Tag «Abuse»

Series Review: Grayson Siblings by Faith Andrews

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 Keep Me (from Goodreads):

Sexy, tatted up, underwear model Marcus Grayson is every girl’s dream—or more likely worst nightmare. He’s a player, a self-proclaimed bachelor for life, and he’s got no problem living up to his man-whore status. But when his older sister’s friend comes back from the past, he may just have the chance to turn some of his adolescent fantasies into reality.

Tessa Bradley is a self-sufficient, take-no-bull, single mother—well, now she is. Finally rid of her abusive, alcoholic ex, she’s making a new life for herself and catching up with old friends; the ones she was forced to break ties with because of her controlling husband. When she runs into Marcus, her friend Riley’s once-adorable turned smoking-hot little brother, she has no idea how he’s about to rock her world.

breakdown

Series: Grayson Siblings
Author: Faith Andrews
# of Books: 2 (Keep Me, Keep Her)
Book Order: Companion, Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary, Family
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

thoughts

Why I Picked This Up / My Expectations:

After reading a particularly slow young adult novel, I needed a lighter book to read  and decided to read Keep Me. Ever since I bought it, the plot synopsis had been stuck in the back of my mind so it was the first book that I thought to read.

My Review:

It was just what I needed when all was said and done. It was a cute romance with an interesting spin on what I have seen in the past. Instead of a younger sister crushing on her BFF’s older brother we get a reversal with the younger brother falling for his older sister’s BFF. It was a lot of fun to watch and I love the subplot romance we get introduced to (and later becomes the focus of the companion novel Keep Her).

I really enjoyed reading Keep Me. It kept my attention and I had fun reading it. There is a lot going on in their lives so I found that helped keep things moving. However, I wish the romance was elaborated more. It seemed like there was a lot of talking saying how Marcus always wanted her but all they seemed to do was have sex constantly with each other. I wanted to see more banter and sexual tension leading up to them sleeping together because I truly liked the two of them together. It was just lacking that something to make me give it that full 4 stars.

That’s where Keep Her succeeds more in my opinion. It’s a companion novel in the sense that a majority of the book takes place during the events of Keep Me but instead focuses on Marcus’ sister instead. But I liked that we got more interaction between her and her love interest: you get to see the connection between them forming more than in Keep Me and their relationship isn’t just based on sex. I also felt like their characters were better developed overall.

Until about 75% through Keep Her, I was fully going to give it a 4/5 and mark it off as my favourite of the series. But within the last quarter of the book, it got a little too soap-opera-ry for me. I understand why it was added–there were a few loose ends to tie up–but it was just a little too much for me; especially when it felt like we were getting our resolution to everything. A little over the top if you ask me but not as elaborate as I have read in some books.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Keep Me 3.5/5 | Keep Her 3.5/5

overall

These books reminded me of a New Adult version of the Darcy and Rachel Series (aka Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin). Similar setup in the sense that it revolves around a group of four friends and the romantic drama in their lives but with a young set of leads. Overall, these books are a sexier light read that fans of New Adult romances will enjoy.

Read if You Like: “off-limits” romance, new adult, drama
Avoid if You: want less sex

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Single Sundays: Breathe into Me by Sara Fawkes

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 Breathe into Me (from Goodreads):
How did my life get so broken? It’s a question Lacey St. James asks herself every day. Stuck raising her little brother in a trailer park while she works a dead end job at a grocery store, she has a stalker exboyfriend, a bad reputation, and no way out.

And then she meets Everett, whose presence changes her entire existence.

Everett is an outsider to her small community, in town for the summer housesitting one of the grand mansions off the Mississippi coast. When he saves her in a bar one night, she’s grateful but wary of his intentions. Lacey doesn’t trust most men in her life, but for reasons Lacey can’t understand, Everett is completely captivated by her. He’s determined to show her that life can offer more than she’d ever hoped for, if only she believes in herself. As she works with him to free herself, Lacey desperately yearns to trust him, to move on and perhaps start fresh.

But what happens when she finds out that everything he’s told her about himself was a lie?

Review:

I came across this book by surprise–I was browsing the Swagbucks reading section and I was able to read an excerpt of this book to collect “swagbucks”. I’m not a huge fan of reading excerpts because it doesn’t make me want to read a book after reading 10 pages BUT, the synopsis sold me so I immediately grabbed a copy from my local library.

I really loved this book! I was immediately sucked into it and had a hard time putting it down. It was a good blend of romance and drama though there were some minor “flaws” (which is too strong of a word for what I really mean) with everything.

One reason I loved it was because of Everett. He was completely swoon-worthy and just such a nice guy that it was super easy to fall in love with him. He wasn’t super possessive or over-the-top alpha male which is really refreshing in the genre; especially with books set in the South. While I didn’t love Lacey nor would I list her as my favourite heroine of all time, I appreciated her strength and ability to be independent. I liked that she didn’t become a love-struck shmuck who couldn’t live without a man. I know some people have a hard time connecting to her character and I am in the same boat, but I think overall she is a solid character. I expected her to be a little more emotional given some of the things that happened to her but it wasn’t really a deal breaker for me.

As for the plot, some parts were very predictable while others weren’t. There was a lot going on in Lacey and Everett’s lives (though most of the focus is on Lacey’s life as it is told from her POV) so it keeps things interesting as you read. Some parts felt a little rushed near the end but I still feel like they were resolved enough to satisfy me (though I am hoping for a spin-off book about a certain character we meet because I felt like her story was unresolved a bit). I do wish though that the epilogue was fuller though because I felt like it told me nothing about what happens after everything.

Conclusion:

Maybe it was just the mood I was in but this book was a solid New Adult/Coming of Age book. I really enjoyed reading it and never felt bored while doing so. It felt like a more mature, less over the top dramatic Abbi Glines New Adult novel to me focusing more on character growth than the drama. New Adult fans will want to pick this one up I think 🙂

Rating: 4.5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Yes

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Coming of Age, Abuse
Recommended for: 18+
Heat Rating: gets hotter later in the book
Point of View: First Person, Single
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Standalone 2014
Similar Reads: Redesigned by Denise Grover Swank (Off the Subject Series #2); Fallen too Far by Abbi Glines (Rosemary Beach Series #1) and Trouble by Samantha Towle

Series Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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

book book4 book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Pushing the Limits (from Goodreads):
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Series
Series: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
# of Books: 5 (Reading Order Here)

There are 3 novellas.

Book Order: Connected*

The exception is #1.5 Breaking the Rules which is a direct sequel to Pushing the Limits (#1)

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Drama, Mental Health, Dark
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

thoughts

I’m actually slightly embarrassed that it has taken me this long to write a review on this series. I totally thought I already had so I was shocked after I finished reading Crash Into You that I didn’t have to just update a previous blog post, rather I had to create one!

I read Pushing the Limits approximately one year ago. Although it had been out for a while it had just captured my attention one day at the library and I decided to pick it up. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be but after reading it I’m glad it wasn’t because I enjoyed it way more than I expected and it was so much better than I had hoped.

Young Adult or New Adult?

This series is one of those that straddles the New Adult — Young Adult line. Because they are in high school, I would tend to classify it as Young Adult but the subject mature is very mature and so are the characters so I don’t have a problem calling it New Adult (Katie McGarry classifies it as Young Adult however with Breaking the Rules as more New Adult). There is also a lot of mature subject matter that gives these books a dark edge to them — but it done extremely well and so beautifully.

My Review:

Pushing the Limits was probably one of the darker Young Adult/New Adult reads I had read up until that point in time. It deals a lot more with mental illness than other books but does so in a mature and respectful way. Echo and Noah are a great pair (as are all the characters in the next few books) and I loved watching them fall in love. I also really liked their personal development throughout the story. The rest of the cast of characters was great as well and I was excited to see them in the next few installments.

If you are like me, you will think it is pretty obvious who the next book will be about so I was shocked when I read the synopsis for Dare You To. SO DON’T READ THE SYNOPSIS FOR DARE YOU TO UNTIL YOU FINISH PUSHING THE LIMITS! At first, I wasn’t a fan of the idea but as soon as I read the book, I changed my tune. The female lead was a hard character for me to like but I really grew to like her as I read her story and I loved her match. I enjoyed reading Dare You To way more than Pushing the Limits and I really liked Pushing the Limits so that says something. I think it was because Dare You To wasn’t as emotionally dark as Pushing the Limits was.

Don’t be intimidated by the longer page length. You will see that they are quite long–over 300 pages, but when you read them they don’t feel long enough 😛 No, I joke, they are the perfect length and I find that you get so into the story that the pages just fly by.

Case and point, Crash Into You. I simply devoured the book because it was so much fun to read. I absolutely loved Rachel–she is definitely my favourite heroine yet in the series. She had some great comments early on in the book that made me laugh out loud and I loved her story. Her match is perfect for her and I loved watching them connect. Her family is also an interesting cast of characters and I’m glad to see that the 4th book will feature one of her brothers (and is it so greedy of me that I want another one focused on her brothers before I even read it?). It’s a tough call if I like this book more than Dare You To so I am going to call it a tie.

The Novella–Crossing the Line:

I did read the novella, Crossing the Line before I read Dare You To. You can essentially read Crossing the Line anytime, but probably after Pushing the Limits is the best time. It will be published in print with the Take Me On book when it is released. I wish it was a full blown novel because I loved the story but I felt like I got enough out of the novella so I wasn’t disappointed.

updates

–October 30, 2014– Book #4: Take Me On

Words cannot describe how excited I was to read Take Me On. I checked my hold at the library every week since it became available and impatiently waited for my cue. Of course it never fails that I had a butt load of books to read before I could read it; and then I had to read it in the middle of midterms (sorry midterms, but you had to wait). Take Me On was everything I wanted it to be and more. I had so much fun reading about these characters and I loved their stories. Frankly, I couldn’t get enough so fans of Crash into You will be super happy with this book.

–January 4, 2015– Book #1.5: Breaking the Rules

I originally thought Breaking the Rules was a novella so I was shocked when I got my copy and saw it was a full length novel. In the end, I’m glad it was a novel because I feel like I have more closure with Echo and Noah. Unlike Pushing the Limits, this one seemed a lot more realistic to me. I think a lot of people who had relationships in high school can understand the mindset of these characters as they struggle to define their relationship before they start college. I thought it was really well done and fans will be extremely satisfied, but I wish I had read it right after reading Pushing the Limits just for the sake of continuity.

–September 15, 2019– Book #3.5: Breaking the Rules

If anyone can pack some punch into an 84 page novella, Katie McGarry is the author to do it. This novella perfectly echoes the Pushing the Limits tone. I loved the romance, I loved the themes and I really loved how it highlights a real life charity and the impact it can have on a person.

Recommended Reading Order:

My recommended reading order for the series: Pushing the Limits, Breaking the Rules, Crossing the Line, Dare you To, Crash into Me, Take on Me, Chasing Impossible. You can read Red at Night at anytime.

Series Rating: 5/5

overall

If you enjoy stories where the romance is about finding someone who understands you for who you are, you’ll love these books. The romance is blended perfectly with character growth and the plots move quickly despite the book lengths. It’s a mature albeit dark story line so half the time you forget you are reading about high school students.

similarreads
More than This by Jay McLean (More Series #1)
Hooked by Liz Fichera (Hooked #1)

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Single Sundays: Everything Between Us by Mila Ferrera

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:

Everything Between Us is a spin-off of the Only Between Us

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, 2013 Fav

This is a spinoff of the Only Between Us.

Author: AUTHOR
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Mental Health
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

My Expectations?

You can’t deny that the premise of this book is interesting–the guy sleeping with the heroine’s mom falls in love with the daughter. It just promises to have a ton of sexual tension and drama. I came across this book while reading a blog about New Adult reads and I just had to get my hands on it.

What I Liked:

I really enjoyed reading this book for multiple reasons. One was that is was completely addicting. I just had to know what was going to happen next and I couldn’t put it down. Second is that I absolutely loved Stella and Daniel. I found that they complimented each other so well and I see why they felt the connection between each other.

I also loved how Stella’s mental illness was handled–it was really well done. Normally, I would find Stella to be annoyingly wish-washy  in her attitude and actions but because I had good understanding of her condition, I understood her behaviour and could accept it for what it is.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

But, it was hard for me to get past the fact that Daniel had slept with Stella’s mom and how that doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as you think it would be. I know from reading other reviews that a lot of people found that part hard to swallow and I would agree. But I really liked the two of them together so I was able to look past it in the end.

How it Compares to Only Between Us:

I actually read this book first and read Only Between Us years later. They are very similar in their tone and presentation but I find the leads in each novel are so unique that these books just compliment each other so well while being their own entities.

Rating: 5/5

overall

Simply put: I loved this book. It seemed to cumulate everything I love in a good New Adult read: a good plot, great sexual tension and interesting characters. Fans who like darker New Adult reads with a larger focus on mental illness will enjoy this read.

Read if You Like:
Avoid if You:
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Everything Between Us (from Goodreads):

Daniel’s got everything figured out. He makes a good living as an artist … mostly through offering “private shows” to the wives of local wealthy businessmen. He never stops playing the game and never lets anyone touch his heart. But when his current fling offers him a few hundred an hour for art lessons for her reclusive, college-dropout daughter, Daniel finds himself forgetting his own rules. The girl is rude. Insulting. Incredible.

And she sees straight through him.

Stella is hiding from the world, not because she wants to, but because crippling panic attacks await her every time she tries to live a normal life. She’s determined to push everyone–including her handsome new art teacher—away. But Daniel makes it utterly impossible. The guy is irritating. Mocking. Magnetic.

And makes her want things she knows she can never have.
What starts as a battle of wills turns into passion, where giving in means facing the things that scare them most.

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Series Review: Three Irish Brothers by Joanna Mazurkiewicz

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

Other Books in the Series:
book2 book3

Series: Three Irish Brothers
Author: Joanna Mazurkiewicz
# of Books: 3 (Beautiful Pain, book 2, book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: New Adult, Mature, Emotional, British
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts on Beautiful Pain:

I actually got this book for free one day for both my Kobo and Kindle. Since then it has gone up in price but I wouldn’t have been overly upset if I had paid the two dollars for it.

I think it is important to highlight the fact that this book is British. It’s written by a British author so it has that style of writing we aren’t completely used to this side of the pond. It tends to be very proper, not as many contractions in the sentences and not much slang–it almost comes across as mechanical to readers who typically read North American literature. Because I read a lot more North American books than British, it always throws me for a bit of a loop but I do read quite a few British novels so I easily get accustomed to that.

So it could easily be a product of the book being British in origin or maybe people in British are super mature: but I just found the dialogue to be a little awkward and overly mature for the age of the characters. I’m the same age as Sophia and no one I know talks like she does so I found that hard to accept at times. But given her past I wouldn’t be surprised if she is just that next level of maturity.

Out of all the freebie books that I have, I choose to read this one because the concept it really cool and different from other books out there. I mean, Harry is the ultimate bad boy and the element of Sophia being his probation officer is something I have never encountered before. It’s an interesting spin on things I think it is executed fairly well all things considered.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand Sophia and Harry’s relationship and how it worked between them. Their relationship is essentially built on lust and the “unspoken” connection between them. I don’t particularly care for these “unspoken”/love-at-first-sight-deal stories so I really didn’t get how they worked together or why they liked each other. I supposed it improved as we went but I never really got it to be honest–which is a shame because I really wanted to love them together.

I want to really stress that this book can be very dark at times. Although it is told through a 3rd person narration, there are times when we get a first person POV from Sophia when she describes her past. Nothing is really held back which I both appreciate and find uncomfortable at the same time. I find it’s hard to read in the mind of someone who has an abusive or depression filled past because it can be very dark and very emotional. On this regard, the book really excelled at conveying those feelings. It made Sophia seem very real and more than just a character in the book.

Conclusion:

Overall, this book didn’t really float my boat. I liked it and can appreciate it; but not enough to watch out for the rest of the series. I’m not particularly interested in the next set of characters but I’m not so turned off of the idea of picking the sequel up if it happens to be free on Amazon again. For those who want a darker New Adult read, this is a solid choice; especially if you like Ireland 😉

Rating: 2.5/5

Similar Reads: Release Me by J. Kenner (Stark Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Beautiful Pain (from Goodreads):

My decisions were always wrong. I needed to get away from London, I wanted to start from scratch in Belfast, escape from the life that I didn’t want.

Working for Probation Service for the whole summer was going to give me the experience that I needed. I always felt much better when I could help people whose lives were shattered.

My parents told me that I wasn’t ready and I wouldn’t make it through but I was determined to show them that the past was behind me.

I had three months to forget about my bad memories, about the pain and my scars. Then I run straight into him, throwing it all to the wind, falling into a trap of love and lust.

Harry O’Donaghue was a local offender. At our first meeting he gave me the impression that he didn’t care about what I had to say and didn’t want to be evaluated by a stupid young girl like me.

Harry wasn’t an easy subject, either when it came to straight forward conversation about his future or about the crimes that he had committed.

Harry had a secret and everything suddenly became complicated. He was bad to be around, bad for me in every respect, but I still allowed him take me to paradise…

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Single Sundays: Trouble by Samantha Towle

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Mia Monroe is running. Running from a person she doesn’t ever want to find her. Running from a past she doesn’t ever want anyone to know. Desperate to find a future, that yesterday, she could only dream of having.

Jordan Matthews likes easy. Easy women. Easy life.

Then he meets Mia.

She’s damaged, troubled and has more baggage than any person can carry. But the more Jordan gets to know Mia-for the first time in his life-he finds himself wanting to try hard for something … for someone … for her.

And then life isn’t so easy anymore.

Jordan is everything Mia shouldn’t want. A whole bunch of dirty hotness, tattooed, cocky bad boy, who made his money at poker tables and picked his women up in bars. Yet, Mia finds herself falling for him. Then the past Mia was running from, quickly starts to catch up with her. Because that’s the problem with running … you have to stop sometime.

And when you stop, you get caught.

Review:

This book was hard to read at the start: not because the writing is poor (because it isn’t) but because Mia is a person plagued with the mindset of someone who has suffered years of abuse. It was hard for me not to cringe as she describes her abuse or how she thinks of herself. Abuse is something that no one should ever have to go through and I want to warn people that this book is not for the faint of heart. I feel like this book handles abuse in a way that is both respectful and something that I haven’t really come across yet in New Adult fiction and I enjoyed (as much as you can “enjoy” something with that subject matter) watching the story unfold and Mia grow.

Getting away from the underlying plot of the book, I’ll focus on the romance. Jordan and Mia had great physical chemistry; however, it all happened a little fast for me. I would have liked it to progress over a few weeks than just one (seemed a little farfetched to me when everything else felt so grounded). But, I thought that they were really cute together and I liked their interaction.

As for the rest of the plot is starts off pretty fast-paced, gets a little slow and then picks up near the end. I really liked how the story ended (for a while I wasn’t sure how it was going to end so that is a bonus!).

Conclusion:

I liked that this book was different than books I have recently read. I don’t recommend this read if you can’t handle stories dealing with abuse and the aftermath of it. But if you like stories where people can overcome their abusive pasts, this is a great read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Realistic Fiction
Recommended for: 18+
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Similar Reads:

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Series Review: Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer

book5

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Young Adult Series, Sad to See Go Series 2014
Series: Elemental Series
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
# of Books: 5 (Storm, Spark, Spirit, Secret, Sacrifice)

There are novellas: #0.5 Elemental, #1.5 Fearless, #2.5 Breathless

Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I found these series online at my local library and was intrigued enough to pick up the first book. I loved the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender (and Legend of Korra is AMAZING) so I’m always excited to read series that focus on the elements.

This is one of those series were reading the novellas is key to understanding what is going on in the book–but you don’t have to necessarily read them before you read the next full length book. For example, while the very first novella, Elemental (#0.5), does setup the story and provide some background context, but I think I would have gotten more out of it and saved myself from some minor spoilers if I had read it after Storm. Fearless (#1.5) should definitely be read after Storm (#1) BUT I would actually read Breathless (#2.5) after Spirit (#3) (though you can totally read it before, it does take place right after Spark (#2) chronologically time-wise) just because Breathless (#2.5) is part of Nick’s story and his book is Secret (#4).

So in short, my recommended reading order for the series is: Storm, Elemental, Fearless, Spark, Spirit, Breathless, Secret, Sacrifice.

Overall, this series truly rocks my socks! It’s great and so refreshing. Ms Kemmerer is not afraid to go places in her novels. The twist we get in Breathless truly left me gasping for air and what she does in Spirit left me in disbelief. She also tackles every issue from abuse to sexual assault to bullying to first loves to the tough choices in life. For a book that is based on supernatural elements, it is so realistic at times and I think a lot of readers will appreciate that.

The characters are great as well. I love all the Merrick brothers–especially Gabriel and Nick. While I’m not the biggest Hunter fan, he really grew on me in Spirit (#3). All the girl characters have been fantastic as well but I’m glad that the focus is mostly on male characters for once.

So far, Spark (#2) is my favourite book but I’ve enjoyed all of them and I’m expecting my new favourite to be Secret (#4) once I get a chance to read it.

UPDATED (June 19/14): And I was right, Secret has definitely become one of my favourites in the series. It’s hard to say what one was my favourite between Spark and Secret because they deal with completely different things but Secret was fantastic. It was really refreshing to read Secret because I don’t think a lot of books discuss what happens in this one with such grace and realism. Most of the book deals with the personal issues of the characters but we get a great plot spin at the end that has me counting down the days to Sacrifice. This series has definitely become a favourite of mine!

UPDATED (November 10/14): Sacrifice wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. My need to read Michael’s story has grown throughout all the books and novellas so I was really excited to read his story and see what was next for the Merrick brothers after that major cliffhanger in Secret. I thought there would be some more physical action than there was but, I found the plot kept moving at a really good pace that I finished it before I knew it. However, nothing really wowed me like in the previous books. I also wish there was an epilogue–I really felt like so many things about everyone’s personal lives were left unanswered and after growing to love these characters so much, I was really dissapointed in that. But, all in all I like how things wrapped up and I really didn’t know how everything was going to wrap up so bonus points for always keeping me guessing.

Conclusion:

A unique and refreshing read for young adult readers (even for 20-somethings!). Girls AND boys will appreciate this series for its realistic take on high school life while adding elements of the supernatural. One of my favourite young adult series in a long time!

FYI: I tried to hard not to use the word “elements” in this review in case people thought I was trying to be PUNny but it’s so hard to do!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux Series #1)

Synopsis for Storm (from Goodreads):
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . .

Series Review: The Ivy Chronicles by Sophie Jordan

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

Foreplay by Sophie Jordan | The Ivy Chronicles


Other books in the series:

Series: The Ivy Chronicles
Author: Sophie Jordan
# of Books: 3 (Foreplay, Teased, Wild)

There is a short story about Hunter from Foreplay in the Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: getting hot
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My exposure to Ms. Jordan’s work before Foreplay has been her Young Adult series, Firelight which I have mixed feelings about but I always knew she wrote romance novels first and foremost so I decided to give this one a shot.

I enjoyed it, but simply put, I have read better New Adult reads in recent times. I just felt like something was missing from this book and that disappointed me slightly because I felt like it started off strong. But by the halfway point, I was getting a little bored with it.

I think part of the problem was Pepper. I just didn’t like her all that much. It’s not because I found her to be annoying–I just found her to be boring. Which is a shame because she could have been a very interesting character given the stuff we learn about her later in the book. Reese was the same for me too. He just seemed very generic but I did find him swoon-worthy at times.

I’m not sure how I feel about the love triangle either. Usually, they irritate me to no end but this one didn’t bother me that much. I’m not sure if it is because I always knew how it was going to end or if I just was indifferent to Pepper–I think it’s the latter though.

As I said, I had a pretty solid idea about how this book was going to end going into it so nothing really surprised me as I read it. Though I will give credit to two particular “twists”/events that got me to perk up in my seat as I read them–they made things a little more exciting but not enough for me to proclaim that I loved this book.

Although Goodreads lists only two books in the series, the description of the series gives me the impression that there will be a total of 3 books. Despite this lackluster start, I plan on reading Tease because I really liked Emerson’s character and I think there is a lot of potential with her book.

UPDATED (November 22/14): I finally got my hands on Tease (just in time for Wild to come out so maybe there was a method to by madness!) and finished it in a little over a day. I suppose that I like Tease more than I liked Foreplay, but again, there was just that something missing for me. I think the main thing was I just didn’t see the initial connection between Emerson and her lead. Yes, I saw why they worked well together later in the book but it just seemed so abrupt that I never fully comprehended it. Like the previous book, there were a few interesting plot twists that stopped it from being overly predictable and it is written well. It just didn’t wow me.

I’m still hoping Wild will be the standout book in the series for me. It looks like it will have an aspect to it that most New Adult reads don’t have so I’m curious to see where that will go.

UPDATED (December 3/14): I managed to get a copy of Wild and read it very quickly (they are rather short, easy books to read when all is said and done)–though using it to procrastinate from studying might have driven me to read it as quickly as I did 😛 Wild is probably my favourite of the series but it still didn’t overly impress me. The first half was great and I could see the connection between the two leads forming and loved watching all that sexual tension unfold. But then, it just fell apart for me like Foreplay did and just like the inaugural book in the series I slightly blame the heroine for this because I just didn’t get that connection to her. I think if these books had the male POV it would add that depth to the books that was missing and would take them from “ok” to “really good” because everything is all there, it just needs to be brought up a level.

Conclusion:

All and all, this book (and series) was alright. When I finished it, I gave it a 4/5 but when I thought about it more, it’s more of a 3.5 that’s closer to a 3. It wasn’t anything overly exciting (drama wise) but I enjoyed reading it. I think it’s a great book to read if you are looking at getting into the New Adult genre, but I think those who have read a good number of New Adult reads will find this a little dull. Though, it should be said that the writing caliber of this book is SIGNIFICANTLY better than a lot of New Adult reads out there.

Rating: 3/5

Similar Reads: Charade by Nyrae Dawn (Games #1); Wait for You by J. Lynn (Wait for You Series #1); Keep Me by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings #1)  and Saved by Kelly Elliot (Wanted Series #2)

Synopsis for Foreplay (from Goodreads):
Before she goes after the life she’s always wanted, she’s about to find the one she needs.

Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real…

Series Review: Fall Away Penelope Douglas

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

 book2 book2 book3 book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Bully (from Goodreads):
My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all.

We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.

So I left.

I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.

But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down

breakdown

Series: Fall Away Trilogy
Author: Penelope Douglas
# of Books: 5 (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, Aflame)

Until You is Jared’s POV companion to Bully.

There are some novellas in between the novels. Full list here

Book Order: Connected but Chronological

Bully, Until You and Aflame follow Jared and Tate’s story; Rival and Falling Away focus on different characters. However, they all follow a chronological order of events.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: getting Hot
Point of View: First Person (Single POV for Bully & Until You; but Alternate for RivalFalling Away & Aflame)
Publication Dates: February 2014 – April 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read the synopsis for Bully, I flashed back to my memories of elementary school. The whole idea that boys show that they like you by teasing you. Casual “teasing” is one thing but bullying is another–so while I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen in this book, I was curious to see what else was at play.

The Plot:

While I found the romance of the book to be predictable, I did enjoy the ride we take getting there. I didn’t find it boring to read because there are some interesting events that happen and make the book more entertaining. I also found it to be pretty mature considering I went into the book thinking about elementary school romances. There isn’t really anything “elementary” about Tate and Jared’s relationship.

The Characters:

Tate is a strong female character and I’m glad that she develops some backbone as the story progresses. However, I often found that she was trying a little too hard to be tough, so it came across as a little over the top. I also didn’t like how easily she was falling in love with Jared. Given their past, I understood where the feelings were coming from but if I was in her shoes, let me tell you that he would have had to work a lot harder to get back into my good graces.

I think what would have helped me get a better grasp on their relationship is getting Jared’s POV as the events unfold. I’m so used to New Adult readings alternating POV between characters that I almost get disappointed when I don’t get both. Fortunately, Until You is Jared’s POV. I haven’t read it yet, but I am really excited to because I’m hoping to get some more insight into this mysterious character.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to read Rival. It seems like it is going to be really refreshing and Madoc seems like a really interesting character to me. Falling Away also seems really interesting so I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the rest of the series.

updates

–October 25, 2014– Book #1.5: Until You

I finally managed to read Until You and it was everything I wanted to know about Jared. It was the perfect companion novel for Bully. I loved that it wasn’t just a retelling of Bully. It started a little before and ended a little after Bully but the events weren’t just regurgitated for the sake of creating another novel. It was extremely well done and fans of Bully will love reading Until You. I highly recommend that you read it after Bully but before Rival in order to get a fuller reading experience with all the characters.

–October 25, 2014– Book #2: Rival

Rival though, is my favourite of the series! I read it in one sitting and got so sucked into the story. It was packed full of drama and I loved Madoc and Fallon as characters. I enjoyed their relationship a lot more than Jared and Tate’s in Bully (but reading Until You warmed me up to them more). However, I was a little worried at the start of Rival given their past relationship. But as the book progressed, I was rooting for them all the way. I think it helped that we got both characters POV throughout the novel so you got a better grasp on each of them.

I am super excited for Falling Away and have been since I read Until You and figured out which characters were next.

–February 21, 2015– Book #3: Falling Away

Have you ever finished a book where you can’t determine how you actually feel about it? I’m not talking about indifference or the “meh” factor (as I like to call it) where it was just so-so and nothing all that exciting. I’m talking about a book that had its great moments but had not-so-great moments in between–leaving you happy but disappointed all at once? I give those books the “mixed feelings” tag on Goodreads and I create that tag for this book specifically.

I went into this book with high anticipation because I’ve been waiting for this couple since the first book. So I was a little disappointed that this book takes place a few years later but I let it slide because it probably was for the best.

But when I actually saw them together I had to double check I wasn’t rereading Bully because parts felt like a regurgitation of the first book. The heroine seemed super immature despite being 20 and the hero gave me the creeps a bit because he was a little too alpha. Which often made me feel like the relationship bordered on the unhealthy side of things. It was just that the intensity of their relationship, especially when they really had limited interaction before this book, was a little too extreme for me and it made me uncomfortable to read about. Which is why I had mixed feelings: sometimes I loved the couple together (they did have great chemistry) but other times the angst was just too much for me to take.

I also felt like there were too many things going on with these characters lives. Now, I like a lot of things happening in books and I understand that people lead complicated lives but this just seemed a little excessive to me. It kinda felt like the author decided to pile as much tragedy/drama into these character’s lives as possible and it was overwhelming. I really felt like this book was 50 (ebook) pages too long and I would have enjoyed it more without the super packed character pasts.

I’m not sure how I feel about Aflame. I really don’t think it is necessary but I will read it just to finish off the series.

–June 14, 2015– Book #4: Aflame

I was adequately warned about Aflame going into it thanks to the comments below. not that I had high expectations for it before I was told, but I think it helped me be prepared for what I was going to read.

I have mixed feelings about Aflame because I can appreciate what the author was trying to convey (young people make rash decisions). But I felt like Tate and Jared were thrown into a situations that would cause the most drama even if it wasn’t the most logical; and I found that to be frustrating because there really was no reason for the plotline we get. It also made me realize how immature and reckless these two are and how unhealthy their relationship is. I really hope young people reading this series realize this isn’t what a healthy relationship looks like.

Series Rating: 3/5

Bully 4/5 | [Until You] 4/5 | Rival 5/5 | Falling Away 3/5 | Aflame 3/5

overall

This series takes your classic romance story and puts a darker spin on it. I’ve read a lot of New Adult novels but this series standouts because of the relationship between the characters. The classic “dark secret past” isn’t some random event that happened before the characters met their partner–it happened with their partner so the relationship dynamic is completely different. So if you enjoy darker high school/new adult romances, this is a great read to pick up! But it does lose its lustre as the series progresses and the relationships border on the unhealthy.

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catchphrase

Spin-off Saturdays: Damaged by H. M. Ward (Ferro Family #2)

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:

Damaged Series is a spin-off of the The Arrangement Series

Series: Damaged, Part of the Ferro Family (Full List Here)
Author: H.M. Ward
# of Books: 2 (Damaged, Damaged 2)

This is a spinoff of the The Arrangement and Ferro Family Series. It intersects The Arrangement Series at Part 7

Book Order: Chronological; Connected to the Ferro Family, specifically the Arrangement Series
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Serial, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (Damaged), Really Warm (Damaged 2)
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

My previous exposure to H.M. Ward’s work when I picked up Damaged was Collide, the first part of the Secret Life of Trystan Scott Series. While I had enjoyed that book, I found it riddled with typos and it significantly lowered my expectations for all future books by this author. I mean, the book boasts that the author is a New York Times Bestseller and yet the writing was very unprofessional! For example: the POV would shift from first person to third person within a paragraph when it was in a particular characters POV section. Because I was on a kick to read a majority of my books on my Kobo over Christmas break, I decided to get Damaged over with.

I’m glad that I did because this book was much more than I expected. First off, the typos and the shifty POVs didn’t exist so that immediately restored my hope in these books. I also liked the maturity of the characters and how they handled the situations. I didn’t find Sydney annoying when she easily could have been given the type of story that this is. What really won me over was the fact that Sydney could get a laugh out of me every once and a while. While not as much as a humor book as Losing It (which features a similar plot line), I enjoyed Sydney’s wit and spunk while I was reading.

I also liked the relationship between Peter and Sydney. It wasn’t just an attraction thing between them. They had a lot in common and they built the emotional side of their relationship very well–so it didn’t seem like a shallow relationship.

I didn’t know that this was a part of the Ferro Family until the 2nd book. If I had known that going in, I probably would have read it after reading the Arrangement but I don’t think it gives too much–if anything–away about what happens with those characters in that series. It actually made me really excited to read that series and its follow-up. I am actually going to rescind that previous statement. I originally wrote this review before I started The Arrangement series. After reading the Arrangement, I think I should have read these two books after–it did reveal a few major plot details that I would have enjoyed more if I didn’t know about going into the first story. In other words, they give some spoilers about the series (though to be fair a good chunk I had already assumed would happen in the series) as specific character pasts were ruined by reading this series first.

Overall, Damaged 2 was more drama based than romance. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any romance, I just felt like Peter and Sydney’s relationship takes a back seat to the events that unfold around them. I felt like it was a good place to end their story but I’m hoping that they will appear in the other series as well.

Conclusion:

If you like strong characters who find themselves in a bit of a forbidden love situation that is more on the dramatic side, these two books are for you! A great way to get introduced to the Ferro Family, but I have a feeling it would be more worthwhile if you have read the previous series prior to this. You should definitely read the Arrangement prior to reading this series!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Losing It by Cora Carmack (Losing It #1)

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE not FINISHED The Arrangement SERIES THE FOLLOWING SYNOPSIS MAY HAVE SPOILERS!

Synopsis for Damaged (from Goodreads):
Life sucks. And, as soon as Sidney picks up the pieces something always knocks her back onto her butt. It’s never pretty, but this time is different. This time pretty isn’t even the right word.

Peter is the personification of perfection. It’s like he fell off his angel perch in purgatory, because let’s face it–any guy that hot has got to be naughty. He was probably sent here to ruin her life.

Peter is beyond beautiful with his sexy blue eyes, dark hair, and toned body. Add in his charming wit and Peter is everything Sidney ever wanted in a man, but when things get hot and heavy Peter shows her the door. Sidney takes the walk of shame and leaves. It’s the end of the worst blind date ever. Her life couldn’t possibly reach higher levels of suckage, but it does.

The next morning everything comes crashing down. The insanely hot guy from last night, the one that saw her half naked, is teaching at the front of the class room.