Tag «Young Adult»

ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Boys on the Brink
Author: Jamie Deacon
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order:  Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, LGBT, MM Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had tremendous luck with gay romances; specifically, adult sport ones. So when Jamie asked me to read his newest YA sports novella, it just seemed like an obvious “yes” to me.

The Plot:

I always worry when I pick up a novella that things will seemed rushed or underdeveloped; but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here! This was a quick read but one that packs a lot of punch and love into it.

And it is also so genuine! I could easily see this story happening in real life and I think that’s part of the charm of it. The problems and insecurities these characters have could happen to anyone and are likely happening right now. It’s just a beautiful story that doesn’t rely on overdramatic plot devices to be an entertaining read.

The Characters:

I loved watching Davey become confident in himself. I think his story is one many people (boys and girls, regardless of sexual orientation) can relate to–finding the confidence in who you truly are. He transforms before your eyes and I always appreciate that in my stories.

Adam is this great counterpart to Davey’s story in so many ways. He isn’t perfect–he too has had some bumps along the way–but I think that makes this story all that more charming by showing off those all too human qualities. It would have been great to get his POV as well but I learned enough about his through Davey to be satisfied with his character.

The Romance:

Simply put: adorable! I loved the slow burning tension this one had! It starts as a friendship and slowly becomes more. It was the perfect vessel to get the point of the story across.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This is the only story I’ve read in the series, but it has definitely impressed me so I can’t wait to further explore this series!

My Rating: 4/5

Caught Inside N/A | [Defensive Play 4/5]

overall
A sweet, realistic read that will no doubt charm your heart!

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, LGBT stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.

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Jamie Deacon

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

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Single Sundays: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

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 When It’s Real (from Goodreads):

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read of 2018, Canadian Author
Author: Erin Watt (pen name of Elle Kennedy & Jen Frederick)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library (Hoopla)–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This novel was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. Not only is it written by a duo of authors I adore but it also has some of my favourite romance tropes. Fake relationship; in love with a celebrity; hate to love you; in love with a musician. In fact, I was so scared that I would pick up this book and end up disappointed that I kept putting it off. Which is why I made it a selection for my 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge for 2018. I needed to read this book and I was going to read it sooner than later.

The Plot:

Have you ever wanted a book not to end? Seriously, I could have followed these two until they day they die. The story just flowed so effortlessly from start to finish and I found myself getting caught up in it all.

I think the best part of this novel is that nothing seems rushed. The romance has a slow burn vibe to it so that continues to build and rope you in. But in the meantime, you get to focus on Vaughn and Oakley growing as characters, tackling their everyday (and as a result of their arrangement) problems. Everything just had a great balance for me.

The Characters:

These two easily became new favourite characters! They are written extremely well; I never felt like they were wish-washy in their convictions or actions. And I think that is the result of some great character development. The characters we get at the start of the book are not who we end the book with–only they are because you have watched these two evolve before your eyes.

And the rest of the cast is superb! They truly support Oakley and Vaughn and add to this story in a great way.

The Romance:

SWOON! Seriously, it’s a wonder I didn’t hurt anyone while listening (and swooning) to this audiobook as I drove. Oakley stole my heart and I loved watching Vaughn unravel his character. Their banter at the start of the book immediately sold me on their relationship and I couldn’t get enough of them as the story progressed.

I do have one issue with the romance and I put it in the spoiler box (even though one aspect is something revealed in the first three chapters) but I don’t like to do spoilers without warning.

My Little Complaint

One thing that really bothered me in the middle of the book was Oakley’s attitude that “he could get any girl he wanted” and that Vaughn should be “honoured” that he was even thinking about her. This attitude really got on my nerves because I felt like Vaughn was trading her toxic relationship with W (who kept reminding her that should be grateful he wasn’t pressuring her for sex when he could get it from anyone) for another one with Oakley. Thankfully, I felt like Oakley matured out of this attitude within the next few chapters.

[collapse]

My Audiobook Experience:

I am SO SO SO happy I (found and) listened to this as an audiobook! The narrators (Caitlin Kelly and Teddy Hamilton) were so amazing! I seriously found two new favourite narrators. They truly brought these characters to life for me. I felt every range of emotion in this book and I think it was amplified thanks to their stellar performance.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I don’t say this very often (especially with contemporary romances) but I definitely plan on rereading this book in the years to come. I just loved the characters, the romance and the story!

Read if You Like: fake relationships, swoon-worthy heroes, jaded celebrity hero
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary romances

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Series Review: Reverie by Monica Murphy

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 His Reverie (from Goodreads):

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Not.
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (His Reverie, Her Destiny)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read pretty much anything by Monica Murphy so it’s no surprise that I had the first book sitting on my Kobo shortly after its release. And like many books I own, I don’t get around to them until years later (thought it’s no fault of their own).

I was eager to start this forbidden “New Adult” love story and I made sure to pick up the sequel from my library as my card was expiring to binge read the series.

The Concept:

First and foremost, I would classify this story as Young Adult and not necessarily “New Adult”. To me, “New Adult” stories take place the summer after high school to the first year after graduating college. These characters are still in high school and to me, it reads like your more dramatic YA contemporaries.

One thing I enjoyed about His Reverie is that it is mostly told through Nick’s POV with the occasional diary entry from Reverie along the way. It’s not often that you get a romance novel told solely (or close to) from the male POV so I enjoyed that fresh take.

The Plot:

This story centers itself on a very dramatic first love. Monica Murphy has a knack for writing dramatic YA and it definitely shows in this series. It reads almost like a soap opera but the characters are pretty grounded so it isn’t as over the top as you expect.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Nick is trying to do his best given the crappy hand life has dealt him but his heart is in the right place. You really want to root for him after all the stuff he has gone through.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure about Reverie at the start. I’m not always the biggest fan of the “innocent” heroine and their accompanying naivety but she really grew on me as the series progressed. I think she has the best character development in the series of the two.

The Romance:

If you enjoy stories about all consuming first loves, this is one for you! I thought these two were cute together but I needed to see more substance to their relationship. To me, they are in lust not love for a majority of His Reverie. It’s a very insta-love connection, one that is mostly based in attractiveness and this unspoken connection. Later on in the book it is implied that they talk and bond over other things but I felt like their feelings developed much too fast for me to be completely convinced it’s true love.

Series Rating: 3/5

His Reverie 3/5 | Her Destiny 3/5

overall

If you like lots of drama in your YA contemporaries and stories about first loves, this is a great (and shorter) series to pick up!

Read if You Like: stories about first love, lots of drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: dislike lots of drama

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Fresh Fridays: I, Guinevere (Mythic Maids #1) by C K Brooke

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

Mythic Maidens Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for I, Guinevere (from Goodreads):

If you think you know the story of King Arthur and his mythical sword, think again. Your legends have it wrong. Here’s the truth: I was never married to Arthur, and he wasn’t a king. Because Arthur never pulled that sword out of the stone. I did.
I, Guinevere.

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword in a stone appears in the churchyard. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives it a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: she is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was born royalty. Now, between apprenticing the eccentric wizard, Merlyn; swordplay lessons with an abrasive—albeit, attractive—boy named Lance; and clandestine, magical meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by the barbarous Saxyns and visitations from mysterious dark forces continually warn that she may be in over her head. Can Guinevere defend the kingdom from the darkness and deception that threaten to seize it? Despite her doubts and the sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

From the unstoppable pen of C.K. Brooke comes a fresh and unforgettable new retelling seeped in Arthurian mythology. Queen Guinevere has her own tale to share, and it’s nothing like what you thought! Experience the magic and myth of Camylot, Avalon, Merlyn, and Exkalibur like never before as, in the vein of Brooke’s award-winning SECRETS OF ARTEMIS, this legendary maiden of lore recounts her side of the story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Mythic Maidens
Author: C K Brooke
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 14, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last few years, I’ve really become a fan of C K Brooke’s work. She writes some really intriguing, entertaining stories that I’ve had a hard time putting down. So when I was asked to read her new Arthurian Legend based novella, I was so there! I love anything and everything to do with King Arthur (I’ve seen the musical Camelot at least 3 times) so I couldn’t wait to see what unique spin she’d give Guinevere.

What I Liked:

–I Saw Guinevere in a New Light–

Guinevere is one of those legendary characters that we all have a preconceived notion of–and I know for me, I have a not so favourable one. (Unless we are talking about Gwen from the TV show Merlin–she’s the best!).

I feel like she is one of those characters that is often defined by the men she is involved with but that really wasn’t the case here at all. It was nice to read about her in a more positive, independent light and based on the merits of her own character. In the author’s note, Brooke explains her main goal for writing this story was to allow readers to see Guinevere in a different way and she most definitely succeeds in doing that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing was Slightly Off–

While I enjoyed this story and the blending of classic Arthurian elements, there was just something about the pacing that caused this book to lose the momentum for me. I felt like nothing happened for the vast majority of the pages and everything was rushed together at the end. The twists (both in the plot and the character roles) were great but I almost feel like they happened too late to truly allow me to appreciate them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I got a little hint about who the next book will be about and I CANNOT WAIT! I love the concept of this series so much and I’m excited to see what will happen to our next heroine!

My Rating: 3/5

I, Guinevere 3/5| Book 2 TBP

overall

It’s an enjoyable read and C K Brooke never fails to deliver fresh, entertaining YA reads so fans of her work will no doubt enjoy this!

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

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Blog Tour: Illusions by Madeline J Reynolds

Synopsis for Illusions (from Entangled Teen):

Dear Thomas,

I know you’re angry. It’s true, I was sent to expose your mentor as a fraud illusionist, and instead I have put your secret in jeopardy. I fear I have even put your life in jeopardy. For that I can only beg your forgiveness. I’ve fallen for you. You know I have. And I never wanted to create a rift between us, but if it means protecting you from those who wish you dead—I’ll do it. I’ll do anything to keep you safe, whatever the sacrifice. Please forgive me for all I’ve done and what I’m about to do next. I promise, it’s one magic trick no one will ever see coming.

Love,
Saverio

breakdown

Author: Madeline J Reynolds
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, LGBT, Magic
Heat Rating: cool **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC via Netgalley

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this title for a number of reasons. The first is its historical setting–I love a good Victorian Era YA novel. The second is the gay romance between the leads–I haven’t read too many books set in this era with that romance. And the third is the premise itself–who doesn’t love some good magician sabotage?

The Plot:

This book took me awhile to get into probably because it is told through (primarily) journal entries and that delivers the story in a different way. You focus more on the characters, their feelings and daily events more so than the setting or interactions with other characters. In a sense, you are getting the story secondhand story because they are describing what has happened without you experiencing it first hand. But once I got into the groove of the POV format, the story was easy to read.

I, personally, would have enjoyed a more amped up rivalry between the two master magicians; with more sabotage. Instead, the focus remains on the two apprentices creating a very character driven story that is still very enjoyable to read because there is some great character growth (in addition to the very sweet romance).

The Characters:

It was amazing to watch these two transform before my eyes as the story progressed. The Thomas and Saverio we get at the start of the novel definitely aren’t the same boys we end the story with. I just loved the personal growth we see in these characters. I think the journal entries provided that touch of intimacy into these characters’ emotions and inner thoughts that really adds to the characters’ many layers.

The Romance:

These two were simply adorable together! I always enjoy romances that don’t start out with the nicest intentions, yet twist into something real and strong. When the plot isn’t focusing on them as individuals, I like how it concentrated on how they navigate their relationship given the various circumstances (their rivalry, the nature of their relationship in society, etc.). I also appreciated how it took the time to tackle them realistically; nothing ever felt rushed in that sense (and that isn’t always the case).

My Rating: 3/5

overall
Despite a slower start, this is a great read for fans of character driven historical YA reads!

Read if You Like: historical, stories told through journal entries
Avoid if You: want more than romance

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Madeline J Reynolds

Madeline J. Reynolds is a YA fantasy author living in Chicago. Originally from Minneapolis, she has a background in journalism and has always loved storytelling in its various forms. When not writing, she can be found exploring the city, eating Thai food, or lost in an epic Lord of the Rings marathon.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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ARC Review: Just Pretending (The Chicago Falcons #3) by Leah & Katie Rooper

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

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Just Pretending (from Goodreads):

It’s not easy being royal. Sixteen-year-old Evangeline wears her crown proudly, but between her duties and her overprotective big brother, the idea of romance is just a dream. But a chance encounter in Chicago changes all that….

Sure, seventeen-year-old Tyler Evans loves playing hockey, but he’s more concerned about providing for his dad and little sister. Then he meets Eva–and falls head-over-heels in love—and he has two more problems. One, she’s his best friend’s little sister. Two, she wears a crown.

But then Eva accidentally mistakes Tyler for a visiting prince, and for the first time, Tyler doesn’t feel like a nobody. He knows he has to tell her the truth…but not yet.

His plan? To keep up the royal charade as long as it takes to convince Eva he’s the guy for her. Even if he’s lying to everyone…including himself.

Disclaimer: May cause disillusionment. Those girls looking to find their Prince Charming might consider scouting out hockey rinks.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author(s)
Series: The Chicago Falcons
Author: Leah and Kate Rooper
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey, Royalty
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This is review of book #3, Just Pretending, only**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I sort-of knew this was part of a series when I requested it but it wasn’t clearly stated. But I just couldn’t resist that premise: a regular boy pretending to be a prince falls in love with the queen…adorable!

The Concept / The World:

I think the fact that I hadn’t read the previous books gave me a bit of a disadvantage. Yes, you can definitely read this as a standalone and not be completely lost. But in the same breath, I think I could have really benefited from reading the other novels in the series, especially book #2, Just One of the Royals because I think it really sets up Eva’s character background a little more. I had so many questions about how she became queen and why she wanted to be queen in the first place and I felt like this book just didn’t answer them; mainly because she is already queen and this novel showcases her struggle finding that independence as a result.

The Plot:

I thought the whole plot of this novel was fun yet heartfelt. The fun comes from Tyler impersonating the prince and how he just gets himself deeper and deeper into the scheme.

But the touching moments come from the interactions Tyler and Eva share when they let their true selves show when they’re together. These two have a great connection with plenty of shared interests to make you fall for them as a couple. I couldn’t get enough of their chemistry!

The Characters:

Tyler instantly won my heart the moment we met him. He’s just a sweet boy with a massive crush on a girl he thinks he can never be with. But he was also a layered character as well. His learning disability and the struggle he has with it was so genuine and real. I loved watching him grow as the story progressed.

Eva I had a harder time with on occasion. As I said above, I could have benefited from getting her backstory that I think is provided more in the previous novels. She seemed a little all over the place (understandable really when one is a monarch at the at of 16) but I think knowing her full story could have helped me reconcile her somewhat wish-washy convictions.

The Romance:

I thought these two were adorable together! I just loved how they meshed on so many different levels. The heart of this story is loving yourself and finding someone who can see the true you beyond titles and I think the romance helps exemplify that throughout.

Will I Pick Up the Previous Novels in the Series:

I plan on it! From what I saw of the other couples, this seems like a super cute series so I’m excited to see how it all began.

Rating: 3/5

Just One of the Boys TBA | Just One of the Royals TBA | Just Pretending 3/5

overall

If you love sweet YA contemporaries–especially ones with sports (hockey) and royals–this is right up your alley!

Read if You Like: sport romances, YA contemporaries
Avoid if You: want deeper plot-lines

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Single Sundays: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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 Wink Poppy Midnight (from Goodreads):

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

breakdown

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book seemed to be on a ton of lists in 2016 because I remember seeing it a lot. I’ll be the first to admit: I was drawn to the cover mostly–I love it so much!

I’ll also admit that I totally forgot about this book until I was browsing audiobooks to listen to last year.  I’m always up for a good mind-bending novel. You know, the ones that have this underlying mystery that changes your entire reading experience once it is revealed? I was eager to see what this one had in store.

The Concept / The World:

I’m going to quote the little blurb that is a part of the synopsis for the audiobook to give my thoughts on the concept/world of this novel.

The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the “supernatural or not” question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

I definitely did see the parallels to The Raven Boys Cycle with the setting. Wink’s connection to tarot cards and mysticism is very similar to Blue’s in The Raven Boys. (Only Wink is a lot odder than Blue). Add the aspects of school and I felt like I had returned to Blue’s world.

I’ve never read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (it’s another TBR item) but you do find yourself questioning if what is happening is supernatural or something else at play. It makes the story suspenseful in an intriguing sort of way.

The “no one is quite who you think” — yeah, that’s not really the case. Maybe because I read this line I knew that there was more to these characters than meets the eye. When you read something like that you try to put the pieces together. So while I wouldn’t say this is predictable, it is perhaps a touch cliche in its character twists.

The Plot:

I really struggled with the plot for this novel because I really don’t think there was one. Or at least, there wasn’t one that is apparent from the start. The whole idea of this book is to figure out how these characters’ stories are intertwined by listening to them tell their side of events. Which is fine, I just wanted a little more focus.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this story seemed a little aimless in its delivery to me. It reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys where there is something happening in terms of plot but you kinda just go through the motions of everyday life for 80% of the novel. That just bores me.

The Characters:

I didn’t particularly like any of these characters. You aren’t really supposed to like Poppy so job well done there. Wink I had a hard time figuring out–literally and figuratively–so I didn’t particularly love her character. And I just felt so bad for Midnight because he is so easy to manipulate and he doesn’t seem to have a backbone.

And going back to what I said above: they all seemed a little cliche to me. That is part of the point though and its how they contribute to the story but I think I just wanted a little more substance to them.

The Romance:

I think you can assume that there is a love triangle of sorts between Wink, Poppy and Midnight just by reading the synopsis. It contributes to the story but because I didn’t love any of the characters, I wasn’t really feeling the romance.

Audiobook Experience:

One of the main reasons I picked the audiobook version of this novel was the narrators. When I picked this one up, I was fairly new to the world of fiction audiobooks. See, I was curious if I would be thrown off by a novel that had narrators I had already listened to. Kinda like the phenomenon where you see an actor from one role in another and you can only see them as that first role (no matter what they do after).

In this novel, Midnight’s voice is done by Michael Crouch who was Simon in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Poppy is Caitlin Davies who was Kristen in None of the Above. Both were novels I read a few weeks before this one.

The good news is that it only took me a few chapters to get accustomed to the narration here and associating the voices with the characters. The audiobook is fantastic; truthfully, it is one of the reasons why I gave this book a 3 instead of a 2. All the narrators do a great job bringing these characters to life.

And Michael Crouch has easily become one of my favourite voice actors to listen too. He does a fabulous job and I’ll be looking for more novels by him in the future.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I spent 80% of this book trying to figure out what this novel was trying to achieve and I’m not sure the big “twist” was worth the time. The book is definitely unique in terms of its writing style and the audiobook is very well done but there isn’t enough here to really impress me.

Read if You Like: magical realism, intrigue
Avoid if You: want a stronger plot
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DNF Standalone Review: Kens by Raziel Reid

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 Kens (from Goodreads):

Heterosexuality is so last season: Kens is the gay Heathers meets Mean Girls, a shocking parody for a whole new generation.

Every high school has the archetypical Queen B and her minions. In Kens, the high school hierarchy has been reimagined. Willows High is led by Ken Hilton, and he makes Regina George from Mean Girls look like a saint. Ken Hilton rules Willows High with his carbon-copies, Ken Roberts and Ken Carson, standing next to his throne. It can be hard to tell the Kens apart. There are minor differences in each edition, but all Kens are created from the same mold, straight out of Satan’s doll factory. Soul sold separately.

Tommy Rawlins can’t help but compare himself to these shimmering images of perfection that glide through the halls. He’s desperate to fit in, but in a school where the Kens are queens who are treated like Queens, Tommy is the uncool gay kid. A once-in-a-lifetime chance at becoming a Ken changes everything for Tommy, just as his eye is caught by the tall, dark, handsome new boy, Blaine. Has Blaine arrived in time to save him from the Kens? Tommy has high hopes for their future together, but when their shared desire to overthrow Ken Hilton takes a shocking turn, Tommy must decide how willing he is to reinvent himself — inside and out. Is this new version of Tommy everything he’s always wanted to be, or has he become an unknowing and submissive puppet in a sadistic plan?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Worst Read 2018
Author: Raziel Reid
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Parody, Humour, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Source & Format: Early Reviewers–Hardcover | Thank you Penguin Teen!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Kens at 13% (Page 35 of 272). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When you pitch a book as the “Mean Girls” for a whole other generation you set up some very high expectations. I was really excited to read this book for that reason and because of the gender swap aspect. It was a very intriguing concept.

Image result for october 3 mean girls pink
Fun Fact: I wrote this review on October 3rd!

What I Liked:

Not much. I guess you can say that I liked the idea of what this novel could be than anything it actually was. I only got two chapters in before I realized this was not going to be the book I wanted it to be.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Setting–

Ok, this takes place in Wisconsin. I don’t know much about Wisconsin (other than the fact that it’s close to Canada) but it wouldn’t be where I would set this novel. Perhaps that is the point or the parody? These characters are so very stereotypical Hollywood that it just made this whole thing seem outrageous…and not in the smart parody way.

–Goes for Shocking, Not Witty–

After reading this book, I’ve discovered book parodies just don’t work for me. I think this is the third one I’ve attempted and things are just lost on me. What is is about parodies that make them come across as so far-fetched and just plain not funny?

Definition of parody 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule

–wrote a hilarious parody of a popular song

2a feeble or ridiculous imitation

–a cheesy parody of a classic western

~Merriam-Webster

Yes, I get that parodies are supposed to be ridiculous–you are making fun of something–but this one just takes it to a whole other level that comes across as dim-witted and sometimes just plain rude. I like to think I’m an intelligent person and can see the bigger picture, but this (bigger picture) was just lost on me here.

I got the sense that this book was written with the intent of pure shock-factor for the readers. To be so out-there that it gets people talking about its wacky cast. However, everything is taken to an extreme that sucks out the realm of probability.

But the problem is when you bill something to be like Mean Girls–which I hold in very high esteem in terms of writing, humour and message–you have to deliver. There is a reason why people still talk about that movie years later and they’ve made a Broadway show about it!

Sure, Regina George is an extreme character. She is literally the mix of every mean girl you will ever encounter in your life in one person but that’s the point. But you can still appreciate what she is as a character at the end of the day and what she does for the story, even if you don’t like her as a person.

Here, in Kens, not so much. There’s nothing redeemable about these characters at all and the hero you are supposed to root for is so “blah” you understand why he has never resurfaced onto Ken Hilton’s radar.

Will I Finish It?

Not a chance.

My Rating: DNF

overall

Others who have read the novel have critiqued it for how it represents LGBTQ characters but I didn’t get far enough to get a firm grasp on that aspect. So I encourage you to read other reviews if that is something you look for in a novel. Otherwise, if you enjoy reading hot messes or need a guilty pleasure read, this might be for you. But if you are looking for the next Mean Girls, this is far from it.

Read if You Like: parodies, melodramatics
Avoid if You: want a smartly written parody

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Single Sundays: The Wrong Prince by C K Brooke

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 The Wrong Prince (from Goodreads):

Two princes. One bride. A dire misunderstanding…

Geo and Dmitri are the princes of Tybiria. Though Geo is the obvious athlete, it’s bookish Dmitri that yields the credit – and consequences – for slaying a foreign prince. But whose arrow really struck the boy?

Luccia Camerlane is the Baron of Backshore’s enigmatic daughter…as well as Prince Geo’s secret mistress…until she learns of her disastrous betrothal to none other than his brother, Prince Dmitri.

When Dmitri is abducted by the deranged King of Llewes, star-crossed lovers Geo and Lucie must set aside their woes and differences to rescue the Crown Prince from the formidable Wintersea fortress. A precocious castle ward, a fascinating love-quadrangle, and a hit-woman harlot complete this action packed rom com in another wickedly fast-paced fantasy adventure from C.K. Brooke, author of The Red Pearl and the Books of Jordinia.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: C K Brooke
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 17, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank You C K Brooke!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adventure stories are not my favourite reads. I find them boring and drawn out but there is just something about C K Brooke’s adventure stories that keep me coming back. I’m always entertained when I read her books thanks to their twisting, never dull plots and the eclectic cast of characters. So even though this story’s synopsis boasted of a love triangle (ugh, my least favourite trope ever), I knew that there was likely more to this story than mooning teenagers…

The Concept / The World:

I always love the worlds C K Brooke’s creates. They just have so much to them and you can tell she is one creative writer who plans out exactly how things are going to work in her worlds.

I will say though that there was a slight disconnect for me in terms of the sexual content. While there aren’t any straight up sex scenes, it’s alluded to quite frequently. Now, I like a “grittier” side to my stories but for the most part this story was pretty light and airy–almost wholesome to a degree–and the visits to brothels and the like just seemed slightly out of place with the rest of the story in terms of maturity. I hope what I’m trying to say is coming across… I guess, while this book feels very young in its audience there are some aspects that people who enjoy “clean” reads will not like (though nothing is full out described).

As for the concept, like I speculated before I started this book, there is more to this book than a love triangle gone awry. Yes, it’s an important factor in the story but there are other plot lines happening.

The Plot:

The synopsis gets it right: “Action packed rom-com” is the perfect way to describe this plot. This story was the perfect mix of fun, serious and heartwarming all at once. I just loved the way the story kept building and moving. Yes, it helps that we get multiple character POVs so we are constantly getting new layers to the story. Like the Jordinia Series, reading this book had me thinking about The Princess Bride and how they have similar vibes and styles when it comes to plot development and interesting characters.

The Characters:

I really liked all these characters, but Dmitri and Pavi take the cake for me. I just really loved their storyline. But the rest of the cast is unique and entertaining and you really can’t ask for much more. All the female characters are strong and independent so that was great to see. I thought the character development was good for the shorter length of the story. Everyone is complex and we get enough backstory to get a solid read on their characters so that was great.

The Romance:

While the love-quadrangle is definitely at play, I think you know where everyone’s hearts lie so there isn’t anything overly frustration about the love triangle. It doesn’t become the main focus of the novel though it does play a role in the overall story. Part of the reason this isn’t a 5 star read is because I did get frustrated though with the lack of communication between 2 characters because it came across as immature even though they were having an affair which seems pretty mature to me…

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of fast-paced adventures with a dash of romance!

Read if You Like: rom-com adventures, fast stories, multiple POVs
Avoid if You: dislike YA fantasy

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

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

Empirium Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Furyborn (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

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

What I Liked:

–Rielle’s Backstory–

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

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

–Sex Positive–

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

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of World-Building–

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

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

–Lack of Suspense Thanks to the Prologue–

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: DNF

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

overall

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

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

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