Category «Series Reviews»

Series Review: Beast of Bishop’s Landing by Amelia Wilde

Series Review: Beast of Bishop’s Landing by Amelia Wilde

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 Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

The beast hides a dark secret in his past…

Leo Morelli is known as the Beast of Bishop’s Landing for his cruelty. He’ll get revenge on the Constantine family and make millions of dollars in the process. Even it means using an old man who dreams up wild inventions.

The beauty will sacrifice everything for her family…

Haley Constantine will do anything to protect her father. Even trade her body for his life. The college student must spend thirty days with the ruthless billionaire. He’ll make her earn her freedom in degrading ways, but in the end he needs her to set him free.

breakdown

Series: Beast of Bishop’s Landing | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Amelia Wilde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot to Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2021 – July 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I deviated from the recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe I have listed below because I thought our hero, Leo, was the more intriguing of the two Morelli Brothers we met in the Cinderella Trilogy. I was really wanted to learn more about his character and see who could tame him in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I felt like it was a pretty loose one. There are bits and pieces in the first book; not so much in the second; and then inklings come back for the finale. Or perhaps I’m not overly familiar with the original fairy tale and missed some elements along the way. Regardless, this is a dark romance filled with lots of family drama and an innocent heroine who charms a scorned man — exactly what you expect for a Beauty and the Beast Retelling.

I really struggled to get into the story with Secret Beast (#1). I found it to be terribly dry and I wasn’t immediately won over by the romance. The drama picks up by the end of the book and that’s when things get a little more interesting and grabbed my attention. But I went through a bit of the same disinterest in Book #2, Hidden Beauty.

I thought the finale (#3 – Fallen Rose) struck a better balance between character growth, romance and drama and for me it was the best of the series.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series yet all share the same characters as each other.

Most readers will have met Leo in the Cinderella Trilogy where he lives up to the name “beast” in my opinion. He was pretty ruthless in that series so I was curious to see who would tame his heart in this series. Yet I really struggled rectifying who he was in that series with the man we meet here. I had literally just finished that other series so everything was fresh in my mind; but I just felt like there was a disconnect here, so it took me a while to let the past go and focus on him in this series.

Haley lives up to the sweet, virginal expectation of Belle. She was a new character to me so I didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about her other than what I knew from the original fairy tale.

The Romance:

Beauty and the Beast as a fairy tale is really just the original (or perhaps most well known) close proximity trope. I don’t mind that trope and since Leo isn’t actually an animal, I can get on board with the idea.
However, I truly struggled with the romance here and there are two reasons why:

The first is that I think these two spend more time apart then together. Which is weird because Haley is literally trapped in his house for the entire series. They have a single interaction by the 20% mark of Secret Beast (#1) so I wasn’t feeling that chemistry right away. (I mean, I get why Haley might not be attracted to him given the circumstances, but I missed that underlying sexual tension). Then, I felt like they spent most of Hidden Beauty (#2) apart as well. I just struggled to see that great love between them.

The second reason is that I’m not a huge fan of their kink: dubious consent. I enjoy reading a lot of darker romances so kinky sex seems to come with the territory. However, books featuring heavy BDSM content and scenes of dubious consent aren’t my favourite to read. There’s a fine line for me and this series really straddled that line for me. Haley is a virgin so that tainted the scenes because does she really know she enjoys that type of sex if she’s never really had it any other way? And was she really enjoying it or is it because Leo is constantly telling her she is that is driving her eroticism? For me, I sometimes struggled to find that answer and I will be honest that I skimmed through a lot of their intimate scenes as a result.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but I jumped a few books based on the lead for the Beast of Bishop’s Landing. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 2.5/5

Secret Beast 2/5 | Hidden Beauty 2.5/5 | Fallen Rose 3/5

overall

I really struggled with the romance of this one thanks to its sexual content. However, I got to know more about the Morelli family in the Midnight Dynasty Universe and it got me really excited to read their series next!

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, Beauty and the Beast
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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Series Review: Hearts by M O’Keefe

Series Review: Hearts by M O’Keefe

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 Ruined (from Goodreads):

Outside a glittering party, I saw a man in the dark. I didn’t know then that he was an assassin. A hit man. A mercenary. Ronan radiated danger and beauty. Mercy and mystery.

I wanted him, but I was already promised to another man. Ronan might be the one who murdered him. But two warring families want my blood. I don’t know where to turn.

In a mad world of luxury and secrets, he’s the only one I can trust.

breakdown

Series: Hearts or Ruined | A Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: M O’Keefe
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild – Book #3 only)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-3)
Publication Dates: May 2021 – August 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been binging the Midnight Dynasty Universe books but I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to think of this series before going into it. Our hero makes a brief appearance in the Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series (which I read before this one though it should have been read after) but it wasn’t long enough for me to form a big opinion of him. So, I went in with zero expectations!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

Unlike other series I’ve read to date in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, this story doesn’t seem to be inspired by another classic romance or fairy tale. Or if it is, I didn’t really put it together.

Compared to other series in the universe, I felt like this one was more plot and character driven than erotica driven. Poppy, while not an immediate Constantine family member, does interact with many of the main Constantine cohorts we’ve met in the universe so far. So that makes her story kinda feel like an aside in the sense it is somewhat independent of the other series’ plots. However, I think her story does a good job of showing the power and the characters the Constantine and Morelli families are.

The first book has a great suspense to it that I really enjoyed. And while the danger is always lurking throughout the series, it kind went to a low simmer for me after the first book. The story shifts to Ronan and Poppy’s relationship; which I enjoyed reading, they have great chemistry. But I really missed that element of suspense going forward.

The Characters:

As I said, Ronan was only briefly introduced in Secret Beast (#1 – Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series). So he was a bit of an enigma to me. Add to that, we don’t get his POV in Ruined (#1) either which I really liked. It adds to the mysterious aura his character has. We do get his POV for the rest of the series, which helps to develop his character by getting his inner thoughts.

Poppy is the main lead for most of this series and I loved her character progression as she tried to find herself after years of doing what she was told. She has great growth as she finds her independence.

The Romance:

These two lit the pages on fire anytime they were together. I loved their scenes. I love reading about a male hero who tries his darndest not to let his feelings show but cracks from time to time.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Ruined 4/5 | Broken 3/5 | Untamed 3/5

overall

While not the darkest or kinkest of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, fans will enjoy the high risk love affair and the suspense that comes along with it.

Read if You Like: dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances

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Fresh Fridays: Realm Breaker (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

Fresh Fridays: Realm Breaker (#1) by Victoria Aveyard

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:

Realm Breaker Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Realm Breaker (from Goodreads):

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

breakdown

Series: Realm Breaker
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVED The Red Queen when I read it…and was completely disappointed in its sequel. I couldn’t finish it for the life of me. I might try it as an audiobook sometime in the near future though.

I wanted to go into this series with some optimism. I did like The Red Queen after all and the politics of the world. This world sounded super cool (pirates, assassins, immortals) and it had multiple POVs which I love so I was excited when my hold came in for the audiobook.

What I Liked:

–Lack of Romance–

This is a double-edged sword for me because I LOVE a good romance in my books. I will be the first to say that often times it can distract from the plot but sometimes I need that in a book to keep me interested (which you will see is the case here).

However, I can appreciate that there really isn’t any romance at all in the book. There are definitely sparks and some inklings that maybe in future books love will be in the air. So a possible slow burn keeps things going a bit.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of Romance–

As I said above, I can appreciate that it didn’t distract from the plot but the fact of the matter is: I needed something to distract me from the plot!

–Long Prologue–

I struggled to get through the prologue. Like, at one point I went, “it’s still going?” I should have taken that as a sign to stop reading but I wanted to give this book a fair shot because I really wanted to enjoy this book.

I think the prologue really helps explain how Spindles work and how the world operates a little more. And because I zoned out during the prologue, I spent the rest of the book a little lost in what was actually happening.

–Bland Characters–

Normally I love multiple POV books because I can usually find a character or two whose plotlines I enjoy and that motivates me to keep going. Here, I thought everyone was as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall. Even our villain was lackluster to me. They just seemed like every other character from every other high fantasy novel I’ve read. Perhaps it was due to the fact the chapters are excessively long so you get tired of the monotony of the person after a while.

My Audiobook Experience:

Perhaps I should have read an actual text copy so I could flip back to refresh the world-building when needed. But I usually have great success with fantasy books as audio series. The production itself is fine though there is only one narrator. (Which works for a third person POV title but it does add to the monotony).

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t even remember how this ends and I just finished it the other day. That’s how not into it I was. I don’t have any expectations really because I won’t be continuing.

My Rating: 2/5

Realm Breaker 2/5 | Blade Breaker TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This was just a miss for me. With its promising elements I ended up feeling disconnected and disinterested in this new series and I won’t be continuing on.

Read if You Like: slower stories, fantasy, dislike long & wordy books
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Spin-off Saturdays: Dirty Wild by Laurelin Paige

Spin-off Saturdays: Dirty Wild by Laurelin Paige

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:

Dirty Wild Series is a spin-off of the Dirty Duet

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Wild, Dirty Universe

This is a spinoff of the Dirty Duet Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-3)
Publication Date: March 2021 – September 2021
Source & Format: Kobo—eBook (Own-#1); KoboPlus (#2-#3)

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

It’s a given at this point, I love anything Laurelin Paige writes. The Dirty Universe books have been cohesive yet original for each series. They’ve all got a darker edge to them but the plots differ as they explore different tropes with unique characters.

I’d been looking forward to Cade’s book because he was such an enigma in the other books in this universe. So I patiently waited for all these books to be released so I could binge them in one go!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Darker Edge–

If you’ve read the synopsis I think it’s obvious that this book has a darker tone as our heroine, Jolie, recruits our hero, Cade, to kill her father. That plot-point brings an edge of danger and action to this series that wasn’t there in the previous books. It also introduces a bit of a mystery about why Jolie has returned after staying away for so long.

–Relationship Starts at Zero–

Both Cade and Jolie are characters we don’t know too much about. Honestly, I’m not even sure if Jolie is mentioned in the other books–or if she is, I totally forgot about it! Cade plays a small role in the other books, but he is only briefly mentioned so I didn’t know much about him either. So their shared past is a completely unknown to me and therefore, I wasn’t sure what to expect of their relationship.

Whereas, the other books that are in this universe, allude to things a little more with the next set of leads thanks to plotlines that interweave a little more.

–Interweaves With Other Series–

I always enjoy when these books overlap with the previous novels in the Dirty Universe. It helps give you as the reader a 365-degree view of what was happening and how other characters felt about it. Like I said above, it doesn’t overlap a lot but enough that you can see where it fits in the grand scheme of the universe.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slow Start for Wild Rebel–

I thoughts things moved a little too slowly in Book #1, Wild Rebel. We did a lot of dancing around issues for the first half of the book. Things picked up by the end though and once we get on that track, the plot and romance picks up rapidly in the subsequent books.

Series Rating: 4/5

Wild Rebel 3/5 | Wild War 4/5 | Wild Heart 5/5

overall

This was a series that slowly built as you put the puzzle pieces together to see the entire picture. It’s a great series to binge for that reason!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, suspenseful romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark stories, stories involving abuse

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wild Rebel (from Goodreads):

We were supposed to run away after graduation.
When she didn’t show at our meeting place, I got brave and went after her.
It was a mistake.
I left bloodied and bruised.
I had no choice but to walk away.

Years passed.
I traveled, settled halfway around the world,
made enough money that I didn’t have to look back.
But I never got over her.

Then, out of the blue, she calls.

And, what she asks for, the favor that she wants?
I never thought I’d be willing to take a life.
But the truth is, and always has been: I’d do anything for her.

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Series Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Series Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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 Testing (from Goodreads):

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honoured to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies—trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every gruelling (and deadly) day of the Testing.

To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

breakdown

Series: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 The Testing Guide

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2013 – June 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually think The Testing (#1) is the first book I added to my TBR by Charbonneau; I saw it as a freebie on Amazon one day and downloaded it. But I ended up reading (and enjoying) her Dividing Eden Series first. When my library added the audiobooks for this trilogy last year, I was excited to give this series a try! It has been a long time since I read a dystopian novel and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

The Concept / The World:

If the Hunger Games and Divergent had a baby, I feel like it would be this book. It reminded me a little of the construction of the Red Queen where it is a mash-up of everything you expect in the genre (only the Red Queen is high fantasy). Yet at the same time, everything here felt unique and refreshing in a way. It’s a really cool world to explore and it has so many layers to it–but you don’t realize that is the case right away either which I think is a lot of fun.

The Plot:

At the start of The Testing (#1), this book felt really “young teen” or middle age dystopian to me. I think I got that impression thanks to the naïve vibes I was getting from our heroine, Cia. Of course, she’s naïve because society wants her to be that way, not because she is unintelligent. (More on that below!)

Once the true nature of the testing is revealed and the more sinister edge to this world takes center stage. This series doesn’t have a lot of physical action compared to others in the genre. Yes, parts of the testing has physically dangerous elements but I found everything was rooted more in logic and thinking and testing the characters that way. It almost reads like Divergent, only if you focused more on the politics of the world than the physical battle for it.

However, I felt a little let down in how everything progresses. I kept waiting for a big reveal to take things to the next level. And while there are some great twists that I really didn’t see until they were just about to be revealed, they were just a little underwhelming for me.

The Characters:

Perhaps I am in the minority for this: but I loved how Cia’s character evolved as the series progressed. One thing that I thought was interesting about her character is that she really isn’t emotionally driven like some heroines we meet in this genre, but more moral based. Although she has a strong moral compass, she definitely isn’t devoid of feelings. She’s an intelligent, logical girl who really tackles everything that comes her way by thinking things through. I appreciated that she was always thinking 3 steps ahead when she made decisions and could see the bigger picture.

To a certain extent, Cia is a bit of a special snowflake heroine and I know that irks others who have read this series. For some reason she is singled out during the Testing when really, there isn’t anything extremely remarkable about her. But I think she works really hard to apply herself when challenges are brought her way rather than things just falling into place for her.

The Romance:

I liked that this kept me guessing a bit. It’s an interesting element to the story, particularly in the first book during the Testing. It isn’t a huge driving element to the story but another factor to consider as the plot moves on. Could it have been played upon more?–Definitely. I really thought there was a missed opportunity to have this element take things to the next level and add a more dramatic flare to Cia’s life than the dull flare it brings.

My Audiobook Experience:

It took me a bit to get into but once I got into the story, the audiobook was addicting to listen to throughout the series. I thought the narrator did a good job bringing Cia’s character to life.

When to Read The Testing Guide (#0.5):

I didn’t read this prequel but you can likely read it at any time since the events take place years before the trilogy. If you want to read it in chronological order, then read it before The Testing (#1).

Series Rating: 3/5

[The Testing Guide N/A| The Testing 3.5/5 | Independent Study 3.5/5 | Graduation Day 3/5

overall

Fans of dystopian YA fiction will see a lot of similarities to other books but I enjoyed the weaving of classic dystopian elements. However, I kept waiting for something amazing to happen so the conclusion felt a little lackluster to me. And I when I finished, I kinda struggled with “what was the purpose of this whole series” which isn’t the best way to end a series if you ask me.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, books dealing with politics
Avoid if You: want more physical action

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Series Review: Cinderella by K Webster

Series Review: Cinderella by K Webster

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 Stroke of Midnight (from Goodreads):

Money can buy anything. And anyone.
As the head of the Constantine family, I’m used to people bowing to my will. Cruel, rigid, unyielding—I’m all those things.
When I discover the one woman who doesn’t wither under my gaze, but instead smiles right back at me, I’m intrigued. Ash Elliott needs cash, and I make her trade in crudeness and degradation for it.
I crave her tears, her moans, her submission. I pay for each one. And every time, she comes back for more.
When she challenges me with an offer of her own, I have to decide if I’m willing to give her far more than cold hard cash. But love can have deadly consequences when it comes from a Constantine. At the stroke of midnight, that choice may be lost for both of us.

breakdown

Series: Cinderella Trilogy | Midnight Dynasty Series

There is a direct spin-off: Deception Duet

Author: K Webster
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Mild | BDSM: Mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2020 – April 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this series when I was browsing Kobo Plus Series I could read with my trial subscription. Only when I tried to read another book (Triple Threat) that sounded a little more interesting did I discover that this series was the first in the Midnight Dynasty Universe. So, I stopped reading that book so I could start from the very beginning of this universe with this trilogy.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time but there are chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe.

The Plot:

This series is a modern, dark retelling of Cinderella. Ash has found herself on the outs of her family now that her father has married a wealthy, prominent doctor who has 3 sons herself. In a bid to escape to college, she winds up working and catching the attention of Winston Constantine. The rest of the trilogy ties in lose adaptations of the classic fairy tale but things are a little darker and twisted.

Part of the appeal of the Midnight Dynasty Universe is that there are major families dueling to rule New York City. The Constantines are one powerful family so as soon as Ash and Winston enter their bargain, the drama ensues. It reminded me a lot of the soap operas of Dynasty or Dallas — only there is a lot more (kinky) sex and violence.

The Characters:

I liked Ash and her need for independence. She isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, whether that’s Winston or going to college. She isn’t a total damsel in distress which I can appreciate, even if she needs the help of others along the way.

Winston is like a kinkier Christian Gray to me. He comes across gruff and distant but he actually has a heart under there once you peel back those layers.

This series also lays down the foundation for the other characters that will be featured in the Midnight Dynasty Universe so it was great to start to see how deep the family feuds run and who the key players are.

The Romance:

You have to know what you are getting into with this story or you won’t enjoy it. It’s dark, twisted and sits on the edge of being taboo sometimes. It’s like Fifty Shades amped up to the next level; so if you don’t enjoy alpha leads or kinky novels, stay away!

It took me a while to warm up to Winston and Ash’s relationship. It’s bordered on the creepy for me at the start with the difference in their ages and with how strong Winston comes on. But as the series goes on, I really started to like these two together. They start to peel back each other’s layers and I can see how they would work together.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but I jumped a few books after reading the Cinderella Trilogy based on the lead for the Beast of Bishop’s Landing. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings since:

Series Rating: 3/5

Stroke of Midnight 3.5/5 | Prince Charming 3/5 | The Glass Slipper 3/5

overall

You need to be a fan of darker contemporary romances or erotica to enjoy this. Otherwise, I would say to stay away. But fans of darker contemporary romances with plenty of steam will enjoy this first foray into the Midnight Dynasty Universe and the many other books that take place within it.

Read if You Like: alpha males, kinky/dark erotica
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike age gap romances

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Series Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Series Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (from Goodreads):

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav of 2020
Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella called: Kill Joy

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2019 – September 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it was the title that drew me into reading the synopsis for this book. I had noticed it as an audiobook addition at my library and once I read the synopsis, I immediately put a hold on it. I love a good murder mystery and we don’t often encounter them a lot in the YA genre (I suppose that’s a good thing) so that always catches my attention. And while I don’t listen to podcasts, they seem to be all the rage–especially true crime–so I was interested to see how it would all play out.

The Concept:

I really loved how this series was formatted! It’s a blend of notes, interviews and reports from Pip’s projects interspersed with a narrated story. I’ve only read a few novels that use this approach of documents–The Illuminae Files being the most notable for me–but it works so well with a mystery novel. You almost feel like you are building the case yourself as all these pieces of evidence come in. It just gives this great suspense to the story.

The Plot:

The key to any good mystery is making it not too obvious but still making it within the realm of possibility. I took a detective fiction course in university so I really judge mystery novels hard because I’ve studied the bones of the genre. This series had enough red herrings along the way to keep you guessing but the solutions were always within reason.

At times, I feel like Books #1 & #2 wane a little bit in the middle; but I had such a blast listening to the audiobooks (thanks to the different mediums the information is delivered in) I didn’t notice all that much.

I did struggle with the direction of As Good As Dead (#3) however. This book has a completely different tone to it thanks to the outcomes of the first two books. There were a lot of options to reach the same conclusion and I think some readers won’t like the options that were chosen. I know I didn’t love a lot of the choices. However, when I take a step back and see how this book fits in with the overall series, I understand why things unfold the way they do.

The Characters:

I liked Pippa a lot. Not every “detective” is Sherlock Holmes (though he is fab) with their aloof intelligence. Pippa is kinda like the everyday girl, and I think that appeals to a reader: because if she can solve the mystery, surely you can as well.

Like any good mystery in a small town, you get to know all the other characters (or suspects?) throughout the series. It’s a solid cast of characters.

The Romance:

It’s not a huge part of the story but the little inklings warmed my heart. It brings home the fact that Pip is a regular girl in the midst of her own coming of age story and grounds the story when she gets those romantic moments throughout the series.

My Audiobook Experience:

Honestly, I think this is the whole reason why I rated this series so high: I LOVED the audio versions. Having a whole cast to bring the interview scenes to life and all the other documents (complete with sound effects) just gave me so much joy as I listened. It isn’t often I just lay around listening to an audiobook (usually I’m driving/walking or doing chores) but I was so addicted to this, I made time to listen. I guess I get the appeal now of true crime podcasts!

When to Read the Novella:

I didn’t read the prequel novella Kill Joy. My library didn’t have a copy and I wasn’t interested enough in it to buy it for myself. However, my research shows that you can read it at any time as it takes place before the first book but doesn’t spoil anything.

Series Rating: 4/5

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder 5/5 | Good Girl, Bad Blood 4/5 | As Good As Dead 3.5/5

overall

A thrilling, suspenseful murder mystery that keeps things grounded in reality. A fabulous series–and one I highly recommend you listen to as an audiobook!

Read if You Like: true crime podcasts, thrillers, mysteries
Avoid if You: want a romance-based story

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Series Review: The Arranged Marriage by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: The Reluctant Bride (The Arranged Marriage Trilogy #1) by Monica Murphy

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:

The Arranged Marriage Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Reluctant Bride (from Goodreads):

Everyone’s for sale, including me. One moment I’m the forgotten daughter of one of the most wealthy families in the country, and the next I’m the blushing bride in an arranged marriage. My fate is sealed in my wedded union with a complete stranger.

In public, Perry Constantine is the life of the party. Easygoing. Adored. In private, he’s brooding. Dark. Angry. But so am I. It’s a contest of wills to see who will break in the bedroom first, and while I try to remain strong, I find myself craving the very man I swore to hate.

My husband.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Arranged Marriage Trilogy, Wedded Bliss | Midnight Dynasty Series

Linked to A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime & The Wrong Brother

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2022 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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**This post was originally published 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:

I wanted to read this book as soon as Monica announced she was writing it. It was only a happy coincidence that I discovered the Midnight Dynasty Universe, before this book was published and met Perry in his brother’s book, Stroke of Midnight, and absolutely loved him. So I was DYING for his book to be released.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

This series takes place after a number of other titles in the world chronologically. It is also linked to other Monica Murphy titles: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime and The Wrong Brother — the books about Charlotte’s brothers.

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn–

Forced into a marriage to appease their powerful families, these two fight this innate connection pulling them together. When they start to realize that they have more in common than the thought, the walls slowly come down and the beginning of something beautiful starts to take shape.

–Charlotte–

I adored her. She has such depth to her character but, like her relationship with Perry, it slowly comes up to the surface as she tries to make her way in the world.

–Perry–

I’ve always loved Perry. He’s got this charisma to him and a heart of gold that I was so excited to see him find his perfect match. Charlotte keeps him on his toes and brings out his true self which I appreciate.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Have to Wait for the Next One–

Since February, I’ve been binge reading all the Midnight Dynasty Universe that have been published so far. I hate that I have to wait to see what will happen next and not simply pick up the next book immediately after finishing!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I quickly put together the ending within the last few chapters, I cannot wait to see where this one goes!

updates

–June 23, 2022– Book #2: The Ruthless Groom

I love these two so much! It was great seeing them get to know each other a little more and open up to the idea of this being a real marriage. They have a great dynamic and communicate so well together. It’s an absolute treat to watch them in a scene together.

I’ve adored Perry every time he makes an appearance in the Midnight Dynasty novels, but it is so fantastic to get his inner monologue. He is quickly becoming a favourite of the universe for me. And I love seeing this vulnerable side that Charlotte seems to bring out of him. It expands his character development perfectly.

Charlotte is coming into her own too. I’m enjoying her character evolution in this series. She’s feisty as she learns to rebel and become her own person. It’s so satisfying to watch.

There was also this edge of suspense that steadily built until that cliffhanger ending! Gah! Can’t wait for the finale!

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Reluctant Bride 4.5/5 | The Ruthless Groom 5/5 | The Reckless Groom TBP

overall

This series has all the suspense and family intrigue of the Midnight Dynasty Universe but those unfamiliar with the world will find themselves captivated by this couple and how they fit into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, fake relationships
Avoid if You: want hardcore erotica

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DNF Series Review: Something in the Way by Jessica Hawkins

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 Something in the Way (from Goodreads):

It was a hot summer day when I met him on the construction site next to my parents’ house. Under the sweat and dirt, Manning Sutter was as handsome as the sun was bright. He was older, darker, experienced. I wore a smiley-face t-shirt and had never even been kissed. Yet we saw something in each other that would link us in ways that couldn’t be broken…no matter how hard we tried.

I loved Manning before I knew the meaning of the word. I was too young, he said. I would wait. Through all the carefully-chosen words hiding what we knew to be true, through his struggle to keep me innocent, and through infinitely-starry nights—I would wait. But I’d learn that life isn’t always fair. That no matter how much you achieve, none of it matters if you suffer the heartbreak that comes with falling for someone you can never have. Because even though I saw Manning first, that didn’t matter. My older sister saw him next.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Reads 2021
Series: Something in the Way
Author: Jessica Hawkins
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Something in the Way at 13% (Start of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance, which is why I probably picked this up when it was a freebie one day on Amazon. Like many books I add to my personal collection, it was a few years before I got around to it. But I was excited to start this last fall when I wanted some juicy drama.

What I Liked:

–The Book Starts in 1993–
I thought it was super cool that this story starts in 1993. There’s a nuance to setting the story in that year that I think we forget about as modern readers. Like cellphones and social media. It almost added a nostalgia factor to the story (even if I was a baby that year!)

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lake Was Extremely Dull–
Lake (our heroine) is about as exciting as paste drying. I don’t know how one girl could be so out of touch with reality and popular culture. I think that is supposed to be her calling-card though–the naive good girl who falls for the bad boy–but it was taking too long for me to get interested enough in her.
She felt like the basic prototype of what a contemporary romance heroine should be but with no extra embellishments.
–Manning is Irresistible?–
I didn’t even make it to Manning’s (our hero?) first POV chapter but his dialogue with Lake in the chapter before did nothing for me. I have a hard time believing he gets 2 girls to fall for him honestly.
–The Age Difference–
I don’t mind reading “taboo” or forbidden romances that explore age gaps and other aspects between their leads. But the age difference between Lake and Manning–especially with how their characters are initially presented–just came across as pure creepy to me and not at all romantic.

Will I Finish It?

I honestly contemplated reading more chapters to give this book more of a chance (it is really long for a contemporary romance and nothing had really happened by that point so I was willing to see if it would improve in a few chapters). But, I read a lot of reader reviews on Goodreads for the first book, as well as the sequels and gathered that I would not enjoy this series at all given the direction it goes in. So I decided to end my adventure before I got too far.

My Rating: DNF

Something in the Way DNF | Somebody Else’s Sky N/A | Move the Stars TBP | Lake + Manning TBP

overall

I think if you enjoy family drama and love triangles, this is probably a good series for you to pick up. But if you like more complex characters in your romantic leads, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: love triangles, drama, angst, stubborn characters
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles
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Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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:

Mary Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for My Contrary Mary (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head – or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.⠀

breakdown

Series: Mary

This is a spinoff of the My Lady Janies Series.

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a bit of a so-so relationship with the My Lady Janies Series. I didn’t *love* it but I enjoyed the idea of spinning well known history and there were some moments of brilliance interspersed with moments of silliness. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick up this series but when I read that the first book was about Mary Queen of Scots–a historical figure I knew a decent amount about–I was willing to give them a shot.

What I Liked:

–I Was Familiar with the History–

Part of my struggle with the Jane Series was that I wasn’t overly familiar with all the history of our lead characters. So certain scenes and how they unfold were a little lost on me. I couldn’t see the intelligent spin the authors put on the historical moments.

But I do know the history of Mary Queen of Scots because I researched her story after I started watchin the TV Series Reign. As I often do with series that are based on history, I read the history and learn what history says happened, not the creative license TV shows or movies sometimes take.

So I think I got a little more out of this story because I could see how the Eðian (shapeshifting) aspects puts a spin on notable history events.

–Witty–

I laughed a lot thanks to the audiobook. I learned with the Jane Series that the audiobooks were the way to go for me to get the most out of the humour. But there is a lot of play on words and other aspects that made me appreciate the efforts the authors put into weaving this tale.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Sometimes It Gets Silly–

I have a bit of a love-hate thing with the Eðian aspect. It’s a fun idea and helps explain some of the prejudices of the time. But sometimes, I think it gets a little silly and distracts from the realism of these historical events. Having read the Jane series, I knew what to expect when it comes to these twists but I’m still torn on how much I actually like them in the books.

My Audiobook Experience:

I learned my lesson with the last series that the humour and dry wit comes across better when I listen to these books as audiobooks so that’s what I did for this series. I definitely enjoyed the audiobook production and I do think it contributes positively to my reading experience.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a little undecided about continuing on with this series. I’m not a huge Mary Shelley fan and the synopsis for the second book doesn’t overly excite me. I like Fae stories though….we will see. Right now I’ve marked it as a pass on Goodreads.

My Rating: 3/5

My Contrary Mary 3/5 | My Imaginary Mary TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Fans of the original Jane series will be excited for another round of historical hijinks! And new fans will appreciate the clever weaving of fantasy and history — so long as you know what you are getting into before you pick it up.

Read if You Like: historical retellings with fantasy spins, parodies
Avoid if You: dislike satires/parodies

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