Tag «to watch authors»

Series Review: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

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

Dance Off Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Take the Lead, Dance With Me)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press – Swerve!

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 was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

updates

–November 20, 2017– Book #2: Dance With Me

Once again, the character development here is great! I often find in romances that one of the characters is “stronger” (or more put together) than the other when it comes to their lives but in this novel, I liked that they each had their flaws and things to work on. I loved watching both of our leads grow as people and push each other to better things. They make great partners in all aspects which is what I loved watching in this book.

They also make a great romantic pair because they have fantastic chemistry. Sure, the somewhat forbidden element of their relationship adds to the tension but they are both super passionate people and it shows.

The main reason this rating isn’t a 5/5 is that I wanted a little more showing than telling with the romance. It’s always hard to write a romance where the characters have already fallen in love with each other without the readers seeing that because we love watching the initial sparks fly (or at least I do). These two have had a relationship for a long time (one that isn’t really touched on in the previous book either other than its brief mention) and those feelings for each other are already established. As I said above, these two have great chemistry and it shows but often times I felt like I was reading the sequel novel to their story without reading the first because I wanted more of those sparks.

However, I still really enjoyed this book! The character development is truly the highlight of this novel (it’s hard to find a solid character driven romance instead of just a focus on sexy times) and Alexis Daria has succeeded once again!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me 4/5

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
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Series Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

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

Blackhearts Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Blackhearts (from Goodreads):

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2016, New Must Watch Author, Sad to See Go 2017
Author: Nicole Castroman
# of Books: 2 (Blackhearts, Blacksouls)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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:

This book was EVERYWHERE when it first came out. But before I saw it gracing my WordPress Reader feed, I first read a review on Bookishness and Tea in early January and Ava’s review convinced me to read it.

But, I admit, the hyped scared me a lot and so I was a little hesitant to pick it up when it was actually released. Until, I noticed my library’s eCatalogue had one last copy left to read one Tuesday. I figured it was fate and picked up the book despite the numerous other novels I should have been reading.

The Concept / The World:

The best thing I got from Ava’s review is that this story isn’t a “pirate” story like Never Never or the like. I think she explains it best below:

Before you go into this book, know: it is NOT a pirate book. The author has called it a “pre-pirate book”, and that is entirely accurate. The book mostly revolves Teach and Anne’s romance, which means it is slower, but not non-enjoyable. It’s more of a historical fiction than a pirate book.

~Ava @ Bookishness and Tea

It isn’t some swashbuckling pirate novel taking place on the high seas and I think if you are expecting that, you will be disappointed. It’s a story about two people trying to find their place in the world and them finding each other while they do it.

So essentially, it is an historical romance.

The Plot:

Despite the fact that there isn’t that much to the story when it comes to the plot, this story is highly addicting. This story has a “less is more” attitude about it. It doesn’t try to overload you with too much conflict or unnecessary drama. It keeps the story focused on Anne and Teach by making their character development the main focus of the story. And the bits that are added to keep the plot moving do exactly that; they add a little layer at a time to make this story rich for the reader…and super addicting.

The Characters:

Anne and Teach really are the story for this one. On their own, they were both very intriguing characters. They each had a complexity to them that makes them seem so real and full of life. I found their reactions to events were natural and I never felt like their character development was strained as the story progressed. They also had great chemistry together and that really is what drives the story.

The Romance:

The slow burning romance really is the heart of the story (pun soooo intended). Anne and Teach are one of my favourite couples because they matched each other so well! They had their differences but they also had this kindred bond of understanding that draws them together. I thought Teach was so swoon-worthy in some of his actions to show his affections that I honestly melted at times. Totally a new book boyfriend.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I first read this book, the sequel had not been announced. I talk about my reaction in tomorrow’s SERIESous Spoilers but I’m going to brief and say that I am very, very happy there is a sequel. I can’t wait to return to this world and see what happens next!

updates

–June 2, 2017– Book #2: Blacksouls

This was easily one of my most anticipated reads of this year. I had no idea what to expect but I was dying to find out. Which is probably why I spent most of the book feeling like this:

I’ll admit that the first quarter of this book was slower than I wanted it to be. I wasn’t as into it as I had hoped but that quickly changed a few chapters later. I found that latter have of this book to be very captivating and I could’t put it down. It reminded me why I adored that first book so much and that’s exactly what I want in a sequel and grande finale (?).

Series Rating: 5/5

Blackhearts 5/5 | Blacksouls 4.5/5

overall

It really is important to know that this book has nothing to do with pirates! It’s a prequel in every sense of the word. I actually think it is best described as an “origin” story for Blackbeard. But I will be the first to admit, I am loving this YA pirate trend that is starting to happen this year!

Read if You Like: retellings of history, historical romance, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want a pirate focused adventure book

similarreads

  • Victoria and the Viscount by Meg Cabot
  • Never Never by Brianna Shrum

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Single Sundays: He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington

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

Review:

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

Rating: 4/5

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