Tag «Third Person POV: alternating»

Series Review: The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken

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 The Bet (from Goodreads):

“I have a proposition for you.” Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. It’s been years since Kacey’s seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they’re engaged for her sake-so be it.

But Kacey wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis still being there. She calls him “Satan” for a reason: she’s never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis’s gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey’s more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake’s deal . . .

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Bet
Author: Van Dyken
# of Books: 3 (The Bet, The Wager, The Dare)
Book Order: Connected (but chronological events)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple (The Bet); Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – July 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

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NOTE: I only read The Bet (#1) and The Dare (#3). I DNF’d The Wager at 14%. Find out why below.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Rachel Van Dyken’s previous series in the past and I’ve had this one marked on my TBR forever. I only had the first book on my eReader and that’s why it was selected for my #ShelfLove Challenge for 2017.

I didn’t know entirely what to expect going into The Bet. It gets a few polarizing reviews on Goodreads but I went in with an open mind and the need to be entertained.

The Plot:

As whole, this series is about a meddling Grandmother who wants her grandsons to get their heads out of their butts and get married to the “ones that got away”. Grandma Nadine is an over the top character as are her antics. Her meddling isn’t a huge focus in The Bet (#1) but it does become a huge part of the latter two novels.

This results in some mixed feelings for me in terms of the plot. I enjoyed The Bet as Nadine is more of the filter-less Grandmother who inserts a comment or two along the way. But her interference in the next two novels is very hit or miss. Most of the time I enjoyed the concept of the second chance romance but not the execution–mainly Nadine’s manipulation–of the plot. It takes everything to this over-dramatic level that I wasn’t a fan of.

The Characters:

I think these characters really make it or break it for the readers. They aren’t the most mature out there and I wouldn’t say that all of them are completely likable either. I think I was just in the right mood for tolerating some of these characters when I read the books.

Case and point: Kacey. I really struggled with her because she does some down-right awful things to Travis when they are kids. I’m talking full out bullying the boy to the point where I’m shocked he turned out as nice as he did. But she does have these moments where she comes across as a genuinely nice girl (now that she’s older) so it was hard to pinpoint my exact feelings on her.

I think if you don’t take them all so seriously and focus on the silly things that happen along the way, you can enjoy this novel without loving the characters. (But I understand that is a hard thing to do in a romance novel–case and point why I DNF’d Book #2 The Wager).

The Romance:

These are all second chance stories that happen quickly (usually within a week or two), reestablishing this connection from the past. We only get a few flashbacks to the past so it was hard to convince me that all these characters were a great match. The connections of the leads in The Wager and The Dare just seemed so superficial to me because their past was a shared night of lust.

Why I DNF’d The Wager (#2) at 14%:

I was actually pretty excited to start this one because I love a good “player redemption story”. But the immaturity of these characters irritated me to no ends. Their opening chapters just seemed so ridiculous to me and I couldn’t get into.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Bet 4.5/5 | The Wager DNF| The Dare 2.5/5

overall

I think if you enjoy stories that don’t take themselves too seriously and can get past somewhat mature characters, you will enjoy this series. However, Rachel Van Dyken writes much (much) better romance novels so perhaps try Ruin or The Matchmaker’s Playbook instead.

Read if You Like: over the top drama, quick second chance romances
Avoid if You: dislike immature characters, struggle with humour in novels

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Fresh Fridays: Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand

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:

Empirium Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Furyborn (from Goodreads):

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Empirium
Author: Claire Legrand
# of Books: 3 (Furyborn, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 22, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks for granting my wish Sourcebooks Fire!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had requested a review copy on Netgalley but was declined. So imagine my surprise when a week later, I get an email saying my wish was granted to get an advance copy! YAY!

I was really eager to get my hands on this book for many reasons. One, I loved the concept of two girls centuries apart tied together by some prophecy. Two, I loved that these girls were kick-butt, fierce fighters. Three, I loved the cover. Four, I needed a new fantasy series in my life.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to get my hands on this book even though I had a copy wayyy in advance. I’ve never let a book go that long on Netgalley in my life. But other early reviews had me scared to pick this up as they were rather polarizing and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I did pick it up.

What I Liked:

–Rielle’s Backstory–

The Rielle we meet in the prologue is nothing like the Rielle we meet in the first chapter of her POV. So how did she evolve to be that way? What happens during the trials to get to this point? That had me eager to find out more and pressed me to keep reading.

(Though read more below to find out why this also backfires as the same time)

–Sex Positive–

I know that sex in YA is a controversial topic to some degree but I really liked how sex positive this story was. You’ll see this book touted as having a bi-sexual lead but that wasn’t overly apparent to me (I think there is like one line that alludes to some flirting with another girl?). Nevertheless, any book that can weave that in seamlessly is a winner.

What I did like was that these characters have sex and talk about it and how to have it safely. You don’t see that a lot in YA. Yes, the sex scenes are more descriptive than your usual YA material but it alludes more to the act than actually describing it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of World-Building–

For the first 20% of this book, I contemplated DNFing it. I just felt so lost in everything that was happening. Like what where these powers Rielle had? How does this world even work? Are there actually angels? I just didn’t know how anything functioned in this world. I felt like I picked up Book 2 in a series where I am expected to already know the basics.

However, once the actual plot of the novel starts, I found myself forgetting about how the world worked and concentrating on the drama that was unfolding. Sure enough, things do start to get explained to you so I found myself getting more comfortable with what was happening.

–Lack of Suspense Thanks to the Prologue–

It’s the last line of the synopsis, “the shocking connections between them” that had me curious. I love that type of suspense where you know there is something bigger going on but it doesn’t reveal itself until later. But in this case, we know the big connection between the two by the end of the prologue…talk about a buzz kill! Perhaps it isn’t said outright but it doesn’t take much to put two and two together. So I found that dampened some of my excitement moving forward.

It’s the same situation with Rielle and her trials. Given the nature of this story (one told in the past and one in the future), you generally know how Rielle’s story goes (especially when you start with the Prologue) and so that anticipation of wondering what will happen in each trial becomes a bit of a mute point.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I finished this book, I decided I was going to be on the fence about picking up the sequel (meaning I was going to wait and read the synopsis for Book 2 before I decided). But as I was writing my review, I downgraded my rating from a 3, to a 2.5 and then to a 2 because I didn’t have too many positive things to say. And I also felt satisfied in terms closure with these characters. My major questions were answered and I have a good idea of where things are going and it just doesn’t interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Furyborn 2/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

The lack of world-building at the start of the story followed by some very obvious clues early on can make this story duller than it should be at times. But, it very slowly lays down the foundation for some potentially intriguing sequels if things are done differently in the future.

Read if You Like: alternating POVs, good characters that go “bad”
Avoid if You: need strong world-building early on, want more suspense

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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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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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Series Review: Twisted Tales by Liz Braswell

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 A Whole New World (from Goodreads):

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Read 2018
Series: Twisted Tales
Author: Liz Braswell (Books 1-3); Elizabeth Lim (Book 4)
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retellings
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2015 – March 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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Disclaimer: I have only read the first book (A Whole New World) in this series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a Disney kid. I grew up watching all the movies; I’ve been to Disney World many, many times; and I’ve never lost a game of Disney Scene It in my life. So a series that reimagines the classic Disney movies? Hell yes.

Truthfully, I forgot about this series. I think I might have had it marked on my TBR but cleared it when I did a massive purge last year. Anyways, I found the audiobook for A Whole New World one day at my library as an “Available Now” title. The title captured my attention (immediately I thought of the song) and then I remembered this book and the series. I didn’t have it marked on Goodreads but that didn’t matter. I even berrated myself for not having an Aladdin retelling (my all-time favourite Disney movie) on my TBR. So I picked it up, started it on my way to work and promptly asked myself why.

This is one of those times I should have read the reviews to know what I was getting myself into.

Read Carefully: The Series Title is “Twisted” Tales

Retellings are a funny thing. You need to have enough new content to impress readers but pay enough homage to the source material as to not piss them off. It’s a delicate thing to do. Often times you get the basis of the original tale but a completely new story and setting (ex Lunar Chronicles). Other times, you expand the inaugural tale and fill in some of the gaps (ex Tiger Lily).

So you need to expect some changes with a retelling. This isn’t the story you’ve watched for years. It starts that way but it transforms (“twists” if you will) into something else that you may not recognize. That means characters aren’t going to be like you remember (or perhaps want) and events are going to change. I think that’s important to remember because it is so easy to compare these stories to their source material and end up disappointed.

What I Liked:

–Jasmine Gets More Time With the Genie–

I love the Genie for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest reasons is his ability to show us our humanity and the faults that lie within it. Wishing for things versus the reality of those things is something that he emphasizes throughout the movie. He does that a bit here too by sharing his backstory with Jasmine and how his role as a Genie isn’t what he thought it was going to be.

While I love all the scenes Aladdin and Genie share in the movie, it was nice to see Jasmine get that time with the Genie. Her character at the start of this novel wasn’t winning me over in the slightest. I found her conversations with the Genie provided her with a taste of character growth and development. He is the wise old sage that teaches her the ways of the world in a way that Jasmine doesn’t really get much in the movie. It was nice to see her get in touch with reality.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The First 25% is a Play-by-Play of the Movie–

I mean, it was nice to set the scene and all but I found it boring to reiterate scenes I’ve had ingrained in the membrane for years.

–Most of the “Twists”–

Yes yes, Lauren read the message you posted up top about changes being necessary in a retelling. My problem isn’t that they changed events or characters, my problem is how this affects the core of what Aladdin is as a story. The twists here just seemed so out of place to me and didn’t benefit the overall message of the story.

>>Read my Spoilers Post (June 27) for more information on that here!

–A Lot of Telling, Not so Much Showing–

I found my interest quickly waned in this book. It’s a lot of dialogue between the characters and a lot of assumptive-explanations. Why is Jafar acting like this? The answer is a speculation made by Jasmine and never from Jafar himself.

Time passes oddly in this book once the rebellion begins and I just found I didn’t care by the end.

Image result for aladdin gifs

–Very Little Character Growth–

Retellings provide ample opportunity to flesh out the characters. Considering Jasmine and Aladdin are characters in a 1.5 hour movie, you could do so much with them in a full novel. The same can be said about Jafar. Instead, these characters are left with their basic shells in order to get the story across. I feel like there was a big missed opportunity with this story.

Will I Finish It?

This time, I looked at the reviews of the other novels and see that they feature many of the same issues as this one. So at this time, I’m going to leave this series as is.

Series Rating: DNF

A Whole New World 1.5/5

overall

Watch the movie. There are much better retellings for stories out there.

Read if You Like: different retellings
Avoid if You: want more substance
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Fresh Fridays: Ball Buster (The Playbook #1) by Kara Sheridan

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

The Playbook Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ball Buster (from Goodreads):

Playbook Rule #1: Never ever give up

It’s official. The Alabama Warriors have the worst reputation in pro football. As the team’s captain, Carson Savage has his ass on the line and – thanks to a leaked photo – his ass is also online. Now the team is getting an image makeover from Sadie Reynolds, the hottest redhead in the South and Carson’s high school sweetheart. Maybe making a play for his sexy ex is a risky move… but Carson didn’t make it this far by playing it safe.

Alabama is the last place in the world Sadie wants to be. Going home again only reminds her of what – and who – she gave up. Seeing the insanely hot ex she never quite forgot is dangerous. Carson’s too sexy. Too tempting. And Sadie can’t afford to go out of bounds. So she’ll do whatever it takes to finish this job and leave town with her heart still intact. The only problem? Carson’s decided it’s not about winning the game… it’s about winning the girl.

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Series: The Playbook
Author: Kara Sheridan
# of Books: 3 (Ball Buster, Tight End, Big Jock)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Tight End is to be released December 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 15, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you Forever Yours!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Ball Buster as a Read Now title on Netgalley a few months ago and was drawn in by the cover. I’m a sucker for a good sports story and I’ve had great success with the genre in the past.

Ball Buster had me hooked with its synopsis. I love stories filled with unresolved tension and Carson and Sadie seemed like that had a lot of it. Not only are they high school sweethearts but you’ve got the forbidden-ness that comes from a client and PR agent romance.

What I Liked:

–The Physical Chemistry–

I mean these two can hardly be in the same vicinity as each other before they start making love on any surface. But the many sex scenes we get were not overly repetitive–which is hard to do–so I appreciated that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Dramatic, Romantic and Character Development Cut Short–

For me, this story lacked the plot and character depth I crave my from second chance romances. When it comes to second chance romances I really need to see the proof of why these two need to reunite despite everything that has torn them apart. And while these two had great physical chemistry, I wasn’t sold on the emotional connection between them.

Any development in this story, whether it be character, romantic or drama, was cut short in order to watch these two spontaneously make love on whatever surface is near by. We’d finally see them start to work out their differences and problems of the past and we would lose all that progress. I’m not saying the physical aspects aren’t important in their relationship–I just needed more than that to see why these two haven’t been able to move on in 7 years with other people.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Since no one in particular stood out to me, I’m not going to be picking up the sequels.

My Rating: DNF

Ball Buster 2/5 | Tight End N/A | Big Jock N/A

overall

This book was just “meh” to me. Those who like second chance sports stories that stay par for the course will likely enjoy this but for more seasoned readers who want more surprises and deeper characters will need to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: second chances, light reads, sexy times
Avoid if You: want more character depth
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Blog Tour: Let Me Love You by Jessica Jayne

Synopsis for Let Me Love You (from Goodreads):

Twenty-three year old Ren Haynes returns home after graduating college with two goals–start his engineering career and claim the heart of his parents’ thirty-one year old divorced neighbor, Stacey Williams.

Stacey is nursing her broken heart and shattered ego. Not only did her ex-husband have an affair, he got the woman pregnant. Picking up the pieces of her life isn’t easy, so when Ren taps into her need to feel desired again, she finds herself in a position she never imagined.

Can Ren help to rebuild her confidence and convince her that age is just a number?

breakdown

Author: Jessica Jayne
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 18, 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In romances, age difference can play a huge factor in the relationship and so I always enjoy books that explore this situation because it can cause some tension. I was particularly drawn to this novel because it is an older woman/younger man relationship–one that we don’t often see in novels (as it always seems to be the reverse). So I couldn’t wait to explore this scenario and get some great sexual tension along the way.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the fact that this story was all about the romance. We don’t get any unnecessary drama along the way. It’s focus is all on Ren seducing Stacey and showing her that he is serious about her and in turn, Stacey reacting to his feelings and deciding if she wants to pursue a relationship with him. I found that this singular plot helped to develop the characters a little more and focus on their hopes and fears about the relationship. It made the story more character focused–which is what you want in a romance.

The Characters:

I really liked this small cast of characters. Stacey is a great heroine. I found her wants and fears to be believable given her past. I loved watching her self confidence grow as the story progressed.

As for Ren, he’s a good lead. He’s mature and driven but a nice guy. He was really sweet with Stacey so I understand her hardship in trying to resist him.

But what I really liked about all these characters (including the side ones like Ren’s parents) was their honest and upfront conversations. They didn’t beat around the bush so to speak. I enjoyed their candid conversations and how they laid everything out. It created some great dialogue and helped progress the story in a positive way.

The Romance:

While I really liked Ren and Stacey as a couple, I wanted a little more build-up to the revealing of Ren’s intentions. We get told a lot that they had this great connection before the novel started; that they’ve talked and shared a lot over the last few years and consider each other friends. And while I never doubted Ren’s intentions (ie that he wanted Stacey as a forever girl), I think it would have sold me sooner on the romance if I had seen some of that tension build between them. If I got to see them fall in love instead of being told they were in love. Regardless, they did have great chemistry so I enjoyed their scenes together.

My Rating: 3/5

overall
This is a very quick albeit sweet romance about pursuing love and learning to love again after a betrayal.

Read if You Like: “off-limits” romance, romance focused plot
Avoid if You: want a longer read

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Jessica Jayne

Jessica is a born and raised small town Ohio girl, who moved to the Sunshine State after graduating from college. She graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English. What college major could possibly be better than one that makes you read novels and write about them! Now she is thrilled to be able to share all the hot stories floating around in her head!

Jessica loves to travel and travel often! She shares her love of travel with her husband and children. She’s a huge sports fan, especially football. She ❤ the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ohio State Buckeyes! She’s a wine-making (and wine-tasting) aficionado. She loves all music. And nothing is better than sunset at the beach!

In the journey of life, she also married a wonderful man and had three beautiful (and sometimes crazy) children. Life is always an adventure!

Author Links: Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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Blog Tour: Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Suitors and Sabotage (from Goodreads):

Two young people must hide their true feelings for each other while figuring out who means them harm in this cheeky Regency romance from the author of Love, Lies and Spies and Duels & Deception.

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

In Suitors and Sabotage, author Cindy Anstey delivers another witty young adult historical fiction novel that is the perfect mix of sweetly romantic and action-packed.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via Netgalley

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo / B&N / iBooks

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s become a bit of a tradition on my blog that every April I take part in the blog tour for Cindy Anstey’s latest novel. She quickly became a must read author of mine when I read her debut novel, Love, Lies and Spies, thanks to is sweet romance and witty dialogue. It doesn’t hurt that she is a fellow Canadian either 😉

I was really excited when I read the synopsis for Suitors and Sabotage! I love historical fiction and Anstey writes fabulous YA stories as her previous novels can attest to. This book sounded like it would be filled with some great character chemistry and no doubt be utterly charming. I couldn’t wait to sit down and devour this!

The Plot:

This book was a lot of fun–and that’s not something that you would immediately think when you read the plot synopsis. I mean, someone is possibly trying to kill Ben and Ben is in love with the girl his brother is pursuing. Things could definitely take a turn for the dark but they never do and I think that’s where Anstey’s talent for writing shines the best. She has this ability to keep things light and captivating all the same.

I’ll get to the characters later but they honestly make this book. It wouldn’t be half as charming if it wasn’t for the cast of people Anstey has assembled to tell this story!

I did find that this book did suffer from a little too much filler at times. Not that I minded too much since I adored the characters and any scene they were in but I did find it dulled the suspense of the sabotage. The sabotage is more subtle than I anticipated it would be though it did bring excitement to the plot.

The Characters:

Honestly, the cast in this story is fabulous! Imogene is sweet and evolves before your eyes (I loved her character growth!). Ben will definitely steal your heart with his longing glances and kind intentions. But their friends and family are just as entertaining and genuine. Everyone contributes to this story in a way that takes it to the next level. They truly make this story!

The Romance:

Despite there being a bit of a love triangle/square situation happening, I couldn’t get enough of the romance! Again, this has to do with the great cast because I seriously loved everyone and hated to see anyone hurt. But you can’t deny the chemistry that lies between certain characters more than others. I love longing glances between characters and when the inner monologue drifts off as the character becomes absolutely smitten with the other. The romance here was simply perfect.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall
Honestly, Cindy Anstey is the bar when it comes to writing fantastic, entertaining YA historical fiction. She always has a fabulous blend of romance, danger and wit that I’ve yet to come across in another book. This one is definitely another win!

Read if You Like: historical YA fiction, witty banter, subtle suspence
Avoid if You: want more “in your face” romance

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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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Series Review: Nights by A M Salinger

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

book4 book5

booksynopsis

Synopsis for One Night (from Goodreads):

One night was all I asked for. For him to show me how good it can be. — Gabe
One night was all I promised. To give him the best time of his life. — Cam

Gabe Anderson wants nothing more than to overcome the scars of his past. Moving to a new city halfway across the world is one thing. Walking into the most exclusive gay bar in town to hook up with a perfect stranger is a whole new ball game.

Cam Sorvino doesn’t do relationships. Period. Having buried his dark childhood behind him, he lives life to the fullest and likes his sex hot, dirty, and for one night only. Though Cam’s instincts tell him that Gabe isn’t the one-night kind of guy, he can’t stop himself from approaching him. When Cam discovers the true extent of Gabe’s harrowing secrets, he makes him an offer he cannot refuse: one night of mindless pleasure to help him overcome his phobia of intimacy.

But when morning comes, will Cam be able to let go of the one man who is able to stir new feelings inside his cold, dead heart?

If you like sweet, sexy men with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to win their hearts, then you’ll love this first novella in the hot, contemporary romance series Nights by A.M. Salinger.

breakdown

Series: Nights Series
Author: A M Salinger
# of Books: 9 (View full series order here)
Book Order: Direct Sequel & Connected
Complete?: No, Sweet Obsession is to be Published in April 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, MM Romance
Heat Rating: Hot – Smokin’
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARCs

thoughts

This is just a review of the first two novellas: #1 One Night and #2 The Escort

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always on the lookout for a new MM romance series and when I saw that the Nights Series was a series of novellas, I just had to check it out!

The Concept / Reading Order:

First off, these are novellas but they are your lengthier ones (more than 50 pages). That means things move fast but as you’ll see in my review, that doesn’t mean things are left underdeveloped.

Some of the novellas are direct sequels to previously featured character while some are not. So you can read them out of order but its suggested to follow the numerical order of release to get the fullest experience. Basically it goes like this:

Couple #1: One Night (#1) + Toyko Heat (#3) + One Day (Book #9)| Couple #2: The Escort | Couple #3: Sweet Obsession (#4) + Sweet Possession (#5)

The Plot:

Book #1, One Night, has a different plot style than The Escort (Book #2). Because the characters in One Night get sequels (#3 Tokyo Heat & #9 One Day), their story focuses more on their initial meeting and the subsequent connection they form. I found there wasn’t much to the plot besides them bonding which totally works for their story.

The Escort is a standalone in the sense that it is in the only instalment featuring these leads. I found the plot here was much stronger and had more dramatics to it. But it still features complex characters and has as much sexual tension as the first novella.

The Characters:

Despite the novella length of these stories, the characters are very well developed. Part of that is thanks to the slight info-dumping we get in the first two chapters. Everything about these characters is laid out early on so you get a great sense of who they are and what their motives are.

The Romance:

All these leads have this great sexual chemistry. But more importantly, they also have this deeper connection as well. They understand each other and they support one another and you can’t ask for more in your romances.

Do note though that One Night has a slightly more erotica feel to it given the narrative/plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a sucker for great sexual tension and these novellas have that! So I can’t wait to get the conclusion to Gabe and Cam’s story and meet the newest couple.

updates

–April 5, 2018– Book #3: Tokyo Heat

I’ll be honest and say that I wanted a little more conversation than we got between these two. Yes, they have this explosive chemistry between them and that means their sex scenes (which are very well done) are passionate and sexy. I know that they are compatible sexually but on a personal level, I needed a little more. I wanted to see more of them working on their everyday issues. We do get that near the end but I wanted those conflicts fleshed out a little more at the start of the novella to reaffirm the fact that these two work so well together.

As a series though, I really love the interweaving of past and future characters. It’s cool to get mini updates on past leads and get a taste of what might be happening later on in the series with the other leads. All these characters are so rich and intriguing that I always am eager to learn what will happen next when I finish the most recent instalment.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

One Night 3/5 | The Escort 4/5 | Tokyo Heat 3/5 | Sweet Obsession TBA | Sweet Possession TBA

overall

This series is absolutely perfect for those people looking to get into the MM romance world but don’t know where to start! The characters are well developed and the romances are heated but sweet.

Read if You Like: MM romance, novella series
Avoid if You: novellas

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Blog Tour: The Amber Elixir (Two Realms Novella #1) by Ariella Moon

Synopsis for The Amber Elixir (from Goodreads):
Viviane, the new Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon, accepts a challenge from Merlin unaware her bold actions will have tragic consequences. Two of her priestesses are turned to stone. A forbidden love deserts her. Now alone, she has six young handmaidens to train and protect.

When Morgan le Fay demands assistance with a spell that could change the balance of power in the Two Realms, Viviane refuses her. But what if Morgan’s secret knowledge could restore the stone priestesses? Will an alliance prompt Viviane’s love to return? Or will the gamble cost her all she holds dear?

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

Series: Two Realms Trilogy / Two Realms Novellas
Author: Ariella Moon
# of Books: 2 (The Beltane Escape, The Viking Mist, Book 3)

There is a novella, The Amber Elixir. (Recommended to read after Book 1)

Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, The Viking Mist, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Arthurian Legend
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Arthurian Legend! I even took a course about it for my English minor because I just love the whole idea of this epic story and world. When I saw that The Amber Elixir has a different take on the Arthurian world, I just had to see what was in store.

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

Ariella Moon has done a great job of weaving classic Arthurian elements and her own imaginings into this novella. It’s a really interesting blend of fantasy elements at play and I loved learning more as I read.

I think fans of classic fantasy novels will love the world we get here. It’s very complex and rich and completely captivates you.

–Weaving of Different Stories–

While the focus is mostly on Viviane and her role in the world, we get introduced to quite a few players and that just makes everything a little fuller and more complex. I like stories that have a lot going on; that have multiple storylines and characters involved and this one has it. I found this to be a very strong story and for its novella length, it reads more like a full novel.

–Viviane’s Forbidden Love–

While this isn’t a romance by any means, Vivane’s forbidden love does play a crucial role in Viviane’s development and actions. I’ll just say that I really liked why this was “forbidden” and how it upped the ante for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I Probably Should Have Read Book 1 First–

You can definitely read this novel without reading The Beltane Escape. It does a great job of tying the two together to get readers up to speed. It is noted on Ariella’s site she does recommend reading this novella after The Beltane Escape. My problem was that I didn’t know there was a Book 1 so I was a little confused during the prologue what was happening as I unaware we’ve been introduced to this world before.

But like I said, I quickly got up to speed and found myself immersed into this world as it does focus on other characters. And if anything, it made me curious to pick up The Beltane Escape 😉

 

My Rating: 3/5

The Beltane Escape N/A | [The Amber Elixir 3/5] | The Viking Mist TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall
Perfect for fans of stories involving Arthurian Legend and classic fantasy novels, this is a series you’ll want to read!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, fantasy, magic
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy, want more romance

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Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval fantasy adventure series. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances.

Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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Series Review: Freedom by Bella d’Amour

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

Freedom Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free to Play (from Goodreads):

He’s a player and she’s ready to play… but what happens when the fun gets serious?

“Brent, will you be my first?”

Joey is mortified to face Brent the next morning after letting the question slip in a weak moment. She’s shocked when Brent not only agrees but proposes a friends with benefits arrangement. How can she accept when it threatens what’s most important to her: her friendship with his sister, her new job with his football team, her self-respect when an ex-girlfriend is suddenly back in the picture – and her heart?

After years of working hard to fulfill his responsibilities, Brent is finally enjoying his life – with women who want nothing more than a good time. But when Joey asks him to be her first lover, he can’t resist finally getting his hands on her luscious body, one he’d been lusting after for years. Only problem is, once isn’t enough. He’s not ready to give up his hard-earned freedom nor is he ready for a woman to invade his life – or his heart. When demons from his past come back to haunt him, will he let them ruin what he’s found with Joey?

breakdown

Series: Freedom Series
Author: Bella d’Amour
# of Books: 2 (Free to Play, Free to Live)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 27, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Bella d’Amour!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the “in love with BFF’s brother trope”. I just love all the delicious tension it brings when two people inevitabley fall for each other (if they aren’t secretly in love with the other person already). I wasn’t sure what the case was going to be here, but I was excited to dive into Free to Play.

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

These two had great chemistry from the start! Their attraction to each other is palpable and I loved every moment shared between them. They make such a great pair and part of the reason is that:

–They Actually Talked to Each Other!–

Don’t worry, there are plenty of steamy moments between the two of them. However, they had these great moments of conversation where they discussed their hopes and fears among other topics. I like seeing that emotional connection be established in my romances and this one succeeds beautifully.

–Building Joey’s Self-Esteem–

I love stories where the heroine learns to be confident in herself. Sometimes that’s hard to do in a romance because all too often, the heroine only become more independent by becoming dependent on the hero/their relationship. (I know that’s confusing but I hope you get what I am saying). And while Brent does help Joey build her self-esteem when it comes to her body image, I would say he is a vehicle for her start to see herself in a different light, not the sole reason. He helps her to see herself outside the stereotypes she’s boxed herself into and once that seed is planted, she learns to grow on her own. I loved that.

This isn’t to say that Brent doesn’t have great character development. He too goes on a journey where he grows up and figures out what is truly important in his life and I liked that a lot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Tad Too Dramatic Near the End–

I get why certain things happened at the end. They help enhance the lessons of the novel and that’s great. But this novel felt so grounded for so long that I didn’t entirely enjoy all the (slightly) over the top drama that occurs. Again, I know why everything happens as it does, I just wish it didn’t.

However, we have more than enough time to wrap everything up nicely so win!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for the sequel! I loved Brent’s family and I hope they become the focus of the sequel novels. I already have a hypothesis of who the next book involves so I can’t wait to see if I’m right!

updates

–April 15, 2018– Book #2: Free to Live

I had my suspicions about who the leads for book 2 would be and I was not disappointed!

Despite the quick initial spark with these two shared, I loved the slow burn of this romance. It gave the romance an edge of anticipation knowing that they had crossed the line but were holding back despite their every need not to. I loved watching these two get to know each other and breakdown those barriers that they had erected in the past to stop the pain of falling in love only to be hurt later.

In this story, I think it’s our hero who gets more time to shine but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He definitely had the more convoluted history and I enjoyed the mystery of uncovering that past so he could move forward. I would have liked to have seen a little more from the heroine in terms of development, but I think she was a great compliment to our hero’s story.

We get just a taste of what the future might hold in terms of possible sequels and I know that I’m definitely sticking around to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4/5

Free to Play 4/5 | Free to Live 4/5

overall

If you love character-strong romances, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: sport romances, heroines building self-esteem
Avoid if You: dislike steamier reads, dislike contemporary romance

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