Tag «romance»

DNF Review: Mr. Right Swipe by Ricki Schultz

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 Mr Right-Swipe (from Goodreads):

Rae Wallace would rather drown in a vat of pinot greezh and be eaten by her own beagle than make another trip down the aisle–even if it is her best friend’s wedding. She’s too busy molding the minds of first graders and polishing that ol’ novel in the drawer to waste time on any man, unless it’s Jason Segel.
But when her be-fris stage an intervention, Rae is forced to give in. After all, they’ve hatched a plan to help her find love the 21st century way: online. She’s skeptical of this electronic chlamydia catcher, but she’s out to prove she hasn’t been too picky with men.

However, when a familiar fella’s profile pops up–the dangerously hot substitute teacher from work (Nick)–Rae swipes herself right into a new problem…

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Author: Ricki Schultz
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Mr. Right-Swipe at 46% (Start of Chapter 12). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book! Humour, a workplace romance and the woes of modern romance–it was calling to me!

What I Liked:

–Realistic Approach–

I have to say that on the basic level, this story is very realistic. Rae is a young woman struggling with the memories of a broken marriage and another failed relationship. She’s the last of her friends to find a successful relationship and she’s starting to feel the pressure. At the same time, she’s trying to decide what she even wants in a relationship (kids? marriage?) and navigate her career (although her passions lie elsewhere). I think we all feel those pressures at one time or another.

I also like that this story takes its time. Things don’t happen in a matter of days, they build slowly and that adds a layer of realism to the plot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I’m Probably too Young to be Reading This–

In the same breath, I’m definitely NOT at that point in my life. I love my career and I’m happy being single right now. And because of that, I had a hard time connecting with Rae and her situation.

–Hard to Root for Rae–

Rae is one of those characters that had to work to make me like her…and it wasn’t a successful attempt. The best way (which is also the vaguest way) to describe my relationship with Rae is that I just didn’t “get” her. I think because we are in two different places in our lives, I just had a harder time sympathizing with her situation.

I also thought she was a little rude. Right around the part where I stopped reading, she was essentially fat shaming her date (not to his face but she mentions it numerous times) and that made her seem so shallow and mean to me.

Which brings me to her:

–Lack of Maturity–

I think Rae is supposed to be in her early 30s or close to–but you wouldn’t know that by her narration. She just lacks the maturity I would expect for someone who has gone through what she has. Perhaps that’s part of her current perdicament.

But if I didn’t know better, I would have thought she was much younger than she is and that wasn’t a good thing.

–Not as Funny as I Wanted it to Be–

Damn, I’ve really been struggling with humour in novels lately. I’m someone who laughs at everything but humour in books is a tricky thing. Rae is definitely quirky and that’s cool but because of everything I listed above, it was hard to find the laughs in her comments sometimes.

Will I Finish It?

Maybe in a few years I’ll try and return to this but for now, this is a full stop.

My Rating: DNF

overall

While my review seems mostly negative, I do think people will enjoy this story! For those who have had some unique experiences in the current dating world or who are feeling the pressures of being in a relationship by your friends, you’ll enjoy this modern contemporary novel!

Read if You Like: novels about dating, modern dating, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: struggle with quirky heroines, are your early 20s

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Fresh Fridays: A Stardance Summer (Eternity Springs #13) by Emily March

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

Eternity Springs Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Stardance Summer (from Goodreads):

Lili Howe took a leap of faith when she decided to join the Tornado Alleycats, her elderly landlady’s all-female glamour-camping club. Lili’s always given everything to her career, putting herself on track to become her CPA firm’s youngest partner. But now that Lili’s carefully planned future is shattered, she’s willing to let summer work its magic on her―at all costs.

There’s never a dull moment at Stardance Ranch, the Colorado resort Brick Callahan built from the ground up. Still, a late night skinny-dipping session involving a bunch of “glamping” grannies. . .with his best friend’s kid sister Lili among them? He couldn’t have made up such story if he tried. The undeniable mutual attraction between Brick and gorgeous, spirited Lili is a reminder that life is full of surprises. But when Brick’s ex-girlfriend suddenly shows up, he’s faced with a desperate choice: Do right by a woman he once loved or take a chance on Lili. . .and do everything he can to win her heart?

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Series: Eternity Springs

This is a spin-off of the Callahan Brothers Series.

Author: Emily March (aka Geralyn Dawson)
# of Books: 13 ( Full Reading List Here )
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2011 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St Martin’s Press!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not one to dive into a series that is 13 books long by reading the most recent release but I was drawn to A Stardance Summer when I read the synopsis. I’m a sucker for the heroine who is in love with her older brother’s BFF and second chance romances are always sweet. I’ve also been looking for a new small town romance series since I finished the Cottonbloom Trilogy last summer and one that is 13 books strong like this series, AMAZING! Plus, the whole premise of Lili joining a senior camping group sounded like a lot of fun.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

First off, the RV camping crew did not disappoint! I loved Patsy in particular. I want to be her when I grow up, seizing life at every opportunity!

I also loved the town! It’s a very close knit community and I think if I was more familiar with the previous novels I would have soaked up all the little mini cameos former book leads make.

–The Character Development–

Lili is in such a tough place in her life that it was nice to see her grow from that. She takes her time to find out who she is on her own and isn’t heavily influenced by others. I loved seeing her develop from start to finish.

–Sweet Romance–

While I don’t mind some sexy times in my novels, it’s nice to read a romance that didn’t focus on the physical chemistry between the leads on every other page.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Almost Too Slow of a Burn–

While I love slow burn romances, this one seemed a little off to me. I felt like it took too long to get the passion started. It seemed like the relationship took too much of a backseat to Lili’s character development. The sexual tension is there, but I wanted to see this relationship grow a little bit more than the implied past connection.

Will I Pick Up Other Books in the Series?:

Yes! I got a taste of some of the past stories and they sound super intriguing! Eternity Springs has such a fun cast that I’m looking forward to learning more about them all.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for fans of character-focused romances who like their romances to be sweet and not spicy. A fabulous small town series with an eclectic cast of characters you can’t help but love.

Read if You Like: sweet romances, small towns, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want spicy romance
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Series Review: Existence by Abbi Glines

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Existence (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a novella #2.5 called Leif

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

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

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

The Concept:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

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

When to Read the Novella, Leif:

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

Will I Finish It?

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

Series Rating: DNF

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

overall

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

Read if You Like: YA paranormal, Twilight
Avoid if You: dislike dull heroines
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Single Sundays: Illicit by June Gray

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 Illicit (from Goodreads):
I never meant to be the other woman…

Jake and I felt a connection the moment he walked into my life, an attraction both of us tried so hard to deny. Still, I found myself longing for the very thing I couldn’t have.

I didn’t set out to fall in love with Jake. Not when he clearly wasn’t mine.

He was my mother’s.

* Illicit is a full-length standalone novel told in five parts. It contains strong language and sexual content and is recommended for readers 18 and over. *

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Author: June Gray
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Taboo
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 27, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I normally don’t read books I buy the same day I get them. Usually, they sit on my eReader for a couple months years until I randomly select the title for a reading challenge or as a way to pass the time. But after reading a particularly emotional draining read, I needed something to pick up my spirits.

I love forbidden romances. Not the dirty, taboo erotica kind: I’m talkin’ the ones that make you wonder why stepsiblings can’t fall in love or ones where the heroine falls in love with the off-limits hero. They are usually filled with sexual tension and swoon-worthy moments. But I’m also extremely picky. I want the author to convince me that these our leads should defy all convention and stay together–you need to prove it to me.

I read–and enjoyed–June Gray’s Disarm Serial years ago. So when this title popped up on a “discounted eBooks” email I subscribe to, I took a second glance. And when I saw the line “He was my mother’s.”, I quickly double checked the price and immediately bought it.

The Concept:

Like I said, it’s hard to find that somewhat forbidden/taboo romance that isn’t pure erotica and makes you feel all icky immediately after reading it. So I was excited that this story was going to explore this type of “taboo” relationship.

Mila Ferrera’s Everything Between Us has a similar “taboo” relationship where the daughter falls in love with her mother’s lover. I really enjoyed that story because there was SO MUCH MORE than just the forbidden romance (like the characters’ mental health and their subsequent development) at play. But I haven’t come across a similar situation elsewhere.

Now, this concept is not for everyone. I mean, if this was real life, I would be seriously concerned. But like I said in my “Let Fiction Be Fiction” Discussion post last year: I like when you can explore these situations in a fictional setting. I’m curious by nature and I wanted to see if June Gray could convince me that this romance was more sweet than gross.

The Plot:

This story was originally written as a serial that got bundled together into one novel–and it shows since the story is divided into parts. That also means the story moves fast and keeps the details to a minimum. Which works well since there is always some new twist that occurs to keep the reader coming back for more.

But in the same breathe, that means you really only scratch the surface of what is happening here. Instead of teasing out the conflict, you only what’s needed to get the point across. I’m not saying I wanted a full blown essay on why it’s ok to lust after your mom’s boyfriend–I just wanted to explore this situation a bit more because it is so unique.

The Characters:

Naturally, due to the format of this series being a serial, the characters are pretty one-dimensional. But they do their job well to tell the story.

The Romance:

I appreciated the fact that this never turned into an erotica (yes, there are sex scenes but they are pretty tame compared to some NA stuff I read). It’s not like you are reading page after page of lusty thoughts and then said thoughts acted upon for another 5 pages.

You actually get to see these characters interact; learn a little why they might be drawn to each other; and don’t forget the sexual tension!

But at the same time, I did want a little more to this. A mutual love of books does not seem a valid of enough reason to sleep with your mom’s boyfriend…#sorrynotsorry

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one started so strong for me, but the serial nature of this story ends up being its downfall. It feels a little rushed and then it becomes a little too dramatic. I wanted a heartfelt forbidden romance and I didn’t totally get that here. But I do appreciate the fact that it isn’t erotica!

Read if You Like: taboo/forbidden romances, serialized stories, quick read
Avoid if You: dislike cheating; can’t get passed the taboo nature.

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Fresh Fridays: Three Dark Crowns (#1) by Kendare Blake

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

Three Dark Crowns Series

book3 book4

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Three Dark Crowns (from Goodreads):

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

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Series: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
# of Books: 4 (Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Crown, book 3, book 4)

There is a prequel novella, The Young Queens.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, One Dark Crown will be published in September 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my TBR for YEARS but have never managed to pick it up. But when I saw this book on Stephanie @ In Wonderland‘s Make Me Read It Readathon options, I was more than intrigued.

The simple cover and that dangerous synopsis sounded AMAZING! I love stories with a darker edge to them and what is more sinister than 3 sisters having to duke it out to become queen? The answer: nothing. Well, maybe brothers having to battle it out.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world we got here. It was easy to follow but is pretty complex and interesting. I never got lost in how the world or political system operated which was nice. The girls have such unique powers–it isn’t just straight magic and differing abilities in that respect–so that was really refreshing for me as a reader.

–The Strong Female Characters–

I’m not just talking about the sisters here; I’m talking about the world as a whole. One of the really cool aspects of this series is the matriarchal society. Women are the rulers and decision makers for the entire populace. It isn’t young women being carted off to the potential King to get married: it’s the young men to the potential Queen. It isn’t the men who decide what the triplets will do, it’s the women.

–Game of Thrones Political Vibe–

Essentially, this story is about 3 different groups competing to be the ruler of the entire world. Sound familiar? It’s basically the premise of every “kill to get the throne” novel but it really reminded me of Game of Thrones. All these people are trying to propel who they think deserves to be the Queen by whatever means necessary. There really is no holding back here and I enjoyed that a lot. I hate books that can’t take those risks.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s a really, really slow start when you expected something else–

I went into this novel thinking I was going to be getting action right away. Not the case. At all.

Instead, we get long chapters establishing the 3 girls in their current homes and communities. And yes, it was nice to establish the setting and all the players involved in the game, but I wanted action and I wanted it ASAP.

In fact, I feel a little let down by the synopsis. It made me think this battle for power was going to be the pain plot point. When in fact, what we get is the building up to that moment when the girls will have to fight it out. We wait a long time for “the night the sisters turn sixteen”.

But once I got over the fact that the plot I thought we were getting wasn’t actually the plot, I started to enjoy the novel more for what is truly was.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This series ended with a bang which made the struggle at the start worth it. I feel like what I expected this novel to be, is what One Dark Crown will be. So I am very excited to read what happens next.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Three Dark Crowns 4/5 | One Dark Crown TBP

overall

If you know what to expect going into this, you’ll probably enjoy yourself a lot more than I did at the start. But if you want a strong world with a promising story, you’ll love this!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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  • Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (Age of Legends Trilogy #1)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass Series #1)

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Single Sundays: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for It Ends With Us (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

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

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

But boy, was this book worth the wait!

The Concept:

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

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

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

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

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

You feel every range of emotions while reading this.


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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 5/5

overall

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

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, strong characters
Avoid if You: dislike books about mature subject matter
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Single Sundays: Halo by R C Stephens

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 Halo (from Goodreads):
I fell in love with Thomas Wells and knew he was my forever.
I was sixteen when I gave him my heart.
Our love was the kind to last a lifetime.

But Thomas was broken.
The first day we met he told me he was going to become a Navy SEAL.
At nineteen he enlisted.
At twenty he married me.
At twenty five he left me pregnant and didn’t turn back.
I knew he was suffering….
I also knew I couldn’t save him.
He left me broken.
I was scared and alone.
Until I met Ryder St. John a wounded soldier…
He was lost.
I was lost.
Together we made sense.
I fell in love again…
What Ryder forgot to mention was that he held a secret so explosive that it could shatter both our worlds.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: R C Stephens
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Military
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source & Format: Read It, Review It (New Adult Book Club)–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While this novel looked like it could have a love triangle, I really, really wanted to know what the ” secret so explosive ” was. Plus, I’m a sucker for military heroes in my novels. If I need a good mini-cry, those heroes always get me.

I didn’t know that R C Stephens was Canadian so that also swayed my decision. I love supporting my fellow Canadians <3

New Adult or Adult:

I heard about this book in a New Adult Book Club. But after reading it, I felt more comfortable labelling it as an Adult Contemporary Romance. Primarily because the lead characters are 25+ which is that cut off for me, especially if they aren’t in a “college” setting and are living in “the real world”.

However, it almost reads like a NA read so it’s one of those bridging reads that straddles the line in between.

The Plot:

This story is told through a series of past and present chapters, which is a brilliant way to execute this story. The story builds as you go and you start to put all the pieces together. And even then, I didn’t see the reveal coming at all–which is fabulous! Major bonus points for me for that!

However, this story seemed a little lop-sided as a whole. I felt like so much of the time was used to build up the relationships–which you have to for sure–but that it lacked a little more “drama” post-reveal.  Not that the ending was rushed by any means; it’s just that it could have been flushed out a tad more I think. There was definitely a lot you could do with that reveal and I felt like it never truly reached its potential in that respect.

The Characters:

I really liked Halo. She’s a strong girl but she has her weaknesses too. While she is raised on a pedestal by the guys and her family, she does have her flaws and personal struggles that she has to endure. She was a much more rounded character than I expected going into this story.

Thomas and Ryder irked me a little with their constant high praise of Halo (like I said, she’s on a pedestal) but I liked that they too had developed personalities and growth.

The Romance:

The flashbacks of Thomas and Halo in high school are sickeningly sweet; you know that couple that just sees nothing past their love? It leads to very long “sexy time” scenes which I wasn’t totally expecting. So that particular aspect I wasn’t a fan.

But what I did like is how they loved and supported each other through all their difficult times. In my books, I love seeing romantic leads that are partners in life and that definitely shows at times in this novel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this novel! Once the “secret” was revealed, I had a hard time putting this one down. It’s just a solid romance that makes you believe in the power of love.

Read if You Like: military heroes, big twists
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries romances

similarreads

  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin (Out of Time Series #1)
  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick
  • Trapped by Beverley Kendall (Trapped Series #1)

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Fresh Fridays: Hellion (Billion Dollar Bastards #1) by Emmy Joel

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:

Billion Dollar Bastards Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Hellion (from Goodreads):

Prison darkens their past. Ink colors their skin. Vengeance fuels their ambition.

Addiction has a name.

Once a coldhearted brawler who ruled the streets with his fists, now a billionaire contractor who rules society with his wealth, Malcolm Bradshaw has only one priority: Pharaoh Construction. Built on lies and ghosts that need to stay silent, it’s his gateway to Texas elite. But when he agrees to restore a centuries-old estate for the wedding of American royalty and long-buried human remains are found during excavation, his self-made kingdom is put in jeopardy. He’ll walk through hell before he backs down from anyone–especially Cate Lois, the introverted archeologist sent to look over his shoulder. From the shyness of her smile to the secrets in her eyes, she’s a drug he knows he shouldn’t touch.

It looks like sin. It talks like temptation.

Mysteries of the past and backroom business dealings don’t faze Cate. Taking what she needs and walking away was never a challenge before. But shadowing Malcolm, who beneath his expensive suits and easy charm is a tattooed son of a bitch, rattles her. What started as a plot to appease her blackmailer and steal a collection of rare artifacts becomes irrevocably complicated the moment Malcolm strips her down to bare skin and naked lust.

And what it doesn’t destroy, it turns into pure, decadent ecstasy…

breakdown

Series: Billion Dollar Bastards
Author: Emmy Joel
# of Books: 3 (Hellion, Rival, Saint)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Rival, is to be published in May 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley via Author–eBook | Thanks so much Emmy Joel!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I was interested in reading Hellion, I was drawn to the description for a few reasons. One being the mystery behind the human remains and the jewels. That sounded positively juicy! Recently, I’ve found myself drawn into the world of romantic suspense (something I never really enjoyed before) thanks to a new fascination with mystery novels (last year it was fantasy novels, I guess 2017 is all about the mysteries). Add to that the danger of 3 criminally-convicted male leads and I was very excited to see what danger this series would bring.

What I Liked:

–Reads Like a Soap Opera–

I don’t know how many people know about the Soap Opera, The Bold and The Beautiful, but it’s this 30 minute soap opera with a tiny cast of larger than life characters. Their lives are all intertwined through romances, family and work, which means there is a ton of drama and secrets.

Reading Hellion reminded me of that show in the sense that you have these characters that are all linked together but you aren’t quite sure how. Everyone is looking out for themselves and everyone has a secretive past. Add in some drama about the jewels, the intrigue about the body and a dash of somewhat forbidden romance and you’ve got yourself one non-stop story.

–Not Full-Blown Erotica–

I don’t mind sexy times in my novels but I wouldn’t say I am a fan of full-out erotica (you know the ones with very little story and a whole lot of sex). So I was a little worried when I saw this labeled as “erotica” and looked at the page size. I didn’t want to read 125 pages of smut and then get a few pages to quickly wrap up the mystery plot (and no shame if you do want that!).

But there was a great balance between the sex scenes and the mystery. It switched the narrative to the actual plot when it needed to and returned to the romance at the appropriate times.

–The Mystery is Woven Throughout the 3 Novels–

I like that the mystery aspect is something that is continued throughout all the novellas. I feel like it just helps tie the books all together besides having the 3 men all be good friends and business partners.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Novella Format–

Obviously from my above comments this story has a lot of positives to it. It has all the right components to make for a great trilogy. However, it does suffer greatly from the novella-size format.

Everything just felt a little underdeveloped to me.

I wasn’t really sold on the romance because I hardly felt like these two interacted with each other. I felt very little chemistry between them and that made their hasty romance even more of an insta-love situation (which I’m not a fan of even though I was expecting it here).

And while the mystery is going to be carried out over the next two stories, I do feel like it was very “rushed” here. I would have enjoyed it being a little more layered and developed.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to find out the conclusion for the mystery and there is one particular couple that has me curious to see what is in store for them. Maybe the next two will be longer…

My Rating: 3/5

Hellion 3/5 | Rival TBP | Saint TBP

overall

This (will be) a great summer weekend binge series once all the books are out for fans of shorter stories that pack a lot into them.

Read if You Like: romantic mysteries, bad boys
Avoid if You: dislike novella format, want straight-up erotica
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Series Review: White Trash by Teresa Mummert

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 White Trash Beautiful (from Goodreads):
A word-of-mouth bestseller that’s captivating readers with its honesty, grit, and headstrong heroine, White Trash Beautiful is a story for anyone who has ever felt trapped in life, cheated by love—and longed for something more . . .

Cass Daniels isn’t waiting for her knight in shining armor. She knows that girls like her don’t get a happily ever after. Not if you live in a trailer with your mom, work at a greasy spoon diner, and get leered at by old men. Maybe that’s why she puts up with Jackson—her poor excuse for a boyfriend, who treats her like dirt. Cass has learned to accept her lot in life. That is, until he walks into her diner. . . .

His name is Tucker White, and he’s different from any man Cass has ever known. Tall, tattooed, and bad-ass gorgeous, he’s the lead singer of the rock band Damaged. From the moment they meet, Tucker sees something in Cass he just can’t shake. Something beautiful. Something haunted. Something special. And he’s determined to find out what it is—if only he can get her to open up and let him in. . . .

breakdown

Series: White Trash Trilogy
Author: Teresa Mummert
# of Books: 3 (White Trash Beautiful, White Trash Damaged, White Trash Love Song)
Book Order: Chronological; Connected (Love Song)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2013 – April 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read White Trash Beautiful and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how this series crossed my radar. It might have been because my library added the eBook version but I’m not sure. I read a lot of rockstar NA reads so I’m sure I saw it on a list somewhere.

Anyways, I love rockstar romances and I was really interested to see what would happen with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

What I Liked:

–Made me Believe in Soul Mates–

While their romance is a little “insta-love” connection, it was obvious to why these two were drawn to each other. They compliment each other so well even if that isn’t always elaborated on.

–Cass’ Character Development–

I find the romance takes a bit of a back seat here at times to focus on Cass and her growth.

Through her romance with Tucker, she is able to become independent. I hate when girls get caught up in their romantic interest and become dependent upon their man. It happens a lot in rock-star based romances because the girl gets caught up in the celebrity of it all. But here, I loved how Tucker lets Cass grow on her own. He is the catalyst for change but he doesn’t force her to be anything and she doesn’t rely on him to do that. She learns on her own that she is worth something on her own and not to let anyone else define her.

–Wasn’t too Focused on the “Rockstar”–

Like I said, Cass is really the star of this and I liked how the story kept her as the focus. It didn’t feel like every other rockstar romance novel out there.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lopsidedness to the Plot–

The exposition here was a little too long. While I appreciated the time taken to explore this relationship and the characters, it did need that touch of drama to give the story some oomph.

And we do get that oomph, just near the end of the story. That’s when all the dramatic twists come about; which makes the story feel rushed and underdeveloped. I would have liked to have seen those issues fleshed out a little more earlier on and watch the characters grow from that.

Will I Finish It?

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t pick up the sequels was because I’m too cheap to spend the money on them. If my library gets the sequels, I’ll pick them up!

I know, I marked it as a DNF but I recommend that it is worth a read…I’m just too cheap!

Series Rating: 4/5

White Trash Beautiful 4/5 | White Trash Damaged N/A | White Trash Love Song N/A

overall

This is a refreshing take on the rockstar romance. If you want a series with strong character development and an even stronger romantic connection, this is it!

Read if You Like: rockstar romances, character development
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances

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Single Sundays: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

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 Wall of Winnipeg and Me (from Goodreads):
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Adult Contemporary 2016
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first came across this book when reading Sils’ guest post @ Dani Review Things in August 2016 when she was discussing her favourite NA Romance Tropes. Like me, Sil shares a love of fake marriages/relationships in her NA reads and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was her pick for this trope.

I had never heard of this book before despite the fact that it has the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the title (not many things do) and it would have probably never crossed my radar otherwise. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t tell you that they create a fake relationship–and telling you that isn’t a spoiler because it is the main plot point in this very long novel–so I would never have known.

Regardless, this one peaked my interest and when I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I needed to make my mistake worth it and decided to use this novel to get my money’s worth. And I sure am glad I did!

Is it Adult Contemporary or New Adult Contemporary?

Ok, Sil listed this as a New Adult read and I can see why. It reads very much like a New Adult read in terms of the character conflicts and stories (both have some darker backstories).

But for me, this is an adult read with some NA qualities. My primary characteristic for Adult/New Adult/Young Adult classification is the age of the characters; my secondary “requirement” for NA classification is whether or not it takes place in or shortly after college. In the case of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Vanessa is 26 and has been out of school for a couple of years. I usually classify anything with the youngest lead above the age of 25 as adult and because she is out of school, that just reaffirms that for me.

Nevertheless, this book with appeal to fans of both adult contemporary and NA contemporary.

The Plot:

I think this is one of the longest romance novels I have ever read! The Kindle edition is just a little more than 600 pages–that’s crazy! Most Kindle reads average 200-300 pages; especially in the romance genre.

But surprisingly, this book didn’t really feel that long! It has such a constant pacing that it makes it really easy to read and get involved in the story. New plot points or events are added along the way that keeps everything fresh and the plot moving.

The Characters:

The characters really make this story I think. I really got addicted to seeing how these two interacted with each other. Vanessa was strong and determined; Aiden you just instantly love and want to see succeed.

But what I truly enjoyed about these characters was their growth. These two are flawed in their own ways but what was fantastic was watching these flaws transform. Vanessa and Aiden both evolve so much from the start to the end of the novel. But at the same time, they still remain the same characters underneath. Meaning they don’t become these unrecognizable characters; they just become better versions of themselves thanks to each other.

The Romance:

If you want an example of a slow burn romance, this novel is the very definition of that trope!

As someone who complains a lot about romances being underdeveloped in stories (more tell than show nowadays it seems), this book was uber refreshing. It was great watching these two slowly develop their relationship. It wasn’t focused on the sex or the passion; it focused on the partnership and friendship which is always important in establishing a believable relationship.

These two learn to love and support each other; and I just love when people finally see what has been in front of them the entire time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for adult contemporary enthusiasts who want a taste of a New Adult romance. And if you want to experience a true slow burn romance–look no further!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, sports, New Adult romance
Avoid if You: want a quick read

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