Category «Book Reviews»

Single Sundays: Bossy Brit by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: Bossy Brit by Kendall Ryan

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 Bossy Brit (from Goodreads):
Sexy billionaire Liam Bennett is cocky, dangerously handsome, and more importantly, my new boss. If only my ovaries didn’t flutter when he was near—yeah, that’d be super helpful.

When our long hours lead to a dare—and an X-rated encounter—I never expected it to be the hottest night of my life.

It’d also be super helpful if Liam didn’t know it and taunt me about it every chance he got. Unable to deny our attraction any longer, our work relationship brings a whole new meaning to the term inbox.

But being with him comes with some baggage—like an ex-wife and three kids kind of baggage. And a lawyer who wants half of his company.

Unsure that I’m cut out for this new level of complicated, my traitorous ovaries beg me to try.

Heaven help us all.

breakdown

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 25, 2019
Source & Format: Amazon Kindle–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in a bit of a reading-funk in November 2021 as the end of the year approached. So I decided to read some of the shorter novels I had sitting on my Kobo and Kindle to get me back in the mood all-the-while adding some titles to my year-end Goodreads Goal. This one popped up and sounded like a great option for my mood. I’ve enjoyed Kendall Ryan books in the past so I was looking forward to read this freebie I picked up.

The Plot:

Despite the shorter page count of this story, I felt like everything was fairly well-rounded. Could we have had a more elaborate plot and characters? Sure. But there is something to be said for a straight-forward romance. I thought this was super cute and had a tone of realism to it (Liam managing his divorce and his kids) that I appreciated.

The Characters:

I’m sure it is hard to write a character from a specific country and not make them fall into every stereotype. But honestly, I totally forgot Liam was supposed to be British. Other than the occasional drop of the words “knickers” and “arse”, I forgot he was billeted as a British hunk. He has been living in America for the better part of a decade so maybe he lost some of his British-isms.

The Romance:

It was easy to see why Noelle and Liam would fall for each other. At first, I worried their relationship was based on physical chemistry only but as I read more, I say how they connected with each other. I also liked that they were strong in their convictions and knew what they wanted. Perhaps we don’t see them get frightened of their relationship because of the shorter page count? Regardless, I liked how their relationship progressed.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This was a well-rounded, genuinely cute romance that is a great one-shot read for those who want something that will bring a smile to your face.

Read if You Like: single dad heroes, office romances
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a longer novel

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Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

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 Whiskey Moon (from Goodreads):
Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

Growing up, he was the handsome cowboy next door, an unlikely confidant, my best friend, my first kiss, and my favorite person.

We were just a couple of small town kids with ambitions bigger than the stars in our eyes. The summer after graduation, we made a pact: I’d go to college in New York and he’d stay and take over his daddy’s ranch. If by twenty-eight we were both still single, we’d get married …

But as we stood in our high school gymnasium the night of our ten-year reunion, Wyatt told me he loved me too much to marry me.

He’d never broken a promise to me in his life, but in a single heartbeat he broke the only one that ever mattered.

He said it would all make sense someday, that there would come a time I might even be able to forgive him.

But then I stumbled upon the truth.

And there was no forgiving a secret this shattering—one that made me question if I ever knew him at all; one that only made me want him that much more.

Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2021
Source & Format: Booksprout–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m very picky about second chance romances but I always know that Winter Renshaw can deliver when it comes to her romances and so I just had to pick up her latest release when the opportunity presented itself.

The Concept:

Now the synopsis made me think we started this story on the night of their high school reunion. That really isn’t the case at all. This story really is about a girl who returns to her small town and her first love after she left to go to college and never returned. Of course there is more to the reason(s) why she didn’t return but I think it’s important for readers to know that this isn’t a romance about two people fulfilling a marriage pact but a second chance romance.

The Plot:

Once I got a grasp on what the plot actually was, I enjoyed it’s slow burn, slow reveal approach. You get little inklings of what actually transpired to drive these two apart so I enjoyed the suspense that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I liked that Blaire and Wyatt were complex characters. I really enjoyed that their characters developed independently of each other, despite the fact that they were only re-evaluating because they had returned to each other’s lives. I became engrossed in their stories and their struggles and I liked that they seemed like real people, even if their circumstances seemed extraordinary.

The Romance:

One of the reasons I’m picky about second chance romances is the romance itself. Usually some time has past between the break-up and the reunion and I don’t enjoy couples that just pick up where they left off despite the lapse in time. That doesn’t happen here. Those feelings are definitely still there, but they have to be coaxed out of each of them over time. I was a big fan of these two because we got to know them so well as characters but that spark between them was always obvious.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I like a novel that can make me feel every emotion and this one definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I went in expecting a marriage pact novel so I had to readjust my expectation, hence the slightly lower rating.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, family secrets, small town romances
Avoid if You: contemporary romance, second chance romances

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Series Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Series Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

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 Smoke Thieves (from Goodreads):

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict. End is cliffhanger.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

breakdown

Series: The Smoke Thieves
Author: Sally Green
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2018 – August 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (#1); Hardcover (#2-#3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobooks at my library, I stumbled upon The Smoke Thieves and loved the cover immediately. Once I read the synopsis, I knew I had to give this book a shot. I love fantasy novels with multiple POVs and even more so when they are in audiobook format so I put myself on the holds list.

I’ve never read a book by Sally Green. I had heard good things about the Half Bad Trilogy and only took it off my TBR because I never got around to it. So I was excited to finally read something by her.

The Concept / The World:

The best way to describe this world is a toned down version of Game of Thrones: involving a less families, a lot less sex, more teenagers and the underbelly of smoke-trading (which is like a drug). But the intricacies of the politics and the struggle for power really reminded me of GOT.

I liked that the smoke was what gave people power and not other elements like innate magic. It made for an interesting spin on the fantasy novels I usually read.

The world itself is easy to follow and if you pick up the paper or ebook copies of the book, there is a glossary of people at the end to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

In The Smoke Thieves (#1), I liked that you really didn’t know how everything was all connected until the very end. And then once you see the bigger picture, it makes the next two books flow at a great pace. I never really knew how things were going to go and I liked that it kept me on my toes.

I do have mixed feelings about how one plot aspect was wrapped up at the end. It just felt like a cop-out of sorts or perhaps I am simply missing the bigger picture. Regardless, it didn’t overshadow too much of the journey it took to get there.

The Characters:

I think part of the reason I didn’t rate this series higher is that I don’t really *love* any of the characters. I like all of them enough that I don’t dread anyone’s POV chapters when they come along. But there really wasn’t anyone whose chapters I was dying to read.

I don’t love Catherine but I do enjoy her character development; Ambrose I could take or leave; Edyon and March I like the most; and Tash is intriguing but I often forget about her. However, overall, I can appreciate the development of all the characters.

The Romance:

The romance isn’t a huge focus here though it does serve as an important aspect in a few characters’ stories.

My Audiobook Experience (The Smoke Thieves #1):

I really wanted to keep reading this series as audiobook versions because each character had a different narrator and I love audiobooks with a full cast. But my library only had the first book in that form so I read the hardcovers of the last two books so I could finish the series before I forgot all the plot points.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Smoke Thieves 3.5/5 | The Demon World 3.5/5 | The Burning Kingdom 3/5

overall

While I wouldn’t list this as my favourite YA fantasy series, I definitely think it is worth a read for fans of the genre.

Read if You Like: YA fantasy, politics, less romance
Avoid if You: want less character-focused stories, dislike multiple POV

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Single Sundays: Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

Single Sundays: Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

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 Cupcake (from Goodreads):
I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking this will be just one more story of the ignored, “big-boned ” girl, who sheds her glasses and a few extra pounds and finally attracts the notice of the most popular guy in school.

Except it isn’t. Because I’m not unpopular. Not all that ignored. And I love the way I look―just as I am.

Then someone puts my name in for Homecoming Court.

The bigger surprise?

People actually vote for me!

Now, I’m a “princess”―whether I like it or not―but the guy I’m paired with isn’t exactly Prince Charming.

Rhys Castle is the strong, silent type who always wears a frown―he’s certainly never smiled at me. I’m 99.9% sure he hates being on Court and being my partner, but surprisingly…he doesn’t switch when he gets the chance.

Turns out Rhys has a secret―something that makes him run hot and cold throughout the entire three weeks of Homecoming festivities. Whether he’s stepping on my feet during dance lessons or gallantly escorting me through the Homecoming parade, I can’t get a read on this guy, and for the first time, I find my confidence wavering.

But there’s more to Rhys than meets the eye. And the more the spotlight shines on me, I realize there’s more to me, too

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2, 20221
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve always enjoyed Cookie’s books; I’ve been a fan since she published her first book, Adorkable, years ago. She simply writes enjoyable, genuine and swoon-worthy YA contemporaries that never fail to make me smile. I don’t usually go out of my way to read YA contemporaries but I always pick up Cookie’s books when I get the chance.

The Concept:

I haven’t really read any Young Adult books that have a plus sized girl as the lead and I think that’s such a shame because everyone’s body is different and beautiful. The need for diverse books where people can see themselves in characters is something that is long overdue and this book is a step in that direction.

The Plot:

I smiled a lot during this book. It was the perfect blend between a coming of age story and all the feels of your favourite romantic comedy movies.

The Characters:

I loved Ariel’s personal story. Despite her confidence in herself, we see her vulnerability at times and that makes her such a relatable lead. She feels like she could be a regular person you’d meet in real life and I think all readers can find a piece of themselves in her.

This is Cupcake’s story but Rhys shines when he is in the scene. I would have loved a little more of him at the start because he too has a great backstory and vulnerability to him–something we don’t often see in our YA contemporary heroes. He’s a total sweetheart and definitely charmed his way into my heart.

The Romance:

The romance is definitely a slow burn one, taking it’s time to unfold. Which more than worked for me. There’s this great tension simmering between the two of them. Rhys is a bit of an enigma at the start too so I loved the mysterious air he had around him and how we slowly peel back the layers (and his possible feelings) the more he interacts with Ariel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Cookie’s books never fail to make me smile and warm my heart and this book is no exception! Fans of YA contemporary need to add her to their TBRs ASAP!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, diverse books
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary

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Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

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 Match (from Goodreads):
All I wanted was a baby. No daddy? No problem.

That’s what anonymous donors are for …

But when the fertility clinic accidentally sends me a letter addressed to a man whose ID matches my paperwork, I discover my child’s father is none other than world-renowned tennis champion Fabian Catalano—famous for his gorgeous face, chiseled abs, and broody, wildcard reputation.

Only everything changes when the clinic calls us in for damage control—and Fabian drops the bombshell of the century. Turns out the intense Adonis wants to get to know his daughter.

So I invite him to stay with us—temporarily.

Ground rules and all.

And our arrangement is simple … until it isn’t.

Between 2 AM feedings and stolen kisses, my sweet little simple life has taken a very complicated left turn.

But oh, baby. What happens next—is a game changer.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 29, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Winter Renshaw writes my kind of contemporary romances: angsty, lots of twists and great chemistry. So the synopsis for this book intrigued me. I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before–didn’t even know that was a thing! But if anyone could get me interested in one, it would be Winter Renshaw.

The Concept:

I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before. I’ve read one night stands that have accidental pregnancies but nothing about an anonymous donor. So this was definitely a different take on your typical meet-cute romance. And I think you need to go in with an open mind because it definitely teeters towards a fantastical approach. You gotta remember that fiction is fiction and sometimes things don’t need to mimic life exactly to be successful in a contemporary romance.

The Plot:

The weakest aspect to this story for me was the pacing of the plot. I liked the characters, their development and the eventual romance. My problem was more with the way the drama unfolded. Things move really fast–which is why I said a reader should go in with an open mind–but at the expense of some logic. Considering how resistant the two leads were to having each other in their lives, I just thought the progression of that element happened wayyy to fast. And that affected the pacing of the other plot elements as well. I think just adding 2 more months to the timeline would have helped smooth those inconsistencies over a bit.

The Characters:

Because things move fast, and I would have loved to have dived deeper into some of the character developments. I felt like we just scratched a surface. But for the purposes of this story (ie this isn’t some realistic fiction novel about falling for your baby’s anonymous donor), I felt like I knew enough about each of them to get a good feel for them.

The Romance:

One thing I really loved is that the chemistry between Rossi and Fabian is there from the moment they meet. I liked that I could see a great connection anytime they talked and that translated over to the physical side of the relationship.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

But I enjoyed reading about this couple and watching their story unfold. It was refreshing for me because I’ve never read anything quite like it. And I think if you go in knowing it’s a quick and steamy read that focuses on the happier side of things, you’ll enjoy it for what it is.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, reuniting parents
Avoid if You: want more of a “sports” novel

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Single Sundays: Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) by Monica Murphy

Single Sundays: Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) by Monica Murphy

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 Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) (from Goodreads):
Whit Lancaster burst into my life like a storm. Dark and thunderous, furious and fierce. Cold, heartless and devastatingly beautiful, like the statues in our prep school gardens. The school with his family name on the sign. He can do no wrong here. This is his domain.

He’s a menace on campus. Adored and feared. Hated and respected. His taunting words carve into my skin, shredding me to ribbons. Yet his intense gaze scorches my blood, fills me with a longing I don’t understand.

When I stumble upon him one night alone, I find him broken. Bleeding. My instincts scream to leave and let him suffer, but I can’t. I sneak him into my room. Clean him up. Fall for his lies. Let him possess every single part of me until I’m the one left a gasping, broken mess.

When he leaves me alone in the dead of night, he takes my journal with him.

Now he knows all my secrets. My hate. My truth. And he promises to use my words against me. I’ll be ruined if my darkest secret gets out.

That’s when I strike a bargain with the devil.

I’ll let Whit Lancaster ruin me behind closed doors instead.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (extremely *spicy YA*) | (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 29, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This is the first standalone I’ve read from Monica Murphy in awhile. I’ve mostly been reading her series The Callahans and The College Years. But I knew that this was a particular passion project of hers and I love a good hate-to-love you romance so I was excited to start this.

The Concept:

I felt a little odd putting the genre type as “Erotica” in the same line as “Young Adult” but I feel like I need to include it so people know that they are expecting. This book is just plain steamy—and it would still be steamy even if the characters were older. There is a lot of sex and it is a long book so expect it to be pretty frequent. If reading about young adults having sex bothers you, don’t pick this up. I felt like this book was more reminiscent of Monica’s adult series The Fowler Sisters works than her YA/NA books in terms of sexual content.

The Plot:

I’ve attempted a few High School Bully Romances but this was the first one I really, really enjoyed. The angst, the passion, the chemistry — it’s all there and it is delicious. This is like a good teen soap opera if you ask me where you want the two leads to just get together already!

While some plot points were predictable, there are a few twists along the way to keep you interested. This book is super long page-count-wise but I never really got bored with it. Some of the plot points get a little lost I think at times (like the whole journal thing) but I think that’s because the story focuses more on the romance and passion. But I never really minded honestly, I was there for the romance.

The Characters:

Summer has to be the first heroine in this high-school-bully-romance trend that I’ve read who actually fights back and holds her ground. But she knows when to surrender and accepts that. I found she never waivered in her convictions and I really appreciated that. I struggled with some of her character background and how it was dealt with but I really did enjoy her character’s journey.

Whit: I think you love to hate him. We don’t get as many chapters from him which I think works to the story’s advantage. He’s a mysterious asshole but those brief glimpses we get inside his brain propel the story forward. He really does have the best character development of the two.

The Romance:

Like I said above, this is pretty steamy and not always in a vanilla way either. But I liked how we explored the submissive/dominate side of their relationship and seeing how that can evolve over time. A lot of the time in romances, those character traits are long established in one of our leads so it was an interesting dynamic seeing it blossom in both our leads and how they try to understand it.

I was really addicted to watching these two fall in love. They are the definition of forbidden romance, which makes it all the sweeter when they give in.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you are a fan of the high-school-bully romance and/or can accept the steamy sexual content, I think you’ll enjoy this. But if you struggle with sexual content in your YA/New Adult novels, look elsewhere. I’m hoping that there will be a spin-off at some point because I loved this world so much!

Read if You Like: steamy reads, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

Spin-Off Saturdays: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Wallflower is a spin-off of the book Adorkable

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author

This is a spinoff of Adorkable.

Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 25, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

warning WARNING: If you have not finished the original novel, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of YA contemporary per say, but I am a fan of Cookie O’Gorman’s YA contemporaries. They are just SO FREAKING GOOD. They never fail to bring a smile to my face and the romances always give me butterflies. And Adorkable–Cookie’s debut–was the book that made me a fan of her work. This spin-off was the novel I didn’t know I needed but am oh-so-happy to get.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Sweet As Can Be!

This book was just as sweet and adorable as its predecessor! I smiled my whole way through it. There are a few tropes at play so the story reads like a rom-com (which is great) but there is also a simplicity to it that reminds you that love doesn’t need to be laced in complex layers or traumatic pasts.

Swoon-Worthy Hero

Dare–what a charmer he is! He was just plain swoon-worthy. We don’t get his POV so I liked that he was a bit of a mystery.

Great Banter

These two are so much fun to watch! I loved their scenes together.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Slight Disconnect

There was just something that stopped me from giving this a full 5/5. Maybe the pacing? I’m not even sure what it was honestly. Maybe I was just in a funk when I finished it?

Viola is an Only Child

I just want more books, that’s my only complaint…I would love to see more of Sally and Becks as parents.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I you want a book you can get lost in and finish in one sitting, this is it! The flow of the writing will suck you as you read this sweet rom-com!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, YA contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wallflower (from Goodreads):

Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she’s content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.

Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn’t part of the plan.

And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?

Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.

The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.

Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she’d thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola’s feelings become more real.

The problem: Viola knows she’s falling for Dare—but he doesn’t believe in love.

This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:

Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?

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Single Sundays: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Single Sundays: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

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 Romanov (from Goodreads):

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

breakdown

Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As someone who claims to love Imperial Russian History as much as I do, I really don’t know much about Anastasia Nikolaevna. I think most people know the gist of her family’s history and their subsequent exile. But I like books that explore alternate histories and play the “what-if” game so this was something I was eager to read!

The Concept / The World:

It’s hard to write a story–reimagining or not–that is based on history. I mean, most of us know how Anastasia’s (Nastya) story ends so it can be hard to surprise a reader. But at the same time, a good story teller should be able to weave together the historical moments we already know and give you a new perspective on it.

Here, that perspective is the idea that Nastya had magic. And I think that both helps and hurts the story at the same time. Could you have omitted it and still had a story? Probably.

The Plot:

Like I said above, you kinda already know how things are going to go for the Romanovs. This is a survival story and that can make it very depressing at times. As someone who loves the glitz of Imperial Russia, it was a good reminder for me that things weren’t always so opulent and a lot of people suffered during this time period.

But the pacing of the plot was just off for me and I found my mind wandering. Maybe if I knew more about Anastasia’s history, certain scenes would have popped out for me more.

The Characters:

One of my favourite aspects of this story is the Romanov family. The heart of this novel is about a family trying to survive while still being a family. Yes, they had incredible power and control, but when they lose it all, they are just a family. Their bonds and their sacrifices were heartwarming and heart-wrenching to watch unfold.

I also liked that things weren’t always black and white with some of our character interactions. There’s a lot of lessons about getting to know a person before you pass judgement and learning to forgive others for their past actions.

The Romance:

I think I’m in the minority for this one but I didn’t love the romance. I can appreciate the slow burn and the challenges they face but I was never fully convinced it was an amazing connection. Or maybe that is the point of it: that love can come from unlikely places and surprise you.

My Audiobook Experience:

It’s quite a lengthy audiobook and even though I listen to books at a faster playback speed, it did feel slow to me. Maybe that affected my overall feelings for the book. Though I think if I read it as an eBook/book, I might have put it down…

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one just didn’t do much for me. I think fans of the Anastasia story and who know the history might get more out of this magic spin to her story.

Read if You Like: Imperial Russia, historical retellings, magic
Avoid if You: dislike survival or depressing stories

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Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

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 Shadows Between Us (from Goodreads):
Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

breakdown

Author: Tricia Levenseller
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I noticed that my library had this book, it didn’t immediately click for me that Tricia Levenseller wrote The Daughter of the Pirate King. A novel I really enjoyed for its wit and kickass heroine. So when I read the description of this novel and realized she was the author, I was pretty excited to dive in.

The Concept / The World:

Alessandra hooks you in from the start with her devious plans. Her drive for power and to obtain it at any costs is usually something we only see in male characters so I appreciated it here immensely. Watching her execute her plan is delicious fun.

I worried that the magic elements here would be too much but I found it was balanced well. It isn’t an overly complicated world or system by any means. So much so that you almost forget it’s a factor until it pops up again.

The Plot:

I was hooked into this book from the start as I watched the schemes begin. But then things got a little dry for me as we approached the first half. The latter half of the novel picks up as all the plot lines start to converge.

I did want a little more from the plot though. I thought that all the big “WOW” moments felt subdued, particularly around the long running mysteries. They didn’t pack as much punch as they should have in my opinion.

The Characters:

Like I said earlier, I really liked Alessandra’s character. Her rebellion isn’t unique per say but I found her character to be unique how she carries herself and thinks 5 steps ahead. I always appreciate cunning heroines and she certainly is.

The Romance:

I thought Alessandra had great chemistry with the King…when they actually shared a scene together. I think their relationship could have been more in focus for the first half. It falls to the wayside a bit and that’s a real shame. I didn’t see this big life changing bond forming between them, though I could see how it would one day. I just craved more scenes of them together.

My Audiobook Experience:

A very entertaining listen. I usually listen to audiobooks while in the car or while doing something else but this one made me want to stop and just listen.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Whilst entertaining, it didn’t WOW me like I wanted it to.

Read if You Like: kickass heroines, magic
Avoid if You: dislike morally questionable leads

similarreads

  • Keturah & Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Daughter of the Pirate King Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

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 Arrogant Fiancé (from Goodreads):

He wasn’t meant to be on my radar, he was definitely the off-limits guy.
My brother’s best friend, my friend’s ex, but most of all he was my boss.
Hawk Carnage resembled one thing, and one thing only. Sex.
He used it, he knew it, he lived it. Hawk owned the largest lingerie company in the world, and I was his leading lady.
In business.
But now business and friendship were about to be crossed. The lines blurred, and I was ready to dip my toes in the forbidden water. Because no matter how much I said I could refrain from Hawk Carnage, now was not the time.
He was to be my fake fiancé.
And I was about to sink into that forbidden water, with Hawk’s hands clutching my sides.
Lord help me because I was about to enjoy every moment of it.
Even if it was just for fun.
Even if it would ruin everything.
I was going to dive in head first.

breakdown

Author: T L Smith and Melissa Jane
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely sure why I bought this book. It might have been a recommendation from Kobo? Regardless, it has some of my favourite tropes at play like fake fiances and forbidden romance so I’m sure that’s why I picked it up.

Of course, it’s been sitting on my Kobo for nearly 3 years. I picked it up when I was working a boring shift at work and wanted something quick to read (and something I owned for my Tackling the TBR challenge) that I could pickup when I actually had to stop reading and do my job.

Previously Published as “Cocky Fiancé”:

So at first I really struggled to find this title on my Kobo! I had it marked on Goodreads as “Cocky Fiancé” and typing that in lead me to nothing. So searching for the authors helped me find it and that’s when I realized it had been rereleased as “Arrogant Fiancé”.

That’s when I remembered #CockyGate and all these books that had to be renamed because someone trademarked the work “cocky”. You can read more info about it here. So in short, Arrogant Fiancé = Cocky Fiancé.

The Plot:

One thought I had when reading this book was: did the author’s have a challenge to see how many romance tropes they could throw into one book? You’ve got the forbidden romance of a boss and his employee, who happens to be her brothers’ BFF; who she decides is the perfect person to play her fake fiancé. It was a lot thrown at you plus whatever drama was in store.

I think you have to take this book with a grain of salt. It’s melodramatic to say the least. I mean the reason Hawk becomes her fake fiancé is because Britta seems to be a glutton for punishment and agrees to go to a wedding she should never have gone to in the first place.

Add to that the other drama that is packed in at the end and I feel like just pushed the romance to take a backseat which is a shame because I really liked their chemistry together.

The Characters:

Like I said above, Britta is a glutton for punishment. It’s weird because she is so assertive in some scenes but then a complete wimp in others. I understand she is broken from a past relationship but all the more reason to say “no” to certain situations she finds herself in.

Hawk lives up to the “cocky”/”arrogant” name. He says “cock” more than I’ve ever encountered in book before that’s for sure. But I found him to be charming in a way because he clearly wants to do the right thing by Britta.

The Romance:

I really loved the chemistry between these two. You could tell that spark has always been there (especially for Hawk) but these two have had all those tropes in their way. All the drama seems to be the push they finally need but it also got in the way of really grounding the romance.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick, steamy read with a charming bad boy lead this is a great choice!

Read if You Like: lots of romance tropes, drama
Avoid if You: want more layered characters

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