Tag «audiobook»

Series Review: Anna by Kendare Blake

Series Review: Anna by Kendare Blake

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 Anna Dressed in Blood (from Goodreads):

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

breakdown

Series: Anna, Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Supernatural, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2011 – August 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was in University when this book came out and I remember seeing some buzz for it on Goodreads (which I had just discovered) and put it on my list to read. I think it was one of the first eBooks my library had as well. Regardless, it was a popular read and even though it didn’t fit my usual genre, I wanted to give it a try.

Fast-foward nearly a decade later and I had moved the book from my TBR list to my Pass list a few times before finally opting to listen to the audiobook because I needed something new to read and I had been enjoying Blake’s Three Dark Crowns Series.

The Concept / The World:

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest ghost fan and around the time of this release, I had read a few other meh YA ghost reads and I think that contributed to my decision to not pick this up. But I thought the idea here was fresh take (reminded my of the Mediator Series by Meg Cabot a bit).

What I really loved is that the location! It’s not everyday I read a book set in Canada let alone Ontario so having this set in Thunder Bay was neat. Every town has their ghost stories and the setting here reminded me of my home town and the creepy house on the outskirts everyone swore was haunted.

The Plot:

It’s a fairly easy plot to follow in terms of the supernatural elements. Everything is explained well even with the various layers and aspects at play.

If you’re looking for straight-up horror, this isn’t it. It’s more about the backstories of Cas and Anna–why he hunts ghosts; why she is still a ghost. There are suspenseful moments and I enjoyed the mystery of their pasts.

I struggled to get into the second book though. One reason was the romance (explained below) the other was that I thought it jumped around a little too much and fell into even more cliches than the first novel did.

The Characters:

I liked Cas a lot actually. It isn’t often we get only male POVs in YA so that was rather refreshing. He’s blunt with his candour and I appreciated that. And he is rather complex.

The rest of the characters we meet though fall into cliches and stereotypes so I didn’t really form any great connections to them.

The Romance:

For the longest time I didn’t think there was a romance so it seemed rather sudden and random. It also felt like his feelings for her were of pity for her situation? I just didn’t see any chemistry between them and I think that really turned me off of the sequel.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think listening to the audiobook helped me to like Cas as our narrator. I think he would have come across as an asshole without listening to the tone of his delivery. It helped me appreciate his dry wit and candour. I also think it maybe turned me off of the idea of a romance with how the narrator does Anna’s voice.

Series Rating: 2/5

Anna Dressed in Blood 3/5 | Girl of Nightmares 2/5

overall

This one straddles that line between original yet cliche at the same time. There were aspects I liked but I really struggled to connect to any of the characters or story.

Read if You Like: ghost stories, duologies
Avoid if You: want less cliches, want a smoother story

similarreads

  • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (Paranormalcy Series #1)
  • Hereafter by Tara Hudson (Hereafter Series #1)
  • The Hollow by Jessica Verday (The Hollow Series #1)

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DNF Series Review: More Than Words by Shayla Black

DNF Series Review: More Than Words by Shayla Black

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 3: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

More Than Crave You

booksynopsis

Synopsis for More Than Words (from Goodreads):

I’m Maxon Reed—real estate mogul, shark, asshole. If a deal isn’t high profile and big money, I pass. Now that I’ve found the property of a lifetime, I’m jumping. But one tenacious bastard stands between me and success—my brother. I’ll need one hell of a devious ploy to distract cynical Griff. Then fate drops a luscious redhead in my lap who’s just his type.

Sassy College senior Keeley Kent accepts my challenge to learn how to become Griff’s perfect girlfriend. But somewhere between the makeover and the witty conversation, I’m having trouble resisting her. The quirky dreamer is everything I usually don’t tolerate. But she’s beyond charming. I more than want her; I’m desperate to own her. I’m not even sure how drastic I’m willing to get to make her mine—but I’m about to find out.

breakdown

Series: More Than Words
Author: Shayla Black
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are some novellas – Full Reading Order Here

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2017 – July 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first two books of the series, More Than Want You and More Than Need You, and have opted not to pick up the other sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually got the first book as a newsletter freebie from an author I love but this series was also recommended to me by Kobo. It’s been on my radar for a long time as a result so I was so excited when I discovered my library had the audiobooks! I’m always on the lookout for a long contemporary series that follows a group of characters so the timing was perfect!

What I Liked:

–Attempt at Hero Redemption–

I enjoy a good asshole male lead. It’s always great to watch them get knocked down a peg or two by some intelligent girl who keeps them on their toes.

The redemption story for More Than Want You (#1) was good. However, it didn’t really work for me in More Than Need You (#2) but I think the build up from book one is the reason for that one…

–Side Characters–

I really liked how More than Want You set up the world and the other characters the future books are about. Getting those little tidbits always makes me excited to see what they are going to do next when they get their own books.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Communication Assumptions–

The premise of the first two books is really one royal f*ked up communication assumption. How screwed up is it? Try 3 years of multiple opportunities to set the record straight. The logical part of me couldn’t fathom how things got so bad for so long given the close proximity of the characters involved AND the fact that everyone knew except for one person. It’s a facepalm emoji if I ever used one.

–Single POV–

While I understand why the single POV was done in the first book, I really struggled with its absence in the second. Just getting that female heroine’s perspective would have helped immensely understand her attraction to our subpar hero.

–Lack of Chemistry/Connection–

I don’t like to be told that someone loves someone, I want it shown to me. With both couple’s I struggled to see the attraction other than some manipulation on the part of the male leads. I wasn’t sold on these that’s for sure.

My Audiobook Experience:

I definitely don’t think it was the audiobooks that jaded me about this series. I really enjoyed the narration–I only sped it up so I could finish the books faster.

Will I Finish It?

I have no desire to see what happens next for this cast. I feel like most of my questions were answered in Book 2 so I’m satisfied.

My Rating: DNF

More Than Want You 3.5/5 | More Than Need You 2/5 | More Than Love You N/A | More Than Crave You N/A | More Than Tempt You N/A | More Than Dare You N/A

overall

If you can look past the communication assumptions, you might enjoy this.

Read if You Like: family drama, contemporary romance, male only POV
Avoid if You: dislike communication assumptions
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DNF Series Review: Briarwood Academy by Ilsa Madden-Mills

DNF Series Review: Briarwood Academy by Ilsa Madden-Mills

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 2: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Very Bad Things (from Goodreads):

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about… until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy… where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.

breakdown

Series: Briarwood Academy
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – July 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Very Bad things at 18% (start of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ilsa Madden-Mills is one of my must read authors and this series had been on my radar for a very long time. Because I was looking for audiobooks to listen too, I opted to listen to this series even though I have a few of the books for my Kindle. I was looking forward to the angsty romance so I was very excited to read this.

What I Liked:

–Umm…–

I really struggled to get into this book and there wasn’t much I enjoyed…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Age Gap–

While the rest of the novel falls into some pretty predictable stereotypes (I think you read the synopsis and you already know where this book is going to go), it was the age gap between the two leads that just creeped me right out.
I think if Nora was a little older (like her first year in university) it would have made things less icky. Her need to rebel just made her “connection” to Leo something more devious than it was. Now, normally I’d be on board for this exploration of this somewhat twisted relationship dynamic. But I felt like Nora was trying to hard to be something she wasn’t as she rebelled and she seemed so fragile that it felt like Leo was manipulating her situation and I didn’t like that imbalance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m not sure if reading the book would have been better than listening to it.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While some of the other characters seemed interesting (and they became the leads in the next books), I just didn’t like the direction this series was going in.

My Rating: DNF

Very Bad Things DNF | Very Wicked Things N/A | Very Twisted Things N/A

overall

If you love angsty reads or books that straddle the YA/NA line, you’ll enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: angsty leads, tragic pasts, high school bully
Avoid if You: dislike angst; don’t like age gap romances

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff

DNF Series Review: The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 1: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nevernight (from Goodreads):

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

breakdown

Series: Nevernight Chronicles
Author: Jay Kristoff
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action, Dark
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2016 – September 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Nevernight at 44% (middle of Chapter 16). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read Jay Kristoff’s Immuniae Series and I follow him on twitter so I like his sense of humour. But I was curious to see what type of novels he writes on his own and this one seems to be a very popular choice amongst my Goodreads friends. My library only had the audiobooks and I needed a new audio series so I put myself on the holds list and waited for my turn.

What I Liked:

–The Narration Style–

I enjoyed the delivery of the narration. The style of narration is something I might not have fully appreciated if I didn’t listen to the audiobook. The sarcasm and dry, witty lines are great when heard audibly because that tone is easily conveyed.

I could see how that wouldn’t be for everyone though as it is a rather dark approach…but you are reading about a school of assassin teens so I think it comes with the territory.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

The pacing here just didn’t work for me. I definitely forgot about the murder mystery part because there were so many other tangents happening. I just found myself getting bored and so my mind would wander away.

And the flipping between Mia’s past and present was just too hard to keep track of with the audio version.

My Audiobook Experience:

Perhaps the audiobook was a mistake. The shear length of it was daunting for me (books over 15 hours never work out for me) but I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X the speed so it wouldn’t take me the full amount of time.

However: I’m a very visual person so trying to remember people’s names in an audiobook can be a challenge. Once we finally got to the academy, I struggled to keep all the characters straight. I also couldn’t keep the timelines straight. The constant shuffle from the past to present had me missing things and I didn’t always catch the shifts.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I couldn’t really bring myself to care about Mia (I think it is a casualty of the third person narration because she is talked about and not the one directly talking to the reader). And the shear length has turned me off. However, if this was a TV series I’d totally invest my time in watching it.

My Rating: DNF

Nevernight DNF | Godsgrave N/A | Darkdawn N/A

overall

I think if you are a reader who has the patience for longer novels, this is a great choice. It’s a cool concept but I don’t think its execution will work for everyone.

Read if You Like: dark YA, assassins, witty narration
Avoid if You: dislike super long books

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Series Review: The Legal Briefs by Emma Chase

Series Review: The Legal Briefs by Emma Chase

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 Overruled (from Goodreads):

As a DC defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don’t call him the Jury Charmer for nothing – with his southern drawl, disarming smile and captivating green eyes – he’s a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him and women want to be thoroughly cross examined by him.

Stanton’s a man with a plan. And for a while, life was going according to that plan.

Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart and mother of his beloved ten-year old daughter. Jenny is getting married — to someone who isn’t him.

That’s definitely not part of the plan.
***

Sofia Santos is a city raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.

But when Stanton, her “friend with mind-blowing benefits” begs for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him – to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Mississippi – to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves.

Her head tells her she’s crazy…and her heart says something else entirely.
***

What happens when you mix a one stop-light town, two professional arguers, a homecoming queen, four big brothers, some Jimmy Dean sausage and a gun-toting Nana?

The Bourbon flows, passions rise and even the best laid plans get overruled by the desires of the heart.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Authors
Series: The Legal Briefs
Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #3.5 Sidebarred

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1); Single (#2-#3.5)
Publication Dates: April 2015 – January 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read and loved Tangled by Emma, I wanted to read her next series. But when I read the synopsis for Overruled, I wasn’t interested in reading it at all. The allusions to the love triangle just turned me off and so I marked it as a pass. Fast forward a few years later and the book hangover that was the Royally Series and I needed more Emma Chase in my life so I decided to give this series a chance.

The Plot:

These books were surprisingly heavy albeit light. It’s really hard to describe. I’ve never really read a series that had a tone like this one did. Maybe I just needed to manage my expectations?

I finished Overruled (#1) with a lot of mixed emotions. The premise is a hard one to get behind in some ways because it just seems to have this gravity to it. I thought the true romance failed to shine through and that was a disappointment because I really loved our heroine.

The rest of the series didn’t seem to have the same heaviness to it though they stories were complex and had some serious consequences. There is a dash of humour and sexy times that keeps things lighter when needed.

The Characters:

I think it shows Emma Chase’s talent that she can write such real characters that can pull on your heartstrings and feel every range of emotions. With all our males leads, they were likeable albeit frustrating at the same time.

It was interesting to only get the Male hero’s POV in these books. All the guys are assholes to some degree so it was nice to get them put into place. I prefer alternating POVs in my romances but it worked here to only have the one POV because these stories just felt like the boys’ and they had a lot of growing to do.

The Romance:

I thought all the couples had great chemistry but in some ways I was disappointed with them. I just thought some of the stories struggled to highlight the interactions between the couples (especially in Overruled). But I understood the connections and draws.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audiobooks! They were such an easy listen. Honestly, I probably would have DNF’d Overruled if I was reading the book instead of listening to it because the emotions helped me to understand the dilemma Stanton was in.

When to Read the Novella #3.5 Sidebarred:

While the novella follows the lead from Book #2 Sustained, you really should read it after you finish Appealed (#3) because it helps you link the extended epilogue of that book together. And that way you don’t spoil the ending of Appealed either.

Series Rating: 4/5

Overruled 3/5 | Sustained 4/5 | Appealed 4/5 | [Sidebarred 5/5]

overall

If you want a different type of contemporary romance series (one that isn’t so light but isn’t that dark either), this is a great one for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, lawyers
Avoid if You: want light and fluffy romance

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Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

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 Tempest (from Goodreads):

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies — nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors — it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

breakdown

Series: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3  (Full Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Tomorrow is Today

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2012 – January 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series seemed to be everywhere when it first came out and I quickly marked it for my TBR; even picked it up when it was on sale at Kobo one day. But like many books on my TBR, it went unnoticed for years. In that time though, I’ve I read many other books by Julie Cross–quickly becoming a fan of her work–as well as some other time travel novels. So I was looking forward to reading this when I saw that the audio version was available at my library.

The Concept / The World:

I thought the time travelling elements were easy to understand. Jackson is learning them as you do so everything is explained nicely.

Where it did get confusing is with all his jumping around. And later on, it there are a lot more characters in the mix. Even though the dates and times are stated at the start of the chapter, there are a lot of parallel storylines happening and minor changes that can make it hard to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

I felt like things took a long time to get going in Tempest (#1) but I kinda knew that would happen with my previous Julie Cross experiences. She takes time to establish characters and plot to provide a richer read, but it just made this book seem a little underwhelming despite the time travelling aspect.

And I found it was like that in all the books. There is almost too much focus on the character development and not enough on the drama. Those moments of dramatic tension are often lost in the many character dialogue scenes. It just stopped the momentum at times and I found as the series progressed, I was getting lost in what was truly happening.

The Characters:

I’ll be straight: I wasn’t a huge fan of Jackson. He’s a bit of a self-centred guy who seems to be singularly focused on his relationship with Holly. And you’d think the romantic in me would find that devotion charming—only I didn’t. More about that below. But he just never seemed to win my seal of approval even as the series wrapped up.

There are a lot of characters and there were quite a few side characters I was particularly drawn to. But it’s interesting to see how all their stories weave together as the series progresses.

The Romance:

I really struggled with this because I wanted a fast paced time travel novel but at times, it felt like a romance novel with time travel elements. I think it’s because we were thrown into an already established romance; and one that our hero is willing to do anything for. But I just didn’t see it. Perhaps reading the novella first would have helped me bond with Holly and Jackson as a couple and root for him more to save her. (It didn’t, but I’ll explain more below).

But there is a line that one character saves to Jackson about how he doesn’t like Holly and Jackson to be a couple I definitely agreed with him. In fact, I actually shipped them both with other people. I thought those relationships were stronger. Timestorm (#3) does see their relationship (as well as Holly as a character) get a little more fleshed out but by then I was over their romance.

When to Read the Novella #0.5 Today is Tomorrow?

I read it after I read Tempest (#1) but you could read it before or anytime in the series. I didn’t get much out of it and it didn’t help me become a fan of their romance but it’s always nice to get bonus scenes.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio production is great. It’s easy to listen to.

However, I do think I would have enjoyed this series more if I had read it as a physical book. I think I would have been able to follow the timelines better and not have struggled so much remembering characters. It’s hard with audiobooks to pickup sometimes where you left off because you can’t flip back to read the subheading of the chapter, etc.

Series Rating: 3/5

Tempest 3/5 | Vortex 3/5 | Timestorm 3/5

overall

I think I’m in the minority for this one. If you enjoy more character driven non-contemporary stories this is a great read. Though I recommend not reading the audiobook if you struggle to remember things in novels.

Read if You Like: time travel, non-contemporary New Adult
Avoid if You: want a faster paced novel; action

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Series Review: The Devils of Dover by Kelly Bowen

Series Review: The Devils of Dover by Kelly Bowen

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 A Duke in the Night (from Goodreads):

Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He’s known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It’s a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she’s reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family’s business, her heart can’t help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Series: The Devils of Dover
Author: Kelly Bowen
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #3.5 Night of the Scoundrel

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2018 – May 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (#1 & #2); eBook (#3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I fell in love with Kelly Bowen’s work after reading her Season for Scandal Series. She reminds me of my favourite historical fiction author Tessa Dare only that Kelly has a slightly darker approach to her characters and their pasts. She’s also Canadian and I love to support my fellow Canucks so she easily became a must-read author for me. I couldn’t wait to try another series by her.

The Concept:

One of the biggest reasons I’m drawn to Historical Fiction is the fact that our female leads usually defy the societal norms of the time. They challenge the prejudices and roles of their time by being their authentic selves. So the whole concept of a school that teaches women subjects like art and medicine in times when those were perceived as simply hobbies or something that challenged their delicate constitution was a great aspect to the story.

The Plot:

My only other experience with Bowen’s work is A Season for Scandal which follows a group of people who were the Olivia Pope (Scandal) Fixers of their day (just not as crazy as that group). So there were an edge of danger and suspense to those novels that I expected to be here but really wasn’t given the setting. (Book #3, A Rogue by Night falls back into that mold though which is probably why it was my favourite of the series). I try not to compare series to other series but I did have to curb my expectations a bit to get into the story.

But once I got acquainted with everyone and what the plot was, I enjoyed the drama that we do get.

The Characters:

Writing great, solid characters is a talent and it’s one Bowen excels at. Everyone is just so rounded as a character. They all have their flaws and strengths and that allows them to grow as the story evolves. And everyone just has great chemistry together. I really loved the family dynamic of the Hayward clan.

The Romance:

All these couples had really fabulous chemistry together. And I loved how they all challenged their partners to become better people. In my books, I like the idea that you have to “work on ‘me’ before we become ‘we'” and that’s what we get here. I really saw the connections and draws for each couple…and I definitely swooned a few times.

My Audiobook Experience (#1 & #2):

I would have loved to have read the entire series in audio but I was at the whims of my library for this one. Great narration throughout.

Series Rating: 4/5

A Duke in the Night 3/5 | Last Night With the Earl 4/5 | A Rogue by Night 5/5 | [Night of the Scoundrel N/A]

overall

A solid series about a family that defies convention–all the while falling in love with their perfect match!

Read if You Like: regency reads, romance
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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Series Review: Virtue by Mia Asher

Series Review: Virtue by Mia Asher

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 Easy Virtue (from Goodreads):

Love is selfish…

My name is Blaire.
I’m the bad girl.
The other woman.
The one who never gets the guy in the end.

I’m the gold digger.
The bitch.
The one no one roots for.
The one you love to hate.

I hate myself too…

Everyone has a story. Are you ready for mine?

breakdown

Series: Virtue
Author: Mia Asher
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2)
Publication Dates: December 2014 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m pretty sure Kobo recommended Easy Virtue to me based on my purchases. And it worked because I ended up buying the first book after I read the synopsis.

I like books that focus on unorthodox leads. There’s something refreshing about a somewhat villainous lead and I’m always intrigued to get their stories.

The Concept:

If you don’t like a lot of sex scenes don’t read this. You start the first chapter in the middle of a sex scene and there are copious amounts of sexy times throughout the series.

Also, if you struggle with the idea of “using” someone and/or uber messy relationships, maybe look elsewhere.

The Plot:

This is a very character driven story. If you look past the sexy times, the heart of this story is a coming of age story. The Blair at the start of the series isn’t the Blair we end the series with and the journey to get there was one that always surprised me. I thought I had a good idea of what the twists were going to be but I was definitely wrong–which was nice.

The Characters:

I wasn’t a Blair fan in the sense that she isn’t someone I would be friends with in real life. (And if we were, I would smack some sense into her). But I think it shows the talent of a writer that instead of getting annoyed by Blair and her questionable decisions, I understood her reasoning and motivations. She’s a girl who lacks self-esteem and that’s what drives her need to seek security using her looks in the wrong places.

It was nice to get some more POVs in the second book. It helped to develop some of the key players and their motivations for some of their decisions as well.

The Romance:

There is plenty of steam and chemistry thanks to the sexy times we get. But I wasn’t entirely convinced that the stable foundation for an all consuming romance was there–especially after we get the additional POVs in the sequel. The relationships Blair have all seem toxic to me in one way or another. But in some ways, things improved in the last bit of the second novel which redeemed some stuff for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’ll admit, it’s a little uncomfortable to listen to full blown erotica as an audiobook sometimes. So if you can’t get past that, go for it. It is a different narrator for Blair in Easy Virtue and Sweetest Venom but once I was a few chapters into Sweetest Venom, I didn’t really notice it so much.

Series Rating: 4/5

Easy Virtue 4/5 | Sweetest Venom 4/5

overall

I think if you are someone who doesn’t mind erotica and grasp the motivations for the characters, you will enjoy this unique story.

Read if You Like: “bad girl” leads
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike love triangles

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Single Sundays: Home Work – A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

Single Sundays: Home Work – A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

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 Home Work (from Goodreads):

In Home, the number one New York Times international bestseller, Julie Andrews recounted her difficult childhood and her emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer on the stage.
With this second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her phenomenal rise to fame in her earliest films–Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Andrews describes her years in the film industry — from the incredible highs to the challenging lows. Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. The pair worked together in numerous films, including Victor/Victoria, the gender-bending comedy that garnered multiple Oscar nominations.

Cowritten with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending, and inspiring.

breakdown

Author: Julie Andrews
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I LOVE Julie Andrews–who doesn’t? She’s just so charming and I think she is a staple for a lot of people’s childhoods. For me, she’s the Queen Grandmother of the Princess Diaries though I know her from other notable works like Sound of Music and Mary Poppins but those were before my time.
Regardless, I was really looking forward to learning more about her times on those famous, classic sets.

The Concept:

I never read her first autobiography/memoir but it didn’t really appeal to me either when I looked into it more because I was more curious about the early Hollywood and Broadway days.
It was really neat to get the inside scoop about all these classic films she had worked on. As a big Disney nut myself, her experience on Mary Poppins fascinated me.
But getting those insights into her personal life and how her various roles affected it was interesting. And she is so open about all her struggles that I really admired that.
I often struggle with memoirs because they can sometimes come across as preachy or just be all about personal philosophy. After reading this book and Elton John’s Me, I’ve discovered I do much better with autobiographies that follow more of a chronological order of events and are laced with reactions at the time and reflections looking back.

The Writing / Listening Experience:

I listened to the audiobook because it is narrated by Julie Andrews. I could listen to her talk all day. She reminds me of my grandmothers so it just felt personal and intimate.

The writing itself is great. I loved how she included diary entries from particular moments in her past because you understood how she felt in that moment–not simply a reflection back through rose-coloured glasses. But overall, there was a great flow to it that kept me listening.

Did it Impact My Life?

I think her story opened my eyes to a few things. I think as a girl, I often struggle with the idea of having a career vs having a family and how they seem to be two mutually exclusive things (though I think that is starting to change with my generation). But when I think about her life, I see how she made calculated decisions to have the career and family life she wanted and to balance it all out.
I also learned a lot about the situation in Vietnam since she adopted from the country. I knew the basics but this helped to give a more human perspective of the situation.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Simply a well crafted memoir.

Read if You Like: memoirs, early Hollywood
Avoid if You: dislike autobiographies
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  • Me by Elton John
  • If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) by Betty White

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Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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 The Belles (from Goodreads):

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control beauty, and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite-the Belle chosen by the queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie-that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

breakdown

Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’ t think you could really escape The Belles when it first came out. It seemed to be everywhere in the blogosphere and I could understand why. The concept was really neat and the cover is gorgeous.

My library had the audiobook version and so I marked it on my “wishlist” but it wasn’t until I read Clayton’s other cowritten novel, Tiny Pretty Things (and absolutely LOVED it!) that my interest in picking up this series spiked.

The Concept / The World:

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the people living in The Capitol of The Hunger Games? I feel like this book attempts to answer that question by highlighting the vanity of humanity and what we would do if we could alter our appearance with a single touch. The concept is fascinating and, like you often do in dystopian novels, taken to an extreme to highlight the flaws within.

There was a lot to like about the world itself. I like how layered the Belle system is. From the history of their role to how they are trained, you know that some serious thought was put into the process. The world has a cool modern vibe (like paparazzi, etc) but felt old at the same time with the way the kingdom is set up.

The Plot:

When I was reading The Belles, I felt like much didn’t happen in the first half. It was a lot of setting up for the future and going through the motions. We do get little clues here and there but nothing overly exciting happens. The latter half, when everything falls into place is much stronger and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

The Everlasting Rose builds on that momentum though and introduces a few more twists. However, I thought the ways things came together in the end was a little messy and rushed. The ending seemed a little lacklustre to me.

The Characters:

Honestly, I could take or leave Camellia as a lead. She doesn’t really standout to me as a lead and I thought she made some terrible decisions. To give her some credit, she does evolve in The Everlasting Rose somewhat. It was nice to see her assert some independence.

The other belles are very hard to read. Perhaps that is the by-product of them being raised to act and do certain things in society. Amber is a good example of that where she can’t seem to rebel against the ideals instilled within her from birth—and I totally get why that would be the case. But it also makes her seem sporadic in her actions and in turn, you can’t get a good read on her as a character.

But I liked how the villain was a true villain.

The Romance:

The romance in the first book gave me some unease right from the start so I was immediately thrown off. As things progress in the series, I think the reasons why become clear and the romance itself evolves for the better (and I really hope it stays that way but I doubt it).

My Audiobook Experience:

So for a story that takes place in “Orleans” I just assumed everything would be french-influenced, including the narration. It was a slightly off-putting to have a British accent for the narrator for Camellia. Otherwise, the narration was really well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect for the third book. I have ideas of what I want it to be given the way things wrap up at the end of Book #2 but I’m not sure.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Belles 3/5 | Everlasting Rose 3.5/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

Great for fans of the classic YA dystopian novels though it does leave a little to be desired at times.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, unique concepts
Avoid if You: dislike dystopian fiction

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