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Single Sundays: War and Love by Winter Renshaw

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 War and Love (from Goodreads):

My lies? Impeccable.

My heart? Cold as ice.

My only job? To convince her what we had was as real as the diamond I was hired to place on her finger.

The battle was someone else’s.

I was merely a soldier, recruited by a wealthy stranger who made it unapologetically clear that my future—and everything I’ve ever worked for—depended on the successful completion of this mission.

I was prepared for war.

I wasn’t prepared for Love Aldridge.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 30, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read enough Winter Renshaw books to know that she writes solid, heartfelt romances every time. And this one definitely met my expectations in that regard. She simply writes great romances. So obviously, I was going to pick this up!

The Concept:

What drew me in about this story is the mystery behind Jude’s role as it is described in the synopsis. Why has he been hired to make Love marry him and by who? I love secrets like that and the tension they bring to the story. So I was disappointed that we had all the answers by the end of Chapter 4. It sucked that anticipation out of the story because you know everything right away. But it was the characters that kept me invested moving forward.

The Plot:

How the characters deal with these events is what truly surprised me. There were some interesting twists in that regard so that kept me on my toes. It provides some great character growth as a result and turned this novel into a more character driven narrative rather than a drama/mystery filled one.

The Characters:

The characters are really what makes this story. Love is a great heroine to follow. She’s finding her individuality and I loved watching her come into herself throughout the story. Jude is also an intriguing character and it was interesting to see him struggle with his role and his feelings for Love. I dare you not to fall in love with him!

The Romance:

I really liked the chemistry between these two. It was fairly obvious to me why they would be drawn to each other. And Jude is a sweetheart so it definitely had its swoon-worthy moments!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Overall, this is a great story for new and returning fans of Winter Renshaw! The perfect romance binge read!

Read if You Like: character driven stories, contemporary romances
Avoid if You: want more secrets/mystery
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Blog Tour: The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois

Synopsis for The Right Fit (from Goodreads):

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Daphne Dubois
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 12, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a sports romance and when I saw that this one took place in Toronto, Canada, I was immediately on board! I didn’t know what else to expect given the synopsis but I was ready to explore this romance more.

The Plot:

I’ll admit that I struggled a bit with the first two chapters or so trying to figure out where this book was going to go. But once I started to learn more about the characters and see how dimensional they were, I truly became invested and had a hard time putting this down!

There was just the right amount of drama throughout this book. Nothing is over the top, it’s very grounded and it genuinely contributes in a positive way to the story and the characters’ development.

The Characters:

I was really surprised by how character driven this story was. Maxine and Antony have many layers to their characters so there is quite a bit to unpack with each of them. Maxine is coming of a bad breakup that has completely decimated her self-esteem and I loved watching her regain that confidence in herself though her relationship with Antony as well as her friends and family. Antony has a bit more of a mystery to him but I found that only drove me to read faster so I could figure out his character (and eventually become a fan).

The Romance:

These two have strong connection from the start! It’s cheesy to say but these two were the “right fit” for each other. They don’t know it at first though, just that they have this undeniable passion between them, so watching that grow into something more was such a treat as a reader.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is definitely one of those books where you need to give it a couple chapters to set up the stage for your enjoyment. Once you learn more about the characters, you’ll become completely invested in seeing where their stories will go and if happily ever after is in the cards.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, sports
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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Daphne Dubois

Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference.

When she’s not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. She lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.

You can also find her writing for teens as B.R. Myers.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Single Sundays: Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

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 Hotel Ruby (from Goodreads):

Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

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Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I marked this book on my TBR after seeing a “Waiting on Wednesday” post by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books  all the way back in September 2015! At that point, I had read Young’s first two novels in The Program Series and didn’t totally enjoy them. However, I loved the concept of the Hotel Ruby and quickly marked it on Goodreads.

Like many TBR books, I didn’t get to read it until years later and I saw my library had an audiobook copy. By this point, I had seen quite a few mixed reviews so I went in with somewhat lower expectations but an eagerness to uncover just what exactly is happening at the mysterious Hotel Ruby.

The Concept:

I always enjoy the idea of a “mysterious building”. (Like The Hollywood Tower of Terror anyone?). I really became enthralled by the Hotel Ruby and its mystery. I enjoyed the opulence of it all and the intriguing cast of characters. You definitely got the vibe that there was something creepy about this place.

The Plot:

I figured out the plot pretty early into the book–just before the 20% mark–though I wonder if that was its intention with the little eggs planted along the way? Regardless, there were a few links I was missing so I was interested in seeing how it all played out. I think I had bigger expectations than what I got in the end but I still really loved the whole concept of this novel even if the execution was lacking for me.

The Characters:

Audrey was a complete diva in my mind. Both her inner monologues and outer dialogues are very “ME ME ME” and it just irritated me. I mean, I get her frustration with the lack of an invitation but she was far too dramatic than I like my heroines to be.

The rest of the cast does their job well. The hotel staff and guests were particularly mysterious and that captured my attention throughout.

The Romance:

Elias is a pretty one dimensional character. He came across as such a cliché to me; simply saying all the right things at the right time. I get the allure of a mysterious rich boy but I did not get what was so swoon-worthy about him. I think the two talk a handful of times (I think they might dance more than they talk) before Audrey finds herself in love and wanting to change everything about her life–even while knowing (and saying) the whole thing is ridiculous. Ugh.

It’s a shame too that this becomes one of the main focuses of the novel and distracts from the larger story. I also think it stifles some of Audrey’s character development because she becomes to enamored with this romance and not much else.

My Audiobook Experience:

Well, I’ll just say I wasn’t overly impressed with the audiobook. I’m glad this wasn’t a book I started my audiobook experience with. I absolutely hated the way the narrator portrayed the male voices–in particular, Elias’ voice. I know it’s hard for a female to change their range to voice a male character and have multiple unique sounding ones for a single production. I totally get that. But it just threw off the entire tone of the novel for me and made me instantly dislike Elias’ character.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

For me this was a classic case of “great idea, not the best execution”. I struggled to connect to the main characters and their romance, while craving more from the plot but I enjoyed the overall vibe of this novel. I think Suzanne Young fans will like this well enough but I think others might want a little more from it.

Read if You Like: basic mysteries, more romance focused novels
Avoid if You: get annoyed by heroines easily
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Single Sundays: To Love Jason Thorn by Ella Maise

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 To Love Jason Thorn (from Goodreads):

Jason Thorn… My brother’s childhood friend.

Oh, how stupidly in love with that boy I was. He was the first boy that made me blush, my first official crush. Sounds beautiful so far, right? That excitement that bubbles up inside you, those famous butterflies you feel for the very first time—he was the reason for them all. But, you only get to live in that fairytale world until they crush your hopes and dreams and then stomp on your heart for good measure. And boy did he crush my little heart into pieces.

After the stomping part he became the boy I did my best to stay away from—and let me tell you, it was pretty hard to do when he slept in the room right across from mine.

When tragedy struck his family and they moved away, I was ready to forget he ever existed.

Now he is a movie star, the one who makes women of all ages go into a screaming frenzy, the one who makes everyone swoon with that dimpled smile of his. Do you think that’s dreamy? I certainly don’t think so. How about me coming face to face with him? Nope still not dreamy. Not when I can’t even manage to look him in the eye.

Me? I’m Olive, a new writer. Actually, I’m THE writer of the book that inspired the movie he is about to star in on the big screen. As of late, I am also referred to as the oh-so-very-lucky girl who is about to become the wife of Jason Thorn.

Maybe you’re thinking yet again that this is all so dreamy? Nope, nothing dreamy going on here. Not even close.

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Author: Ella Maise
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

There is a spin-off novel: To Hate Adam Conner

Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I only picked this book up because I saw the cover 😛 When I was browsing audiobook titles to take out, this one caught my eye and I couldn’t resist learning more. After I read the synopsis, I realized that it had some of my favourite tropes in contemporary romance (fake marriage, in love with a celebrity, childhood friends) and so I just had to read it!

The Plot:

For me, there was just something about the pacing that stopped me from loving this story. I don’t know if there were too many tropes thrown in to work through or if the somewhat over the top drama got to me–but something just stopped me from totally loving the plot.

I will say that I did love how we get to see the history between these two at the start of the book. It provides some great context for their relationship moving forward.

The Characters:

Unfortunately, I did not love Jason Thorn. Simply put, the guy’s an asshole but I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and watch him get some great character growth…but he really doesn’t. He wasn’t making me swoon (his perpetual use of the nickname “Little One” for Olive gave me the hebejebes and turned me off of his charm to say the least) and he didn’t convince me that he was worthy of Olive in the end.

As for Olive, I liked her enough but I wasn’t totally loving her character either.

The Romance:

This was a very big let down. One of my biggest problems with Jason is that I never felt like he fell in love with Olive. I definitely think he felt lust for her but I don’t know what he loved about her. Sure she’s a nice person and she worships the ground he walks on for some reason but I don’t know what he sees in her that would make him give up his manwhore ways. He never convinced me that he loved her and more than he liked what she provided for his career and image.

As for Olive, I too don’t know what she really loved about Jason. Sure, it’s cute she had a crush on him as a kid and he gave her that irritating nickname while they were growing up but what else was there? I think she was so blinded by the idea of him (and his cute face) that her inner monologue didn’t provide much substance to the relationship.

My Audiobook Experience:

I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this more if I read the printed version. Audiobooks are longer to get through than a physical book so perhaps that’s the reason the story seemed excessively long (though to be fair, I was listening to it at a faster speed so it didn’t take me that much longer). I didn’t totally love the voice for Jason–it was too deep or something–either. But the production is great overall so no complaints in that respect.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one just didn’t live up to the expectations I had in place. I wanted a swoonworthy romance but I ended up wondering why these two even liked each other by the end.

Read if You Like: in love with actor stories, second chances involving childhood friends
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy asshole heroes

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Single Sundays: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

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 Velvet Undercover (from Goodreads):

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

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Author: Teri Brown
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Thriller, Espionage, WWI
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good espionage story and I’ve read some great ones set in WWI. I’m not sure how this one crossed my radar (I’ve noted it was from another blog but this was before I noted the blogs–doh!) but I was excited to see how this would unfold.

The Concept / The World:

I loved how each chapter started by defining an espionage term. Quite a few I knew but others I hadn’t so that was a great way to get into the story. Sam isn’t just playing spy here. The stakes are high and it is a matter of life and death for her.
It doesn’t dwell too much on the history of the time, just enough to give you the importance of the situation and help you identify the point of time. However, I wasn’t reading this for the history necessarily. I was more interested in the spy elements so it wasn’t a major issue for me.

The Plot:

I enjoyed the suspense of Sam’s mission. There were so many unknowns that it kept me hooked. The story just gets more convoluted as you go. However, we never dwell too long on anything. Which has its advantages and disadvantages. It isn’t an overly complicated spy story but it also just scratches the surface of the potential story it could have. So while it kept my attention, I craved more.
I also thought that identity of her target was super predictable. I had guessed it pretty early on and while I did waver slightly as the story evolves, I was proven right. That being said, there were a few twists that I didn’t expect so that impressed me.

The Characters:

I liked Sam as a lead. She’s smart yet flawed and it was interesting to see how she evolved as a spy and character.
I also liked how everyone has their own mystery to them that only gets uncovered as you read more about them. It added a little suspense to the story because you weren’t sure who you could and couldn’t trust.

The Romance:

Definitely the weakest part of the story due to its superficial nature. Given the “forbidden” nature  of it, it could have had more tension. It isn’t a huge aspect to the story but it plays enough of a role to interfere with the plot at times.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Despite some of its flaws, this story is definitely enjoyable! It’s fast and always evolving so readers will no doubt be entertained though they might crave a little more.

Read if You Like: espionage novels, women in WWI
Avoid if You: a true espionage thriller
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Single Sundays: Watching You by Shannon Greenland

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 Watching You (from Goodreads):

Viola’s always been that girl from that family, so a scholarship to a prestigious private school in Florida was supposed to be her ticket out of poverty and into a brand-new life. But Viola’s secrets have followed her. Her relationship with the intelligent and gorgeous Riel should have been the salvation she needed—he understands her troubled past better than anyone. But then weird things start to happen.

Frightening messages.

Missing personal items.

The unsettling feeling that she’s being watched.

Viola’s never been one to give her trust easily, but she’ll need to trust in Riel if she’s going to survive her stalker. Because she’s not fighting for a new life anymore—she’s fighting to stay alive.

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Author: Shannon Greenland
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Shannon Greenland’s other works since I read (and loved) Shadow of a Girl last year. That story was so refreshing and I enjoyed her writing style. I’m always on the lookout for a solid suspense thriller so this seemed like a no brainer for me to try.

The Concept:

I think the synopsis is slightly misleading. It makes it sound as if Viola is actively trying to resolve her stalker issue (with the help of Riel) and that is far from the case. Instead, we go through the motions of Viola’s everyday life with the occasional interference from her stalker. So I would classify this as a contemporary romance with a minor suspense aspect to it.

The Plot:

I thought the stalker aspect was well done in terms of their mysterious identity. There are enough red herrings to keep you guessing so I enjoyed that unpredictable aspect.

I also enjoyed the brief chapters we get from the stalker as well; it added to the atmosphere and raised the stakes.

The Characters:

I liked Viola’s drive to succeed. She goes for what she wants and I liked that. I also appreciated the fact that she grew as a character when her own secrets get the better of her. It gives this story the “coming-of-age” aspect which is always nice to see in a YA romance.

I also really liked Riel. He was an interesting character to learn more about and I really liked what we saw as the story progressed.

The Romance:

I think this was definitely the main focus of the book–which is totally OK because it was super cute! These two have a great slow burn romance to their relationship and I loved watching them get to know each other. My favourite romances are the ones that are unexpected for the characters. When they find themselves with someone they never anticipated and that’s what happens here a bit.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This one resulted in some mixed reactions for me though thanks to the expectations I had going into it and not getting exactly what I anticipated. Those looking for a contemporary romance with a dash of suspense (a la Sara Shepard) will enjoy this but those who want an outright thriller will want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA romances, contemporary
Avoid if You: wanted a true thriller
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Single Sundays: Company Ink by Kat Colburn

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 Company Ink (from Goodreads):

The Company has a rule about falling in love on the job.

I’ve never been one for rules. But I need this one. I need this rule to remind me why I can’t be with Dani Wallace.

I need this smart little foul-mouthed fighter by my side more than I need her in my bed. I need her to close this massive deal. She thinks it holds the key to her escape from cubicle hell and another shot at the life she always wanted.

But there is more riding on our success than she can possibly ever know. So I’ll keep my hands to myself and my secrets safe for one more day.

But now I can’t stop wondering what my best friend has on beneath her conservative suit. I can’t stop imagining the things that sharp mouth of hers could do to me if I leaned back in my chair and unzipped my pants. And I can’t stop pushing our flirting too far.

I’m trying to remember the rule. But some rules are made to be broken.

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Author: Kat Colburn
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Kat Colburn!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Kat asked me to read her debut office romance novel I was excited to see what it was all about. I love a good office romance novel thanks to the delicious sexual tension that often accompanies them. And this one was billed as a “slow burn” which has been one of my favourite tropes of late.

The Concept:

I have to say that the synopsis is slightly misleading. For one thing, it made me think that we were going to get Dan’s POV for a majority of the book since the synopsis is told in his voice. And while Dan does have a POV, it is a while before we actually get to it.

It’s also billed as a “friends-to-lovers” romance but it should be “strangers-to-friends-to-lovers” romance as these two don’t know each other at the start. I went in thinking these two had been friends for a while and only know the tension was becoming too much for them to handle but that isn’t the case. And the slow burn (ie watching them become friends and then into more) romance we get is nice to see but not necessarily what I was expecting when I picked up the book.

The Plot:

This story suffers a bit from its pacing. It takes a long time for these two to become friends and during that time we get more details about the business than I would have preferred. Points of it felt repetitive too. It made the first half of the book seem terribly slow and I was starting to lose interest. You could have easily cut out some scenes and still delivered the story successfully.

The second half picks up though when the two start to almost cross the line romantically and the suspense aspect of the plot picks up. The drama that comes from the suspense plot was a nice touch and gave this story a refreshing spin to it.

The Characters:

I had a weird relationship with Dani as a lead. Sometimes I appreciated her almost cynical views on life but other times she came across as rude and that irked me. I did understand her character’s background though as she is rather open in that respect. But then I would be confused about some of her thoughts and actions because of things she would say earlier but do/think the opposite of later. (Like with respect to her career).

Dan was an interesting lead as well. He’s got an aura of mystery around him which is always fun to read about in a lead. Of course, keeping those secrets got a little irritating but it did add to the suspense of the novel.

The Romance:

I found that this was a lot more telling than showing. You get told that they spend all this time together yet you rarely see them interact in those moments. So the chemistry was something that took awhile to be readily apparent to me.

I will say, I did enjoy the slow burn aspect. It was perhaps slower than I anticipated but in the second half of the novel I felt like the romance really benefited from that approach. I always like to see the emotional connections between characters and there was no doubt in my mind what great partners these two were for each other in all aspects.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I think those looking for a heated office romance will not find that here. But those looking for a story that takes its time building up will enjoy this debut.

Read if You Like: slow burn, office romance
Avoid if You: want erotica
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Single Sundays: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

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 Dear Martin (from Goodreads):

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2018
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person + First Person
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book floating around quite a bit last year. While The Hate U Give seemed to catch more of the main stream attention, this book was mentioned quite a bit in the blogging community.

I was drawn to this book for 2 reasons. One is the fact that its lead is a male character. After getting a black female perspective in The Hate U Give, I was curious to see what the black male one would be. Two is the fact that Justyce writes a journal to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

The Concept & Writing Style:

What I really loved about this book was the narrative’s style. You get chapters told from a third person narrator; then a transcript of dialogue of classroom discussions; Justyce’s letters to Dr Martin and the transcripts of news reports and the like. It keeps the story moving, focusing on the important topics and conversations. Nothing ever dragged in this book and it never losses sight of the main messages by distracting us with unnecessary plot devices.

The Plot:

As I said, this story is always moving. It’s a very straight forward plot but it works so well.  I laughed, I cried, I screamed in frustration and it made me think. You can’t ask for more in a book.

The Characters:

Justyce lives in a bit of a bubble and one that only recently gets burst. It was interesting to see how he copes with everything that is thrown at him. And he does get a lot thrown at him. He makes mistakes but he learns from them and I appreciated that. I truly became invested in his story and life.

The Romance:

It’s just a tiny part of the novel but when it does appear, it does contribute in a positive way to the many topics this book touches.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the narration was fabulous! Dion Graham is the narrator and he was just amazing. Everyone had a distinct voice, his pauses and dictation were perfect, and he really captured my attention at all times. He truly brought this book to life for me.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Another great novel that is so on point with the current issues in society. I highly recommend this for fans of The Hate U Give and those of realistic fiction.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, current events
Avoid if You: dislike non-classical prose/writing formats

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Single Sundays: Tiger Lily Jodi Lynn Anderson

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 Tiger Lily (from Goodreads):

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

breakdown

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre: Teen, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this book at my local library when I was getting into eReading in 2012. I’m really only familiar with the Disney version of Peter Pan but Tiger Lily is a character that we only see a flash of and it’s in a slightly negative light. So I was curious to see what her story was and learn a bit more about her.

Of course, I never got around to this story. I blame my focus on book series for this blog a bit since standalones get a lower priority. So that was why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for 2017.

The Concept / The World:

I wouldn’t say this is a retelling but more so an origin story. The introduction of Wendy really doesn’t happen until well after the 80% mark so you spend most of the time learning about Tiger Lily’s home life and how she met Peter. It’s like a prequel to the events of Peter Pan.

I truly struggled with forgetting the Disney Peter Pan story and remembering that a retelling will change things. You get inklings of common story themes (Hook, the crocodile, mermaids) but things change (like how people get to Neverland, etc)–that’s the point of a retelling. It manipulates what you know to show you a new perspective.

I also thought it was interesting that the novel is narrated by Tinkerbell. It provides some good insight for why Tink is often a pest to Wendy and others.

Also–maybe it’s just me–but this book felt “weird” to me. I mean, the whole premise of Neverland is an odd one (and I like that this one addressed why some people were older and some were forever young) but I really struggled with understanding what exactly was happening. Everything just seemed “odd” to me.

The Plot:

I definitely read the synopsis and interpreted it wrong. I thought the story would focus a bit more on Wendy’s arrival and how Tiger Lily deals with that. But like I said above, that only happens in the last quarter of the book.

For the most part, I felt like this book didn’t have much of a plot. The first 20% jumps all over the place talking about past stories and current situations. And then you get Tiger Lily living her life and struggling with her relationship with Peter and her family. I think I wanted more drama than the mundane everyday life moments. It just didn’t capture my attention like I wanted it to.

The Characters:

I find origin stories often focus on the mundane but what really makes them are the characters (Blackhearts is a great example of that, where the story is slower but you just fall in love with the characters).

Unfortunately here, the characters fell flat to me.

I went into this really wanting to like Tiger Lily. She’s such an enigma of a character to me and I wanted to see her in a new light. But I just felt indifferent to her. I couldn’t get a good read on her character (perhaps because we get everything through Tinkerbell who develops a bias?) and that stopped me from getting total invested.

Peter was annoying–I mean what type of maturity did I expect from a boy who never grows up?–and I felt like Tiger Lily could do better.

Understanding Tinkerbell was a highlight though–I almost wish this was called “Tinkerbell” instead.

The Romance:

Like I said, I wasn’t feeling the love between Tiger Lily and Peter. When I don’t like the two characters, I don’t like the romance between them. I also didn’t get the draw of Tiger Lily. Everyone seemed to be in love with her and I didn’t get why.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was a book I probably should have read as a physical book because I could have benefited from page breaks. The start jumps around a lot between past and present and I found myself getting lost. And having the third but first person POV with Tink made it hard to follow at times.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

This book was a huge let down. I feel like my expectations and what the story actual was were polar opposites. If you plan on reading it, know that Wendy Darling doesn’t play that big a role in the story despite what the synopsis implies.

Read if You Like: Peter Pan retellings, slower stories
Avoid if You: want action, want all consuming romance
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Single Sundays: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

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 Daughter of Deep Silence(from Goodreads):

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

breakdown

Author: Carrie Ryan
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Revenge
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Did you read that synopsis? I love a good revenge story. I just love the suspense and the anticipation that comes from righting the wrongs of the past. I also love a good conspiracy theory and this sounded like it had the potential to be great.

Also, it really reminded me of the TV show Revenge which I loved in the first season…and not so much later on. But, again, I loved the whole idea so I couldn’t wait to listen!

The Plot:

Have you ever read a book where you build up the big reveal to be this big epic thing only to find out that the truth is much less enthralling? That’s exactly what happened here for me. I built this book up to be something else and in the end, I was left disappointed.

Image result for revenge gifs

Let’s start with the revenge plot. The positive is that I like how everything gets started. I found the introduction to be thrilling and captured my attention. Learning what has happened to Frances and how she plans to learn the truth was great.

The unfortunate thing is that this book takes far to long to get things into motion. At the 50% Frances has maybe done 2 things to get her plan in motion and–while original–weren’t all that exciting. And for all her efforts, she really hasn’t learnt anything either. We don’t get an inkling of what the actual conspiracy is until the 72% mark so I couldn’t put the pieces together myself until that moment (and it gets a little spewed out all at once anyways).

Instead, the book focuses on Frances’ internal struggle to keep up her charade and enact her revenge. And I get why, she’s dealing with some heavy stuff and frankly, if she wasn’t conflicted about it I would worry for her sanity (though I do enjoy a dark heroine with no remorse on occasion). But, I find her worries become monotonous after awhile and I grew bored listening to her lament on and on about it all.

The Characters:

None of these characters are overly impressive to me.

As I said above, I can appreciate Frances’ struggle with what she is doing. Her struggle to maintain her true identity through it all is endearing. Everything is building up yet crumbling around her and it’s an interesting situation for a heroine to find herself in.

Image result for revenge gifs

The Romance:

I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be a fan of this given the circumstances. It’s young puppy love that gets built up into something more grandiose than it is because of the situation. Thankfully, it’s not a huge focus of the book. Rather, it is used as a device to move the plot forward and it’s utilized well enough when all is said an done.

Image result for revenge gifs

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook was a great choice I think. I love how emotions are conveyed through audio and it helped me bring the story to life. I will admit that as my interested waned in the actual story I did bump the speed up to 1.25X and eventually 1.5X just to get things to go a little faster.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This book has a lot of potential but I felt like the focus wasn’t on what I wanted it to be. Instead we get a story more about the struggle for identity and what it means to need revenge than the actual taking of revenge. It entertained me but I didn’t love it by any means.

Read if You Like: more character based stories
Avoid if You: want a more thrilling revenge seeking story

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