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

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

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

similarreads

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
similarreads

  • Everything Between Us by Mila Ferrera (Starving Artists Series #2)
  • Illicit by June Gray

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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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Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

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 Dirty Headlines (from Goodreads):

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.

breakdown

Author: L J Shen
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Office Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few books marked on my TBR by L J Shen but when the opportunity to review this one came up, I figured it was the best one to start with. Why? It checked off a lot of my favourite romance tropes in the synopsis alone. Workplace romance after an awkward first encounter. Hate to Love You/Enemies to Lovers. Playboy lead. So I was ready to dive in.

The Plot:

To be fair to this book, I probably started reading it at a bad time in my life. I had a lot of things going on when I started this so I wasn’t able to read it as much as I wanted. But I also think the fact that it took me nearly 2 months to read (when I usually finish a book in 3 days) shows how not into this book I was. (Usually, when I’m in stressful times I read a book in one go but not the case here).

As for the plot, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t the drama that killed it for me. If anything, it’s what propelled me to keep going when I wanted to DNF it numerous times. It’s angsty and almost soap opera-esque because it is a little over the top but that’s exactly what I want from a story set in a News Room.

The Characters:

Despite all of Celian’s playboy, asshole-ish characteristics, he failed to charm me. I think because I didn’t find his falling for Jude to be realistic (more on the romance below). Sure, he can talk dirty (perhaps one of the best dirty-talkers I’ve ever encountered in a book), but I just didn’t get won over by his antics.

And Jude…well she was a huge disappointment as well. Talk about wish-washy in terms of her convictions. The poor girl is all over the place. One minute claiming she’s unlovable but in the next sentence uttering that she wants a relationship with the guy. Why? She’s also extremely quirky and that doesn’t usually work for me. I guess it was a sign when she kept talking about her Chucks (the shoe I loath most in this world) that we just weren’t going to be friends.

The Romance:

This is by far the biggest factor in my lower rating: I just did NOT see the chemistry between these two. Yes, they seem to have fantastic sex together but besides lust and a good romp, what was keeping them together? I really don’t know. Their quirky tendencies? I think this goes hand in hand with their character profiles and how I failed to get a solid read on who they were as people. Because if I don’t understand them as individuals, how can I appreciate them as a pair together?

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Lots of other people seem to love this book but besides the drama, there wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, office romances, enemies to lovers
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera drama

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Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Single Sundays: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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 To Kill a Kingdom (from Goodreads):

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

breakdown

Author: Alexandra Christo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Pirates, Mermaids, Fairy Tale Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I saw this book everywhere prior to its release but it was a review I read by Alyssa @ The Eater of Books that convinced me to give this book a try. I love pirate/mermaid/siren stories; especially ones with promises of forbidden love so I was eager to read this and so I quickly added it as a 2018 pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge.

The Concept / The World:

I really loved the hierarchy of the sea world. It was nice to have the distinction between sirens, merman and mermaids. And the pirate crew is everything you want them to be.

I suppose you could say that this is a loose adaption of The Little Mermaid since there are a lot of parallels. But it really isn’t the light-hearted tale you expect if you only know the Disney version. I think this story manages to carve out its own distinct voice.

The Plot:

I found the plot to be terribly slow. Truthfully, I would have DNF’d it but I was enraptured by Elian’s crew and the promise of a good pirate heist. And the book does pick up in the last third, but I was also a little over it by then. It takes a long time to get things in motion and I felt like, at times, there was more describing and travelling than doing (if that makes any sense).

The Characters:

Lira’s character development is great. I think part of the reason for that is that we spend so much time watching her in her own kingdom fighting with her mother’s rule over her. She definitely isn’t the same character at the end of the story.

Elian is the charming pirate through and through. But I didn’t find anything new to his character that I haven’t seen before. Truthfully, I enjoyed the scenes with his crew a lot more than his scenes with Lira. There was just better chemistry there.

The Romance:

The romance was probably the most disappointing aspect for me. Perhaps I read too much into it in the synopsis but it just fell flat to me. A forbidden romance between enemies (even if one person doesn’t know that’s what it is) should be charged and brimming with tension. Not so much here. I didn’t get many romantic vibes from them at all. It’s a shame because they did have some moments of good banter between them but it just didn’t get built upon enough.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I think those who enjoy adventure novels with a larger focus on character redemption stories will enjoy this. But if you’re looking for an action packed pirate romance (a la Daughter of the Pirate King), you might want to look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: loose adaptions of fairy tales, adventure, pirates
Avoid if You: want more action, dislike darker stories

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