Tag «twins»

Series Review: English by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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 Dirty English (from Goodreads):
A scarred fighter.
A girl with rules.
One night of unbridled passion.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Bennett: she’s smart as a whip, always in control, and lives by a set of carefully crafted rules. She’s learned the hard way that people you love the most always hurt you in the end.

But then she meets Declan Blay, the new neighbor at her apartment complex.

A tattooed British street fighter, he’s the campus bad boy she’s supposed to avoid, but when he saves her from a frat party gone bad, all her rules about sex and love fly out the window.

She gives him one night of unbridled passion, but he longs for more.

With only a cardboard-thin wall separating their bedrooms, he dreams of possessing the vulnerable girl next door forever.

One night. Two damaged hearts. The passion of a lifetime.

*A modern love story inspired by Pride and Prejudice*

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave New Adult 2016
Series: English
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 2 (Dirty English, Filthy English)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2015 – July 2016
Source & Format: Kindle/Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought Dirty English when I it popped up on the “Hot New Releases” in the Kindle Store one day. Like most, I’m a sucker for a good British (bad) boy and this one looked promising. The reviews were mostly positive and I was really curious to see how it was inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

The Concept:

Each novel is inspired by a famous love story. Dirty English is Pride and Prejudice while Filthy English is Romeo and Juliet. As someone who enjoys both of those classics, it was a lot of fun for me to try and see the parallels in each novel. But by no means do you have to be overly familiar with either to enjoy these works.

The Plot:

I like that these novels are just as much a romance story as they are a coming of age. All these characters have their flaws and they try their best to navigate them as they fall in love. Plus, there’s some great drama thrown in that isn’t unnecessary, rather it is entertaining and adds to the overall story.

These novels also had me laughing out loud as I read them (Dirty English more so). I just had fun with these!

I have to say though that Filthy English seemed rushed at the ending. I wanted a little more to it but overall I still enjoyed the story.

The Characters:

Do Declan and Dax actually exist somewhere? Please, I need to know! I loved these two. While I know Madden-Mills likes to write alpha males, I didn’t find these two to be over the top with their male-dominating tendencies.

I also liked their leading ladies. They were strong females who had tremendous growth as they overcame their pasts and issues.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was stronger in Dirty English because it had a little more substance to it. It was really easy to see why these two would be drawn to each other besides physical attraction. In other words, it mirrors Pride and Prejudice very well.

Filthy English though gets a bit of hit against it because it is inspired by Romeo and Juliet–the ultimate love at first sight story. Why they liked each other–besides fantastic sex–took a longer time to surface I thought. I still liked them together, I just wanted a little more and I was a little underwhelmed by their story.

Series Rating: 4/5

Dirty English 5/5 | Filthy English 3/5

overall

If you want fun but touching New Adult contemporary romance check these two out! Did I mention they have British “bad” boys with hearts of gold? If that doesn’t convince you…

Read if You Like: stories inspired by classics, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: dislike new adult contemporary

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Series Review: Sheridan Hall by Jessica Calla

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

Sheridan Hall Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for She Laughs in Pink (from Goodreads):

Four years after her twin is murdered, Juliet Anderson still struggles with guilt, her parents, and her relationships. Two things keep her from falling into a deep, dark place—dancing and her best friend, Ben. So when Ben decides to play football for New Jersey University, Juliet doesn’t hesitate. She follows. Finally away from her past, there is nothing to stand in the way. Juliet will win Ben’s heart.

Then she meets Ben’s roommate, Chase.

On probation and hell-bent on adhering to a “new life plan,” aspiring artist Chase leaves his New York City home for New Jersey University and meets Juliet before even stepping foot on campus. For him, their connection is instant. She’s the most vibrant girl he’s ever seen. Her colors explode on his canvas, and he’s never been more inspired in his life.

Too bad she’s madly in love with his seemingly perfect, good guy roommate.

breakdown

Series: Sheridan Hall
Author: Jessica Calla
# of Books: 3 (She Laughs in Pink, She Runs Away, She Wants it All)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Love Triangles, College, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It Review It–eARC

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thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

She Laughs in Pink was the Read It Review It book for the month of June in my New Adult Book Club on Goodreads. While the hint of a love triangle in the synopsis frightened me, I thought it would go the way of Juliet realizing Ben is better as a friend and never really initiating anything. Juliet’s backstory was also really intriguing and I wanted to delve into that deeper.

So I prepared myself for a love triangle but had hope for the best before I picked up this book.

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt like Chase and Juliet had great chemistry, right from the start. While their romance is definitely insta-love on the part of Chase, they had this passion to their relationship that made you swoon in romantic appreciation. Unfortunately, I feel like their chemistry only got them so far, but initially I really enjoyed it.

–Sense of Community–

I really liked the idea of a close knit residence floor that is presented here. I find a lot of college New Adult romances take place in the last year when people are in their own apartments or they only have that shitty, assigned roommate in their first year residence (who promptly gets ignored as the romance develops elsewhere). It was a neat approach that really added to this story in an unexpectedly cool way.

–Ben Knows About Juliet’s Feelings; And Acknowledges Them!?!–

What really surprised me was that early on, Ben tells Juliet “no” when it comes to becoming more. Sure, he isn’t tactful about it; but it definitely was refreshing to have a male BFF who isn’t totally oblivious to the feelings his “gorgeous” female BFF has for him. I get tired of the ignorant BFF role after awhile.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Misleading Synopsis–

Perhaps it was simply a matter of me reading too much into things (something I do often) or maybe it was me just misreading the synopsis (a regular occurrence) but the plot wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. I’ll give you some examples:

“Four years after her twin is murdered”

This doesn’t get revealed until later on so it felt a little spoilery. All you know is Juliet’s twin died in high school and she feels responsible for it at the start of the novel. I feel like I would have had more sympathy not knowing she was murdered before I started the novel.

“Juliet will win Ben’s heart.”

I thought there would be more effort on Juliet’s part to get this set in motion besides her stating it numerous times.

” in love with his seemingly perfect”

That word “seemingly” implies that Ben isn’t perfect–and sure, Chase doesn’t know his new roommate before he insta-loves Juliet, but I think that statement gave me hope that Ben would be a total douche of a person and Chase would set Juliet right…and that wasn’t really the case.

–The “Seeing” Colours–

People with synesthesia often see letters or numbers as colours. I was aware of this phenomenon before I started reading but didn’t expect Chase to have something similar. The idea that he sees colours around people makes sense, he is an artist after all and he gets inspired by those around him. But I’m not sure I like how it was presented as an almost “psychic” ability. It was cool but I’m not sure I like it in my contemporary romances…

–Too Many Plots/Storylines–

I didn’t love the execution of the novel. I feel like the attempt to give these characters depth overwhelmed their development. Things definitely felt rushed at the end as all this somewhat random bits were thrown at these characters when nothing really happened in the earlier part of the novel. I like a lot going on in my novel but this was overwhelming and definitely delivered too late into the story for me to really care.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I hummed and hawed over whether or not I would pick up the next book. I read the synopsis and wasn’t immediately sucked in. Perhaps it if was another couple, I would have considered it but I’m just not feeling these characters at all.

My Rating: 2.5/5

She Laughs in Pink 2.5/5 | She Runs Away N/A  | She Wants it All N/A

overall

While I liked the concept for the rest of the series, the execution was just too much, too late. Perhaps if this series started with a different couple, I would feel differently but these two did not win me over.

Read if You Like: slower stories, love triangles, drama
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, stubborn heroines, cheating

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Single Sundays: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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 Fangirl (from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

breakdown

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 30, 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you don’t follow any YA blogs, I’ll let you know that there are two books that always get high praise: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and basically anything by Rainbow Rowell–but more often than not, it’s Fangirl.

So, I was curious and just had to pick up this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was up for anything and I tried to not let the numerous positive reviews cloud my judgement as I read.

The Plot:

This is probably one of the greatest examples of a coming of age story in recent times. This story is all about Cath adjusting to the many changes in her life: college, separation from her twin sister, navigating her relationships with her parents and basically anything that a young adult has to go through. Oh, and don’t forget first love!

What makes this story great is that everyone can relate to Cath in some way. I think the most obvious one is going to college but we all can relate in some indirect way. Sure, I don’t have a twin but I sympathized with the evolving sibling relationship–and that relationship could just as easily be with your BFF. I think lots of bloggers can relate to Cath’s need to write fanfiction. I know there were times in my undergraduate career where I told myself “just finish this assignment and then you can write your book reviews” just like Cath.

And the fandom part…I think we’ve all been there about something in our lives.

This is a slow journey watching Cath evolve but it touches on so many different aspects that it keeps the pace steady and true. While it was long for my personal tastes, I thought it was very thorough and well-balanced. Nothing is resolved immediately so in that respect, I found it to be very realistic in how the characters react and deal with various issues.

The Characters:

Cath can be a very hard character to like. I’m a very stubborn person so I find it hard to read about other stubborn characters. Cath is the very definition of stubborn and I think that can be off-putting to a lot of readers. She can make it hard to root for her when she says or acts a certain way when she knows it’s wrong. But I think that’s what makes this book so great; you watch Cath evolve and grow up right before your eyes. Does that make it very easy to read all the time? Of course not! But I can appreciate the journey.

I really liked all the characters in this book. They were really close to being clichés but they just had that little something that kept them grounded in reality. I think we all have these people in our lives to some degree which again, adds to the realistic element of this story because it is very character driven.

The Romance:

Yeah, that didn’t go the way I expected! I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the romance. I thought it was going to play a minor role in the story but it definitely had a larger role than I anticipated–not that it was a bad thing. I thought it was really well developed and I feel like it contributed in a very beneficial way to the plot.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I didn’t fall in love with this book. One part is that I’m not the biggest coming of age YA fan (which is weird because I love New Adult and that’s pretty much coming of age all the time) and I think part of the reason is because it is so hyped up. I was expecting this book to blow me away and put other coming to age novels to shame…and I’ll admit, it was great, but I just never got sucked into it. It just didn’t WOW me.

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about everyday relationships
Avoid if You: don’t like stubborn characters, want a more romance driven novel

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Single Sundays: No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace

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 No One Needs to Know (from Goodreads):
Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. A call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoey sees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

Review:

Yet again, this was a random pick from my library after browsing the new books. Normally, when I see books with 3 people on the cover, tangled in some sort of embrace, I avoid them at all costs because they tend to only mean one thing: love triangles–my least favourite plot device in the history of romance novels. But what grabbed my attention with No One Needs to Know is that instead of the guy holding both girls hands, the two girls are holding hands behind the guy’s back. Interesting.

I think it is fairly obvious what this book is about after you read the synopsis and despite the promise of a love triangle, I decided to give it a shot because this isn’t your everyday love triangle in a novel–which is a whole other topic for a whole other time.

This book was a really cute and quick read. The love triangle part never really bothered me because I knew how it was going to end within the first few chapters. But that really wasn’t a bad thing because I liked watching the characters develop to reach that ending together.

And while the main focus on the novel might be on the girls’ relationship with each other, it also focuses on growing up to be your own person and sibling relationships as you grow up. I think anyone with a sibling of the opposite gender who is close to their age can agree that your relationship dynamic changes when your in high school and this book deals with that.

What stopped me from giving this book a higher rating was that it was a little too simple for me. Coming of Age novels aren’t my favourite genre because I find they lack alternate plotlines besides character development and I like my books to have a good mix of both. Overall, I think this book is realistic but I wish it delved into some of the more thought-provoking topics that it could have given its subject matter. However, I love the message that it sends: be yourself no matter who you are, how much money you have or who you love because people will love you regardless.

Conclusion:

Although the book didn’t wow me per say, it did manage to keep my attention. It’s a cute quick read that fans of Young Adult coming of age novels will enjoy!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Perhaps

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Coming Out, Romance,
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Similar Reads:

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
  • Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

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Series Review: Age of Legends by Kelley Armstrong

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

Age of Legends Series

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Canadian Author, Sad to See Go 2016
Series: Age of Legends Trilogy
Author: Kelley Armstrong
# of Books: 3 (Sea of Shadows, Empire of Night, Forests of Ruin)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Suspense, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

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.**

If you ever read the biography bit on Kelley Armstrong, you will see that she “lives in rural Ontario”. I am from that same part of Ontario (just a town over) so I always make an effort to read her works. I’ve loved her other two teen series, The Darkest Powers and the Darkness Rising, so I  was excited to see where this series was going to go–and where it does is nowhere near her previous works.

When I was reading Sea of Shadows I kept thinking about the Red Riding Hood (2011) movie with Amanda Seyfried. The world that the book is set in reminded me so much about that world in the movie: a dark, fantasy-creature-driven place. It really has no other connections to the movie in anyway except maybe the really good twist at the end.

I haven’t read anything like Sea of Shadows in a really long time (maybe ever). Perhaps it’s because I read a lot of dystopian and New Adult reads and not a lot of high fantasy novels; but I really enjoy fantasy novels and I think this book helped me remember that.

However, I didn’t love the book; and I would say that until the last 5 chapters or so I was going to give this book a flat 3. The book kind of goes through high and low points. Some parts where really interesting, but then things would get a little slow. Part of the reason was that the POV would switch to the other sister right when something exciting was happening and wouldn’t go back until 3-5 chapters later. And when you did finally get back there, the scene you expect to unfold is neatly summarized into two sentences (very disappointing). The other problem is what the reader expects to read about after they have read the synopsis for the book. The girls spend more time in the village than they do on the journey to find each other. So if you are expecting a mostly adventure novel in that sense you will be disappointed.

You will also be disappointed if you are expecting a great love story. Romance is really not the focus of this book at all. Instead the focus is on the girls becoming confident in their own individual abilities and trying to figure out what the hell happened to their village. I personally didn’t have a problem with the leads as they are what I expected when I read that there were two twin girls (one is super confident, the other is not, etc). But, I do think some people might find them a tad dull in that respect (though I have to say they really grow throughout the novel as characters).

The way it ends has really captured my attention and I’m looking forward to what is in-store next for the twins.

updates

–July 4, 2015– Book 2: Empire of Night

WOW! This book was amazing! Even if I wasn’t in a reading slump, I would have been addicted to this story! And unlike when I read the first novel, I’ve been devouring high fantasy novels so this one had some stiff standards to uphold. Everything is turned up in this sequel: the romance, the action, the politics, the suspense. Even the writing sequence improved. Every time you get a cliffhanger when the POV changes, it picks up right back where you left it–and thank goodness for that! This book truly blew me away and is exactly what I expect in a Kelley Armstrong novel!

I simply cannot wait to see what happens in the grand finale because it is going to be epic!

–June 17, 2016– Book 3: Forest of Ruin

This finale was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and it did NOT disappoint!

I was hooked from the start right through to the end. Everything that had been amped up from the previous novel kept pace and continued to blow me away. From the lore to the politics to the action to the romance–it’s all on point here and fans of the series will love this grande finale. It was a wild ride thanks to all the plot developments and their awesome twists. I loved the unpredictability this novel had and it made it that much more enjoyable to me.

It was just a fantastic way to end this series and made me SO GLAD that I didn’t drop it after the slower start that was Sea of Shadows 🙂

 

My Rating: 5/5

Sea of Shadows 4/5 | Empire of Night 5/5 | Forest of Ruin 5/5

overall

If you want a high fantasy novel that focuses more on the supernatural/paranormal aspects of fantasy, this is a great series! For fans of Armstrong’s other works (Adult or Young Adult) this is completely different though it definite has all the same writing touches you expect. But don’t let the slower pace of the first novel deter you from picking up the sequel: because the follow-up truly takes things to the next level!

Read if You Like: world-building, supernatural/paranormal fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slower starts, want more romance

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Synopsis for Sea of Shadows (from Goodreads):
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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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)