Monthly archives: June, 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays: Best Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015 [8]

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Is a weekly meme feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers post their Top 10 List for an assigned topic! I will not be participating every week, but I will occasionally take a shot at it! You can always find these lists (past, present and original) on my Riffle Page
This Week’s Topic:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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Top Ten Books I’ve Read Published in 2015

So this was a little easier than I thought because all I had to do was look at what books I’ve given 5 stars to. It was  a lot of fun because I normally only look back at the ratings I’ve given at the end of the year for my year in review posts. But after I created the little graphic, I realized I should have done one for the best books I’ve read in 2015 that were published in 2015. And so, I decided to add a brief list at the bottom of this post 😛

Here are the best books I’ve read so far in 2015 (in no particular order):

2015bestONLY

#10 – riot – mayhem series (#2) | Read my series review
#9 – Sweet Filthy Boy – Wild seasons series (#1) | my series review
#8 – snow like ashes – snow like ashes trilogy (#1) | Review tbp
#7 – red queen – red queen trilogy (#1) | Read my series review
#6 – ruby circle – bloodlines series (#6) | Read my series review
#5 – beautiful player – beautiful bastard series (#3) | my Review
#4 – wallbanger – cocktail series (#1) | review tbp
#3 – bad romeo – starcrossed SEries (#1) | Read my series review
#2 – hopeless – hopeless series (#1) | Read my series review
#1 – A Thousand Pieces of You – Firebird trilogy (#1) | MY REVIEW

#If I only got One ChoiceThe winner’s curse My Review

I was blown away by this book! It solidified my love of YA High Fantasy and restored my faith in female heroines who can use their minds above all else. Can’t wait for the final book in the series!


Best reads published in 2015…so far:

Days Like This An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1) One Last Song A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1) Written in the Stars

Rogue (Talon, #2) When I'm Gone (Rosemary Beach, #11) Beautiful Secret (Beautiful Bastard, #4) Mayhem (Mayhem, #1) The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)

*Ruby Circle, Riot and Red Queen were also published in 2015

If you could only pick one awesome book that you’ve read this year, what would it be?

what book–published this year–has been your favourite?

Leave a Link to your TTT in the comments below!

Spotlight Giveaway: Wicked White by Michelle A. Valentine

Two posts in one day! Be sure to check out my discussion post regarding embarrassing reads here!

But my other post is about this awesome giveaway the publisher Montlake Romance has shared with me!

You can read my review of the book here.  Or check out the details & an excerpt below.

Plus, enter to win 1 of 3 digital copies via Rafflecopter!

Book Information
  • Title: Wicked White
  • Author: Michelle A. Valentine
  • Release Date: June 23, 2015
  • Publisher: Montlake Romance
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary

After his mother dies, rock star Ace White—lead singer of the red-hot band Wicked White—is done with the celebrity game. The phony people, the meaningless one-night stands: he doesn’t want any of it anymore. Quitting in the middle of a sold-out tour, Ace sets out to find some place—any place—where he can be alone.

Aspiring singer Iris Easton’s life has never been easy. First, her mother walked out on her when she was a kid. Now she’s buried in debt, weeks after losing her beloved grandmother. When a mysterious and sexy new guy moves in next door, Iris can’t help but be drawn to his soulful gaze. She can tell there’s something from his past haunting him—something he’s not telling her.

Just as Ace starts falling for Iris, the media go on a worldwide hunt to find the missing rocker. Will true love conquer all, or will the truth be the very thing that tears the couple apart?

Excerpt

“Iris…that was amazing. You’ve got so much talent,” I praise.

Her green eyes light up with excitement like a child’s do on Christmas morning. “You really think so? You’re not just saying that?”

“No. I never bullshit about music. You’ve definitely got the chops for Broadway, it’s just…” I hesitate, not wanting to hurt her feelings, but I know that in order for her to get better, she has to be told what she’s doing wrong.

She lays her hand on my forearm. “Please, tell me. I can take it. Promise.”

I stand beside her, so close that my chest nearly touches her shoulder. I’m itching to touch her, but I won’t do it without permission. “May I touch you?”

She draws in a ragged breath and then nods. “Yes.”

I curl the fingers of my right hand around her right shoulder and pull back a little so that her posture is perpendicular to the floor. At this angle, I can’t help but notice her heaving chest and how her perky tits move in sync with each breath she takes.

I slide my left hand against her toned stomach and my pinkie grazes the warm patch of skin that’s exposed between her T-shirt and the waistband of her jeans.

Our contact is fucking electric, and my own breathing picks up speed as I attempt to fight back the arousal I feel for her boiling beneath my surface.

“Everything about you is magnetic,” I whisper in her ear, and she shivers at the words. “Don’t be afraid to open your eyes and watch your audience enjoy you. Be confident and project. Let go.”

I let go of her shoulder, and move to face her before pressing the repeat button on the machine. As the intro of the song plays, I say, “Do it again, but this time I want you to look at me.”

This time when she opens her mouth to sing, when she begins to tip her head down, I slide my index finger under her chin and angle her head so that she’s forced to peer into my eyes.

Her words are just barely above a whisper, so I slip my hand back on her abdomen and say, “Project–from here. Sing it like you mean it.”

It’s like lightening strikes this beautiful woman in my arms as she sings to me without fear. The words of the song come out effortlessly, and her voice could rival any of the greatest female vocalists of all time.

She’s that damn stunning.

I nod approvingly and smile. “Yes!”

With that little bit of encouragement, she shocks me even more when she pushes herself to hit notes that are above and beyond what she reached the first time.

Only on the last lyric does she close her eyes while she holds the note there until the music stops. She releases a contented sigh as soon as the music ends, and when her beautiful eyes meet mine again, they swirl with emotion.

Completely blown away, I fumble with the words to tell her just how impressed I am. “Iris, that was–”

Without warning, she throws her arms around my neck and crushes her lips against mine. I know kissing her back is wrong, but I’ll be damned if I don’t want her so badly at this point that I can’t stop myself from giving in. I’ve been so good with restraining myself when it comes to Iris, because protecting her from the chaos that I’ll bring her is what’s always been on the forefront of my mind.

Her fingers thrust into my hair, and I reach down and curl my hands around her thighs before hoisting her into the air. Instinctively she wraps her legs around my waist, and I thread one of my hands into her tousled curls while the other is busy cupping that perfect ass of hers.

“I’ve wanted you since you walked into my trailer,” she breathes against my lips.

A thrill shoots through me at her admission of how long she’s wanted me. “You’ve been driving me out of my mind from the moment I first saw you.”

“Then take me.”

 

Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-White-Book-ebook/dp/B00STR28PQ

My review of the book here!

Author Biography

Michelle A. Valentine is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Rock the Heart. Wicked White is the first novel in her Wicked White romance series. She attended college as a drafting and design major, but her love of people soon persuaded her to join the nursing field. It wasn’t until after the birth of her son that she began her love affair with romance novels, and she hasn’t looked back since. When she’s not writing, she feeds her music addiction, dabbles in party planning, and expresses herself by working with arts and crafts. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, son, and two beloved dogs.

Social Networking Links

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Enter to win via Rafflecopter here!

Best of luck with the giveaway! Let me know if you win or pick up the book! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Meme-ful Musings: Critiqued for Your Reading Choices

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Meme-ful Musings: At the end of the month I’ll post a book-related meme that I think brings up an interesting discussion about books. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


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(Meme from: https://www.pinterest.com/MSLibraryComm/302232-book-memes/)

I honestly just love this meme because I think it describes my reading habits perfectly! There are books that I will immediately put at the top of my To-Read Pile despite the many books that have been sitting there for years. But there are also books that I would never admit to reading and/or liking to my friends–but I’ll admit to them here (on my blog) because of the power of the anonymous internet.

Three examples that come to mind: Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and the Sweet Series by Maya Banks. I’ll start with Twilight.

I actually really liked Twilight: I actually liked it so much that I immediately reread it after finishing it the first time! Now when I tell people this, I list a few excuses about why I felt this way. Those reasons are:

  • I was 15 when I read it–the target demographic for the series
    • If I read it now, as a woman in her 20s, I probably wouldn’t feel that way
  • it was the first paranormal “teen” romance novel I read
    • by this point my reading habits weren’t what they were today so exposure was limited
  • the writing never bothered me
    • I liked that it was an easy to follow story plus I was no literary critic (still aren’t)

It’s just as easy to come up with these excuses for Fifty Shades of Grey (if you strip *no pun intended* all the BDSM away, at its bones, it is a love story and the later books do get a plot line) and the Sweet Series (this series was just kinky BDSM that I was probably way to young to read when I did; do this day I don’t have them rated on my Goodreads account).

But my question is why do I feel the need to justify why I enjoyed a book a vast majority of people label as “garbage”? Why do I worry about getting judged for reading and enjoying something that interests me that others seem to detest?

I want to be clear that I am not talking about disliking a book that others have given 5 stars to: I’m talking about feeling embarrassed for reading a book and liking it. Two different things, though I agree that they can often go hand in hand.

The simple answer is of course to blame it on society. We live in a society where we are self-conscious of what other people think of us. Especially if you live in a democratic society like I do, you are raised with the thought process that what the majority thinks is best for the population or common good is probably that choice that is made at the end of the day.

Critics are basically using a set of standards that have been created by a larger group of people to criticize works. I always find it fascinating to learn how literature canons are created because who gets to decide what pieces of work are the greatest and why it is the greatest? Even the definition of “literature” is heavily debated on.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that reviews and opinions are subjective. There is a quote from Family Guy (judge away) that I think really emphasizes this point:

“This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball, because the world don’t move, to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have my opening statement”

So why should I be influenced to feel a certain way about a book just because one person says I should?

I suppose it is a little hypocritical of me to “bash” reviewers when I myself have a book reviewing blog. But the underlying purpose of creating this blog entry is to point out that it is OK to like books others dislike! Just because one reviewer writes an extremely negative review about your favourite book doesn’t mean you should second guess why you like that book, or not admit that you like it! Everyone has different tastes and personal pet peeves that can influence why you rate a book like you do and it is A-OK to disagree!

That’s why when I write my book reviews, I try to present both sides of the story. If I don’t like a book, I explain why but I also mention who I think would like this book and vice versa. Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t; and the same can be said about your reviews and me. Reading is a subjective experience and at the end of the day it comes down to how that book makes you feel and why it makes you feel that way. Don’t ever be embarrassed by what you read and embrace your tastes! Don’t be afraid to share them with the world!

So, do you admit to reading/liking the books that you read?

Do you feel the need to justify why you liked a book that is panned by critics or your friends?

Do you take into consideration who might like/dislike a book when you review it?

Do you think blogging/the internet has influenced how people perceive certain books?

PS: Check out Nerdybirdy @ Daydreaming Books’ discussion on Book Bashing as well!

Leave a comment below!

Series Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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 Red Queen (from Goodreads):
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2015 (Red Queen), Biggest Disappointment 2016 (Glass Sword)
Series: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are two novellas: #0.1 Queen Song & #0.2 Steel Scars

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Dystopian, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2015 – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Find out why I DNF’d the Glass Sword (Book 2) below:

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Lately I’ve been really into High Fantasy novels–if you look at my 5/5 star books for the year, most of them are high fantasy YA novels. I’m loving this blend of dystopian tones, magic, romance and political intrigue. They are everything I love in novels and I’m so stoked that current YA trends are churning out these amazing pieces of fiction.

So, I think it goes without saying, I was super excited to read the Red Queen. I was actually excited for it before I even picked up the other High Fantasy books I read this year and dutifully ignored other reviews so nothing would be spoiled. I was hoping this book would be what I wanted The Selection to be: a politically focused dystopian read with a heroine who is actually intelligent. And after I read The Winner’s Curse and Snow Like Ashes, I was really hoping Mare would be in league with these fantastic leading ladies!

The Concept / The World:

The entire Red Queen world is a combination of lots of other fantasy and dystopian worlds but at the same time, I found it to be very refreshing. It took elements from my favourite books and used them to their full advantage without going over the top or feeling unoriginal. So while some people will definitely see parallels, I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of another book. The book does a great job of building and explaining the world at the start and throughout the novel so world-building fans will love it!

I usually don’t love magical elements in my stories but I really loved the way it works here. It was very Avatar: Legend of Korra to me with their powers and I had a lot of fun learning about all the different types of Silvers.

The Plot:

While this book started very slow to me, it really kept my attention and I always felt like it was building up to something. And boy was it building up to something! This story is great! It truly kept me on my toes and I never knew what was going to happen next!

This book had a great balance between action and politics; though the political aspects are the standout feature to me. I’m not sure how many people watch Game of Thrones but I adore the political games that are always afoot with those characters. And this book had the same deceptive games. I loved that it kept me thinking five moves ahead but I was always surprised but what happened next.

And the last 100 pages—simply amazing!

The Characters:

When I first started reading this book, I was really worried Mare would be like America from The Selection: a girl thrust into a situation she never imagined yet does nothing as everything happens around her to resolve the world. That frustrated me to no end with the Selection Trilogy so I was very relieved that that wasn’t the case with Mare.

Mare isn’t an instant kick-ass character though she is a interesting character–and I really loved that. She isn’t flawless and she really has to work for what she wants which made reading so captivating.

And the same can be said about the other characters. They really kept me on the edge of my seat and they all had great character development.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book expecting some passionate romance. While it definitely is there and has an important role to play, it isn’t all consuming which was great. Even the romantic in me was satisfied by what we had here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Red Queen really set the stage for the rest of the series and I truly can’t wait to see what happens next!

updates

–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Glass Sword

I really hummed and hawed over DNFing this one or not. Even ran a Twitter poll…most people said to DNF it.

I was SO BORED by this book!

I LOVED the Red Queen! I was a strong defender of it, telling everyone to not be so hard on it and all that. So Glass Sword was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.

But this was dreadfully dry. Nothing seemed to be happen except the passing of time.

Understandably, everyone is a little beaten down. Mare especially. I really struggled with her character. Cal was so dull; and there was very little Maven.

This is the very definition of a Book 2 slump if you ask me. It’s just one of those bridging books that is a necessary evil to the series. Seems like something big happens at the end that I am curious about, but not curious enough to pick this one back up.

It’s been 8 months since I stopped in the middle of the novel and I haven’t regretted it yet.

Perhaps I’ll finish it another time but as of right now, this is a DNF’d series for me.

My Rating: DNF

Red Queen 5/5 | Glass Sword DNF

overall

Even the slow start couldn’t deter me from loving this book! It’s perfect for readers who love political games with a dash of physical action. YA High Fantasy at its finest!

Obviously, my opinion has changed. Each book seems to have a slow start and really only climaxes at the end of the novel. Sorry, but I just need something that will keep my attention all the way through.

Read if You Like: characters with magical/supernatural powers, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow starting stories, want more romance

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Tag It Thursdays: The I Am More Happy Than Not Tag [1]

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Tag it Thursdays: I occasionally get tagged by fellow bloggers to complete various tags. Once a month I will post my response. Please, feel free to tag yourself if any of these tags interest you!

This month’s tag:

The I Am More Happy Than Not Tag

This tag/hashtag was created by Shelumiel @The Bookish and Awesome blog in response to Adam Silvera’s debut book More Happy Than Not (sounds like an inspiring read if you ask me!). I was tagged by the always awesome Summer @Xingsings and always amazing Marie @drizzleandhurricanebooks; thank you both for the interesting challenge this tag presented me with!

    There are two rules:

    1. Answer the question in whatever way you prefer, whether it be a list or in a narrative form.
    2. Link back to the original post on The Bookish and Awesome via the link widget
I’m going to try the narrative form so we’ll see how that goes!

Whenever I look at my organized book shelf, though–like most readers/bloggers–it seems like 99.99% are unread, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I get a hold I’ve been dying to read comes in, though I already have 5 other books out and 2 more books come in and I wonder “why did I put so many books on hold!” and “why do they all have to come in at once!”, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I think “that would be a great story!”, though I never get around to writing it (either down so I remember or create the story at all), I am more happy than not.

Whenever I watch an episode of Game of Thrones and think “I really should start reading the books instead”, though I really don’t have the time to read such tomes or wait that long for the next novel, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I reread my reviews, and though I discover 30 bazillion spelling and grammar mistakes after I have published it, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I create an AWESOME way to tackle my TBR, though I don’t often manage to get ‘er done and it seems like I completely forgot about my new goal, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I pat myself on the back for scheduling a review wayyy in advance, though I often have to reshuffle its publication date or push it back for an ARC review, I am more happy than not.

Whenever I think about my blog and how much fun the last 2 years have been, even though it has taken a lot of time, creativity and keystrokes, I am more happy than not!

~

Thanks again ladies! This was a lot of fun and a lot easier than I thought it would be!

Feel free to tag yourself! Please link back if you do! I would love to read your responses!

What makes you more happy than not?

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Series Review: Madison Sisters by Lynsay Sands

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 The Countess (from Goodreads):

THE FAIRY TALE COURTSHIP DID NOT TURN INTO A HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER …

Not until her husband dropped dead, that is. He had been horrible enough to Christiana during their short marriage, and she was not going to allow the traditional period of mourning to ruin her sisters’ debuts as well. So she decides to put him on ice and go on as if nothing’s happened …

Until the real earl appears. Richard Fairgrave had every intention of confronting his villainous twin who had robbed him of his name and title … only to discover that he had died. Quietly assuming his identity, Richard must now deal with a maddening desire for his ravishing inherited wife — certainly a gold digger and possibly a murderess. And Christiana must deal with an unwanted new husband … and they both must figure out what to do before the ice melts.

breakdown

Series: The Madison Sisters Trilogy
Author: Lynsay Sands
# of Books: 3 (The Countess, The Heiress, The Husband Hunt)
Book Order: Companion (The Heiress), Connected (The Husband Hunt)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Source & Format: public library–eBooks

thoughts

I first came across Lynsay Sands during my Highlander novel phase when I read her Devil of the Highlands Series. After my Highlander phase Regency/Historical Romances were my thing (perhaps it was more concurrent than I remember) and I came across the synopsis for The Countess and immediately had to read it. Her husband dies and she tries to hide it? Plus it turns out her husband was posing as his twin? It has all the makings of a great comedy so I was totally there.

I really enjoyed The Countess. It was a lot of fun to read and the characters were entertaining. I find Lynsay Sands writes really light-hearted stories that lean more towards “cheesy” romance than “erotica”. So of course you get your assumptive communication scenes and a lot of back and forth, but I was highly entertained when reading The Countess.

The Heiress is a true companion novel as most of its events take place congruently with The Countess. The problem with this is that if you The Heiress immediately read after reading The Countess, the first half of the book seems redundant. The first half is a rehash of what happens in The Countess but with a different perspective. I didn’t mind that much because I always forget what happens in previous books but I think it would bother some people. The last half or so is completely new scenes and those are fantastic!

I read these books years ago so I don’t remember my exact feelings but I do know I was disappointed in The Husband Hunt. The characters just weren’t what I was expecting and I didn’t love the romance because of it. I liked getting that closure but it just didn’t meet my expectations.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you want a light-hearted Regency read, this is a great series for you! It’s light on the sex scenes but is very entertaining. The concept of the first book, The Countess, is one I have never encountered and that made it a refreshing read.

Read if You Like: fun regency reads, light romance, humour
Avoid if You: like more erotica in your regency reads

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Single Sundays: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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 Written in the Stars (from Goodreads):
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

breakdown

Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Culture, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating
: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was floating around the blogosphere when it first came out and as soon as I read the synopsis I really wanted to read it. It’s also written by one of the founding members of the #weneeddiversebooks movement–Aisha Saeed–and I have yet to read a “diverse” book.

When it comes to culture/ethnicity I fit the typical Canadian mold. I don’t identify with a particular ethnicity/hertitage/culture as I consider myself Canadian which means I’ve grown up in a house with completely Western beliefs. The idea of arranged marriage is something I have no exposure to, and what exposure I do have is coloured in western stereotype and prejudice. So what I was expecting this book to be was a young adult version of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns but with less oppression.

The Concept:

This book was hard for me to read–not because of the writing because it is very well done–but because of the topics it deals with. As a young woman who has never been put in a position of cultural expectations by my parents, it was hard for me to relate to Naila. It’s easy for me as someone who has never had to deal with these expectations to go “do your own thing girl!”and get frustrated with her because she doesn’t.

At the same time, I think we can all relate to the desire to appease our parents’ expectations for us when it comes to academics and life (to some degree). I know that I still do despite the fact that I am approaching my mid-20s and don’t live with my parents anymore. However, at the same time, I’m at the point in my life where I mostly consult my parents about what I am doing and feel confident enough to make my own decisions. That totally wasn’t the case when I was Naila’s age and I had to make sure I reminded myself of that as I was reading.

It’s easy to judge something you don’t completely understand and I really didn’t want to do that with this book. I really tried to keep an open mind reading this book and because I did, I think I enjoyed the book a lot more.

The Plot:

Perhaps this is my ignorance showing through, but by the midpoint I thought the book became a little “over-dramatic”. Some events happen that I thought were over the top and my initial reaction was that it ruined what was a fairly realistic story up until this point.

But the more I thought about it and the more I continued reading I realized that this is probably the case for some young girls in the world. That these events are reality for some women and not simply plot elements for dramatic purposes. And that is terrifying and disheartening all at the same time.

I loved Aisha Saeed’s message at the end of the novel and the impact it had on my reading experience. She has definitely accomplished her goal with this story.

The Characters:

As I said previously, I had a hard time connecting with Naila’s character because I’ve never had cultural expectations placed on me to the level that she has. At the same time though, I thought she was well written and realistic. Her narration was easy to follow and I really felt for her by the end of the story.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book thinking there is going to be some great romance! Naila’s romance was Saif happens prior to the novel starting and her relationship with her husband isn’t a huge portion of the story. The story is mostly about Naila dealing with her parent’s expectations while trying to remain true to her own wants and desires for life.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I didn’t love this book as much as I had hoped, it definitely left a lasting impression on me. It has made me more aware of what some young woman (and men) face everyday that I have remained ignorant on. It was a very touching and eye-opening read for me.

Read if You Like: books about cultural expectations, growing up, parent relationships
Avoid if You: want an epic romance
similarreads

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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Series Review: Wicked White by Michelle A. Valentine

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

Wicked White Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wicked White (from Goodreads):
After his mother dies, rock star Ace White—lead singer of the red-hot band Wicked White—is done with the celebrity game. The phony people, the meaningless one-night stands: he doesn’t want any of it anymore. Quitting in the middle of a sold-out tour, Ace sets out to find some place—any place—where he can be alone.

Aspiring singer Iris Easton’s life has never been easy. First, her mother walked out on her when she was a kid. Now she’s buried in debt, weeks after losing her beloved grandmother. When a mysterious and sexy new guy moves in next door, Iris can’t help but be drawn to his soulful gaze. She can tell there’s something from his past haunting him—something he’s not telling her.

Just as Ace starts falling for Iris, the media go on a worldwide hunt to find the missing rocker. Will true love conquer all, or will the truth be the very thing that tears the couple apart?

breakdown

Series: Wicked White
Author: Michelle A Valentine
# of Books: 3 (Wicked White, Wicked Reunion, Wicked Love)
Book Order: Connected but Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Music
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 23, 2015 – May 31, 2016
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook    Thanks Amazon Publishing!

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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 include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While High Fantasy novels are my current Young Adult trend, rock-star romances are definitely my New Adult trend. So when I saw this book on Netgalley, I just had to request it.

I have Michelle A. Valentine’s Black Falcon series on my Kindle but haven’t managed to read it yet. I know that her other rock-star series have consistently high ratings so I was looking forward to Wicked White. Good guy rock-star in hiding? Yes please.

What I Liked:

-The Communication-

Iris and Ace share an insta-connection, but one that is based on mutual attraction. While their romance develops fast, I feel like we had enough time to learn why these characters were suited for each other. They definitely share a lot of common interests, views on life and a shared comradery over a rough childhood. But what I liked most of all is that they communicated with each other and shared their thoughts and feelings about their relationship. It’s just so refreshing to read about characters who aren’t consumed by the need to “work” on their physical relationship and actually spend time trying to get to know each other. So while things happen at a faster pace, I felt like there was still a solid foundation for a relationship to start from.

(Of course the communication between them only lasts so long before it becomes a plot device but nonetheless, when it comes to initiating their relationship it’s great!)

-Character Growth-

What I liked is that these characters not only develop their relationship together but they also mature on their own. Sometimes I think New Adult novels forget about the “growing up” aspect of the genre. Ace in particular really grows up throughout this novel and I liked that. And I like that Iris doesn’t become solely dependant on him either. They had a great balance to their relationships that made you want to root for them.

What I Didn’t Like:

-Happy-Go-Lucky Plot-

Everything in this book just happened wayyyy to easily for me. Nothing ever met resistance for very long and that made it a little boring at times. I guess I’m just use to lots of over the top drama with rockstars because of the other novels I read so I wanted that flare and dramatics. The problem (it’s not really a problem, perhaps it is an “issue”) is that Ace is a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t like the way he is presented to the world. He isn’t some sauve jack-ass and that is A-OK, believe me. It’s just that he isn’t like your typical rockstar so don’t expect your typical rockstar situations.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea what the next book is going to be about. I have some suspicions but I really don’t think they are right. I’m definitely curious to see what is going to happen next in this series!

updates

–December 7, 2015– Book #2: Wicked Reunion

Normally, I’m not a fan of second chance romances. They are a little boring and are often predictable (I mean, I think we all know how they are going to end). But I have noticed lately, thanks to Bad Romeo, that I enjoy ones where we get scenes from both the past and the present. It gives a bit more suspense to the story and pushes you to find out what really happened to split these two apart. This book is one of those cases!

I thought the story was much more compelling and addicting. I wanted to know what happened and it helped me to see why these two belonged together.

The only flaw I find with this story is how the reunion comes to be. I suppose I wanted more dramatics between the two of them when they finally reunite. I wanted sparks to fly (and they did) and I wanted the dramatics (and there definitely were some)–but I really wanted them to FIGHT for their relationship. It seemed like a lot of “you’re here and I haven’t stopped thinking about you so lets do this”. But that didn’t really come across to me on Jared’s part. I was really disappointed in how he just didn’t put too much effort in when all was said and done. And that sucks because I could see why they would work thanks to the scenes from the past; but in the present 5 years later, I just needed a little more convincing.

Regardless, I really did enjoy their story and their character growth. This story was completely addicting and had me on the edge of my seat, trying to find out what was going to happen next. Definitely my favourite of the two books so far!

–May 9, 2016– Book #3: Wicked Love

Wicked Love had a lot of potential but it just fell flat to me in the end.

Part of the issue was the maturity of the characters. Avery had so much potential to have some great growth (especially with her self-esteem issues) but she is stilted by her immature views that are never matured as the story progresses. I cut her some slack considering she is only 18 or so when the story starts but I scratched my head in confusion a few times with some of her thoughts and actions. Tyler was only slightly better but these two both lacked the ability to think two steps ahead, only seeing the immediate future and not thinking any further than that. It was really frustrating to read because the logic was screaming out at me as I read but they were both oblivious to it.

I also didn’t realize that a majority (~70%) of the story is actually the retelling of their past. It establishes their relationship which is a cute story but these two failed to impress me with their thoughts and actions. When I picked up the book, I actually thought that it would focus more on their reunion and only allude to the past as they worked through their struggles. The last 30% or so does focus on their reunion but things just happen too easily and without any resistance. Like in the previous novels, the “happy-go-lucky” attitude prevents these characters from really maturing and developing because they never face any true conflict. I was really disappointed in how everything wraps up and I wanted more drama–especially when there was so much potential for said drama.

While this was an enjoyable read to pass the time, I wanted more from it.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Wicked White 3.5/5 | Wicked Reunion 4/5 | Wicked Love 3/5

overall

This book was a refreshing take on the rockstar world. I really like that it humanizes celebrities and reminds readers that they are people too. I enjoyed watching Ace and Iris grow together and grow up throughout the novel. And while I didn’t find the drama to be anything scandalously juicy, it still kept my interest the entire time.

Read if You Like: celebrities finding love, nice guy celebrities, don’t want over the top dramatics
Avoid if You: dislike happy go lucky stories, want more passionate romance and dramatics

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Series Review: Maybe by Colleen Hoover

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 Maybe Someday (from Goodreads):

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her—and she’s forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

A passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance, Maybe Someday will immerse readers in Sydney’s tumultuous world from the very first page.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks:  Favourite Author, 2015 Favourite Read
Series: Maybe
Author: Colleen Hoover
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

Maybe Not is a companion novella with different characters as the leads but read AFTER Maybe Someday!

Book Order: Companion + Direct Sequel
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Music
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1); Single (#1.5), Multiple (#2)
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (#1-1.5); Scribd–Audiobook (#2)

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

This has been the year of Colleen Hoover for me. Ever since I read her Hopeless series, I’ve been steadily adding her books to my TBR list and making sure I have her books on hold at the library. With her writing, I know I’m reading a Colleen Hoover book but I don’t feel like I am reading a regurgitation of her previous books. Which is really important to me as a reader because I find quite a few authors have an almost formulaic style to their characters and plots which gets boring to read after awhile. But with Hoover, something always surprises me and Maybe Someday was no exception!

The Concept & The Plot:

Maybe Someday was just a fantastic book! Given the synopsis, it doesn’t seem like anything special but there is so much more under the surface. And I mean so. much. more. It’s really hard to talk about without spoiling everything –and I’m having a hard time writing about how impressed I was with this book! But I’m going to try…

I also want to give huge props for providing audio versions of the songs from the book. It just adds another layer to the book and makes it come to life, especially if you listen to the songs as they appear in the book. It’s one thing to make and include a playlist of popular songs at the end of your novel, its a completely other thing to make a SOUNDTRACK of all the original songs included in your book! You can find all the songs here (don’t worry, they aren’t spoilers!). Just supremely well done and it’s what makes me give this book such a high rating (well that and the fact that it is just plain awesome even if you forget about the soundtrack!).

The Characters:

Where this book really wins is with the characters: and not just the leads. Given the initial plotline, this book could have been a mess of over the top drama, sex and angst but it never goes in that direction. Not only is there hardly any sex (so the sex scenes don’t overshadow the relationships) but everyone handles the situations in an extremely mature way. I mean in a “let’s talk about this and our feelings” kind-of way instead of a “I hate the world” angsty kind-of way. I never got annoyed with this characters and respected them for how they handled everything. They made it so easy to read this book and root for them throughout the novel.

The Romance:

And while the romance plays a huge role in this book, there is a considerable amount of time dedicated to character growth–as a new adult novel should have. What 22 year knows exactly what they want out of life? I know I sure don’t and I really appreciated Sydney’s desire to find herself instead of being consumed by her romantic life. It just made for a nice treat that she had this romantic relationship developing on the side.

The Novella:

It is important to know that you should read the novella, Maybe Not, AFTER you read Maybe Someday or else you will read major spoilers despite the fact that it follows two different characters. It is a little confusing because Maybe Not starts before the events of Maybe Someday but eventually the events overlap. However, it does have spoilers and it really won’t mean as much to you unless you are introduced to these characters before you read their story. I do recommend you read it right after Maybe Someday because it explains some of the little events that happen in the first novel plus, after you meet these characters you just really want to read their story anyways 😉

And once you finish the novella continue on to:

updates

–July 21, 2020– Book #2: Maybe Now

I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t even know this book existed until I saw it on Scribd!

I liked this a lot and I think, like the first book, it brought up a lot of topics that people don’t want to explore in books or relationships. And while they aren’t fun conversations to have, I liked how these characters handled the various subjects.

I think it just brings everything into closure for this group of people and I couldn’t ask for more honestly!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Maybe Someday 5/5 | [Maybe Not 5/5] | Maybe Now 4/5

overall

This is probably an inflated 5/5 rating because I just loved the execution of this novel! You can tell Colleen Hoover puts everything into her books and it shows. It was so refreshing to read about characters who had a genuine connection, who weren’t jumping into bed with each other as soon as they lay eyes on each other and actually mature into adults. A great book for Colleen Hoover fans to read but an even better book for people who want to read a Colleen Hoover book!

Read if You Like: character focused novels, sweet love stories
Avoid if You: don’t like/can’t tolerate love triangles*

*I’m not the biggest love triangle fan but I found this one wasn’t an all consuming, immature one so I really didn’t mind it.
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Memeful Musings: What is the “Perfect Summer” Read?

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Meme-ful Musings: At the end of the month I’ll post a book-related meme that I think brings up an interesting discussion about books. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


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(Meme from: http://www.quickmeme.com/Summer-Reading/)

With summer just around the corner, more and more lately I’m starting to see comments on people’s posts like “Oh! This sounds like a perfect summer read!”.

But what does that really mean?

What makes something perfect for the summer? Why do we rarely say “This will make a perfect Winter read!”?

Does it take place during the summer time? Is it a romance? Would it be labelled by most as “fluffy” (ie not very insightful or thought-provoking)?

I know for me, it’s definitely the last one: the book promises fluffy subject matter. And I’ll tell you why…

I’m not very restrictive when it comes to reading books. I don’t exclusively read books that take place in the summer time only during the summer; and I don’t read more winter/Christmas-y books during December. So to me, the perfect “summer” read doesn’t necessarily have to take place during the summer. Though it does more often than not.

I’m also inclined to think that it’s the “perfect summer read” because that’s when most people find the time to read. More people go on holidays (well, at least in Canada we do since school is out and we have beautiful weather [ie no snow] for travelling) so they have time to read books they might normally read at other points in the year. Now, because you have the time, you don’t have to feel guilty about reading that contemporary YA novel instead of doing/reading other things.

But what caused me to write this post (despite already having one scheduled for this month) is the question:

“does labelling something the ‘perfect summer read'” diminish the novel in anyway?

Do we inadvertently disrespect the story by labelling it as a “summer read”? Are we saying that we are going to read this novel, it but not expect fantastic things? Are you going to like it more because it’s “just a summer read” and you had lowered your expectations or read it less critically than if you had read it during the winter?

Maybe I am just reading too much into this and am making a mountain out of a mole-hill but the question is bothering me a bit! I know it’s just something that we all say but why do we say it?

So, why do you label something “the perfect summer read”? Do you think that this label has positive or negative impacts on a book that is labelled as such?