Tag «sisters»

ARC Review: Feels Like the First Time (Destiny Bay #2) by Marina Adair

ARC Review: I share my review of a brand new release!

Destiny Bay Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Feels Like the First Time (from Forever Publishing):

There are a lot of things Ali Marshal doesn’t do: pink anything, a day without chocolate, and Hawk, her sister’s ex-husband. Sure, he’s a sexy former NHL star who can make her pulse pound with just a wink. But he belonged to Bridget first. And no matter how long she’s had a crush on him, how great he’s always been to her dad, or that her sister is engaged to someone else now and Ali needs a date to their engagement party, she can’t give in to temptation. Can she?

It’s been years since his disastrous marriage crashed and burned, and Bradley Hawk has finally moved on. So when Bridget blows back into town with her new fiancé, throwing the engagement party of the year, he could care less…until Ali tells one little lie that lands him smack dab in a fake relationship. After one promise to be Ali’s date and two of the hottest kisses he’s ever had, Hawk can’t deny how much he wants her. But what happens when this fauxmance starts to feel very, very real?

breakdown

Series: Destiny Bay
Author: Marina Adair
# of Books: 2 (Last Kiss of Summer, Feels Like the First Time)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This post is only a review of the second novel, Feels Like the First Time. It does not include a review of the first book of the series, Last Kiss of Summer.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for fake relationship romances. I find they usually have stronger romances because the two leads actually get to know each other instead of just physical passion all the time. So naturally, that’s what drew me to this novel even though I never read the first novel in the series.

But what really peaked my interest was the fact that the hero was married to the heroine’s sister (I love unconventional romances) and that said hero was a former hockey player (I’m Canadian ‘nough said).

What I Liked:

–The Character Growth–

In most fake relationship stories, I usually find that only one character has really great growth while the other (usually the person roped into the relationship) sits by the sidelines. But that wasn’t the case here.

While I would say Ali was the main focus on character development, Hawk had fabulous development. Both have to come to grips with the past in order to move forward. I felt like I had nice full characters to read about and I loved that.

–Small Town Vibe–

I love small town settings because it’s super easy to become integrated into the world. You don’t have a revolving door of characters to remember or get acquainted with. The same character appear throughout the series and become integral to the story. They also make you feel like you are a part of the “inside joke” because you are familiar with these character’s antics and know their stories.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Humour Didn’t Stay All the Way Through–

The first few chapters had scenes that made me chuckle out loud. Ali and Hawk had great chemistry in these scenes and I loved watching them navigate these fun scenes.

But the novel loses a bit of that light-heartedness as the story progresses. This isn’t a bad thing as this book does tackle a lot of issues about family and relationships that add in a positive way to the story. Those moments of seriousness were great in developing both the characters and the plot. I just enjoyed watching these two have fun.

My Rating: 4/5

Last Kiss of Summer N/A | Feels Like the First Time 4/5

overall

This is a great read for romance fans who adore small town settings and enjoy more character based stories. It’s light on the sexy times but there is plenty of tension and romance to be had!

Read if You Like: small town, sweet romance
Avoid if You: want more sexy times
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Fresh Fridays: Ruined (#1) by Amy Tintera

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:

Ruined Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined (from Goodreads):
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Ruined, Avenged, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Avenged, will be published in May 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

But this novel also promised to have a slightly darker edge to it; or at least, I hoped it would. Not that I like to have a lot of violence in my novels, but I do enjoy novels with action and the grittier scenes that happen from physical confrontations. It adds another layer of risk to the story.

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this novel just after its release, but I still really wanted to read it. So I avoided reading too much into any other reviews so that I could go into this fresh…and I sure am glad I did!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

This book always kept moving! Whether it was romantic developments or character scenes or action scenes, I never had a dull moment while reading this.

Honestly, if I could have stayed in bed all day to read this, I totally would have!

–The Romance–

Like I said, I’m a sucker for this trope of characters falling in love with their enemies. So this was one of my favourite aspects. These two were a perfect match in my eyes and I like the character growth that is a result of their relationship.

A lot of people will probably struggle with this trope–especially with these two and all that happens between them–but I don’t think it overshadows the story too much. You still have a lot of great plot development outside of the romance even if it is often the main focus of the plot.

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

I like books that aren’t afraid to take risks. If that means killing off a character or two, that’s ok. It makes the story that touch more unpredictable and keeps me excited to see what will happen next because there are no restraints.

I also like that there seems to be true villains here. Evil characters are often water-downed but I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s in store.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

I’m one of those readers who likes things spelled out for her, especially when I’m starting a new series.

When it comes to the term “ruined” I honestly had no idea what that meant when I first started reading. I knew these people had “powers” but it was never clearly explained. Or if it was, I totally missed it. Sure, it was easy to understand it once I got a grasp of their abilities but I hate when things are told as if you should already know what it all means. 

I also would have loved a map of the world! While it was pretty easy to orient it, I just think it would be neat to see.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There were so many interesting plot developments at the end of Ruined that I can’t wait to see what is in store. I’m hoping for a touch more world-building and maybe a dash more politics; but otherwise, if Avenged sticks to the same foundations as Ruined, it’ll be great!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

While this story does borrow characteristics and tropes common to the genre, (I think many readers will draw parallels to other novels) I still had a lot of fun with this story. It still felt fresh to me and it definitely has its own unique quirks to make it stand out on its own.

Read if You Like: in love with the enemy romances
Avoid if You: want stronger world-building

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Fresh Fridays: Caraval (#1) by Stephanie Garber

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:

Caraval Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Caraval (from Goodreads):
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC 2016
Series: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 1+ (Caraval, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Jamie @ Books and Ladders–ARC  | Thank you so much Jamie!!!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Jamie asked people back in August of 2016 if there were any Canadians interested in participating in her little ARC tour of Caraval, I immediately said YES! It isn’t every day people recruit Canadians on Twitter and I had had my eye on this novel for a long time. So the chance to read it before it even got released was awesome!

What appealed to me about this book was the idea of a “game”. I love stories that play with your mind and make you come up with all these crazy theories as you read. Caraval promised to be an intricate story that would have me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t expecting a romance but I was expecting to read a great story about one sister doing everything in her power to save the other.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I’ll admit I was worried that this world was going to be too complicated. That this story was going to be peppered with unneccesary flowery language that makes it hard to follow what on earth is happening.

Yeah….definitely not the case here!

This story has some of the best world-building I’ve ever come across. It’s straightforward but still elegant. You easily understand what is happening and why. It just makes everything flow so nicely; and books are 20x more enjoyable when you know what the heck is happening!

–The Layers to the Plot–

This story is complex in the sense that there is a lot going on–even when it doesn’t feel like it. Now that isn’t to say this book is boring–you’ll be hooked from the start. What I mean is that there are so many great surprises in store, you won’t even see half of them coming.

I had so many different theories happening–that were all proven wrong I might add–while I was reading. Everything just builds at a great pace and the twists are introduced at just the right time. Ahhh, it’s glorious!

–Scarlet–

I just have to say that Scarlet had some of the best character growth I have ever read. She transforms into this fabulous character right before your eyes. You can’t help but root for her to succeed.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I have to wait FOREVER for the sequel!–

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about this book! It is beautifully crafted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This one surprised me so much in its delivery that I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fantastic world!

My Rating: 5/5

Caraval 5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This will appeal to fans of all ages. It’s a smart, fantasy YA that will have readers on the edge of their seats!

Read if You Like: world-building, layered plots
Avoid if You: dislike magic/fantasies, want more romance

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Series Review: The Fowler Sisters by Monica Murphy

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 Owning Violet (from Goodreads):
I’ve moved through life doing what’s expected of me. I’m the middle daughter, the dutiful daughter. The one who braved a vicious attack and survived. The one who devoted herself to her family’s business empire. The one who met an ambitious man and fell in love. We were going to run Fleur Cosmetics together, Zachary and I.

Until he got a promotion and left me in the dust. Maybe it’s for the best, between his disloyalty and his wandering eye. But another man was waiting for me. Wanting me. He too has an overwhelming thirst for success, just like Zachary—perhaps even more so. He’s also ruthless. And mysterious. I know nothing about Ryder McKay beyond that he makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

One stolen moment, a kiss, a touch . . . and I’m hooked. Ryder’s like a powerful drug, and I’m an addict who doesn’t want to be cured. He tells me his intentions aren’t pure, and I believe him. For once, I don’t care. I’m willing to risk everything just to be with him. Including my heart. My soul.

My everything.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Fowler Sisters Trilogy
Author: Monica Murphy (aka Karen Erickson)
# of Books: 3 (Owning Violet, Stealing Rose, Taming Lily)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Drama, New Adult
Heat Rating: hot, Kink: mild
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

I really enjoyed Monica Murphy’s New Adult series, One Week Girlfriend (understatement: I loved it) and I also liked her contemporary romances as written by Karen Erickson. So picking up this series seemed like a no-brainer to me.

The Concept / The World:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began Owning Violet. The whole “owning” bit of the title gave me the impression that this was going to be a BDSM novel–which are not my preferred cups of tea. But because it was Monica Murphy, I was going to give it a shot. I happy to say that there isn’t any BDSM though it definitely is erotica.

The series follows 3 sisters as they try to balance their love lives and family empire. It’s very soap opera in premise (it reminded me a little of The Young and the Restless :P) but not as cheesy or with as many characters involved.

The Plot:

Like most contemporary romance novels of the adult variety, this series followed the formula of “meet”, sex scenes, last few chapters wrap up the plot. And that didn’t really work for me. All of these books had so many great elements to it but they never reached their full potential. I also felt like I was rereading the previous book only with a different female lead and a few little twists (Stealing Rose and Taming Lily nearly have the same identical premise).

You have the work drama, and the crazy plots that bring these characters together but they weren’t very “crazy” to me. They were rather subdued and I wanted all the juicy drama.

I did like that there was an overarching plot that linked each of the sisters stories together. It made me want to keep reading the series even if I wasn’t totally in love with these characters.

The Characters:

I was shocked when I got to chapter two in Owning Violet to see that Ryder was going to get his own POV chapters. I totally thought that the book would only be from Violet’s POV and I was looking forward to unearthing what Ryder’s dirty secret was. Having Ryder’s POV put a different spin on this novel for sure but I’m not sure if it was more harmful than helpful. I thought it really took away from the suspense of the novel and as a reader that made it boring to me.

I also wish there was more to these characters. In Taming Lily I had really hoped that Max’s character would have been developed more with the little inklings we get of his past. But in the same token, I thought Lily had the best character development of any of the sisters so I was really torn over the rating for that book.

The Romance:

All these leads had great sexual chemistry and for the most part they did establish an emotional connection as well. I just didn’t LOVE them as much as I had hoped and I think it was because I was a little tired of reading about them having sex constantly and wanted more drama.

Also, their romances happen very fast and so do the feelings. I just wanted more than endless descriptions of how attractive the girls were or how fantastic it was to have sex with each other. I needed to see more emotional connections (ie sharing of past experiences).

My Rating: 3/5

Owning Violet 3/5  |  Stealing Rose 3/5  |  Taming Lily 3.5/5

overall

This series just really underwhelmed me. I wanted more from these characters than sexual romps in an office and lacklustre character development.

Read if You Like: Contemporary Erotica, Workplace romances, quick romances
Avoid if You: don’t like erotica, want more character development

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Single Sundays: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis


Synopsis for Whisper (from Goodreads):
I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin…
Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears a frightening whisper from Jessica’s own mind, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.

Review:

I picked up this book because of my cover love for it. I had never heard of it before I saw it as a new addition to my library’s eBranch and once I read the synopsis it sounded interesting enough.

This book starts slow–I mean what we read in the last bit of the synopsis doesn’t even occur until after the halfway  point in the book. The first half is spent establishing Joy’s everyday life with her friends and family. It was a little boring but I generally didn’t mind too much. It was interesting for me to read about Joy’s perspective on things because of her ability to hear people’s thoughts. Joy seemed fairly realistic to me in the sense that she thinks like any other teenage girl but isn’t overly dramatic about it.

This book is really about Joy finding herself more than anything. It focuses on her relationships with her sister, her parents and her friends–and not so much on her romantic interactions but they are there. I don’t know if I particularly like the messages that this book sends about your relationship with your parents but this book definitely focuses on family relationships.

The last 1/4 of the book is the most “exciting” because you get an actual plotline. But I felt like it happened too fast and then the ending just felt lackluster. Goodreads lists this book as the first part of a series but it was published nearly 4 years ago and the author doesn’t seem to have the intention of publishing a sequel. It’s probably a good thing because I’m not sure what else you could to plot-wise other than Joy learning more about her ability.

Conclusion:

A very slow read about familiar relationships more than anything. Don’t be deceived by the book synopsis because the really “exciting” plotline promised doesn’t happen until the last end of the book. But, if you want a short, clean teen read, you’ll like this one.

Rating: 2.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult/Teen, Supernatural, Family, Romance
Recommended for: 14+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person
Similar Reads: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Single Sundays: He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Two girls. One Leo. Identical twins, Maggie and Clara Ryder, both grew up with Leo Maddox, billionaire playboy, apparent alcoholic, and heir to his grandfather’s world-famous Maddox hotel empire. Their roles were cemented long ago: Maggie, as his best friend and Clara as his childhood nemesis. But when a simple twist of fate changes everything and both girls start to fall for the lean, mean, ridiculously sexy and seemingly spoiled Leo… which girl will win his heart? Throw in a little mischief, drama, and one smoking-hot bartender and lines are sure to blur. But one thing’s for certain, neither good-girl Maggie nor rebellious Clara will be satisfied until they each figure out where they belong.

Review:

I picked this book up for free one day from Amazon and just had to read it right away (Note: It is not longer free on Amazon but you can buy it for ~$1.50 CAD). It seemed like a lighthearted read and I really needed one at the time.

My one hesitation with the book was the insinuation of a love triangle between the two girls. I don’t really like love triangles (no secret there) but with a title like “He Belongs With Me” I wasn’t going to be surprised if there was some petty fighting between the girls–but if there was, I thought at the very least it might be entertaining. The good news (for me at least) is that this book isn’t really about a love triangle. I think it’s obvious to everyone as you read who is truly in love with who but I enjoyed watching everything unfold anyways. Basically, this isn’t a love triangle story to the extreme–it is an element that doesn’t come across as annoying or unrealistic as sometimes love triangles are. The story is mostly about each girl trying to figure out their love life and what to do about their relationship–though the emphasis is definitely on their love lives.

This book was easy to read and it came to a point where I couldn’t put it down. I just enjoyed reading it. It didn’t have over the top drama, it had great characters (though to be honest I’m not the biggest Maggie fan) and it had this element of realism to it. I could see this story unfolding in real life and I really enjoyed it. It also wasn’t particularly “sexy” if you catch my drift (and for those who didn’t, what I am saying is that there is very little sex in the story though it is mentioned and present). And that didn’t particularly bother me even though I enjoy “sexier” reads. For once it was nice to read a New Adult novel that wasn’t focused on all consuming love and dominate billionaires. I just enjoyed reading this book and I ended it with a smile on my face.

Conclusion:

I’m going to keep my eye on Sarah Darington’s future books. If you are looking for a light New Adult read that isn’t filled with tragedy, this is a great book to pick up!

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Family, Chick Lit
Recommended for: 17+
Heat Rating: warmer
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Freebie Reads (Standalone) 2014
Similar Reads: Falling Into You by Lauren Abrams (Falling Into You Series #1)