Tag «Third Person POV: alternating»

Series Review: Capturing the Carlisles by Anna Harrington

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

Capturing the Carlisles Trilogy

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for If the Duke Demands (from Goodreads):

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Regency Romance 2017, New Must Read Author
Series: Capturing the Carlisles

This is a spinoff of the The Secret Life of Scoundrels Series.

Author: Anna Harrington
# of Books: 3 (If the Duke Demands, When the Scoundrel Sins, As the Devil Dares)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, As the Devil Dares, will be published January 2018
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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**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:

It was the main concept of this novel that captured (pun not intended) my attention. I LOVE the romance trope where the two people work together to get the objects of their affections, only to fall in loved with each other. It promises to have a ton of sexual tension, swoon worthy moments and leads you can’t help but root for.

So I was really excited to dive into this series!

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Honestly, I didn’t stop smiling when I was reading this book! It was just pure enjoyment from start to finish for me.

These two were PERFECT for each other and it was so much fun to watch them discover that. I literally got butterflies reading some of their scenes together because they were just so adorable. They had fantastic banter and the chemistry was just dripping off the pages.

But my favourite part was the emotional connection these two develop. It’s my favourite aspect of this trope. They just get each other. The fact that these two grew up together in some capacity provides a solid foundation to start this story off. I liked they they didn’t really like each other until they talked and got to know each other on that intellectual level. And from that, their romantic attraction to each other develops. It’s not just insta-love or physical lust that drives them together. Perfection.

–Miranda–

I find heroines in this genre can be a little over-bearing or rebellious just for the sake of being different. But Miranda is never like that. While she is independent, she’s intelligent about it. She’s willing to fight for things but never in a brash or irresponsible way and that made her extremely likable to me. I couldn’t help but root for her.

And I also liked that she grew as the story progressed. She isn’t this totally confident girl right away and as she learns to accept who she is, she really blossoms.

–The Brothers–

I just love this whole family (which readers are first introduced in Harrington’s How I Married a Marquess). They were just so much fun and quite the cast of characters. I’m really excited to learn more about the brother’s and see how they get “captured”!

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s Over and I Have to Wait for the Next One–

I want the rest of this series NOW! Good thing Anna’s other series is out so I can get into that while I wait.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

With the little teaser we got of When the Scoundrel Sins, I wish that August was next week. It looks like it is going to be just as awesome as its predecessor and I’m so excited to read it!

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–August 3, 2017– Book #2: When the Scoundrel Sins

I was SO EXCITED to pick this novel up that I put it to the top of my TBR pile despite the mountain of other books–and I was not disappointed.

These two had fantastic chemistry right from the start. So it was hard to watch them keep their distance when you know that they would be PERFECT together. But then again, that’s the fun of this book! I had a blast watching them spare back and forth, fighting their budding feelings and denying the obvious. I love sexual tension and Harrington succeeds once again with these two.

The one disappointing aspect for me was that the plot wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I found it took a back seat to the the romance (which isn’t a bad thing) but it did make the wrapping up seem a little rushed just because you did forget about it a bit. I also found it to be terribly predictable which was disappointing. I suppose that aspect wasn’t as engaging as I wanted it to be.

But I thoroughly enjoyed this one and had a very, very hard time putting it down. Another solid installment!

My Rating: 4.5/5

If the Duke Demands 5/5 | When the Scoundrel Sins 4/5 | As the Devil Dares TBP

overall

If The Duke Demands reminded me why I love historical romances. Swoon-worthy heroes; strong-willed, intelligent heroines and brimming sexual tension from the start. I’m definitely going to be picking up Harrington’s previous works ASAP!

Read if You Like: historical fiction, emotional romances
Avoid if You: want more erotica based
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Series Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

Series Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

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

Ruined Trilogy

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booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

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

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Faves 2016
Series: Ruined Trilogy
Author: Amy Tintera
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Action, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; Audiobook (#2 & #3)

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**This post was originally published 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 romantic trope “in love with the enemy”. I just love the high stakes of it all and all the wonderful sexual tension it brings.

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

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

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

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

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

–The Romance–

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

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

–The Willingness to Take it to the Next Level–

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

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–The World Building–

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

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

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–June 12, 2019– Book #2: Avenged

What a solid sequel! It’s been years since I read the first book but it was so easy to re-imurse myself into this story and world (even if I was getting it mixed up with Frostblood when I started it 😅).

The story was always moving and I loved how we jumped from different characters to give us that 360° view of everything. Definitely some good twists/plot progressions along the way (my wish for more politics was definitely met) but nothing shocked or overly wowed me which is why I give it a 4/5 despite enjoying the ride.

Since it had been so long since I read the first book, I decided to try the audio version and am so happy I did! It almost makes me wish I read Ruined as an audiobook. Such an entertaining listen! Everyone has their own voices and it really brought the story to life!

–June 18, 2019– Book #3: Allied

Again, I listened to the audiobook here and it was a great listen. I finished it very quickly! This story is just so engrossing and I was eager to see how it would all wrap up. I’m not sure what ending I wanted/imagined but I don’t think it was necessarily what we got. It perhaps felt a little anticlimactic. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable end to an enjoyable series.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ruined 4.5/5 | Avenged 4/5 | Allied 4/5

overall

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

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

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Series Review: Players by Mackenzie Crowne

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 To Win Her Love (from Goodreads):
To win the game, they’ll have to risk losing their hearts…

When a bizarre child custody stipulation pits popular sports blogger Gracie Gable against football superstar Jake Malone, losing the battle for her twin nieces isn’t the only thing Gracie has to worry about. Forced to live for three months under the same roof as the sexy tight end, will she fall prey to his flirtatious pursuit? Or worse, will the skeletons in her closet destroy her chance for the love and family she so desperately wants?

Neglected by his parents as a boy, Jake doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Yet living with Gracie and the twins might be enough to change his mind—and his womanizing ways. But when the press unearths a scandal from Gracie’s past, will he lose the one woman he was ready to open his heart to?

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Series: Players Trilogy
Author: Mackenzie Crowne
# of Books: 3 (To Win Her Love, To Win Her Trust, To Win Her Heart)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I read To Win Her Love in its entirety but opted not to pick up the next 2 novels in the series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t recall how I found this series. I think Kobo had a sale and I saw the cover and decided to check it out. I adore stories where two people who initially dislike each other fall in love so that’s what drew me in. However, the premise of a custody battle sounded like a refreshing one I haven’t come across in a contemporary romance before.

Sure, the premise is a lot like the plot for the 2010 movie Life as we Know It where a single guy and girl find themselves the unexpected guardians of their best friends’ young baby. But the circumstances in this novel greatly differ and I liked the bigger sports spin this novel had.

photography kid romance lovely josh duhamel

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

Like I just said above, the premise was what really drew me to this novel. I thought it was a lot of fun even if it is a touch unrealistic. I mean why is the decision left to two 6 year old girls to decide who their guardian should be? I remember how wish-washy I was when I was 6 about what candy I wanted–a life altering decision like guardianship shouldn’t be left in a child’s hand even if I appreciate the sentiment. (Maybe the parent’s hoped that their daughters would be older when they unexpectedly passed away?)

But I liked that this story was about these two coming together to create a family and finding out what they want in life. They had some really cute moments with the kids that absolutely melted my heart.

–Gracie Knows Football–

I find the heroines in sports novels usually know nothing–or next to nothing–about the sport of their romantic interest. Every once in a while you’ll get a girl who is in touch with her sporty side and understands the world but it’s not a common occurrence. I loved that not only did Gracie understand football but that she actually works as a blogging analyst on football. Awesome.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Third Person POV–

When it comes to my romances, I prefer first person POVs. I just like getting that insight into a character by being directly in their head. I feel so far removed from characters when they are presented in third person. And while I appreciate the fact that it being third person keeps some of the secrets these characters have as secrets, I also found it hard to follow at times. I get a little out of practice with third person reads sometimes because I mostly read first person.

–Slow Moving Plot–

I would classify this romance as a slow burn romance for sure. And normally I don’t mind that because it gives these characters time to get to know each other in a more meaningful way besides sex. But here, I didn’t think that was the case. I wanted their connection to be elaborated on more, especially earlier in the novel when the plot focused more on setting up the circumstances of getting these two together. Which was rather slow in my opinion.

Will I Finish It?

While I enjoyed To Win Her Love enough, the next two stories don’t really interest me so it’s a pass.

Series Rating: 3/5

To Win Her Love 3/5 | To Win Her Trust N/A | To Win Her Heart N/A

overall

This is a cute story but I just wanted a little more from it.

Read if You Like: sports, family based stories, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: dislike third person stories, want erotica

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  • The Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick (The Jackson Boys #1)
  • Game for Love by Bella Andre (Bad Boys of Football Trilogy #3)
  • Rush Me by Allison Parr (New York Leopards Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Lord Bachelor by Tammy L Bailey

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 Lord Bachelor (from Goodreads):
Edmund Rushwood is a single English lord in possession of a great fortune who is in desperate need of a rich wife.

In accordance with his father’s will, Edmund has until he turns twenty-six to find a wealthy bride or lose his vast inheritance. To retain his selfish lifestyle, he agrees to join an American dating game show to find the woman who can save him. He doesn’t bargain on meeting Abby Forester, an impoverished, spirited American woman who is content to live out her father’s dreams in his vintage record shop.

With covert intervention from an unlikely source, Abby lands on the dating game show as one of Edmund’s potential brides. As their worlds entangle and love begins to bloom, Abby discovers Edmund cannot marry her and retain his wealth at the same time. Will love keep them together, or will greed triumph and tear them apart?

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Author: Tammy L Bailey
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 7, 2015
Source & Format: Read It, Review It (New Adult Book Club)–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read the premise for this book, I was really interested. The TV series the Bachelor is an occasional guilty pleasure of mine and I LOVE the TV show UnREAL which I marathoned just before this book crossed my radar. I had also just finished The Crown from the Selection Series and wanted to see a different take on the Bachelor/ette concept.

The Concept:

I think it is fair to warn potential readers that this novel isn’t primarily focused on their interactions during the TV show. It starts a little before the show and continues for a little after but I think that works in its favour when it comes to romance and character development. Just don’t think you are going to be reading a season of the Bachelor–there’s a bit more to it than that 😉

The Plot:

I thought this plot was a lot of fun! Abby has an interesting life as does Edmund; even if both lives are slightly over the top. It’s a little soap-opera that way but I kind-of expected that going into the novel given the Bachelor premise.

I did like the parallels it drew to Abby’s literature assignment. I thought that was a lot of fun but maybe that was just the inner English student in me coming out 😛

There were a few things that I didn’t feel were entirely necessary that were added; but they really played such a minor role that it wasn’t a huge deal in the end. Probably more of personal preference than anything.

The Characters:

I’ll admit it too me a while to get into Abby and Edmund as characters. Both have the facades they present the world so it really wasn’t until they started to reveal their insecurities and their pasts that I began to really like them.

The cast is everything you expect to see on something like the Bachelor–slightly over the top and eccentric. But I have to say that once you learn more about Abby and Edmund, they become a lot more grounded and I liked that a lot.

The Romance:

Although I expected the story to start right as the TV show does, seeing these two interact before the show was great. It gave their relationship more substance and a better foundation than a two week reality TV show. You really start to root for these two because you see how they work together. Plus, I thought they had great chemistry and the sexual tension was awesome!

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

It took me longer than I thought to get into it but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s a cute and sweet romance that will put a smile on your face.

Read if You Like: sweet romances, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike soap-opera-esque stories

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DNF Review: London With Love by Chris Haigh

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 London With Love (from Goodreads):

Emily Gibson is age 26, attractive, and working in London. Her love life up to now has been a disaster, making her reckless and unpredictable. In spite of being good at her job, she gets fired.
Scott Gillons is four years older, a hot and handsome plastic surgeon who has developed a secret microchip tracker to implant into humans. Even though women adore him, he finds serious relationships don’t work – until he meets Emily.
She’s been two-timed and abused by a previous boyfriend, and yet Emily still likes a bad-boy element in her men. She rejects Scott, while confiding a secret to her friends. Tensions mount as her life takes an unexpected turn, and she makes a discovery which threatens her safety.
Truths emerge as Scott has to face up to his own issues. There are confessions he needs to make to Emily if their friendship is to become true love, confessions which will leave him vulnerable and, if made public, would damage his career as a surgeon.
As the facts come out, Emily and Scott become entangled in each other in a search for commitment and a future together.

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Author: Chris Haigh
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: unsure;  BDSM: light; Kink: mild
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 8th, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading London With Love at 30%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As someone who enjoys suspense movies and loves romance novels, I rarely read romantic suspense. I’m not sure why, I guess I just gravitate more towards romantic dramas instead.

So when I was asked if I was interested in reading London With Love, I wanted to give it a chance. It sounded promising with two characters holding two life-impacting secrets and I couldn’t wait to uncover those.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I really don’t read enough novels set in London, England. Especially now that I’ve visited there and can picture the scene so much easier. I also love British slang and so I enjoyed that aspect of the writing as well.

–The Premise–

When I stopped reading, I could see that there was potential for this story. While it hadn’t gotten to the suspenseful part yet, I was starting to see where the story was going.

I also like stories with darker vibes and this one was giving them to me. These two have interesting pasts that aren’t so happy and it was obvious what those effects had on their psyche.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Plot Moved Very Slow–

I was at 30% and I could count on one hand the number of times Scott and Emily had interacted with each other. In other words, this is the very definition of a slow burn romance and it just wasn’t grabbing my attention.

I did like the darker premise a lot but it just took a little too long for that element to come into play. I feel like everything would have come to light in the next chapter or two but my interest just wasn’t there.

–The 3rd Person Narration–

This is the biggest reason why I DNF’d this book when I did: I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening.

I’m not sure if it was the third person narration or the writing itself, but I was struggling to visualize what what I was reading and that dampened my reading experience. I think part of it is just my inexperience reading third person POV suspense novels as well (I would say 90% of the books I read are first person).

Will I Finish It?

While I am curious to see how these two handle their secrets so I might try this one again next year.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you enjoy romantic suspense novels and the slow burn romance that often accompanies them, this is a great novel for you!

Read if You Like: slow burn, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: want more romance
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Single Sundays: Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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 Escape from Witchwood Hollow (from Goodreads):
Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

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Author: Jordan Elizabeth
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Magic, Witches, Suspense
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2014
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Jordan Elizabeth!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t usually enjoy witch-based stories, though there have been notable exceptions in the past. But what intrigued me about Escape from Witchwood Hollow was the mystery of Witchwood. Who is the witch? What is her hold on the town of Arnn? What happened in the past?

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the flashbacks to the past. I love layers to my story, and by alternating POVs that’s exactly what happens. It was fun trying to take everything in and put it all together to figure out what is happening in Arnn.

The Plot:

Despite the alternating POVs keeping the plot moving, I did find the book to be terribly slow at the start. Not a lot is happening besides Honoria trying to learn about her new school and town. Which is why I appreciated the other POVs because it gave me something to be interested in while building the story.

And once everything comes together and the mystery comes to light, this book is great. I love when I can’t really figure out the plot until the big reveal and that’s what happened in this book.

The Characters:

I feel like the characters take a bit of a backseat because the forest is really the focus of this story. While I felt like these characters are developed enough to contribute to the story, I didn’t become particularly attached to any of them.

Honoria was a bit of a dud but I warmed up to her as the story continued.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance in this story! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a YA novel where romance isn’t a main focus of the story so I enjoyed the break!

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My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I really liked how everything came together in this story. The slower pace of this novel isn’t my preferred style but this book was a refreshing Young Adult Fantasy nonetheless!

Read if You Like: slower paced stories; lack romance; mystery
Avoid if You: want romance, dislike slower stories

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DNF Review: Two Across by Jeff Bartsch

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 Two Across (from Goodreads):
Highly awkward teenager Stanley Owens meets his match in beautiful, brainy Vera Baxter when they tie for first place in the annual National Spelling Bee-and the two form a bond that will change both of their lives.
Though their mothers have big plans for them-Stanley will become a senator, Vera a mathematics professor-neither wants to follow these pre-determined paths. So Stanley hatches a scheme to marry Vera in a sham wedding for the cash gifts, hoping they will enable him to pursue his one true love: crossword puzzle construction. In enlisting Vera to marry him, though, he neglects one variable: she’s secretly in love with him, which makes their counterfeit ceremony an exercise in misery for her.

Realizing the truth only after she’s moved away and cut him out of her life, Stanley tries to atone for his mistakes and win her back. But he’s unable to find her, until one day he comes across a puzzle whose clues make him think it could only have been created by Vera. Intrigued, he plays along, communicating back to her via his own gridded clues. But will they connect again before it’s all too late?

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Author: Jeff Bartsch
Genre: Adult, Historical (1960s), Women’s Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Two Across at 28% (Chapter 5). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked by Grand Central Publishing if I would be interested in reading Two Across, I was really excited! I love fake/arrangement marriages where they secretly love each other, so this was right up my alley. But I found the premise to be unique as well with the crossword integration.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I didn’t know that this book was set in the 1960s when I picked it up. I thought it was a contemporary romance but was more than a little surprised when I saw the date on the first chapter!

But I really loved this throwback setting. It helps give some social context for why these two agree to a shame of a marriage. By giving those social contexts (like the role of women in society; education, etc), you get a richer experience and see the bigger picture.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

I found this book to be terribly slow. In my opinion, it took far to long to get to the crux of the plot (the fake marriage and its fallout). While I’m all for setting up the scene and situation, I felt like the exposition went on longer than necessary. I got bored and didn’t particularly care for the story once we actually reached the plot.

–The Romance–

Given everything I had learned in the first four chapters, I didn’t understand how Vera was “in love” with Stanley. It seemed to be more implied than actually visible. I wanted that established a little more for me.

Will I Finish It?

I’m a little torn on whether or not I will finish it. I tried pacing out my reading but found that to be unsuccessful. Maybe one day I’ll go back because I am still curious about how all of this will play out.

My Rating: DNF

overall

I think if you going into this book thinking it reads more like Women’s Fiction than a straight romance, you’ll really enjoy this one. I just went in with the wrong expectations and felt let down.

Read if You Like: stories set in the 1960s, women’s fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: Season for Scandal by Kelly Bowen

A Duke To Remember blitz banner_

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 Duke of My Heart (from Goodreads):
Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl—quite inconveniently deceased—tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals.

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected—yet absolutely true.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author; Fave Historical Romance Series
Series: Season for Scandal Trilogy
Author: Kelly Bowen
# of Books: 3 (Duke of my Heart, A Duke to Remember, Between the Devil and the Duke)

There is one novella: #3.5 The Lady in Red

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Regency, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Duke of my Heart); Netgalley–eARC (all others)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Forever asked if I was interested in reading A Duke to Remember, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. While most of the series on my blog are YA or NA, I do LOVE a good historical romance; especially of the regency kind. So while I had never read Duke of my Heart (which was easily rectified thanks to my public library), the synopsis for both novels sounded great and I couldn’t wait to get started with them.

Oh, and Kelly Bowen is Canadian and I love supporting my fellow Canadian authors in any way that I can!

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of a connected romance series is an overarching plot or theme throughout all the novels, even though the leads change for each. Here, we get Victorian era “Olivia Popes” (Scandal TV series) who fix people’s messes like nobody’s business. It give these characters a unique flare that provides a fantastic entertainment base for the readers besides a corset busting romance (which it does have in the right amounts as well).

The Plot:

While these are romances at their core, you do have the mystery/suspense elements. These aspects gave each book a flare for entertaining dramatics that kept me interested and pressing forward. What I also loved was their twists–they weren’t easily predictable which was great. Because I have encountered some of these tropes before and I was worried they were going to be carbon copies—NOT THE CASE AT ALL!

These books were fun, fresh and equally sweet as they were sexy! Simply what I love in a good regency series.

The Characters:

These characters were a blast to read about! I loved their unique quirks and character history. I find in the historical romance genres, characters tend to be crafted from the same mold: a stoic or playboy duke who gets schooled in his ways and a rebellious heroine. And while those serve as the basis for these characters, there is so much more to them! Getting to know each one with their rich histories was fantastic. And you are left with enough teasers about the next set of leads to make you want more.

The Romance:

Sweet yet sexy! Gahhh the romance here is just so well done! While they seem a little insta-connection, these characters compliment each other so well and have such great sexual tension that you jut want them to get together faster! The couple from A Duke to Remember easily made my Fave Couple list.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Between the Devil and the Duke looks like its going to be the most dangerous one yet! I cannot wait to read it and am so sad I have to wait for January 🙁 I want it now!!!

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–January 15, 2017– Book #3: Between the Devil and the Duke

Kelly Bowen as the fantastic ability to make me fall in love with the leads by the end of the first chapter.

These two as leads had me swooning and rooting for them from the start. I loved Angelique right away and found her refreshing as a heroine. She has a big heart and an even bigger brain–and that was what stood out for me. Her intelligence in math and numbers is something you don’t often see in a romance of this genre. Yes, you have those heroines who read books and are smart in their own way; but her mathematics skills was a nice touch for her character.

And Alex…swoon! I was a big fan of his from the previous novels and he did not disappoint. He’s smart, protective (but not overly so) and just a great lead. His partnership with Angelique–both in the romantic and in the practical–is EXACTLY what I want for my couples. Perfection.

The plot itself was fantastic! The suspense never stopped building throughout this novel. And there were so many twists I didn’t see coming! I loved the unpredictability of this story.

Just a well crafted novel from start to finish and a fabulous way to end this AMAZING series!

–November 26, 2017– Book #3.5: The Lady in Red

I was super excited to return to this world when I saw that a new novella was going to be released!

While this story didn’t have the drama of the previous novels, it still had all the charm I love.

These two have a fabulous connection! It starts with a love of painting but grows into a mutual respect for each other’s artistry and attitude. Not only do they make each other better artists but they make each other stronger individuals and watching that develop was great. They make such a wonderful pair!

Having them establish that personal connection makes a solid foundation for a romance to blossom. It isn’t a shallow romance that grows between these two rather a soul-deep love that only makes them stronger. The romance definitely had a slow burn vibe to it which is hard to do in a novella but it’s achieved extremely well here.

I’m not sure what was missing from the book for me to only give it 4 stars. Perhaps it was the fact that it took me a few chapters to get fully emerged into the story? Otherwise, I really enjoyed it!

Series Rating: 5/5

Duke of My Heart 5/5 | A Duke to Remember 5/5 | Between the Devil and the Duke 5/5 | [The Lady in Red 4/5]

overall

Definitely a new favourite for me! I just loved the blend of fun, danger and romance!

Read if You Like: Tessa Dare novels; Suspenseful historical romance
Avoid if You: want a “sweeter” than sexier romance

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Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Dark Artifices Series is a spin-off of the The Mortal Instruments Series

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Author, 2016 Fave
Series: The Dark Artifices Trilogy

This is a spinoff of the The Mortal Instruments Series.

Author: Cassandra Clare
# of Books: 3 (Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows, The Queen of Air and Darkness)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Queen of Air and Darkness will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural, Romance, Mystery
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 8, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have unintentional spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’ve been awaiting Lady Midnight for years. Even before the final Mortal Instruments novel was published, I was excited that Cassandra Clare would be returning to the Shadowhunter world. It was great knowing that these characters and the world that I loved so much would have more to it–that City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess were not going to be the end of my favourite book series. Now, we have a TV show so that would have made me happy after the “flop” of the movie (though I can’t be the only person who actually liked the movie am I?) but a whole new book series, yeah, I was stoked!

I couldn’t wait to meet a new cast of characters and see whatever Clare has in store for them. I knew there would be heartbreak, great plot twists and characters I would love and hate; a new series I could totally invest in because it seems like a really, really long time since I read anything by Cassandra Clare who is one of my all time favourite authors.

How does it compare to the original?

Lady Midnight has all the charms of the original series but with a new and unique cast. I didn’t feel like I was reading a regurgitation of the original series nor did I feel like she recycled characters. While I can definitely draw parallels between the original cast (the Blackburns and Lightwoods have very similar family values I think), I felt like everything was fresh and exciting. You get the romance, the intriguing side characters and many plot twists you are accustom too with the previous instalments.

I also like that Clare doesn’t really on past characters to carry this series either. She could have easily filled the pages with Magnus, Alec, Clary and Jace and people would have gobbled it up and been happy. (Well, I would have for sure). Instead, you get brief mention of where they all are now (this series is 5 years after City of Heavenly Fire) and they aren’t integrated into the plot as necessities. I think that takes a lot of strength as an author to do, especially with a series as successful as The Mortal Instruments was/is, and Clare does a great job.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

That it’s over and I have to wait a whole year for Lord of Shadows?

Honestly, my review is a little biased. I came in with high expectations and every single one was met. It’s really hard for me to write this review without gushing like a rabid fan-girl.

I also hate that is made me cry a little. With The Mortal Instruments, it took me an entire book to really fall in love with the characters. In the Infernal Devices, I think Jem and Will made me cry in the first book but I don’t remember. But in Lady Midnight, my emotions were played like Jem’s violin (meaning very, very well) and I loved all these characters so much and so quickly I don’t really believe it myself.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited to see what happens next! Things are definitely getting twists and feelings are hurt, so I can’t wait to see how everything plays out in Lord of Shadows!

updates

–June 20, 2017– Book #2: Lord of Shadows

I can’t say much without simply fangirling about how much I adore this series.

This was an emotional roller coaster for me because I am so in love with all these characters. The Blackthorns are easily one of my most favourite fictional families ever and the rest of the cast is just sublime.

I will admit, this one lagged a bit in the middle but went full speed ahead at the end!

Series Rating: 5/5

Lady Midnight 5/5 | Lord of Shadows 5/5 | Queen of Air and Darkness TPB

overall

I came into this book with high expectations and every single one was met. It kept me interested and wanting to know more. There were great twists and characters and I will be in a book hangover for quite some time I think.

Read if You Like: like The Mortal Instruments, Urban Fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike long books, multiple POVs

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lady Midnight (from Goodreads):

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

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Series Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

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

Starflight Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Starflight (from Goodreads):

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Must Read Author
Series: Starflight
Author: Melissa Landers
# of Books: 2 (Starflight, Starfall)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – February 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I finished Melissa Lander’s series Alienated last year (though it technically isn’t “finished”–she is writing a new sequel to it), I immediately looked up what else she had written. Alienated was her debut, and it was a strong one at that. It was witty, smart, fun and had its touching moments too. And so, I was eager to read another novel by her.

So I’ve been waiting a YEAR to read Starflight. I tried to keep my expectations low but I was super, super excited to dive into this one.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I love Science Fiction stories though I rarely read them. This world was just so great! It wasn’t overly complicated so it was super easy to follow. I never felt overwhelmed and everything is clearly explained. It was great to seamlessly fall into a story (especially with some of the other books I had been reading at the time).

–The Banter–

Man, Melissa Landers writes the best banter between her characters. They have me laughing and reading with a huge smile on my face. The one liners in this novel are FANTASTIC!

–The Plot–

Normally, I’m not a huge adventure fan but this one had my attention from the get-go. It helps that the cast of characters is so intriguing and you can’t help but love them. Solara was such a smart heroine and I loved how she approached problems and handled them. Doran was also amazing and I easily fell in love with him. But even the side characters were great. They have such interesting pasts that you makes you want to know more.

As for the actual plot, it had just enough to it to keep the plot moving but not so much that it was overwhelming. I loved everything this ragtag group encountered. Their journey reminded me of something that would happen on Cowboy Bebop so I didn’t mind in the slightest.

What I Didn’t Like:

–No Complaints Here–

Honestly, I loved this book! It was everything I wanted it to be. I was worried that this was going to be like Illuminae but it was so different so don’t worry about that at all.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

After reading the synopsis for Starfall, I am super excited. I like that it is a chronological sequel but focuses on two different characters. It’s going to be so much fun!

updates

–July 1, 2017– Book #2: Starfall

Like its predecessor, I was eager to get my hands on this one! The only thing holding me back was the fact that my library didn’t get their copy right away -.-

Regardless, I devoured this book once I finally got it in my hands! Landers has such a fabulous flow to her writing that it’s so easy to get sucked into the story.

I will say that this one wasn’t as “fun” as Starflight because the story isn’t as light hearted. These characters find themselves in a dangerous and precarious situation and the tone of the story reflects that. Of course, you have the great banter between the characters and jabs at some of the crazy predicaments and antics the characters experienced in Starflight so it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Regardless, I really enjoyed this story immensely and it is a great way to wrap up this series!

Though I totally could read 10 volumes of this groups various adventures.

My Rating: 5/5

Starflight 5/5 | Starfall 4/5

overall

If you love fun Science Fiction adventure stories, this is for you! It’s smart, fast-paced and fun. It’s a blast from start to finish. Melissa Landers is one of my new “must read” authors and I highly recommend this one!

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building, witty stories
Avoid if You: dislike adventure, want a more romance focused story

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