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Serial Saturdays: ‘Til Death by Bella Jewel

Serial Saturdays: ‘Til Death by Bella Jewel

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for ‘Til Death: Volume 1 (from Goodreads):

They say there’s a fine line between love and hate.

There is.

I married a douchebag.

I didn’t know it at the time.

He came in like a handsome stranger and blew me off my feet.

I fell madly in love, like the naive girl I am.

Then he left me high and dry.

Turns out, I was nothing more than a business plan for billionaire playboy, Marcus Tandem.

He needed to be married in order to obtain his grandfathers business, and I was the poor victim in his path.

I believed in what we had, until the truth reared its ugly head.

I never meant anything to Marcus. Not a damned thing.

With my world spinning on its axis, the girl I once was has long since died.

Instead he left me as this empty, emotionless shell.

I may have made a vow before God to love and cherish him ‘Til Death do we part, but it’s time for me to give back to Marcus, exactly what he gave me.

He has to pay.

And pay he will.

breakdown

Series: ‘Til Death

This crosses over with The MC Riders Series

Author: Bella Jewel
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had this series for a long time on my Kobo but I have no idea how it crossed my radar. But when I needed a quick read to get me back into the groove of reading, this one seemed like the perfect choice. Lots of drama, one of my favourite romance tropes and a smaller page count, I was ready!

The Plot:

Volume One was so addicting for me because it alternated between the past and the present. I love plots told like that because it brings out the need to fill in the holes. Overall, I think we had a touch too many steamy scenes and not enough development but I still enjoyed my reading experience.

But that wasn’t the case in Volume Two. While direction of the plot was surprising, it felt overly predictable and rushed. It was a bummer way to wrap up the series.

The Characters:

One of the greatest struggles with novella serials is developing the characters because of the limited page count. But I felt like I knew enough about each character to drive the story.

And it’s a special treat for fans of Bella Jewel’s MC novels as many of those characters make an appearance.

The Romance:

It’s dark and a little twisted but it’s very underdeveloped. Besides a physical attraction, I craved more of a connection between these two.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I think if you don’t read too much into it and take this series as a quick, passionate, dramatic read, you’ll enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: dark romances, melodrama
Avoid if You: want more development

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Series Review: Ballers and Babes by Lauren Blakely

Series Review: Ballers and Babes by Lauren Blakely

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 Most Valuable Playboy (from Goodreads):

Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns.

Don’t let the fact that I’m the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you. These days, I’m only a player on the field. I’ve kept my pants zipped all season long — and it has been long — because nothing’s more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the team owner’s recently-widowed and handsy-as-hell sister who’s dead set on winning more than a date with me.

Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary.

She’s my best friend’s sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don’t even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she’s my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me we’ve got to keep up the act while he’s negotiating my contract.

What happens next when faking it starts to feel all too real?

breakdown

Series: Ballers and Babes
Author: Lauren Blakely
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Most Irresistible Guy

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single (#0.5-#1); Alternating (#2)
Publication Dates: September 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Lauren Blakely‘s other adult contemporary series. They’re on the lighter side of things but they never fail to entertain me. And I love sports romances (they usually employ my fave tropes like fake relationships, etc) so I was super excited to start this series—hence the reason it was on my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a 2017 TBR item.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Most Irresistible Guy:

I read this before I read the first book in the series and that is the way to do it. Because we don’t get Violet’s POV in the full novel, this is where you get her insight instead. And chronologically, where the novella ends is where the novel picks up. Of course, you could read it after but I think reading it first will set the stage.

Why Most Valuable Playboy (#1) Was a Disappointment:

I LOVED the novella! It got me super excited for Violet and Cooper’s story because you could feel the underlying tension between them. It finished on such a high note for me.

But I almost DNF’d MVP within the first two chapters because Cooper’s POV was definitely not what I perceived it to be after reading the novella. He came across as this immature tool and not the sweet guy Violet had painted a picture of in her POV. And it definitely didn’t help that we only got his POV in the novel. His head wasn’t an enjoyable place for me to read from and irked me to no end.

As I got further into the novel, things improved or maybe I just got used to his POV. But the plot didn’t impress me and I really thought the romance scenes were severely lacking. Not what you want in a romance novel for those who like a little more substance.

Why Most Likely to Score was also a Disappointment:

When I was drafting this review, I was so confident that I would love Book #2 that I actually had titled this section “Why Most Likely to Score was a Homerun”…only it wasn’t.

I love slow burn romances but this was just a little too slow for me. These two have great chemistry, yet I felt like most of it had been established before the book. It just made things seem anti-climatic and especially rushed near the end. I also thought the “drama” keeping them apart was a bit of a stretch in one (Jones’) respect.

Series Rating: 2/5

Most Valuable Playboy 2/5 | Most Likely to Score 2/5

overall

There are a lot of aspects to like about this series but the execution left me wanting more. But if you want quick reads that aren’t overly complicated, this is a short series to dive into.

Read if You Like: light romance, sport romances, male only POV
Avoid if You: want more romance scenes

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Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

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 American Queen (from Goodreads):

Warned as a girl to keep her kisses to herself, Greer Galloway disobeys twice–once on her sixteenth birthday as she’s kneeling in a pool of broken glass, and another time after a charming stranger named Embry Moore whisks her into the dazzling Chicago night. Both times she falls in love, and both times her heart is broken beyond repair. And so as an adult, she vows never to kiss–or to love again.

That’s until the Vice President of the United States shows up at the university where she teaches, and asks for one thing: for her to meet with the hero-turned-President Maxen Colchester. Maxen, the soldier who was her first kiss in that pool of broken glass.

And the other complication? The Vice President is none other than charming Embry Moore himself.

Soon, Greer finds herself caught between past and present, pleasure and pain–and two men who long for each other as much as they long for her. And as war and betrayal press ever closer, they tumble headlong into a passionate love affair that will change the world…

From the USA Today bestselling author of Priest comes a contemporary reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot–elegant, carnal, and unforgettable.

breakdown

Series: New Camelot Trilogy
Author: Sierra Simone
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There are 2 novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Multiple (#2-3)
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#1-3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for anything with an Arthurian Legend twist (I even took the literature class in university) and when I saw that Sierra Simone–who co-wrote one of my favourite contemporary romances, Porn Star— was the author, I was very curious to see what modern spin she would put on arguably the most famous love triangle in history.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy non-vanilla romances, I’d avoid this one. It’s full of BDSM moments and kinky sex scenes. And while there is substance to the romance (as in it’s not just sex scene after sex scene though I’d say 70% of the books are dedicated to the deed), the sex scenes are quite detailed when they do appear and I just think it would make you uncomfortable.

But I mean, how great of an idea is it to make the classic love triangle a menage? It’s one of those true love triangle situations I rarely encounter in a novel/series and I was definitely on board for seeing how it would all work out.

As for the Arthurian Legend aspect, it’s one of those little hidden eggs you find along the way. And I don’t think most of it becomes apparent until you complete the trilogy and see the bigger picture. But I appreciated the modern spin (President instead of King, etc) though I wasn’t a fan of the creative license employed by the end.

The Plot:

I kept waiting for something to happen in American Queen; it just took a little too long to build for me. While I liked the flashbacks, I almost wonder if it would have been better to have all the past events thrown out at once and then jump to the present. (Perhaps have each book dedicated to a different time instead of a different character).

American Prince definitely amps up the suspense when it comes to the dramatic plot. And at times, I wished that would remain the focus. While I loved having a new perspective (Embry’s) I did get a little tired of all the passionate sex. I just found the scenes to be distracting and I’d often forget what important drama/twist/secret had just happened. It became especially hard since I was listening to the audiobook and we do jump a lot between the past and present. The situation was the same in the finale (American King) as well and I found myself getting pulled away from the plot.

The Characters:

I usually don’t enjoy the “Guinevere” character (only exception has ever been from the TV Series Merlin) and Greer was just ok for me. She’s a little wish-washy and part of that translates to her romances with the boys She’s just so non-confident in her everyday life but as soon as you dim the lights, she’s a confident submissive and they just didn’t seem to go hand and hand for me. Yes, all the power to her for owning her sexuality but I struggled to reconcile the two versions we see of her.

Embry and Ash served their roles well. It was nice for them to each get their own books to heighten their development. Otherwise, I would have wondered what the big deal was.

The Romance:

I was disappointed in this because everything seemed to instalove to me (with the exception of Ash and Embry’s relationship). But Greer’s love for the boys just seemed like some fixated school girl fantasy that she has lived in for so long that it comes across as superficial when she actually begins a relationship with the boys. I didn’t see this all-consuming, soul-deep connection they seemed to go on about.

I really adored Ash and Embry together though. I could see the passionate draw they had between them and that only strengthens as the series progresses. I could have just read a book about those two honestly and have been satisfied.

My Audiobook Experience:

Emotions are always more apparent to me when I listen to audiobooks and I think that helped bring these characters to life for me in a way that could understand their dilemmas and struggles.

That being said, I wish we had a second male narrator for Ash in book 3. It was weird to have the same voice for both Embry and Ash and when you stop suddenly in a chapter, it was hard to recognize who the POV was.

When to Read the Novellas:

I have yet to read them but both seem to be recommended for reading after you have finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: 3/5

American Queen 3/5 | American Prince 3/5 | American King 3/5

overall

If you are searching for a romance novel that works around a “true” love triangle and don’t mind the steamy scenes, pick this series up. But I think those who don’t enjoy erotica should stay far away, even if the Arthurian draw is there.

Read if You Like: erotica, menage romance, contemporary retellings
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM

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DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF Series Review: Rise of the Empress by Julie C Dao

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 13: 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 Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (from Goodreads):

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

breakdown

Series: Rise of the Empress
Author: Julie C Dao
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (#1) at 52% (Chapter 22) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually tried to read this book earlier last year as an eBook but knew immediately that I wasn’t in the right mind frame to start it. That’s why I made it a selection for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge. I’m obsessed with Asian folklore and I find very few books seem to have it (though more and more do lately!) so when I do find it, I’m so on-board. This one I stumbled upon randomly at my library but I was looking forward to it once I read the synopsis!

What I Liked:

–The Idea of the Prophecy–

When I first started reading this story, I actually thought Xifeng was Snow White and her aunt was the Evil Queen. But that’s not the case at all. I really loved the idea of a prophecy as the driving motivation for Xifeng and the questions it stirs up. Are all these things really happening because it is her destiny? Or are they happening because she makes them happen in order to fulfill her destiny? It made me think about things in a grand scheme and I love when a book can do that.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Character Driven–

Normally I wouldn’t complain about a Character Driven story. In fact, it was kinda nice to have a heroine who isn’t physically strong and who has to rely on her wit and cunning in order to accomplish things. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that isn’t plagued with battle scenes.

But I just didn’t like Xifeng at all and that makes it hard to follow a story that is just about her and her life.

It’s a tough line I think because she is going to become a villain. Now I don’t need a villain with redeemable qualities; I like them evil. But Xifeng is simply boring. I guess that’s part of her charm that she rises from nothing to be something but it was a dull journey to get there. I thought once she got to court the politics of the kingdom would draw me in but it was far too mundane (and cliche) for my enjoyment.

My Audiobook Experience:

I think I got further into this book because I listened to the audiobook. The narrator has a great voice that makes the minutes roll by, even if it is a third person narration. I had the same problem with Red Winter when I listened to it as an audiobook and that was the traditional names. To my untrained ear, a lot of the terms and names sound super similar so I sometimes got characters mixed up.

Will I Finish It?

If I wasn’t reading the audiobook, I probably would have toughed out the last half of the novel by skimming it. But since the audiobook had 5 hours left and I felt myself zoning out, I decided to leave it there.

I read the reviews for the read of the series and people who had a similar experience to me in book one had it repeated in the sequels. So I’m happy with my decision not to continue.

My Rating: DNF

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns DNF | Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix N/A | Song of the Crimson Flower N/A

overall

If you are looking for a fantasy novel that isn’t brimming with battle scenes and you like watching the underdog achieve greatness, no matter the expense, you might enjoy this retelling.

Read if You Like: Asian folklore, fairy tale re imaginings, villains
Avoid if You: dislike character driven stories, want action

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DNF Series Review: Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway

DNF Series Review: Tattoo Thief by Heidi Joy Tretheway

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 12: 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 Tattoo Thief (from Goodreads):

22-year-old Beryl doesn’t know why Gavin Slater trashed his penthouse, abandoned his dog and fled the country. But as his house sitter, she must pick up the pieces for the front man of the white-hot rock band Tattoo Thief.

When ultra-responsible Beryl confronts the reckless rock star, she wants to know more than just what to do with his mess. Why is he running? What’s he searching for? And is he responsible for the death of his muse?

New York newbie Beryl must find her footing in Gavin’s crazy world of the ultra-wealthy to discover her own direction and what can bring him back.

Steamy, sassy and tender, Tattoo Thief is a story of breaking from a comfort zone to find a second chance.

breakdown

Series: Tattoo Thief
Author: Heidi Joy Tretheway
# of Books: 4  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected & Companion

Book #3, Revenge Bound, is a Companion to Book #1

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 to September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Tattoo Thief at 22% (start of Chapter 15) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar. All I know is that I picked up the first book as a freebie and I probably did that because I love rockstar romances. It was a pick for my Make Me Read It Readathon 2018 but it didn’t get that many votes, so I didn’t get to it right away.

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

There was something refreshing about the approach of this story. I didn’t really take the synopsis literally but Beryl is trying to bring back Gavin back home as he searches for whatever has him lost. That means they communicate through email and texts for the first introduction. So I kinda liked the slow burn approach to their romance and how it wasn’t necessarily based on some physical attraction from across the room.

And I liked the mystery of why Gavin has fled–it kept me interested.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Slow Burn–

I think we were only introduced to Gavin maybe two chapters before I stopped reading–which is a little too late I think for a romance novel. Perhaps if I came into this story expecting a coming of age story with a dash of romance (instead of a contemporary romance novel), I wouldn’t have minded so much.

But I kinda wanted the sexual tension to be there and give me some anticipation. But their texts back and forth did nothing for me.

–Plot was a Little Monotonous–

While I was cool with learning what Beryl’s new job was, I didn’t necessarily want to go to work with her every day and watch her be super judgy about all her clients. Beryl is quirky but he’s a little rude with some of her insights. She honestly makes it her mission to snoop and discover every clients tick…but I want to read a romance not learn useless info about some character who never makes an appearance.

–Beryl Forgiving Her Friend So Easily–

I also don’t understand how she so easily forgives her flaky friend at the start of the novel. I could see how you might rekindle the friendship (everyone makes mistakes) but I would have liked to have seen more conflict arise from that whole scenario.

Will I Finish the Series?:

No. Considering that flaky friend gets her own story later on, that’s a hard no.

Series Rating: DNF

Tattoo Thief DNF | Tyler & Stella N/A | Revenge Bound N/A | Say It Louder N/A

overall

Lots of reviews call this a fast-paced story but it certainly takes a while to go anywhere…

Read if You Like: slow burn stories, coming of age
Avoid if You: want romance from the start

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Series Review: Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

Series Review: Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 9: 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 Love Me Never (from Goodreads):

Don’t love your enemy. Declare war on him.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

breakdown

Series: Lovely Vicious
Author: Sara Wolf
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2013 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love hate to love you stories but I have a soft spot for ones that are set in high school because it has the promise for a lot of angst. But I really find one that doesn’t get on my nerves. Anyways, I bought the inaugural book years ago and despite numerous opportunities to remove it from my TBR, the synopsis always sucked me back in.

What I Liked:

–Isis’s Self Esteem Issues–

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Isis as a character. She actually grated on my nerves a bit. But I did appreciate her struggles with self-esteem. It just gave her character some complexity and helped me to understand some of her actions.

–The Mystery of Jack–

While Jack does get his own POV chapters, he doesn’t have near as many as Isis so he’s a bit of an enigma to figure out. I loved the little peeks we got into his mind.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Immaturity–

I’ll be the first to say that Isis was a bit of an odd-duck at times. Sometimes she would have these great retorts and comebacks for the various situations she found herself in and then other times, her actions came from way out there. It made her come across as a little dim and it just made her seem super immature as the story progressed. I can handle a little teenaged angst but this was just melodrama.

–The Romance–

I mostly read this because I love the whole “enemies who secretly like each other” trope but I was really disappointed in the execution. For one, I didn’t feel the chemistry between them. I think part of the reason was that I had a hard time getting a read on Jack because we get so little time in his head. But I really didn’t think the two of them interacted all that much as a whole.

My other issue was with Jack and his “white knight” complex. It just seemed like he was trading one unhealthy relationship for another because I didn’t see the connection between them.

Why I Won’t be Continuing With the Series:

Despite the cliffhanger at the end, I was over this series by the halfway point of the first book. I’m just not invested enough into these characters to see what happens next.

Series Rating: DNF

Love Me Never 2/5 | Forget Me Always  N/A | Remember Me Forever N/A

overall

This was just a miss for me. I think if this came out when I was in high school, I would have enjoyed it. I think you will either love or hate this book.

Read if You Like: quirky yet angsty teen leads
Avoid if You: dislike teenage drama

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DNF Series Review: Lady Helen by Alison Goodman

DNF Series Review: Lady Helen by Alison Goodman

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 6: 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 The Dark Days Club (from Goodreads):

London, April 1812.

On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

breakdown

Series: Lady Helen
Author: Alison Goodman
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2015 – November 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

**Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Dark Days Club at 32% (start of Chapter 11) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This was one of those series that always caught my eye when I was browsing my library’s collection. And when I read the synopsis, I was intrigued. I adore historical fiction and I don’t get to it often enough in the YA genre. Add to it the supernatural element and I was totally onboard to add it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for the year 2015.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I love historical novels with a supernatural twist. There’s just something about the bizarre as it meets the lush society that I find endlessly fascinating.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Way too Dry–

It just felt like this book was taking forever to get somewhere. I was pretty far in and nothing had really evolved besides Helen learning that maybe her mother wasn’t a traitor…which is so obvious it’s painful to anyone who has read a book before.

–Lack of Chemistry–

I was hoping the promise of romance might save this one but no such luck. I didn’t find the banter as engaging as I wanted.

–Helen is Rather Dull–

I get it: she’s lived a life constrained by boundaries outside her control but I wish she had more to her personality. She’s a bit of a “special snowflake” but one you’ve encountered numerous times before.

Will I Continue With the Series?:

No. I’ve read reviews for the sequels to see if this slower start is worth it but they weren’t overly positive so I am stopping here.

Series Rating: DNF

The Dark Days Club DNF | The Dark Days Pact N/A | The Dark Days Deceit N/A

overall

There was nothing to get me excited about this series despite the promising inklings.

Read if You Like: slower stories, historical fiction
Avoid if You: want something with lots of action

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Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 5: 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 One More Round (Previously Good Girl Gone Plaid) (from Goodreads):

When Sarah Rawlings fell for her best friend’s older brother in high school, she knew he was trouble. But she couldn’t resist his pull and the sweetness she sensed underneath his protective bad boy persona. Their relationship was everything she had ever dreamed of, until she was rocked by his painful betrayal. Eleven years later, Sarah must return to Whidbey Island following her beloved grandmother’s death. She knows she must stay away from Ian, but he’s not making that easy and every time she sees him, she’s reminded of what might have been.

One look at Sarah stirs up memories regrets that still linger in Ian McLaughlin’s heart. She was the love of his life and he still can’t understand how he blew it and how she could have also hurt him so badly in return. He plans to steer clear of Sarah while she’s on Whidbey Island, but that’s impossible when she’s often at his family’s pub. Thinking to indulge in a little casual seduction for fun, neither is prepared when the embers burst into flames.

So many years and secrets separate them. Can their powerful attraction also include understanding and forgiveness?

breakdown

Series: The McLaughlins
Author: Shelli Stevens
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes – though currently being republished under new names
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – September 2014
Source & Format: LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers–eARC | Thank you Tule Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read One More Round (Book #1) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I always enjoy a good second chance romance. I love the secrets and the drama often associated with them. It was the secrets in One More Round that intrigued me. Add the mix the fact that Ian is the brother of Sarah’s BFF? I’m sold. I couldn’t wait to meet these Scottish McLaughlins and learn their secrets!

What I Liked about One More Round:

–Polished Version–

This is a newly edited and reformatted version of the original story Good Girl Gone Plaid–so take that into account when reading other reviews because they might be reviewing an early version. I didn’t find any of those grammatical errors other reviewers mention.

–The Setting–

Ever since I read the Cottonbloom Series, I’ve grown to love the small town setting. I really enjoy the isolation of the world because you get a handful of characters to read about throughout the entire series. I love the weaving of everyone’s lives and secrets. While it wasn’t as strong as I liked here, it did serve as an interesting backdrop to the story.

What I Didn’t Like about One More Round:

–I Figured Out the “Big Twist” by the End of Chapter One–

I won’t lie, I did doubt myself for a second or two in the middle but it was only for a page or two.

But I went with the flow anyways because they do have a complicated past. Yet every time a new “twist” was hinted at, I correctly guessed the outcome every single time. It just took away some of the tension and anticipation of the read. I found myself getting bored.

–Ian’s Ego–

I’m all for a confident playboy hero but Ian’s confidence could take up an entire planet. It drove me NUTS how Ian would just go ahead and kiss her when she wasn’t expecting it or clearly giving him “no” vibes. (That’s their first encounter and it just set such a sour tone for me). I really struggled to see why he would give up his charmed playboys ways for Sarah.

–The Romance–

We don’t get to see a lot of their conversations because most of the time they’re so focused on the physical aspect of their relationship. I couldn’t tell you why they thought they were soul mates besides great sexual chemistry.

–Rushed Ending–

Which is why I wish the ending was expanded upon a bit or introduced earlier. I definitely would have liked that drama to be teased out more and in the first half of the novel to give some depth.

Will I Finish the Series?

I did enjoy the other McLaughlin siblings; I think Ian is the odd man out in terms of personalities. But I wasn’t a fan of the heroine for the second novel after we learn more about her so this is where I end my time with this series.

Series Rating: DNF

One More Round 2/5 | Straight, No Chaser N/A

overall

Unfortunately, this was just too predictable for me to full enjoy and there were some aspects of the plot (and characters’ pasts) that I wasn’t I fan of.

Read if You Like: quick romance reads, family leads, Scottish heroes
Avoid if You: want surprises

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Series Review: Songs and Sonatas by Jerica MacMillan

Series Review: Songs and Sonatas by Jerica MacMillan

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 4: 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 Double Exposition (from Goodreads):

A former boyband star gets a little musical education from a sexy violinist. Will they stay in different keys or find a way to play in tune?

The first time I saw her I knew I wanted her. And when she talked music with me? I didn’t stand a chance.

When she found out my secret past—that I used to be a famous pop star—I expected her to fangirl all over me. Because even though it’s been years since people cared about us, a ton of girls who grew up with our music still go nuts when they find out who I am.

Not Gabby. She was more interested in our future than my past.

I tried to stay away at first. She’s so young, eighteen to my twenty-two. Just starting out in college while I’m getting ready to leave.

But I couldn’t leave her alone. Her passion, her drive, her intoxicating combination of innocence and audacity. And that sexy little Texas twang. Damn. I was sunk from the start.

With her help, I started writing better songs than ever. And when a video of me playing a new song landed on YouTube and went viral, my life exploded in a return to fame I never thought I wanted.

How can I pass up this chance now that it’s being offered to me again? But if I take it, will Gabby and I be able to survive?

breakdown

Series: Songs and Sonatas Trilogy
Author: Jerica MacMillan
# of Books: 3 (Double Exposition, Development, Recapitulation)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: Read It and Review It–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I finished Book #1 Double Exposition but have opted not to continue with its sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this story for the premise. The idea of a former boy band heart-throb finding love and muse in a girl he meets at school? Adorable.

What I Liked:

–The Composing of Music–

I think musicians would love this novel without a doubt. It’s a beautiful story about two people who connect through music and how that connection betters their music.

But there is also a lot of discussion about the creation of music. We get quite a few scenes of Gabby and Jonathan writing and composing songs and quite a few technical terms are thrown out. I think someone who knows what a E-flat sounds would get a great feel for the type of music they are making. As someone who knows nothing about music, it completely blew past me but I still loved the idea of it all.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

While I enjoyed the novel and the characters, there was just something about the pacing that stopped me from being fully invested. It had me at the start but it lost me in the middle when the sexy times seemed to take up most of the scenes. And they are great scenes, but I just needed something else to happen to keep me engaged. A subplot of sorts.

I know that had it in my head that most of the story would be about Jonathan dealing with his re-emergence into the music scenes. And while a decent portion is dedicated to that, it seems to be something that will be further developed in the other novels.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While I liked these characters, I just need a more engaging plot for me.

Series Rating: DNF

Double Exposition 3/5 | Development N/A | Recapitulation N/A

overall

I just needed a little more flare to love this series. It’s a sweet and simple romance that I think fans of music and/or musicians will enjoy.

Read if You Like: little drama, first loves, musicians
Avoid if You: want more dramatics
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Series Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London

Series Review: Darkness Before Dawn by J.A London

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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Darkness Before Dawn (from Goodreads):
Only sunlight can save us.

We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what’s left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.

After the death of my parents, it’s up to me—as the newest delegate for humanity—to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it’s safe to let one in.

Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.

breakdown

Series: Darkness Before Dawn
Author: J.A. London
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance, Dystopian
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2012 – June 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: After completing the first novel, I have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

My Expectations:

In the height of the YA vampire craze, this series crossed my radar. I mean, those covers are gorgeous (even if they look like they belong to the Fallen Series)! I briefly started the first book but wasn’t able to finish it before it had to be returned to my library but I managed to get it soon after and pick up where I left off.

I probably should have just left it unfinished. Here’s why:

The Concept / The World:

You could almost label this book as “Teen” simply because of the drama we get for the first half of the book. It’s that petty high school drama of “who is dating who”, Dawn dealing with her boyfriend, mean girls, etc.

From the synopsis I expected some gritty, dark drama about vampires and maybe throw in some grizzly vampire blood sucking or death scenes. And the sad part is that this book could definitely have this darker direction because J.A. London has created a world that could go to that level. Instead they (because it is a mother-son author duo) decides to focus on trivial things and that just didn’t work for me.

The Plot:

With about a third to go, the plot actually turns into something interesting that can get your attention. It’s almost too little too late by that point. Which is a shame because readers probably stopped reading way before this point–and I was nearly one of them.

The Characters:

Dawn wasn’t a thrilling heroine to follow around either; I found her to be a dull character. The worst part: I was completely indifferent to her as a character because she wasn’t overly angsty or anything so I couldn’t bring myself to dislike or hate her–instead I found myself indifferent to her.

I really loved Victor though and I wish he was more predominate or even had narration parts because his character actually interested me.

Will I Finish It?:

Despite the mediocre start, I was willing to give book #2 a shot given the way things were going. I also noticed that the sequels were much smaller in size as well so they wouldn’t be big time investments. But it’s been over 4 years since I read the first book and I haven’t thought about this series besides the time I did a big TBR purge. So, no, I will not be finishing this series at all.

Series Rating: DNF

Darkness Before Dawn 3/5 | Blood-Kissed Sky N/A | After Daybreak N/A

overall

Perfect for YA Vampire fans who like the lighter reads; but those craving darker stories will need to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: YA vampire stories
Avoid if You: want darker paranormal reads

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