Tag «Conclusion: missed the mark»

Missed the Mark: My expectations were high going into this series/book but fell short or I consider the book/series a disappointment. Usually these books have great concepts, just poor executions.

Other Conclusions:
Downhill | End of the Road | New Favourite | Not for Everyone | Only Gets Better | Slow Start | Staying Tuned | Time will Tell | Worth a Read

Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

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 A Hurt So Sweet (from Goodreads):

If you can’t beat the rich boys…
F*ck them.

Lily Anna Oakes and I share everything.

We have the same billion-dollar name, the same designer clothes, and the same messed up problems.

But Lily Anna and I will never meet. She died years ago.

This town broke her. I’ll burn it to the ground before I let that happen to me.

In Eden Falls, I’m forced to attend a school for the elite. The Firstborns own this place and they think they own me, too. It’s not long before Dexter, Caspian, Lai, and Julian become the bane of my existence.

There are only two people I’m afraid of – my strict father, and my malevolent fiancé. Unfortunately for me, my husband-to-be is one of the Firstborns ruining my life.

Dexter Booth and I will marry on my birthday to secure our families’ bond.

Every woman in this damn town wants to be Dexter’s toy. Except me.

Dex and his Eden Falls Prep cronies have forced me to give up my body. I know my betrothed wants my mind next.

I play along… But soon, I’ll leave the beautiful jerk behind without the thing he wants most from me.

His heir.

breakdown

Series: Elite of Eden Falls Prep

Set in the Same Universe as the Lords of Wildwood Series

Author: Betti Rosewood
# of Parts: 4
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2019 – January 2020
Source & Format: Hidden Gems Books–eARC (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2-4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought about Secret Heir by M J Prince which I loved for its angst, hate to love you romance, and secrets. And while I go through withdrawal for that sequel, this seemed like a great pick.

The Concept:

I think this series struggles a bit with its need to shock and that in turn makes it hard to pinpoint the audience. Overall, this reads like an adult erotica novel but takes place with recently graduated high schoolers. So it makes for some uncomfortable sexual scenes because of their ages. It sometimes feels like it’s kids playing grown-up.

The world itself is interesting but I don’t think it was as fleshed out as it could have been. It’s was a lot of “this is how it is” but not a why. I almost felt like I was entering a series halfway through because some things felt like they should be “assumed” by the reader. And that leads into my biggest complaint that things are intentionally left out to build the intrigue but, in turn, it just makes things feel underdeveloped.

The Plot:

I wanted a little lot more to the plot. Pandora tries to rebel but her efforts weren’t all that strong and I had hoped to get more from her. The plot here is more about her entering this world and all the crappy things that happen to her because she is an outsider. The synopsis gave me the idea that she was going in with a plan for revenge but she kinda just takes everything thrown at her without pushback.

I guess I just wanted a little more cohesiveness or at least an idea of what the bigger , overall picture would be. It’s a lot of shock factor heaped into the series so it takes some time to sort through it all to understand what is really happening in this story.

The Characters:

There’s a lot of angst from the characters though I’m not entirely sure it is all warranted. I felt like certain things where kept vague to add intrigue and it did work because I kept reading hoping I could figure it out. But it was frustrating because you are intentionally left out of stuff. That works for twists later in the book, but only if the reader doesn’t notice they are missing key point. Again, it just made things seem underdeveloped and not thought out.

The characters themselves where also all over the place. Like I said, Pandora couldn’t seem to stay consistent in her character and her subsequent actions. I can understand that the torment she receives from the other characters would lead her to have some insecurities but I honestly felt like I was reading about a different character in every part.

The Romance:

It’s very twisted and I think I wanted something that was more…romantic? I wasn’t overly drawn to the connection. Dex’s past love with Lily was endearing and sweet, so I didn’t totally understand this draw to Pandora he seemed to have. Nor did I get the draw to Dex from Pandora. Add to that some scenes of dubious consent with Pandora’s other bullies and it all was just uber toxic.

Series Rating: 2/5

Volume 1 3/5 | Volume 2 2/5 | Volume 3 2.5/5 | Volume 4 3/5

overall

I think there are better high-school-bully romances out there. But if you enjoy books that simply shock and can get some plot hole logic and inconsistencies, I think you might find this series addicting in its own way.

But truthfully, if you want a dark book with twisted characters but has a strong plot, check out anything by Ella Miles instead.

Read if You Like: high school bully trope; polyamourous relationships
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike toxic relationships

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Single Sundays: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Single Sundays: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Romanov (from Goodreads):

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

My Rating: 3/5

overall

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

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

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Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Never by Winter Renshaw

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 Never Kiss a Stranger (from Goodreads):

It was an innocent mistake…

All workaholic real estate broker Addison Andrews wanted was one night of pleasure, and picking the right guy was no different than shopping from a catalog thanks to the dating app on her phone. His name was Wilder, and his profile was blank – just a sexy picture of a man who promised every wicked intention of a one-night stand.

The agreement was simple. One night. No last names. But the second their bodies melded together in the sheets of their posh Manhattan hotel room, there was no denying they fit together like two pieces of a broken puzzle.

There’s just one problem…

Addison unknowingly swiped right on the one man she wasn’t supposed to be with – her new stepbrother. All it takes is one bite of forbidden fruit to become addicted, but being with him has major consequences for their entire family. And if anyone found out about them, the career she worked so hard to build would crumble to the ground.

But Wilder Van Cleef doesn’t care about the possibility of a scandal. He wants her, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Never
Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a spin-off novella: Bitter Rivals

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March – June 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Winter Renshaw is an author I read no matter what. Her books are usually packed with great chemistry, some of my favourite romance tropes and some unexpected twists or spins that keep me on my toes.

I think I picked up a freebie copy of Never Kiss a Stranger before I even read a Winter Renshaw novel–or maybe I picked it up after I read my first? Regardless, I was excited to dive into a new romance series with some of my favourite tropes from an author I had enjoyed in the past.

The Plot:

While these books had a lot of my favourite tropes at play, I felt like they were underutilized or portrayed falsely by the synopsis. For example, in Never Kiss a Stranger (#1), there is the forbidden “new stepbrother” angle listed in the synopsis but it isn’t something that is revealed until after the 50% mark. And I honestly think if it had been omitted from the synopsis, it would have amped the book up a bit. By having it a known secret, its eventual “reveal” halfway through the book was a bit of a let down.

I just felt like things were underdeveloped when it came to the plot for all the books. I craved more. The pacing was a little off or things felt forced or logic was glossed over for the sake of drama and I just felt like we got the bare minimum out of these stories when there was potential for more.

The Characters:

Again, I think development was glossed over at times when it comes to the characters.

I found all the characters were a little anti-hero in a way, highlighting their flaws more so than anything else. But that can be a double-edged sword because you risk the reader not liking them either. I think I really struggled with that in Never is a Promise (#2) because these two just really had some strong anti-logic going on and I couldn’t get behind their resistance to be together.

The Romance:

I felt like all the leads had great physical chemistry but, once again, we glossed over the deeper stuff. Every connection seems to be this innate, inexplicable draw that just left me wanting a little more.

When to Read Bitter Rivals:

If you use Goodreads, you’ll notice that Bitter Rivals isn’t always listed as a part of the Never Series. I had no clue it was either when I grabbed the novella for free off of Amazon one day. I had started to read it and there was just something about the way some of the side characters were dropped that got me thinking it was a spin-off of something else.

I totally forgot about that fact until I picked it up again a couple of months later because I needed a quicker read. This time, I just went with it. Moral of the story: you can read it as a standalone but I think you will get more out of it if you read it after you read the other books in the series even though the leads of the novella aren’t mentioned at all in the previous books.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Never Kiss a Stranger 3.5/5 | Never Say Never 3/5 | Never is a Promise 3.5/5 | [Bitter Rivals 3/5]

overall

This is not my favourite Winter Renshaw series. They are quicker reads that you can easily get through in a sitting when you need a good distraction but there are better ones out there if you want more twists.

Read if You Like: quick romances, second chances
Avoid if You: want deeper character stories

similarreads

  • Forbidden by Lauren Smith (Her British Stepbrother Series #1)
  • Bedwrecker by Kim Karr (Men of Laguna Series #2)
  • Rumor Has It by Magan Vernon (Friendship, Texas Series #2)

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Series Review: Sex, Love and Stiletto by Lauren Layne

Series Review: Sex, Love and Stiletto by Lauren Layne

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 After the Kiss (from Goodreads):

Lauren Layne kicks off her Sex, Love & Stiletto series with a delightful short novel! In After the Kiss, the star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything . . . except fall in love.

Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.

Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Sex, Love and Stiletto

There is a spin-off series: Oxford Series

Author: Lauren Layne
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I did things a little backwards with this series. I actually read the first novel after I had read the first novel in the spin-off series, Oxford, not realizing that they were connected. But having that little bit of exposure to the established couples made me excited to get their backstories so I was eager to dive in.

The Plot:

These books feel and read like a Lifetime Movie rom-com. They’re quick, cute and flirty but don’t really delve into the crux of everything. And sometimes, that’s what you want out of a romance read. More often than not though, I gravitated to the darker reads, so this was quite “vanilla” and tame to my usual mix. I found myself getting a little bored (and my ratings reflect that) but that might have been the result of me listening to the audio versions which take me nearly double the amount of time to finish had I read them in print.

The Characters:

I liked everyone we meet enough. I really loved the female comradery that the girls had. It was great to see women support each other throughout the series. For the most part, both leads grew into better people so there was some growth by the end.

The Romance:

Each book explores a different trope or two which is fun. Like I said above, you kinds just graze the surface of what the connection is because things are happening fast. And to go back to the female comradery, I liked that the pursuit of love never put down other girls or forced them to compete along the way.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobooks were good. For the most part the female narrator did a good job with the male voices (though sometimes they were annoying). I can read a 250 page novel in 3-4 hours whereas the audiobook is 6-7 hours; so I did get bored or found my mind wandering away while listening. I often sped the speed up to 2X (I usually listen at 1.5X for reference) just so I could get through them faster and keep my focus.

Series Rating: 3/5

After the Kiss 4/5 | Love the one You’re With 3/5 | Just One Night 3/5 | The Trouble With Love 2/5

overall

Looking for something light and quick? These would be great!

Read if You Like: rom-coms, quick reads
Avoid if You: want erotica, darker romances

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Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Single Sundays: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

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

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

similarreads

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

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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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Spin-off Saturdays: Pretend We’re Over by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: Pretend We’re Over by Ella Miles

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:

Pretend We’re Over is a spin-off of Pretend I’m Yours

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: N/A

This is a spinoff of Pretend I’m Yours.

Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, they were pretty freaking high! Pretend I’m Yours is one of my favourite Ella Miles novels. I had always hoped for a story from our hero given how things go down in the inaugural novel but had never really thought we’d get one so soon!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

That great chemistry between our leads is there for sure. Their meet-cute was awkward yet steamy so I knew great things were in store and I couldn’t wait to explore their connections further.

Like the original, this story is always adding layer upon layer to itself and you really don’t know how it is all going to wrap up until the end. It makes it addicting to read.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

In the same breath, I thought some things in the plot didn’t add up completely upon the big reveal(s). I think part of my issue was that the characters seemed to be all over the place for me. I just couldn’t get a solid grasp on who they were as people since their thoughts and actions were a little all over the place. It just lacked some consistency and polish for me.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

My reading of this book was hot and cold. I really loved some aspects of it but didn’t really mesh well with others.

Read if You Like: fake marriage romances, fast paced, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Pretend We’re Over (from Goodreads):

I’m not looking for a date. I’m definitely not looking for a husband—just one night of passion. I’m in Vegas, after all. And what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

So how did I end up with a giant rock on that finger, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now I’m stuck fake married to the biggest self-centered jerk I’ve ever met. We agree to keep the charade going for six months to protect our pride and dignity. We have six months to convince everyone we aren’t meant to be. Should be easy.

I’m sweet, kind, fun Millie.
He’s cynical, self-absorbed, loner Sebastian.

We don’t belong together. Convincing everyone we’re married is the easy part. Convincing everyone we’re over—that’s proving more difficult. Convincing myself that we’re over is proving hardest yet.

I just have to remember that it was all pretend from the start. We were never together. Pretending we’re over is just going back to my life before. But what if I don’t want to keep pretending?

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Single Sundays: The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Single Sundays: The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Sound of Stars (from Goodreads):

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

breakdown

Author: Alecia Dow
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person & Third Person
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So you see that cover right? That’s why I clicked on the title when I was browsing my audiobook collection at my library. But the synopsis reminded me of a hybrid between Defy the Fates and Alienated with a darker edge, so I was curious to find out what this book was all about.

The Concept / The World:

If you are a fan of books and/or music, you will love how that is all woven into this text. It’s reminds me why these mediums are so important to society and how it connects people in times of struggles.

And it you are in the search for books that feature minority characters (whether that be people of colour and/or LGBTQ leads), look no further. The representation here is top-notch.

The Plot:

Like I thought, this book has a darker edge to it. In some ways, the plot reminded me of The Darkest Minds where people are pushed into situations of tentative trust in order to survive.

And then the plot takes a turn I never anticipated and that was a huge highlight for me. It alludes to something bigger than what this story is and I really liked that.

The Characters:

I liked both of our characters well enough. It was hard to get a good read on Morris because his POV is third person. Ellie is understandably a little sombre about everything so she isn’t the most exciting person to listen to. They weren’t overly memorable to me though.

The Romance:

The romance really dampened the whole experience for me because I just didn’t see those non-platonic feelings between them at all. Part of the issue is perhaps that Morris is an alien so emotions are hard to convey. But I also didn’t get Ellie’s draw to him besides physical attraction and close proximity. Yes, they have things in common but it just wasn’t enough for me to be convinced they were this epic, forbidden love story.

My Audiobook Experience:

A great listen. They did a really good job bringing this story to life.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

When you are trying to sell me on this epic forbidden romance, you really need to sell it and I felt like it didn’t. Which is a shame because I feel like it is the crucial piece in making this story epic.

Read if You Like: science fiction, alien invasions
Avoid if You: want an action novel
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Single Sundays: The Trophy Wife

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Trophy Wife (from Goodreads):

“I’ve done something terrible.”

On a foggy Palm Beach morning, Cate Cabot waits at a local cafe to meet her best friend for coffee—and a confession. At least that’s what Cate assumes based on the frantic voicemail Odessa left her earlier that morning.

Only Odessa never shows.

And when Cate drives to her home she finds no trace of her. In fact, Odessa isn’t just missing—it’s suddenly as if she never existed in the first place. Even the staff who run her palatial home in the gated Paradise Cove community are claiming Cate must be mistaken, confused.

As Cate searches high and low for her friend who vanished into thin air on the cusp of a mysterious admission, the only thing she finds … is that the truth might be more terrible than she ever could have imagined.

Liking Odessa was easy. Admiring her perfect life, easier so. But finding her? It’s going to be downright impossible without untangling the cryptic web of lies the missing trophy wife left in her wake.

breakdown

Author: Sunday Tomassetti (aka Winter Renshaw aka Minka Kent)
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 5, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Winter Renshaw fan so when she provided her ARC Team with a copy of her thriller pen name, I signed up right away. I’m always on the lookout for exciting contemporary-thrillers and in her contemporary romances, Winter throws in some great twists that never fail to surprise me. So this seemed like a no-brainer to pick up.

The Concept:

I don’t like when things that are mentioned in the synopsis don’t happen until the halfway point. It just makes the exposition seem overly long and lacklustre. I feel like the first half could have been condensed a bit more and still have gotten the necessary points across.

The Plot:

Because I thought Odessa’s disappearance would happen earlier in the book, I struggled to get into this as quickly as I wanted. Which is a shame because the latter half of the novel is exciting to read. I had figured out most of the solution but there were still some interesting tidbits that took me by surprise.

The Characters:

Cate in someways is a bit of an somber lead to follow. I’m sure part of that is intentional given the circumstances of the story. And in some ways, the idea that this everyday woman could find herself in this extraordinary situation is appealing as a reader.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance here. Cate has a boyfriend but their relationship is used more as a way to emphasis her “settling” personality.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick thriller read with no romance, this would be a great pick!

Read if You Like: no romance in mystery novels
Avoid if You: want something more “thrilling”

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Single Sundays: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Single Sundays: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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 Birthday Girl (from Goodreads):

JORDAN
He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE
I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

breakdown

Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm (gets Toasty later on)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 15, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Very, very rarely do I pick up a novel the same day I get it, especially a freebie but I was craving a quick, hot read and this seemed to fit the bill. Penelope Douglas writes one of my favourite forbidden romances ever, Rival, so when I read the premise for this one I was really curious. I love reading about unconventional romances and I’ve never read one quite like this before (though I have read some similar ideas).

The Plot:

So I definitely went in with the wrong expectations and that lead to some massive disappointment; but truthfully, I think I would have still been disappointed if I knew what to expect.

I had hoped this book would be a quick and–let’s face it–dirty read given the premise. Something that bordered on erotica but had some more substance to it. This was nothing of the sort.

I’m all for slow burn romances but I held on a little too long and got burned. This was painfully slow; like I’m talking 50% of the way through a very long novel slow.

The tension was pretty dismal; Jordan was a rehash of ever heroine I’ve ever encountered and not enough steam. You could have easily cut 100 (of the 400) pages out of the start of this novel and still got your point across without dragging the reader through mundane things.

The Characters:

Jordan was just meh as a heroine. I can appreciate her struggles in life but it wasn’t anything new to me. But what really got me is how she became this whole other person when the sexy times came about. It was really crazy how she brought out this whole other side that just seemed so out of character.

Pike was alright. He’s a decent guy who tries to do the right thing. Again, nothing new.

The Romance:

This took far to long to become a thing. I wasn’t really sold on the whole forbidden romance thing because it really doesn’t go anywhere until the halfway mark.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Just a miss for me. I think if you really love the slowest burns of romance, this is a great one for you.

Read if You Like: unconventional romances, slow starts
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a faster story
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  • Everything Between Us by Mila Ferrera (Starving Artists Series #2)
  • Illicit by June Gray

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