was a quick cute read but that Rosie really started to get on her nerves as the story progressed so I felt like I had fair warning.

And thank goodness that I did or else I would have quit reading!

I’m sympathetic to Rosie’s situation, don’t get me wrong. So I can understand where her selfish tendencies might arise. However, at the same time, I would expect a situation like hers to accelerate her maturity; and for a while it did. But then it (her immaturity) comes back and it just rubbed me the wrong way. There is no other way to phrase it other than that she is a quite selfish person and that makes her hard to like at times.

As for the plot: it is the ultimate second chance love story. As my new book BFF Ruby puts it:

“You know, you two have the worst timing ever…when will you ever learn to catch up with each other?”

And that is how the entire book goes. It is simply a collection of letters, instant messages and emails contributing to the final question: will these two ever get together? Which is cute but gets a little tedious over time especially when you have to deal with an annoying Rosie (and Alex for that matter too). I often found myself wanting to smack some sense into these two but thankfully there are a few characters who were willing to do that for me as I read.

overall

The ultimate lesson I learned from this book: just go for it! This book is all about taking a chance when you should have; never assuming anything and making the best of whatever life throws at you. However, I found it to be very tedious and long. If it was hundred pages shorter, I would have found it a lot more enjoyable.

Rating: 3/5
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Were My Expectations Met?

I’ve wanted to see Love, Rosie since the summer of 2014–only bummer part was that it wasn’t coming to Canada until February 2015 so I “patiently” waited until it arrived.

I really liked the movie! I thought it was charming and sweet and I laughed quite a bit throughout it. It’s everything you like in a rom-com. Sure, it was a little cliche at times but I mean really: the story is about two best friends who have always loved each other! The entire premise is a cliche! Still, I really wasn’t sure how everything was going to wrap up in the movie so that was exciting. Plus, I just loved watching everything happen and a part of that major reason is the acting.

How Close is it to the Book?

I actually read the book months after I saw the movie but they are vastly different. Many of the situations are similar but the order is different or the people involved have been changed.

I actually prefer the pacing of the movie mainly because it is faster but the events were also much more dramatic. I would say the book is perhaps more realistic while the movie is more “Hollywood” drama but I found the movie to be more entertaining in that respect.

What I also like about the movie is that it actually shows Rosie and Alex interacting. The problem with the letters/etc. is that most things are being described after the fact whereas with the movie you see everything happen in front of you. You see their relationship from start to finish, see how the events actually unfold and it just forges a better connection with the characters.

Did I Like the Cast?

Perhaps I’m biased because I love Lily Collins as an actress. I’m not sure why I like her so much, but I’ve always enjoyed her movies. She reminds me a lot of Jennifer Lawrence for some reason; probably because she can do awkward funny really well. Sam Claflin was also great as Alex! If you didn’t already have a crush on him, you will probably walk out with one after this movie. He does adorkable-sexy so well 😉 I thought they had great chemistry on screen as well which made it such fun to watch. The rest of the cast was awesome as well.

The characters are also much more likeable. I think that is a result of how the plot progresses and how they make the characters react to that. I actually rooted for these two when I watched the movie whereas when I read the novel, it was more of a “are they finally together yet?” and I just wanted them to be together to resolve everything.

thewinneris winmovie

The movie is the definitely winner for me! I just thought the execution was much better; the characters were more likeable and I prefer the format. Reading everything as letters are great but I like watching events unfold before me, not hearing about them afterward.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Love, Rosie (from Goodreads):
Rosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S.

She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She’s pregnant by a boy she’d gone out with while on the rebound from Alex.

Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn’t done with them yet.

Trailer:

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Single Sundays: My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

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 My Heart and Other Black Holes (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

breakdown

Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this one on someone’s blog–I’m REALLY going to start writing down where I find these books!–and was really intrigued by the premise. I’m all for any book that talks about mental illness, especially one that focuses on youth mental health. I really enjoyed 13 Reasons Why but I liked that this book was told from someone currently experiencing suicidal thoughts.

From the review I read, I was looking forward to a humorous yet sincere novel about teen suicide. My biggest fear–as is with any book that takes on a subject like mental health–was that it would glorify suicide or lose itself in the humour of the narrator; but the previous reviews I had read gave me the impression that that wouldn’t be the case with this one so I was hopeful.

The Concept:

I love how relateable this book is to current teens! While Aysel and Roman may have traumatizing events that very few people (I hope) will ever have to go through, their everyday lives are very similar to teens today. Problems at school, conflicts with family members and simply just growing up–I feel like these characters are approachable for the reader. Plus, they act like actual teens do, not how adults think they do and I really loved that.

The Plot:

The plot follows Aysel as she contemplates suicide due to depression; which can make it a sad read at times. Aysel really isn’t in a good place in her life, and I admire how the writing captures that.  It’s honest, real and easily elicits it’s emotions in its readers. I love how it challenges the stigma of mental health by never holding anything back and actually talking about it!

What I also adored was Aysel’s sense of humour. I loved her sometimes cynical and always witty rapport. The humour shines a light on the darker side of the book, giving the book a happier feel but still maintaining the sincerity of the situation at hand.

There really isn’t a whole lot of drama in this book and I think that really works to its advantage. It keeps the book grounded in the realism of the situation and doesn’t take away from the main focus of this book: talking about the mental health of teens.

The Characters:

Aysel and Roman are great characters and truly make this story! They are really what drives this book forward–Aysel especially! As I said before, she is hilarious, but she is also very real and I think readers will appreciate that.

The Romance:

I know this is the aspect that a lot of readers dislike and I can agree with them…to a certain extent. There isn’t a lot of romance in this story (ie it really isn’t a big focus; more a subplot).

**This may be a little spoiler-y but nothing is blatantly stated**

I would have been extremely satisfied if there was no romance between these two and they just had a platonic friendship. That may be because I’m all aboard the “let’s have more platonic friendships in YA between the sexes” train. BUT, I do feel like the romance takes away from the ultimate message of this book: talk to someone you love about what you are feeling. Does that person have to be someone you are having romantic feelings with? No. Is falling in love the ultimate cure for depression? NO! I personally don’t feel like this book is perpetuating that last message (I got the impression it was emphasizing the “talking to someone who understands you and will support you” message), but it is there and I know that it is a reason a lot of readers rate this book lower than they would have had it been a platonic friendship instead.

**end of spoiler-esque stuff**

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed reading this book! It is done in a thoughtful way that I think readers will appreciate and connect with. And I love that it holds nothing back when it comes to teens and mental health. It is fighting a stigma that has been around for far too long and I hope it starts a lot of conversations about discussing your feelings and not being afraid to seek help when it is needed.

Read if You Like: witty humour, books discussing mental health
Avoid if You: want a romance contemporary

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Single Sundays: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

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 Wrong Side of Right (from Goodreads):
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

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Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Politics, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book one day when I was trolling the blogs I follow. The cover captured my attention, as did the positive reviews; but it was the synopsis that made me want to read this book right away.

Meg Cabot’s All American Girl is one of my favourite teen novels ever. Typical of all Meg Cabot’s work, it just had that great blend of teen romance and humour with a dash of realism, making it so much fun to read. So while I knew The Wrong Side of Right was going to focus more heavily on the realistic world of politics, I was hoping it would capture my heart like All American Girl would.

The Concept:

Don’t be turned off of the fact that this book may present political views you might not agree with. I didn’t find it preachy, pushy or biased in any respect. It focuses more on the world of politics in the sense of how politicians present themselves to the public rather than particular agendas/policies.

The Plot:

The plot mostly focuses on Kate throughout the campaign trail. I truly think this book could have been 50 pages shorter and still got its message across. Because the beginning was strong, as was the end, but somewhere in the middle it started to lose me. It’s interesting for the most part (especially if you like following campaign stories) but after a while it gets a little monotonous. Like, I got the point: she wasn’t sure she was in the right place–now what was she going to do about it?

What I did enjoy about this story was Kate’s interaction with her new family. I loved the approach this story took with that respect because it seemed so real to me. It wasn’t plagued with over dramatics and I could easily see the situation happening to any family–whether they are in politics or not–when an unexpected child enters their lives.

The Characters:

I have such mixed feelings about Kate. There is no doubt about it: she is an extremely naive girl. I can’t say that I entirely blame her either given the situation she finds herself in. Politics–especially American politics–is its own world and you truly don’t understand it, I’m sure, until you’re immersed into it. I get that. However, what frustrated me is that she was so campaign savvy–she knew she had to act a certain way while in public–yet she was surprised when she did have to act a certain way. It’s confusing I know, which is what bothered me the most while reading.

I suppose her naivety is used to show a non-cynical view of politics. She is that fresh voice on her father’s campaign trail. (Why they gave her as much power as they did within the campaign still baffles me.) But it shows her age that she just doesn’t get it-and hey, what 16 year old really does get politics? I’m 23 and I still don’t get it! I think it’s the fact that she gave me the impression she had a better understanding of how it all worked–when in fact she really didn’t–that made her seem wish-washy to me. She was so strong in her political convictions and quickly interfered on those matters, yet struggled with the simplest aspects of her daily life when it came to her family. Yes, it is a coming of age novel and I totally get the journey she has to go on–I just didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I had hoped when we were first introduced to her.

Also, I just have to get this off my chest because it frustrated me to no end:

Spoiler Rant of Frustration

Ok, so the whole deportation situation with her friend frustrated me to no end! Sure, I can get the initial assumption that her father ratted her friend’s parents out. HOWEVER, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the family staring in a photo with Kate that is publicly released before her father’s apparent change in immigration are somehow linked. That just seemed like a MAJOR DUH to me and I guess I was the only one who saw it that way…

[collapse]

The Romance:

For some reason, I really thought this was going to play a bigger role in the story than it actually did. I think it was my All American Girl bias–which is book that is primarily a romance with a side-story of Samantha’s growing up. I wanted more personally but I understand that it was never to be the primary focus of Kate’s story.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This book started strong but lost me along the way. I think Kate’s naivety may turn people off but I think you have to cut her some slack given the situation she is in. At the same time, this book helped me reaffirm that I am not the biggest YA Contemporary fan. I personally really struggle to connect with the characters in this genre so I think my rating may reflect this.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, the world of politics (especially American)
Avoid if You: don’t like naive heroines, want more romance

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Series Review: Thunder Road by Katie McGarry

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

Thunder Road Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nowhere But Here (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Favourite Read 2016
Series: Thunder Road Trilogy
Author: Katie McGarry
# of Books: 3 (Nowhere But Here, Walk the EdgeLong Way Home)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes

Originally planned to be 4 books, the publisher has decided to keep this a trilogy.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2015 – January 2017
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 include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I simply adored Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits Series. It is the standard for me when it comes to YA contemporary. McGarry’s writing just has a maturity to it that blows me away and keeps my attention.

I broke my no holds at the library rule (as per my Tackling the TBR challenge) to put this book on hold because Take Me On left me in such a book hangover–one that has lasted close to a year long.

What I Liked:

-The Backstory/History-

The mystery surrounding Emily’s family captured my attention from start to finish. There was just so much history and depth to these characters that I just had to know what happened, why and how they were going to move forward.

Which is really important, because this book is quite long page wise (375 eBook pages; the typical eBook is ~250) but it really doesn’t feel like it. I got so absorbed into this story that the pages were just flying by. McGarry has a great balance between the romance, drama and character growth–honestly, YA contemporary doesn’t get better than this if you ask me.

-The Character Development-

This goes hand in hand with the backstory because it really adds to the character development. I started this book not totally loving Emily (she’s a bit of a spoiled princess but she is supposed to be) but I really enjoyed watching her story unfold. And truth be told, she won me over by the end. Her character really grows, as does Oz’s, and I loved that.

-New Book Boyfriend-

All I have to say is: where can I find myself an Oz? Swoon <3

What I Didn’t Like:

Honestly, this book worked on all cylinders for me. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book.

Perhaps, the motor cycle club aspect was a little over-dramatic and perhaps unrealistic BUT the situations dealing with family and the like were extremely realistic and that is why I put the “realistic” tag on this book,

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is one story that I CANNOT WAIT TO READ…do I make myself clear? I’ll probably have to wait until the very last book to get the story I want but that is OK. Given this explosive start, I can only imagine that great things are on the way. I’m stoked to see what is going to happen in the next book, Walk the Edge, because I didn’t expect the lead we get and I can’t wait to see the next phase of this series.

updates

–May 4, 2016– Book #2: Walk the Edge

Honestly, this book had me from start to finish and I never wanted it to end!

This novel just builds off the great foundation of Nowhere but Here. Some minor story-lines carry over and you start to see the overarching series plot but it keeps it focus on the two leads when it needs to. It’s fast-paced but well-developed and it kept me on the edge of my seat (pun intended) waiting to see what would happen next and it often surprised me in a totally great way.

I thought the romance was AMAZING. Not only were these two a great match for each other in every way possible but the sexual tension was palpable. It was by far the most addicting part of this novel and my favourite aspect. Sigh…it was just great. I also found it easier to understand these characters, especially our female lead when I compared her story to Emily’s. She isn’t as angsty as Emily but has the right and understandable level given her character background and I thought I worked really, really well.

I cannot wait to see what happens next!

–January 23, 2017– Book #3: Long Way Home

I’ve been dying for Violet’s story since book 1. This wasn’t what I expected but in a good way. I got sucked in by the plot and there were so many great twists along the way. I would have liked more romance though. I think the fact that we already knew these two loved each other stopped some of the great tension these books usually have from surfacing. I still adore them together and their scenes melted my heart, but I just craved more from them.

I had no idea that this book was going to be the finale for the series until after I finished it. But I started to suspect it by the end anyways and fans will be more than satisfied with how everything wraps up.

My Rating: 5/5

Nowhere But Here 5/5 | Walk the Edge 5/5 | Long Way Home 4.5/5

overall

This series steadily amplifies in all aspects as the pages increases. Fans of Katie McGarry will be more than happy with this next series and I have no doubt that she will pick up some new fans!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, realistic fiction with a dash of dramatics, balanced stories
Avoid if You: dislike motor cycle clubs

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Fresh Fridays: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1)

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:

The Heartbreaker Chronicles

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Heartbreakers (from Goodreads):
“When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Netgalley Read 2015
Series: The Heartbreaker Chronicles

This series is linked with her other novel, My Life With the Walter Boys

Author: Ali Novak
# of Books: 2 (The Heartbreakers, The Queen of Hearts)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Queen of Hearts is currently being published on Wattpad
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Music, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  |  Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Fire!

disclaimernetgalley

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well of course, the cover drew me in, and it was a cover that kept popping up everywhere I turned. So, I read the synopsis and knew I IMMEDIATELY had to read it. Average girl falling in love with a popstar? That’s right up my alley (Rockstar romances are my favourite trend this year). But what really captured my attention was the ill sister–this was an aspect that promised a heartwarming (possibly heartbreaking) plotline.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I was a approved to read this and couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

– The Romance –

Boy, I was swooning within five seconds of meeting Oliver! He was charming and genuine–basically everything you want in your favourite pop-punk crush. Watching Stella and Oliver interact had me wanting more and I couldn’t put this book down! (It was torture being at work when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and read this!)

– The Family Dynamic –

Stella’s family situation was perfectly balanced with the romance. I enjoyed watching her grow as a person; learning what her fears were and how to conquer them. The situations she faces in her everyday life–a sick sister, a brother leaving home for college, herself leaving for college–really grounded this book in realism, making Stella relatable in an otherwise unorthodox situation. It added a depth to Stella’s character that I appreciated.

What I Didn’t Like:

– The required Romantic “Drama” Scene –

I was LOVING this book until this one romantic plot element that I could have done without. Now, because I don’t list spoilers, that previous statement makes it seem like some unfathomable event happened that ruined the entire book.

That isn’t what happened!

I saw this particular plot device a mile away but I had really hoped that wouldn’t happen. I see why it was added but for a book that was pretty logical and flowing, it really put a not-so-great kink in things. It made my love for the characters diminish just a touch BUT, it was really just one small aspect in an otherwise great novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I didn’t know this was going to be a series when I picked it up so I am ecstatic! I loved the rest of the band and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the boys!

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My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

It has been a long time since I wanted to put everything on hold just to finish a book! Normally, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary YA romance but this one had so many great elements that I loved. Can’t wait for more!

Read if You Like: coming of age stories, musicians, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: don’t like YA contemporary

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Single Sundays: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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 Fangirl (from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 30, 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you don’t follow any YA blogs, I’ll let you know that there are two books that always get high praise: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and basically anything by Rainbow Rowell–but more often than not, it’s Fangirl.

So, I was curious and just had to pick up this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was up for anything and I tried to not let the numerous positive reviews cloud my judgement as I read.

The Plot:

This is probably one of the greatest examples of a coming of age story in recent times. This story is all about Cath adjusting to the many changes in her life: college, separation from her twin sister, navigating her relationships with her parents and basically anything that a young adult has to go through. Oh, and don’t forget first love!

What makes this story great is that everyone can relate to Cath in some way. I think the most obvious one is going to college but we all can relate in some indirect way. Sure, I don’t have a twin but I sympathized with the evolving sibling relationship–and that relationship could just as easily be with your BFF. I think lots of bloggers can relate to Cath’s need to write fanfiction. I know there were times in my undergraduate career where I told myself “just finish this assignment and then you can write your book reviews” just like Cath.

And the fandom part…I think we’ve all been there about something in our lives.

This is a slow journey watching Cath evolve but it touches on so many different aspects that it keeps the pace steady and true. While it was long for my personal tastes, I thought it was very thorough and well-balanced. Nothing is resolved immediately so in that respect, I found it to be very realistic in how the characters react and deal with various issues.

The Characters:

Cath can be a very hard character to like. I’m a very stubborn person so I find it hard to read about other stubborn characters. Cath is the very definition of stubborn and I think that can be off-putting to a lot of readers. She can make it hard to root for her when she says or acts a certain way when she knows it’s wrong. But I think that’s what makes this book so great; you watch Cath evolve and grow up right before your eyes. Does that make it very easy to read all the time? Of course not! But I can appreciate the journey.

I really liked all the characters in this book. They were really close to being clichés but they just had that little something that kept them grounded in reality. I think we all have these people in our lives to some degree which again, adds to the realistic element of this story because it is very character driven.

The Romance:

Yeah, that didn’t go the way I expected! I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the romance. I thought it was going to play a minor role in the story but it definitely had a larger role than I anticipated–not that it was a bad thing. I thought it was really well developed and I feel like it contributed in a very beneficial way to the plot.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I didn’t fall in love with this book. One part is that I’m not the biggest coming of age YA fan (which is weird because I love New Adult and that’s pretty much coming of age all the time) and I think part of the reason is because it is so hyped up. I was expecting this book to blow me away and put other coming to age novels to shame…and I’ll admit, it was great, but I just never got sucked into it. It just didn’t WOW me.

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about everyday relationships
Avoid if You: don’t like stubborn characters, want a more romance driven novel

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Single Sundays: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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 Written in the Stars (from Goodreads):
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

breakdown

Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Culture, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating
: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was floating around the blogosphere when it first came out and as soon as I read the synopsis I really wanted to read it. It’s also written by one of the founding members of the #weneeddiversebooks movement–Aisha Saeed–and I have yet to read a “diverse” book.

When it comes to culture/ethnicity I fit the typical Canadian mold. I don’t identify with a particular ethnicity/hertitage/culture as I consider myself Canadian which means I’ve grown up in a house with completely Western beliefs. The idea of arranged marriage is something I have no exposure to, and what exposure I do have is coloured in western stereotype and prejudice. So what I was expecting this book to be was a young adult version of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns but with less oppression.

The Concept:

This book was hard for me to read–not because of the writing because it is very well done–but because of the topics it deals with. As a young woman who has never been put in a position of cultural expectations by my parents, it was hard for me to relate to Naila. It’s easy for me as someone who has never had to deal with these expectations to go “do your own thing girl!”and get frustrated with her because she doesn’t.

At the same time, I think we can all relate to the desire to appease our parents’ expectations for us when it comes to academics and life (to some degree). I know that I still do despite the fact that I am approaching my mid-20s and don’t live with my parents anymore. However, at the same time, I’m at the point in my life where I mostly consult my parents about what I am doing and feel confident enough to make my own decisions. That totally wasn’t the case when I was Naila’s age and I had to make sure I reminded myself of that as I was reading.

It’s easy to judge something you don’t completely understand and I really didn’t want to do that with this book. I really tried to keep an open mind reading this book and because I did, I think I enjoyed the book a lot more.

The Plot:

Perhaps this is my ignorance showing through, but by the midpoint I thought the book became a little “over-dramatic”. Some events happen that I thought were over the top and my initial reaction was that it ruined what was a fairly realistic story up until this point.

But the more I thought about it and the more I continued reading I realized that this is probably the case for some young girls in the world. That these events are reality for some women and not simply plot elements for dramatic purposes. And that is terrifying and disheartening all at the same time.

I loved Aisha Saeed’s message at the end of the novel and the impact it had on my reading experience. She has definitely accomplished her goal with this story.

The Characters:

As I said previously, I had a hard time connecting with Naila’s character because I’ve never had cultural expectations placed on me to the level that she has. At the same time though, I thought she was well written and realistic. Her narration was easy to follow and I really felt for her by the end of the story.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book thinking there is going to be some great romance! Naila’s romance was Saif happens prior to the novel starting and her relationship with her husband isn’t a huge portion of the story. The story is mostly about Naila dealing with her parent’s expectations while trying to remain true to her own wants and desires for life.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I didn’t love this book as much as I had hoped, it definitely left a lasting impression on me. It has made me more aware of what some young woman (and men) face everyday that I have remained ignorant on. It was a very touching and eye-opening read for me.

Read if You Like: books about cultural expectations, growing up, parent relationships
Avoid if You: want an epic romance
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  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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Series Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

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 99 Days (from Goodreads):
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

breakdown

Author: Katie Cotugno
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Coming of Age, Drama, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (9 Days)

thoughts

**This post was originally posted 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:

Normally, I would stay FAR FAR away from any YA/NA/Adult contemporary romance that primarily deals with a love triangle. I don’t like reading about someone who is torn between two people she loves equally simultaneously. And I LOVE romance stories. There is just something about love triangles that gets on my last nerve and frustrate me to no end. Especially if there is cheating involved.

So it’s still a little shocking to me that I even picked up 99 Days because it is the very definition of an annoying love triangle. One girl. Two brothers. Cheating. Need I say more?

However, the concept of the story being told as “days” instead of chapters interested me and I loved the cover. The reviews I had read were so-so but I was willing to give it a shot and entered into it with an open mind and unsure expectations.

The Concept:

I really loved the execution of using each day as a chapter. I found it cut of the unnecessary prattle and got to the gritty part of each day. It made things seem so much faster as I was reading because I wasn’t getting bored by mundane details.

The Plot:

You know, I got really into the plot of this book! I won’t lie: I really wanted to know what happened that caused Molly to sleep with Patrick’s brother when it seems like she really, truly loved him. Patrick and Molly’s past relationship was shown bit by bit and I found myself addicted to those presented moments. I could have easily read this book in a sitting if I had the time because it flows really nicely.

I would say that the book is split 50/50 between the romance and the coming of age aspect. Molly (and the rest of the characters) have a lot of growing up to do (understatement) and that focus was split equally on which brother she would end up with.

This book was also more realistic than I expected. A lot of the situations Molly finds herself in I could easily say happen at most high schools to a certain degree. I think as teens a lot of us struggled finding the direction we wanted our life to go in; had a hard time balancing our romantic and social lives; and maintaining our relationship with our parents. I also thought the talks about sex and drinking were really realistic as well. And the whole “slut-shaming” bit was super frustrating to read because HELLO, it takes two to tango and Gabe is just as much at fault! Ugh, I hate double standards and I’m glad it’s addressed (though not as much as I would have liked personally) in this book.

The Characters:

Molly is really a make-or-break character. If you don’t like cheating protagonists or characters who aren’t strong in their convictions–stay AWAY from this one! You will really find Molly to be a frustrating character and not enjoy this novel whatsoever.

Which is a shame because I think Molly gets a bad rap in both the book and with readers. She is a young and a confused girl–watching her work out these issues is the whole point of a coming of age story! You can’t expected her to be flawless and selfless or else you wouldn’t have a story!

Does that mean I support the decisions she makes throughout this book? HELL NO! But at the same time I cut her some slack (at least with the stuff in the past) because that’s some tough shit to go through emotionally and I can’t entirely blame her for thinking that she only had those options. And again, DOUBLE STANDARD! It takes two people to do what she did and I wish everyone else would remember that!

So is Molly my favourite heroine ever? Definitely not. Was she selfish? To a certain extent regarding certain things, yes. Did I find her frustrating to read about? Sometimes. But I tried my best to reserve judgement as I watched her try to work on her issues. She’s in a tough spot and doing the best she can, even if I don’t agree with how she handles things.

The rest of the characters were your typical contemporary fodder. I wouldn’t say that I loved any characters in particular but they suited the story.

The Romance:

If I put the cheating aside, I really didn’t mind how the romance was done in this book. If I put the cheating back in, I feel a little icky but I’ll live.

One of the reasons I find love triangles to be so frustrating is that sometimes my “team” (aka the guy I am rooting for) doesn’t have a shot in hell at being with the girl in the end when I really want him to be. But with this one, I flopped between who I wanted to see with Molly at the end.

So I guess that I can’t entirely blame Molly for being stuck between the two brothers because they sure don’t make it easy! They both know how to manipulate her by saying and doing the right thing at the right time. However, I really didn’t fall for any of their charms and by the end, I was just hoping she would kick both of them to the curb–girl power!

But like I said earlier in my review, I thought the romance balanced nicely with Molly coming to grips about who she is as a person and how much she needs to grow up.

updates

–September 8, 2018– Book #2: 9 Days and 9 Nights

I never thought this story would get a sequel–and I’ll admit that I was ok with how things wrapped up at the end of 99 Days. But of course, my curiosity would not be sated until I found out what was next for Molly.

I enjoyed the one a lot when I listened to the audio. I think listening to the audio version and hearing Molly’s conflict and emotions through her voice helped me understand her dilemmas a lot and perhaps be more patient or empathetic to her situation.

I’m not sure if the character development was good or bad. I feel like we did see Molly grow up a bit by the end so I suppose that means it is there. But I thought the content in the middle seemed overly repetitive.

Overall: for a sequel I never thought I needed, I enjoyed this little bit of closure on Molly’s life for what it was.

My Rating: 3.5/5

99 Days 3.5/5 | 9 Days and 9 Nights 3.5/5

overall

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It had a great reading flow to it and I found myself hooked into the simple story. However, if you don’t think you can read this book with an open mind (especially with cheating) or really can’t stand indecisive heroines, stay away!

Read if You Like: love triangles, coming of age romances, teenaged drama
Avoid if You: don’t like cheating characters, love triangles

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Movie Mondays: The DUFF

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

Book: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger | Movie: The Duff (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

I will admit that I only heard of this book because of the movie being released; but as soon as I read the synopsis, I wanted to read it regardless of the movie.

I thought this book was very cute and funny but touching at the same time and I had a hard time putting it down (and I would have felt that way even if I wasn’t reading it during a road trip). I think a lot of teens can relate to some of the scenarios that happen in this book even if the circumstances aren’t the same as in the book. The situations never seemed petty or overly dramatic and I really appreciated that. I could see these things happening in high school and I loved that realism in this story. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that the author was 17 when she wrote it so she could draw from personal experience but I didn’t know that author was so young until I read the biography after I finished the book because it was so well written.

I could see why some people might not enjoy this book because Bianca is quite cynical. I can be quite cynical so I didn’t mind but I could easily see how she would rub people the wrong way. I thought she was a lot of fun to read about and I loved the interactions between her and Wesley. They made me laugh and melted my heart because I could see their relationship developing even when they didn’t. I’m a sucker for the reformed playboy and the independent heroine relationship (Ten Things I Hate About You anyone?) and it was done very well in this book. Wesley was the right blend of charming and caring and even I got a bit of a crush on him.

This book more than anything focuses on Bianca trying to navigate her troubled family and school life. Her relationship with Wesley, while a main plot-line of the novel, isn’t the main focus of the book but everything was in the right balance which made the book so addicting to read.

Conclusion:

I really enjoyed this book! It straddled the line perfectly between being fun and serious and I easily powered through it. Fans of YA will love this one!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott (He’s So/She’s So Trilogy #1)

The Movie:

I knew before reading the book and before seeing the movie that both were going to be extremely different. Where the book focuses on Bianca navigating her messy family life, the movie focuses more on what it means to label someone and the consequences it can have. The book didn’t really worry about changing how people labelled other people in high school but it did focus on Bianca becoming confident in herself and that is also the underlying theme of the movie.

This movie was like Mean Girls meets a 90’s rom-com. While I didn’t find it as memorable funny as Mean Girls (my friends and I still use lines from Mean Girls today) I definitely laughed because some of the lines were so witty and fun. (It could have been because I saw it in a nearly empty theatre during a school day afternoon so I felt like I was the only one laughing) But, I felt like the movie did what Mean Girls did and showed the realistic side of high school and how teens can be just plain awful to each other–and it especially showed how social media plays a role today in belittling other people. I thought it was really well written and I think a lot of teens can relate to it. I really hope that teens watch this and realize how their actions/words can impact other people–even if it is as something simple as a nickname said behind someone’s back.

In the book, Bianca didn’t really focus on what it means to be the Duff as much as she did in the movie. So in the movie, instead of sleeping with Wesley to escape from her everyday life, she asks Wesley to make her over so she isn’t the Duff anymore–this is where it reminded me of the good ole’ 90s rom-com (She’s All That anyone?). But what stayed the same as the book was the great chemistry between Bianca and Wesley.

First, I think casting contributed whole-heartedly to this. I’ve only seen Mae Whitman (Bianca) the occasional time I would find my roommates watching Parenthood so I’m not too familiar with her or her acting. However, I thought she played Bianca perfectly! She had the cynical humour down pat and she was everything I expected Bianca to be. Now I might be biased about Robbie Amell because he is related to my TV crush Steven Amell’s (The Arrow) AND a Canadian hottie but I thought he did a great job as Wesley! He nailed the charming but slightly douchey jock role of Wesley. If you didn’t have a crush on him before this movie, you will after!

But their chemistry together really blew me away! I know that they had a lot of freedom with the script so they ad-libbed a few lines and when you see the character’s reaction, you know that it is the actor’s genuine reaction to that scene. Nothing beats a true smile or laugh in my books when it comes to movies. You can tell that they had a lot of fun making this movie and as a viewer it makes it all that more enjoyable to watch.

Long story short: I would definitely watch this movie again! It might not be the most accurate book-to-movie adaption ever but the message of the book is clearly reflected in the movie. It was a lot of fun and I’m sure if I watched it again there would be lines I missed the first time that would have me laughing out loud.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is a TIE! Because the book and movie focus on different things it’s really hard to compare them to each other. I love the book because of the family issues Bianca has to deal with since they were very realistic to me. But I also love the message of the movie regarding school life and labels because they too are very realistic. Both are very well done and I think YA fans and teens will love both!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The DUFF (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Trailer:

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Series Review: 2B by Ann Aguirre

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

Series: 2B Trilogy
Author: Ann Aguirre
# of Books:3 (I Want it That Way, As Long as You Love Me, The Shape of My Heart)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

I love the Backstreet Boys–so as soon as I saw the title “I Want it That Way”, I broke out into song and choreographed dance–just kidding! But I did start humming along to the song soon after…and do so every time I read the title…

Anyways, I decided to pick up the book because the plot synopsis was interesting enough and has a premise I don’t often read. But I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect given the reviews on Goodreads (FYI it has a rating of 3.67 from ~1500 readers which isn’t stellar) so I was a bit skeptical when I started it.

I Want it That Way was cute, but I also found it a little boring. There really wasn’t a plot other than Nadia pining away at a guy she falls in love with after sparsely talking to him for a week. And when she isn’t pining away for Daniel “Ty” Tyler, she is describing her work and school work which I don’t particularly want to read about when I pick up a romance novel. So while I appreciated that this book was more realistic than it was dramatic, I just needed something to add a little dash of excitement to it. It also didn’t help that I was expecting to get an alternate POV from Ty given the synopsis. I think it would have kept things interesting because by the midway point I was a little bored with the book and found myself skimming some sections to get to the end.

As for the characters, they were an interesting cast. Nadia was alright. I appreciated the fact that she wasn’t your typical innocent virgin heroine despite her younger age (same with the other heroines in the series). And I liked the relationship she develops with Ty despite the rushed “love at first sight” aspect to it.

So even though I didn’t love I Want it That Way, I decided to read the next two books in the series given that the characters they are about intrigued me in the inaugural book. Probably the most interesting thing to happen in I Want it That Way had to do with these secondary characters so I figured their books should be a tad more exciting.

But they really weren’t. Again, the rest of the series is one of those slow romance novels where we get to see every trivial moment of the heroine & hero’s day. I prefer a little more drama in my novels–especially when I am trying to plow through a long list of books from the library. Often times it felt like a bit of a chore to get through the slower parts of the book–which is a shame because it isn’t an awful book by any means. Shape of my Heart had a little more excitement to it because of some family drama but I still had to read parts at a time over the course of a few days (I average a book every two days but this one took me 5) to get through it all without falling asleep.

Conclusion:

I was going to try to come up with some pun about this series not being what I wanted and “I want it that way” but I couldn’t come up with anything creative. If you enjoy slower romance novels where love heals, this is a great series for you. I prefer a little more drama in my books which is why I didn’t rate it as high.

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No

Similar Reads: Keep Her by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings Series #1) and Foreplay by Sophie Jordan (Ivy Chronicles Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for I Want it That Way (from Goodreads):
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

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