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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?

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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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Single Sundays: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

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 As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride (from Goodreads):

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Nonfiction 2016
Author: Cary Elwes
Genre: Nonfiction, Humour, Memoir, Celebrity
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 24, 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies AND a favourite novel. The book is fantastic but the movie is just as good–if not better. If it is on TV, I have to sit down and watch it, regardless of what I am doing. Yes, I’m one of those people who throws out the famous lines whenever I have a chance. It’s a classic.

vizzini princess bride animated GIF

Anyways, I didn’t even know this book existed until I read a review by Lindsey @ Bring My Books last winter. The audiobook really appealed to me because I enjoy memoirs more in their audio version and the idea that all of these actors reunite to present their fave stories from the set? Fantastic! It took me a ridiculously long time to get my hold from the library, but once I did, I dove right in.

The Concept:

Let me explain... (The Princess Bride)

The best way to describe this book is this: it’s like a behind the scenes narration of a movie set. You know, that feature on DVDs where you can turn on commentary or a special video feature? It is just like that.

Cary Elwes (Westley), leads you through the making of the movie from its conception as a book, through the early stages of production to filming and how it has been received over the years since. Along the way, you get little tidbits from everyone else who was a part of it.

It’s a lot of fun to listen to if you enjoy behind the scenes stories and memories.

The Writing/Narration:

Image result for princess bride gifs

I thought the story had a great flow to it so it made it easy to listen to. Cary does a good job of explaining what filming was like “back in the day” so you don’t have to guess or fill your mind with stereotypes.

But what really sold me on this book was the narration from the other cast members. You can tell they have genuine affection for this movie and their time together which is so nice to see/hear. It just warmed my heart to listen to.

Did it Impact My Life?

Image result for princess bride gifs

Not particularly. I think it made me love the movie more though. The very idea that this movie might never had happened breaks my heart; but to see the end product and to see how the cast and viewers love it makes me smile a little bit more since reading this book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy The Princess Bride movie and want to know more about how it was made, this is a great read. It brings back all the great memories you probably have of reading the book or watching the movie.

Read if You Like: behind the scenes stories, memoirs
Avoid if You: dislike the Princess Bride  <–if you ask me that would be:


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Single Sundays: Vanquished by S E Green

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 Vanquished (from Goodreads):

For a price, the world’s most powerful people can explore their darkest desires. On a private island hidden in the ocean they may hunt humans for game, attend gladiator-style fights, participate in elaborate orgies, and freely indulge in all the deadly sins within the cosplay of ancient times.

Abducted from their life in Miami, Valoria and her younger sister wake up in this secret society, wherein Valoria is condemned to the fights and her sister is taken away to become a sex slave.

Now “property” of a sadistic tyrant, Valoria joins other men and women captives who are forced to fight and maim for others’ enjoyment, to run in their hunts, and participate in deviant fantasies. And she’s under the cold, watchful eye of Alexior, a hired trainer with his own agenda for being involved in the twisted decadence.

After surviving several near-death ordeals, a defiant Valoria focuses on her training and against all odds soon becomes a favorite. But she fights for one thing and one thing only—to be reunited with her sister and to be freed.

But promises of freedom are sometimes just manipulative lies . . .

**Warning: For mature audiences only**

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Author: S E Green (aka Shannon Greenland)
Genre: New Adult, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: cool **sexual situations mentioned**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Source & Format: Lola’s Blog Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty happy in my New Adult contemporary bubble. I love my romances but I’m always looking for those non-contemporary reads.

Vanquished appealed to me because it isn’t your everyday story. It has darker vibes to it thanks to the “secret society” and Valoria’s need to fight for her life. I was curious to see what her journey would take to get off the island.

(Also, I didn’t know this until I was writing the review but S E Green is a pen name for Shannon Greenland who wrote one of my favourite NA reads, Shadow of a Girl!)

The World & a Warning:

You can definitely expect a deviant world when you pick this novel up but thankfully, Green isn’t overly descriptive in the scenes. What I mean is you aren’t subjected to any scenes where sex acts are fully described nor are the scenes of violence particularly gory. They get to the point pretty quick.

However, if you are uncomfortable with abusive situations, especially ones involving teenagers and/or children, maybe stay away from this one! Like I said, the scenes don’t go on and on for pages but they are blunt in what is happening and it isn’t always the nicest image to have.

The Plot:

I really liked the action of this novel. Many times the “fight for your life” trope is overshadowed by the politics of the situation or the romance. That isn’t the case here. You get those fights scenes throughout the novel and it gives the story a faster pace.

That being said, the story lagged for me in the middle. While I liked all the developments, I kinda wish the final “putting it all together” ending started a little earlier. It just took a little too long to get there for me.

The Characters:

I really liked Valoria’s spirit. Her drive to save her sister is exactly what I wanted to see. I also liked that she never compromises herself to give in to the temptations of the island. Once she starts to win it would have been easy for her to live a life of relative comfort by being the victor. But she sticks to her morals (as much as she can given the circumstances) and I respected that. She’s one kick ass lady.

The Romance:

This didn’t play as much of a role as I expected (especially when the island has sex slaves–I thought there would be more sexual situations for Valoria). It’s definitely has a slow burn/will-they-won’t-they vibe to it. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure why this gets a romance label on Goodreads because it is such a small factor to the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are looking for a gritty, take no prisoners New Adult action story, this is a great one to read. But if you are uncomfortable with violence, depraved sexual acts and fighting to the death, best to avoid it.

Read if You Like: dark stories, action
Avoid if You: dislike violence, want more romance
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Single Sundays: If I Wake by Nikki Moyes

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 If I Wake (from Goodreads):

Will is sixteen year old Lucy’s best friend. Their lives intersect in dreams, where destiny pulls them together through different times in history. Even though their meetings are more real to Lucy than the present, Lucy is uncertain if Will exists outside her mind.
Lucy’s mum thinks there is something wrong when Lucy sleeps for days at a time.
She is so caught up with finding a cure she doesn’t see the real problem. Lucy is bullied at school and is thinking of ending her life.
When the bullying goes too far and Lucy ends up in a coma, only Will can reach her. But how do you live when the only person who can save you doesn’t exist?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Standalone 2017
Author: Nikki Moyes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 10, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This story appealed to me for two reasons:

  1. The dream aspect
  2. Bullying & Lucy’s contemplating suicide

I’m a firm believer that mental health is something we should always be talking about and I love when books explore that. So I was curious to see how the dreams would interweave with Nikki’s message about bullying.

The Concept:

While the traveling back in time aspect is great, for me it was all about the bullying. And this is a beautiful story about how your actions impact a person. It was so hard for me to watch Lucy get beaten down in her everyday life. I remember thinking to myself that this can’t happen in real life because there is no way people could be so cruel.

But the scary thing is that it does.

All the things Lucy goes through have more than likely happened to someone at some point. It’s probably happening right now. And I think you can see why those actions can lead someone to feel like they are alone in the world and how that can lead them to contemplate suicide. I think this book does a fabulous job of conveying that. The only other book I can think that shows this so well is 13 Reasons Why.

The Plot:

I absolutely loved trying to figure out what the dream world had to do with the real world. And I’ll admit, I really didn’t figure it out until the last chapter. It was like this big eureka moment for me where I put it all together and my mind was blown a bit because it was a great link. (And I don’t want to say more because I think it’s a great thing for the readers to figure out on their own).

The trips to the past were definitely enjoyable. I liked that the situation was always a little different with what Lucy had to do and how she was received. They’re very detailed scenes and it really makes you feel like you are there living the experience with Lucy.

The Characters:

Lucy’s character evolution is fantastic, even if some of the moments were disheartening. It was so hard for me to watch this girl get beaten down (in the real world) at every turn for no reason at all. (Why are people so cruel?!?) Which is why I liked those moments in the dreams where she literally transforms into a confident person before your eyes. It was great to see her have those moments of joy in her life.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance here which I was happy about. This story is truly about Lucy’s self journey and not so much on what her relationship with Will is romantically (which I’m sure lots of people will assume given the synopsis).

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is just a fabulous story about the multi-layered impact bullying can have on a person. Such a beautiful novel.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, magical realism, bullying stories
Avoid if You: want a romance
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Blog Tour: Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman

Synopsis for Ninja Girl (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Snow-Soon Lee kicks ass–literally. She teaches at her family-owned martial arts gym, The Academy, and cares more about training to be the next Bruce Lee than hooking up. In fact, Snow’s never even been kissed. But when Girls Night rolls around, Snow decides to prove to her friends (and herself) that she’s not just some boring tomboy. Impulsively, she kisses a hot stranger and even manages to escape his two security guards.

One stolen kiss…

Ash Stryker’s senior year sucks. His politician father pulled him out of Chariot High, separating him from his championship-winning soccer team. Now he’s stuck at a prissy private school with no friends, no team and no chance of being scouted. On top of that, thanks to the death threats his dad’s received, Ash has a security tail aka professional babysitters. When the mystery girl from the movies shows up at his school, rappelling from the rafters, Ash knows one thing: he won’t let her get away again.

One interesting job proposition…

After a seemingly random attack, Ash’s mother surprises everyone. She hires Snow to be Ash’s personal bodyguard until after the election. But can Snow’s kick-ass skills hold up against the rising threats to Ash’s family? More importantly, can Ash convince his ninja girl to screw ethics and kiss him again?

Opposites attract in this YA romance where a smooth talker meets his match in the tough girl who (literally) sweeps him off his feet. Moral of the story:

Sometimes even bad boys need a bodyguard.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary Standalone 2017
Author: Cookie O Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 30, 2017
Source & Format: YA Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Cookie O’Gorman’s debut, Adorkable was just amazing! I loved every minute of that book and I was so excited to see what she would write next. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to see what she would do next and I was so stoked when I saw what Ninja Girl was all about. This book promised to be an entertaining, albeit touching, ride that I couldn’t wait to start!

The Concept:

I love the gender role reversal here! I love girls that can fend for themselves but the fact that Snow is hired to protect a boy just ups the ante for me. It defies stereotypes in that respect and I really appreciated that.

I feel like that is the whole point of this novel: to challenge stereotypes. The cast here is also very diverse ethnically speaking as well. Snow is Korean while Ash is from the Southern United States. Both have these ideas that they don’t have similar interests and personalities. But I think this book goes to show that you have to get to know a person for who they are and not just what you see on the outside.

The Plot:

This novel moves at a stellar pace. Honestly, there was never a dull moment! If you weren’t swooning over Ash and Snow together you were watching Snow kick some serious butt or having these great moments of individual character growth. I loved every page.

I also liked how the suspense of who was behind the attacks lurked throughout the pages. It just built itself up at a great pace and added to the big reveal.

The Characters:

Well, I obviously loved Snow. Her character growth was fantastic. While she is such a strong girl physically, her self-esteem is pretty low. It’s unfortunate that she is so susceptible to high school cattiness so early in the book because she is such a great girl. I’m glad that Ash brings out the stronger side in her.

Ash…swoon! He says all the right things but he is such a genuine guy as well. I would say his character growth takes a bit of a backseat to Snow’s but he really does evolve as well. Even though he is perceived as the “damsel in distress” at times, he doesn’t just sit around and let things happen to himself either.

The Romance:

These two are so adorable! I’ve added them to my favourite couples list ever. They just compliment each other so well. Not only do they make a great team but they also make each other stronger as individuals. Never did I feel like these two were losing who they were in order to appease the other–which can easily happen in this type of story where gender roles are more emphasized than usual. They just have fabulous chemistry together from the start.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I devoured this book in one sitting because I could not get enough of these two! Not only was this book a bucket of fun and completely swoon-worthy, it also teaches you to be yourself above all else. Whether that means you are a girl who can kick everyone’s bum or a guy who needs a girl to save him: never be ashamed of who you are! (cheesy but so true!)

Read if You Like:  diverse reads, kick butt heroines, “clean” YA
Avoid if You: dislike ya contemporary

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Cookie O’Gorman

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her debut novel ADORKABLE is out now!

Author Links:

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Blog Tour: Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks // Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Cindy Anstey’s debut, Love, Lies and Spies. It had everything I love in a novel: wit, fun and a swoon-worthy romance. As soon as I finished, I had to know what else she had written and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the last year awaiting Duels & Deception.

The Plot:

Anstey has such a talent for writing entertaining stories. Should a kidnapping scene have you laughing out loud? Not likely but Anstey manages to do it. That whole event was super entertaining and it made me wish it lasted longer.

However, I did find the momentum of the novel slowed a bit after the kidnapping chapters. The mystery of who is after Lydia is enticing but unfortunately, I had a pretty good idea of the culprit before the big reveal. What I didn’t guess who how everything was going to be resolved so that had a few good twists for me to read.

The Characters:

Lydia was everything you like in a historical fiction leading lady. She’s as sharp as a whip, a compassionate daughter and definitely independent. If she was real, she would be my best friend.

And starring opposite her is Robert, pretty much the ideal hero. Again, he’s super smart but he is also adorably sweet and caring. He isn’t some over the top hero and I loved how grounded he was.

The rest of the cast is quirky and entertaining and adds to the story’s fun and lighter tone.

The Romance:

SWOON! Talk about two leads who are perfect for each other! Not only did they compliment each other in every way but they also had fantastic banter. I loved every scene with these two in it.

My favourite part was watching these two slowing coming to the realization that they were falling in love. The slow burn romance was so on point!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a perfect read for fans of historical romance who love quirky, witty characters and a romance that has you swooning from the start!

Read if You Like: regency reads, witty leads, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction
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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Single Sundays: Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

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 Royce Rolls (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fiance inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.
Really real. Like, not reality show real.

Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.

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Author: Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Satire, Drama, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Margaret Stohl is a co-author on one of my all time favourite series, Beautiful Creatures. Yet, despite that fact, I’ve never picked up another one of her novels! So when I saw this title on Netgalley, I knew I had to change that depressing thoughts.

One of my favourite TV shows is UnREAL. For those who don’t know, UnREAL gives you a behind the scenes look of what “theoretically” happens on a Bachelor-esque show. It’s so addicting to watch and when I read the synopsis for Royce Rolls, I knew I found that in book form. I love satires on popular culture and I think the world needs a book like this one in our lives to remind us that what we see on TV isn’t always reality.

The Concept:

Like I said before, I love satires on popular culture and what better than the realm of reality TV. I’m one of those people who doesn’t understand the appeal of reality TV shows that are based on celebrities’ “everyday” lives. It’s boring to me and, most of the time, it’s fake.

So having this book explore the nuts and bolts of what makes a reality TV show was a lot of fun. And it’s also intelligent. From the character’s antics to the production footnotes throughout the chapters, this novel is beautifully crafted and so on point to current trends in the reality TV world.

(You can read an interview with Stohl here about her inspiration!)

The Plot:

I liked that the plot wasn’t always about the (often hilarious) antics for the show. You get those moments of character development and mystery as well.

While I enjoyed reading this novel from start to finish, I did feel like the first half of the book was rather slow when it came to the plot. The first half does a create job of establishing the characters and the setting, getting the reader acquainted with the circumstances. But it kind of moseyed along; especially when you compare it to the latter half of the novel which was non-stop plot-movement and suspense.

The Characters:

Bentley’s love for her family is endearing and she is such a likeable heroine that you can’t help but root for her to succeed in whatever she has put her mind to.

The rest of the characters grew on me too. Once you get below the surface of their TV personas, you see that they are real people too who aren’t always who they pretend to be.

The Romance:

Not a huge aspect here but what is here works perfectly for the story.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Stohl has written a novel packed with wit, hilarity and above all, intelligence. It’s beautifully crafted and so on point with modern popular culture it is nothing but impressive.

Read if You Like: books about reality TV, satires, YA contemporary without a romance focus
Avoid if You: dislike books about hollywood/celebrities

 

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Single Sundays: Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern

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 Sh*t my Dad Says (from Goodreads):
After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:
“That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.”

“Do people your age know how to comb their hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their heads and started fucking.”

“The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.”
More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice

breakdown

Author: Justin Halpern
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humour
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Sometimes, I get car sick when I read. It puts a damper on my reading plans (that’s 3-6 hours I could use to starting/finishing a novel!) but when I discovered the awesomeness that is audiobooks last year, I saw a great alternative. So when it came to the summer and I had two road trips scheduled, I made sure I had some audiobooks on hand just in case I felt like tossing my cookies while I attempted to finish a novel.

Honestly, I found this novel by browsing the nonfiction>humour>available now options at my library. I was familiar with this story though and thought it would be a fun one to listen to, especially with my family who loves witty comedies.

The Concept:

This is a pretty fun concept. We all have that one family member who seems to say the randomest things that make you laugh. It could be your dad, your uncle, your mom, your sibling, your grandma–the list is endless. And then. ever once and a while, they impart this little nugget of wisdom. So I think it goes without saying that most readers can relate to this in some way or another. I know I can from all of the above.

The Writing/Narration:

Each chapter focuses on Justin coming to terms with his current life situation and how something his dad says applies to the lesson he learns. And in between the chapters, you get random quotes from his dad.

I honestly think this book is one the is 20x more fun to listen to than read it. By listening to the story, you get to actually hear the lines delivered to you the way they were delivered to Justin. It almost makes this book seem like a comedy routine instead of a novel.

Did it Impact My Life?

I’ve now started to compile a list of all the sh/t my dad says…just kidding 😉

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This book is short but highly entertaining. I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook over the physical book–it is so, so funny.

Read if You Like: humour, family based stories, memoirs
Avoid if You: dislike audiobooks, want a longer read

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Single Sundays: Oblivion by Jessica Wood

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 Oblivion (from Goodreads):
I wake up to a life and a man that I can’t remember.

He says his name is Connor Brady—the tall, sexy CEO of Brady Global, Inc.

He says my name is Olivia Stuart, and that I was recently in an accident and lost my memory.

Also, he says I’m his fiancé.

Although I don’t remember Connor, or anything about my past, something about him seems familiar. He is kind, protective, and breathtakingly-gorgeous. But there is just one problem—he seems too perfect.

As I begin to rebuild my relationship with Connor and accept the idea that I may never remember my past, I unexpectedly meet Ethan James.

Ethan is the mysterious, rebellious stranger who pushes my boundaries to their limits and makes me feel alive. As our lives collide time and time again, the bits and pieces of my past start to unravel, unearthing the secrets that have been buried deep inside my subconscious. With every new memory I gain about my past, I become more torn between the man who is my fiancé and the stranger who is the key to my past. Is my life with Connor really as perfect as he leads me to believe?

breakdown

Author: Jessica Wood
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

*NOTE: this is listed as a part of a series on Goodreads but the “prequel” is just an extended sample of this novel that is for sale. Meaning this is simply a standalone story.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since I read Unravel by Caila Reed years ago, I love a good amnesia/rebuilding the past story. The suspense of trying to figure out what the hell happened is something I can’t get enough of. So when I come across a story that has promise, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Plot:

This story is pretty basic in its execution as it isn’t overly complicated, but that works to its advantage. It’s an easy story to follow and it continually builds as you read. Sure, it helps that it isn’t an overly long novel but you really get swept into the story and I couldn’t put it down. I easily could have read this in one sitting if life didn’t get in the way.

The great thing about this story was that I only had part of the story figured out. I feel like the one aspect of this story was super easy to figure out early on, but the main twist really surprised me. I liked that a lot. A book always gets bonus points if it can surprise me and this one definitely got a few extra points.

The Characters:

The characters here aren’t overly developed but they do their job here very well. I liked that this wasn’t overly complicated as well–that we weren’t bombarded with unnecessary people and only kept what was needed for a solid foundation.

The Romance:

This could have been a little stronger I think. The plot focused more on Liv trying to figure out the past than her getting hot and heavy with the two boys. Which, in hindsight, was the strength of this story and what made it so enjoyable. I just wish the romance had a little more flare to it because I’m a romance fan at heart.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

This was a super quick read that totally delivered in every way I expected. If you enjoy a solid amnesia story, this is the one to get!

Read if You Like: amnesia stories, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman

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 Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living (from Goodreads):
Parks and Recreation actor Nick Offerman shares his humorous fulminations on life, manliness, meat, and much more in his first book.

Growing a perfect moustache, grilling red meat, wooing a woman—who better to deliver this tutelage than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson? Combining his trademark comic voice and very real expertise in woodworking—he runs his own woodshop—Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman’s childhood in small-town Minooka, Illinois—“I grew up literally in the middle of a cornfield”—to his theater days in Chicago, beginnings as a carpenter/actor and the hilarious and magnificent seduction of his now-wife Megan Mullally. It also offers hard-bitten battle strategies in the arenas of manliness, love, style, religion, woodworking, and outdoor recreation, among many other savory entrees.

A mix of amusing anecdotes, opinionated lessons and rants, sprinkled with offbeat gaiety, Paddle Your Own Canoe will not only tickle readers pink but may also rouse them to put down their smart phones, study a few sycamore leaves, and maybe even hand craft (and paddle) their own canoes.

breakdown

Author: Nick Offerman
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humour, Celebrity
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My first exposure to Nick Offerman was as the enigma of Ron Swanson on the fanastic TV comedy Parks and Rec. So I am going to apologize in advance for the many gifs that I’ve added to this review.

Ron Swanson is one of my all time favourite TV characters and because of that, I love Nick Offerman. I don’t like to be that person who equates an actor to be the same person they play in a TV show but I have a feeling Nick and Ron share a lot of commonalities and view points. What those were exactly had me excited to listen to this audiobook. No way was I going to miss out on Nick Offerman’s verbal humour by reading the novel via paper!

The Concept:

Like most celebrity memoirs, this novel is a mix of life stories and life philosophies. It isn’t anything new or unexpected on that front.

The Writing / The Narration:

I love the way Nick Offerman delivers his sarcasm and wit. He’s a funny guy but also very intelligent. Like his character of Ron, he often delivers these unexpected nuggets of wisdom that just make you think.

However, I did find this novel excessively long. The audio version is close to 10 hours in length and I don’t want to listen to anyone for that long. 5 hours is my max for a memoir.

Did it Impact My Life?

I really liked how Nick reminds people to keep it simple in life. He’s blunt and straight-forward and I appreciated that a lot.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While this was wayyyy too long for me, I did enjoy it. It definitely had its funny moments and it was exactly what I thought it was going to be. But if you don’t know who Nick Offerman is or enjoy celebrity memoirs, this most definitely isn’t for you. As Ron says:

Read if You Like: Parks and Rec, celebrity memoirs
Avoid if You: dislike long memoirs

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