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Series Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

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

Synopsis for 99 Days (from Goodreads):
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

breakdown

Author: Katie Cotugno
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Coming of Age, Drama, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (9 Days)

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Standalone 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:

Normally, I would stay FAR FAR away from any YA/NA/Adult contemporary romance that primarily deals with a love triangle. I don’t like reading about someone who is torn between two people she loves equally simultaneously. And I LOVE romance stories. There is just something about love triangles that gets on my last nerve and frustrate me to no end. Especially if there is cheating involved.

So it’s still a little shocking to me that I even picked up 99 Days because it is the very definition of an annoying love triangle. One girl. Two brothers. Cheating. Need I say more?

However, the concept of the story being told as “days” instead of chapters interested me and I loved the cover. The reviews I had read were so-so but I was willing to give it a shot and entered into it with an open mind and unsure expectations.

The Concept:

I really loved the execution of using each day as a chapter. I found it cut of the unnecessary prattle and got to the gritty part of each day. It made things seem so much faster as I was reading because I wasn’t getting bored by mundane details.

The Plot:

You know, I got really into the plot of this book! I won’t lie: I really wanted to know what happened that caused Molly to sleep with Patrick’s brother when it seems like she really, truly loved him. Patrick and Molly’s past relationship was shown bit by bit and I found myself addicted to those presented moments. I could have easily read this book in a sitting if I had the time because it flows really nicely.

I would say that the book is split 50/50 between the romance and the coming of age aspect. Molly (and the rest of the characters) have a lot of growing up to do (understatement) and that focus was split equally on which brother she would end up with.

This book was also more realistic than I expected. A lot of the situations Molly finds herself in I could easily say happen at most high schools to a certain degree. I think as teens a lot of us struggled finding the direction we wanted our life to go in; had a hard time balancing our romantic and social lives; and maintaining our relationship with our parents. I also thought the talks about sex and drinking were really realistic as well. And the whole “slut-shaming” bit was super frustrating to read because HELLO, it takes two to tango and Gabe is just as much at fault! Ugh, I hate double standards and I’m glad it’s addressed (though not as much as I would have liked personally) in this book.

The Characters:

Molly is really a make-or-break character. If you don’t like cheating protagonists or characters who aren’t strong in their convictions–stay AWAY from this one! You will really find Molly to be a frustrating character and not enjoy this novel whatsoever.

Which is a shame because I think Molly gets a bad rap in both the book and with readers. She is a young and a confused girl–watching her work out these issues is the whole point of a coming of age story! You can’t expected her to be flawless and selfless or else you wouldn’t have a story!

Does that mean I support the decisions she makes throughout this book? HELL NO! But at the same time I cut her some slack (at least with the stuff in the past) because that’s some tough shit to go through emotionally and I can’t entirely blame her for thinking that she only had those options. And again, DOUBLE STANDARD! It takes two people to do what she did and I wish everyone else would remember that!

So is Molly my favourite heroine ever? Definitely not. Was she selfish? To a certain extent regarding certain things, yes. Did I find her frustrating to read about? Sometimes. But I tried my best to reserve judgement as I watched her try to work on her issues. She’s in a tough spot and doing the best she can, even if I don’t agree with how she handles things.

The rest of the characters were your typical contemporary fodder. I wouldn’t say that I loved any characters in particular but they suited the story.

The Romance:

If I put the cheating aside, I really didn’t mind how the romance was done in this book. If I put the cheating back in, I feel a little icky but I’ll live.

One of the reasons I find love triangles to be so frustrating is that sometimes my “team” (aka the guy I am rooting for) doesn’t have a shot in hell at being with the girl in the end when I really want him to be. But with this one, I flopped between who I wanted to see with Molly at the end.

So I guess that I can’t entirely blame Molly for being stuck between the two brothers because they sure don’t make it easy! They both know how to manipulate her by saying and doing the right thing at the right time. However, I really didn’t fall for any of their charms and by the end, I was just hoping she would kick both of them to the curb–girl power!

But like I said earlier in my review, I thought the romance balanced nicely with Molly coming to grips about who she is as a person and how much she needs to grow up.

updates

–September 8, 2018– Book #2: 9 Days and 9 Nights

I never thought this story would get a sequel–and I’ll admit that I was ok with how things wrapped up at the end of 99 Days. But of course, my curiosity would not be sated until I found out what was next for Molly.

I enjoyed the one a lot when I listened to the audio. I think listening to the audio version and hearing Molly’s conflict and emotions through her voice helped me understand her dilemmas a lot and perhaps be more patient or empathetic to her situation.

I’m not sure if the character development was good or bad. I feel like we did see Molly grow up a bit by the end so I suppose that means it is there. But I thought the content in the middle seemed overly repetitive.

Overall: for a sequel I never thought I needed, I enjoyed this little bit of closure on Molly’s life for what it was.

My Rating: 3.5/5

99 Days 3.5/5 | 9 Days and 9 Nights 3.5/5

overall

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It had a great reading flow to it and I found myself hooked into the simple story. However, if you don’t think you can read this book with an open mind (especially with cheating) or really can’t stand indecisive heroines, stay away!

Read if You Like: love triangles, coming of age romances, teenaged drama
Avoid if You: don’t like cheating characters, love triangles

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Series Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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 Just One Day (from Goodreads):
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

breakdown

Series: Just One Day Series
Author: Gayle Forman
# of Books: 2 (Just One Day, Just One Year)

There is a followup novella to the previous books called: Just One Night

Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Coming of Age, Travel, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Adventure, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Just One Day); Alternating (Just One Year)
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

What I Expected / Why I Picked It Up:

While Gayle Forman’s most well known novel, If I Stay, isn’t my particular cup of tea, I’ve heard good things and decided to read this series instead.

The Concept:

I went into Just One Day thinking it was going to be a book that focused on “just one day”. So I was braced to emerge myself into a novel filled with love-at-first sight moments and the many sights in Paris. But that isn’t what I got.

Instead, Just One Day–and its sequel/companion novel, Just One Year–focuses on the growth of the respective characters (Allyson in Just One Day and Willem in Just One Year). Which is fine and dandy–just not what I was expecting.

The Plot:

This series is really about finding yourself–and what I really like is that each character works independently to accomplish this (ie they don’t become co-dependent “I can’t live without him/her” type of people). It gets a little dull at times because the journey it takes to reach this growth isn’t always a happy one. (I found it was a little blah during the middle of Just One Day because of this–it was a little too long for my tastes whereas Just One Year was the perfect length by being 50 pages shorter).

It’s a good blend of “fantasy” vs realistic fiction.  “Fantasy” isn’t really the right word–what I’m trying to say is that this series takes an unrealistic situation (I don’t know too many people who would go off to Paris with a random stranger for the day) and makes it realistic by having two characters learn from that situation in a truly real way. Perhaps that is the message of the series: seize every opportunity and don’t be afraid to make that leap that may seem like “fantasy” to the real world because you may grow from it. (Enough philosophical thoughts for this review).

The Characters:

These books are essentially about that one life defining moment many young 20-somethings will find themselves in and I think a lot of readers can identify to this and with these characters. I think the vast majority of us have been in Allyson’s shoes trying to bridge that gap between our teens and adulthood and managing our relationships with our parents as we do so. The same can be said for Willem’s book.

Anyone who has been to the places that are described in the book will have a lot of fun reading about them. I found that the tours around each place were just as interesting as the actual story. I liked Just One Year a bit more because I’ve never been to any of the places described in the book and I found Willem’s personal story more interesting.

The Novella–Just One Night:

All I can say is thank goodness for the enovella, Just One Night. I was a little peeved at the abrupt ending of Just One Year (though I understand why it ended the way it did) so I’m glad to get some closure with the novella. Make sure you have it on hand right away when you finish Just One Year 😉

Series Rating: 4/5

Just One Day 4/5 | Just One Year 4/5| [Just One Night 5/5]

overall

If Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill and Finding It by Cora Carmack had a child together, it would be this series. While the romance plays a big role in the grand scheme of things, this series is really about finding the true you given the circumstances life deals you and the journey to take to get there. Fans of coming of age novels and/or travel novels will love this.

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Single Sundays: Crazy, Undercover, Love by Nikki Moore

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 Crazy, Undercover, Love (from Goodreads):
Uber-feisty career girl Charley Caswell-Wright travels to Barcelona for a weekend assignment as PA to the gorgeous Alex Demetrio, CEO of Demetrio International.

But she’s there under entirely false pretenses: to get her life back on track. Having lost the job she worked so hard to earn, she’s determined not to give it up so easily, especially when she didn’t deserve to lose it in the first place.

Mr Dreamy CEO is her only chance of clawing back her career – and her reputation. So she has to keep things strictly professional… boy, is she in trouble!

Review:

This book was just what I needed–a fun yet heartwarming romance novel that put a smile on my face as I was reading and when I finished.

It was refreshing to read a story with a strong heroine and a CEO who doesn’t have some kinky sexy obsession or alpha male tendencies. I get that reading is fiction so it’s nice to lose yourself to a fantasy–but every once and a while it’s nice to read about some down to earth characters (all things considered).

Although this book takes places over a weekend, I really liked the relationship that develops between Alex and Charley. It felt genuine to me and wasn’t based on just their physical attraction to each other. And their conversations weren’t laced with innuendos or useless prattle but interesting topics. But, the sexual tension is right there from the start so I never felt like it was lacking in any means!

The reason Charley is in Barcelona is because she lost her job and wants it back–and this adds an interesting spin to the book. I really liked this plotline and it added a more serious tone to the book which kept things a little more interesting though the focus is mostly on the romance. But be warned if you are hoping to read more about the city of Barcelona, there really is only one chapter where the city is toured so not much is described if that is what you are looking forward to the most.

While this book seems straight-forward and most readers will probably have a good idea on where everything is headed before you even start the book, there were some good plot twists along the way that made everything a little more interesting and made the book that much more enjoyable.

Conclusion:

If you want a romance that is just a straight, “vanilla” romance that is quick and entertaining, this is it. Just a great, light hearted read that is delivered well and is simply charming to read.

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit, Brit Lit, Travel, Workplace Romance
Recommended for: 26+ women
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: first person
Similar Reads: Worth the Scandal by Karen Erickson (Worth it Series #1)

Series Review: Kiwi Brides by Alexia Praks

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

His Hired Girlfriend by Alexia Praks | Kiwi Brides Series

Other books in the series:
 

Series: Kiwi Brides
Author: Alexia Praks
# of Books: 2 (His Hired Girlfriend, Highland Kiss, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, A Secret Admirer has yet to be published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated as a DNF series review.**

I got His Hired Girlfriend for free on Amazon and decided to read it right away because it sounded like a lot of fun. While I’m used to reading books about rich men hiring average girls to be their girlfriends I’ve never read one where the guy pretends to be gay so that really interested me.

I think the biggest problem I had with this book is that it is told in the present tense BUT in third person. I’ve never read a book like that before so it really took some getting used to. Unfortunately, I think the book suffered from it because it just gave me the impression that the writing was scattered. One minute we would be getting Alex’s thoughts and then in the next two lines it would be Jay’s. It just confused me more than anything so I couldn’t get into the story as much as I wanted.

When we first met Alex, I really liked her. Same with Jay. But I just felt like their character development wasn’t the smoothest and they got a little irritating. For example, Alex just seemed really dim-witted about certain things and that frustrated me at times. She also never seemed consistent in her convictions. In one minute she was shy to be around Jay with clothes on and in the next she has no problem with him seeing her in her underwear. It just didn’t make sense to me.

The plot itself is cliché but I think that is pretty much expected so that didn’t bother me too much. This book reminded me of watching a soap opera because things are a little over the top at times and it follows a predictable path. I found with the way that this book was written it made for following the plot a little confusing at times. I’m also really confused as to why Jay (who is American) was in Sydney, Australia with his girlfriend and best friend at the start of the novel for him and his girlfriend’s anniversary–like to me that screams warning bells in my head.

Unlike other books, we don’t really get introduced to the character(s) in the next books. Briefly we meet Ruby, heroine of Highland Kiss, who discusses her impending trip abroad but not enough for me to really want to read her story. So I will be passing on the rest of the series.

concEND

Overall:

This book was disappointing in the sense that it could have been a lot more entertaining if the writing style was different and the characters were better developed. For a free read, I didn’t mind so much but I would have been very disappointed if I paid for it and this is what I got.

Rating: 2/5

Similar Reads: Faking it to Making It by Ally Blake and Break by Vanessa Waltz

Synopsis for His Hired Girlfriend (from Goodreads):
Family oriented Alexandra Stewart is in desperate need of money for her dad’s heart surgery. She is stoked when Jayden McCartney unexpectedly barges in to her life and offers to help. On ONE condition. She must pretend to be his girlfriend. One look at Jay tells her to run in the opposite direction. He is too good looking, too successful, and too rich for her liking. When she is told Jay is gay; however, she feels sorry for him and, thinking that she’d kill two birds with one stone, agrees to the proposal. Now the only problem is how does she prevent herself from falling madly in love with Jay? When the way he looks at her makes her heart tremble and his touches set her body on fire?

Hot, recently single Jayden McCartney has to bring his girlfriend to his sister’s wedding in order to stop the matchmaking his grandmother has planned for him. Not in the mood for dating or a new woman after the discovery of his cheating ex, he hires a perfect candidate as his girlfriend in Alexandra Stewart. Alex, however, thinks he’s crazy and only when he commits a sinful lie that would damned his manhood forever does she agree to help. He convinces her that he is gay and that the possibility of his family finding out would ruin them financially and socially. Now Jay has to pretend to be batting for the other team. This is no easy task where the geeky turn sexy Alex is concerned because he wants her in his bed, and what Jay wants, he gets.

Single Sundays: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Synopsis for Meant to Be (from Goodreads.com):
Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Review:

I went into this book not sure what to expect. I’m right on that cusp of being too old to read high school-er aged character books but not too old that I probably shouldn’t be reading them. I knew it would either be really awesome or just fall flat. Turns out, it was really awesome!

This book was a lot of fun! I laughed, I sighed, smacked my head in disbelief and just enjoyed every minute reading it. While predictable, there are a few little twists along the way that stop its seemingly clear and set path.

I think I liked this book so much because I can relate to Julia in a lot of ways. Certainly not in the pining for a guy she hasn’t talked to in ages but in not breaking the rules and the like. But she really grows up as you read and let’s out a side of her I don’t think she knew she had.

There’s not much else to say without giving it all away but a super fun read nonetheless. I went abroad when I was in high school for a class trip and this book brought back a lot of memories for me which probably added to my experience (but definitely not required to read!). Now I really want to go to London…

Conclusion:

Don’t go into this book taking it to seriously or you won’t enjoy it. It’s just a fun read about enjoying your time as a teenager and seeing life and love from a different perspective . If you don’t like high school romances and often immature/goofy heroes, avoid this book! Otherwise, try it out!

Rating: 5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Travel
Recommended for: 16+
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Top Stand-alone of 2013
Similar Reads: Only for You by Beverley Kendall (Unforgettable You #1)

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