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Series Review: Royal Replicas by Michael Pierce

Series Review: Royal Replicas by Michael Pierce

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

Royal Replicas Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Royal Replicas (from Goodreads):

“Princess Amelia is dead… and one of you will replace her.”

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Sandalwood has served the Duke and Duchess all her life. Over the years, she’s learned to make due with what she has and endure her surrogate father’s awful punishments. She dreams of escape, but never expected it to come in the form of a message from the Queen of Westeria.

Victoria learns that she’s the Queen’s daughter, the younger sister to Princess Amelia, and it’s time to come home and claim her birthright. When she arrives, she discovers she’s not the only one who received the royal message.

Victoria must compete with six other girls to earn the affection of both the Queen and a princely suitor… and to replace the secretly deceased Princess Amelia. If she fails to win the crown, Victoria may just have to fight for her life…

breakdown

Series: Royal Replicas
Author: Michael Pierce
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella (#0.5) called Royal Reset

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1), Alternating (#2-4)
Publication Date: July 2017 – April 2018
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#2-#4)

A review copy was only provided for Book #1 Royal Replicas

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover drew me in, the synopsis had me wanting more. I love books with courtly intrigue or politics and throw in the idea that girls have to compete to be the next princess? I was so there!

I went in hoping for a book like The Selection but with a lead I could actually like and a story that actually went somewhere.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery of the Competition–

Trying to figure out the Queen of Westeria’s motivations for the competition truly had me eager for me. It kept me hooked and had me coming up with all sorts of conspiracy theories. I love books that keep me guessing.

–The World–

Dystopian worlds all share the same basic foundations which can get monotonous over time. But this one still felt fresh to me. I think it’s because we don’t focus too much on its structure and keep our focus on Victoria’s journey. I’m hoping that we can expand this in the sequel(s).

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Choppy Romance–

While this wasn’t the main reason I picked up this story, I do like a solid romance in my reads. Unfortunately, this one was a little all over the place. I could forgive Victoria for her back and forth feelings given the situation(s) she finds herself in. I would be torn too. However, I really didn’t see the connection to either boy and her flip-flopping drove me NUTS because of it. The connections just seemed shallow and too quick for me to really “pick a team”.

–It Played Things Too Safe–

With some of the plot twists, I feel like they were revealed a little too abruptly. There were certain things that could have built or been taken to the next level to give this book the “wow” factor it easily could have.

The Novella, Royal Reset:

I read this after Royal Replicas and I feel like you could read it before or after. I found it didn’t give too much away in terms of a certain character (I actually had more questions than answers after I finished reading it–even though I had read the full novel). But, I do think it does a slightly better job of explaining Victoria’s home life and leads nicely into Royal Replicas.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have so many unanswered questions that I’m curious to see what is going to happen next! I’m hoping now that the novelty of the romance is done, we can get back to the nitty gritty of the plot and trying to uncover what is at play.

updates

–December 15, 2019– Book #2: Royal Captives

Not what I was really expecting but I’m liking the direction this is going. This lagged for me in the middle; it almost seemed a little aimless at times. And I’m still not on board with the romance. But the last few chapters were great!

Audiobook was good. At first, it seemed like all the characters had the same voice but it improved by the end.

–December 15, 2019– Book #3: Royal Threat

This book just flew by! I thought the plot was by far the strongest of the series yet. Lots of twists and it kept me on my toes. And the romance takes a bit of a back seat which is nice.

–January 8, 2020– Book #4: Royal Return

By far the best paced novel of the series. We didn’t spend time moping around; rather we jumped from event to event at a great rate. I honestly had no idea how things were going to wrap up so I enjoyed the journey. It was a solid conclusion, wrapping up all the lingering questions wonderfully.

My Rating: 3/5

[Royal Reset] 3/5 | Royal Replicas 3/5 | Royal Captives 4/5 | Royal Return 4/5

overall

This is a lighter dystopian read packed with an addictive and suspenseful plot that is layered in mystery.

Read if You Like: dystopian, courtly intrigue, mysterious plots
Avoid if You: hate love triangles

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Series Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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

The Crown’s Game Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Crown’s Game (from Goodreads):

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

breakdown

Series: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
# of Books: 2 (The Crown’s Game, The Crown’s Fate)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book EVERYWHERE last year, and so the hype (and curiosity) was inevitable. But it was also on my radar because it is set in Imperial Russia–the kryptonite of book settings for me. I LOVE that setting and I try and read any book that uses this time period.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Like I said, Imperial Russia is one of my favourite book settings and this one was pretty perfect. You could tell that Evelyn Skye had done her research before writing this book. She really brought this setting to life in nearly every aspect: clothing, royalty, perception of magic. It hit all the marks.

–Multiple POV–

I LOVE having multiple POVs in my novels. It just gives you a full-circle view of the world I think and adds dimension to the plot and world. This one succeeds in that. It kept the story moving, added suspense to the plot and just gave you more insight into the characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard Time Picturing Magic Scenes–

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t in the best headspace to start reading this book. I was studying for my licensing exams and was a little pre-occupied in my brain. So maybe take the next two paragraphs with a grain of salt and read another review to get another perspective.

For a third person POV, this book flowed wonderfully. It’s easy to get lost in the 3rd person narration when pronouns are used liberally; but I never found that to be the case here.

What I did struggle with is the scenes where magic is described. I had a hard time visualizing it. I think I missed the part about the purpose of the Enchanter and how the Game works so I didn’t get why these two were doing what they were doing when it was their turn. Again, I think I just wasn’t in the right place to read this.

–The Romance–

While I don’t enjoy the aspect of a love triangle in any book, that isn’t my sole issue here. My issue: the insta-love. I can forgive Vika and Nikola’s insta-connection because of the magic. That makes sense. But love? Stretching it a little. And Pasha hardly interacts with Vika before he is swooning at her feet. I just wanted a stronger romance here or at the very least, pick a team to root for and I never did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There was a rush of things that happened at the end and so I’m excited to see what will happen next. There’s so much potential moving forward.

updates

–June 25, 2017– Book #2: The Crown’s Fate

I think I might be in the minority but I fully believe that this book was better than the first one. I found the plot to be much more engaging and interesting than it was in The Crown’s Game. Despite some slight monotony in the middle of the book with one plot aspect, I found that this story always kept moving and developing in a way that was rather addicting to read. I was flying through the pages.

The character development was also great. When you have essentially 3 key players to keep tabs on, one or more will inevitable fall to the wayside in terms of growth. But I felt like everyone had a great story to tell and I’m glad we got to see them all.

This series is still missing that something to make me give it a 5/5 though.  And truthfully, I was leaning more towards a 3.5/5 rating for this particular book because I did find the middle of the novel to be a little stale. But I really liked how everything was brought together in the latter half of the novel and I did feel like this was a much stronger showing on Evelyn Skye’s part. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her in terms of her writing and I’ll be keeping an eye on what she writes next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Crown’s Game 3.5/5 | The Crown’s Fate 4/5

overall

I enjoyed myself while reading this novel, I just wasn’t blown away. (Maybe the hype monster killed this one for me?) It’s a solid series and definitely worth a read if you love alternate history with a dash of magic!

Read if You Like: fantasy, Imperial Russia, alternate history
Avoid if You: dislike magic, want more romance
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Series Review: Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake

Series Review: Frostblood Saga by Elly Blake

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

Frostblood Saga

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Frosblood (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: Frostblood Saga
Author: Elly Blake
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 10, 2017 – August 21, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC (#1); Library–Audio (#2); Library–eBook (#3)

A review copy was only provided for Book #1, Frostblood

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Since 2015, I’ve been devouring any YA fantasy novels that I can get my hands on. They’ve replaced my dystopian obsession (which had replaced my paranormal YA obsession). So, I think it goes without saying that I am a little picky about my fantasies and what I want to see in them.

World-building is a big one. Recently, I’ve found newer series to be lacking that in particular. I don’t want to be thrown into a world and having to figure it out on my own. I also want a heroine or hero I can root for. I don’t need them to be perfect or all powerful, I just want them win me over to their side. And of course, a little romance never hurt anyone. Unless it becomes an unnecessary love triangle: nobody wins with those.

What I Liked:

–The Worldbuilding!–

I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels lately that have something to be desired when it comes to the worldbuilding–but that isn’t the case with Frostblood. I loved that the world was straight-forward but complex all at the same time. Ice vs fire is a battle that is so simple but has a lot of play with it, and that’s what Blake does here.

It takes the time to explain the history of the world and how the magic/powers work, which I greatly appreciate. It also adds a unique flare to the world as well. While readers will probably see parallels to other YA fantasies, this one still had its own refreshing take on the genre that made it so much fun to read.

–Ruby–

I really, really liked her as a heroine. She’s got this sassy, independent side to her that you can’t help but love and root for. Her passion and drive to control her own destiny is exactly what I want to read about in a heroine.

But she also has her flaws and her weaknesses and that makes her a well-rounded heroine who can only grow as this series continues.

–The Pacing–

This novel always felt like it was building. While some of the events might be seen as minor, they all contribute to the plot overall. Whether that was establishing character relationships, giving background on the world or leading to the ultimate plot climax, this story kept me on my toes.

–The Romance–

While not a huge aspect of the novel, it was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The banter between Ruby and Arcus was fantastic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

It really isn’t that big of a deal but I did think the story was going to focus more on this “king’s tournament”. So I was expecting a lot of physical action. But truthfully, that particular aspect doesn’t start until past the halfway point.

And in the end, I much preferred the story we get instead building up to that point. There was plenty of action even if it wasn’t of the variety I was necessarily expecting.

In short: don’t expect this book to be about a heroine fighting her way to the top in a tournament, there is so much more at play!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This was a solid start to a series! I’m not sure what exactly the future will hold but I’m excited to see more of these characters!

updates

–June 22, 2019– Book #2: Fireblood

I’ve been super excited to finish the series, even if it has taken me awhile to get back to it.

Despite that, it took me a few chapters to get into this sequel. Part of the reason is that I needed to reorient myself into it since it had been awhile. But the other part is that this is one of those sequels where our heroine has to find herself and so we take a bit of a break from the action that captured my full attention in the first novel. Like I mentioned about the first book, I really love Ruby as a character and her development is something I adore about this series so I liked getting to know her deeper.

The last quarter of the book is when things pick up and WHOA, do they ever! I thought I had things figured out but I was wrong (bonus!). Looking forward to the finale.

My library had an audio version for this installment (and only this one) so I thought I would try it out. I really loved the production and I really wanted to read the last book as an audio as well but I couldn’t find a copy.

–October 21, 2019– Book #3: Nightblood

It’s truly unfortunate that I wasn’t able to give this book my full attention for a long time. I do think that impacted my enjoyment of this finale.

But there is a lot to like about this final book. That great character chemistry is still here and I loved the scenes we got along the way. The plot was always building and while I think some of the finer details were lost on me, I was very satisfied by how everything wrapped up.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Frostblood 5/5 | Fireblood 4/5 | Nightblood 4/5

overall

From the sassy lead to the rich world, this is a fantasy series that will surely entertain!

Read if You Like: fantasy, sassy leads
Avoid if You: dislike action/violence, want more romance

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Series Review: Friends by Monica Murphy

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

Friends Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Just Friends (from Goodreads):

It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.

But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times—and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.

So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.

Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Friends
Author: Monica Murphy (aka Karen Erickson)
# of Books: 3 (Just Friends, More than FriendsForever)

There is a prequel novella called One Night.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

disclaimerYAbound

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t like YA contemporary stories and I don’t like love triangles. So why on earth did I decide to read this one?

The simple answer: Monica Murphy.

She wrote one of the first (and one of my all time favourite) New Adult romance series, One Week Girlfriend. I adore that series. From the amazing characters to the fantastic plot twists, she knows how to write an addicting romance story. And her adult romance work as Karen Erickson is just as great.

So if anyone could sell me on a YA love triangle story, it’s her.

What I Liked:

–The Side Characters–

I love intricate stories and trying to figure out how everyone is linked together is what stole my attention here. I’m one of those readers who often gets caught up in the stories of the side characters and this story is no different.

When we met Amanda, I was immediately drawn into her story. Even Em’s character intrigued me with the little hints we get to see of her life. There are a lot of stories to uncover and I can’t wait to do that more.

–All the Drama–

While this novel mostly focused on Olivia’s romantic and friendship drama, we do get some other dramatics further on in the story. And I liked that a lot because it kept me interested. Most of it comes from the other characters we meet, but there are also some other developments in terms of Olivia’s life as well. It makes me eager to see what happens next.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Objects of Affection–

You know that expression, “lesser of two evils”–that describes this love triangle to a T. I honestly don’t like either of Olivia’s prospects and that was apparent to me early on in the story. Which made it hard to watch Olivia fawn over these two at times because they were not catches at all.

However, I did start to lean more towards a certain someone as more secrets are revealed so I’m curious to see how it all ends.

–The Abrupt Ending–

I thought this story was going to focus on Olivia and the resolution of her love triangle–yeah, so not the case!

Which is totally fine, it just was unexpected and I wished I had prepared myself to be left on a bit of a cliffhanger.

Note on Olivia:

I was really worried that I was going to hate Olivia as a character but I was surprised that that wasn’t the case necessarily. While she won’t be getting any praise from me by being the best heroine ever, she grew on me a little as the story progressed.

But I know that lots of readers will probably not like her character. If you are like me and don’t enjoy angsty lead heroines who change their minds on a dime, you probably won’t empathize with Olivia at the start. She fits the mold perfectly of a teenage girl who finds herself thriving on attention but doesn’t know how to handle it.

However, I did find myself sympathizing with her once the secrets were initially revealed because I understood her hurt. And while I may not agree with how she handled herself after all the shit hits the fan, I didn’t mind her as much as I worried I would.

The Novella–One Night:

I read this after I finished Just Friends–mostly because I didn’t know it existed until I was halfway through.

I’m glad I did because I feel like it gives away some tiny spoilers about some side characters. I much preferred uncovering their secrets in Just Friends because it gave me something to focus on other than the love triangle.

In the same breath, I think I wouldn’t have liked Olivia as much if I read this first. I think I would have created a not so favourable impression of her and it would have taken me longer to warm up to her. However, I do know that it’s the opposite for other readers.

I think if you are hesitant about reading this series, reading the novella is a good taste of what to expect. And it really can be read before or after because it just gives you a better understanding of the characters you are going to meet.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

It looks like we will be getting some more character POVs in the sequel…or at least I sure hope so! All the foundations have been laid down for a great sequel filled with some awesome plot twists and drama.

updates

–December 22, 2016– Book #2: More Than Friends

**I was not provided a copy for this novel**

I’ve been dying to read the story of these two since I picked up Just Friends…and it was everything I wanted!

I’m a sucker for the story where the popular boy falls for the “nobody” girl and this is no exception!

Amanda is a character you can really root for (Olivia in Just Friends was hit or miss). She’s aware of everything going on around her and seems to know when her friends (Olivia) are acting like idiots. But she is also self-conscious and that humanizes her as well. Sure, she makes some mistakes but you gotta remember she’s just growing up.

And Jordan…swoon! He just stole my heart. It’s obvious to anyone how much he cares and respects Amanda. He says all the right things and acts the way you want a totally smitten boy to.

Can’t wait to see how their story will wrap up!

–March 18, 2017– Book #3: Forever

**I was provided a copy of this novel for an honest review**

This was easily one of my most anticipated sequels this year and I adored every moment of it!

These two are just the cutest; Tuttle especially. His crush/love just warms my heart. It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen in love with a male hero in a story. Swoon!

I was really torn on what rating to give this book. While I loved this story and the characters, I was a little let down in the plot.

The whole reason we get this book is because these two have some unresolved issues that they need to work out. I went into this book excited to learn more about Tuttle’s character and see how he would open up to let Amanda in. Unfortunately, this aspect fell flat for me here in this book. We don’t get to uncover more about Tuttle than we already know and this story just goes through the motions of everyday life. Which is fine because I love anything with these two together but I just wanted that touch of depth to take that story to the next level. These two develop as characters in other ways but I wanted to see Tuttle grow that little bit more.

But fans will be more than satisfied with this installment! It has all the drama and teenage angst a fan could want!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Just Friends 3.5/5 | More than Friends 5/5 | Forever 4/5

overall

Normally, I avoid stories like this like the plague but I actually enjoyed this one! Every once and a while, a good angsty YA read is needed and this one meets that criteria without a doubt.

Read if You Like: teen angst, love triangles, YA contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: The Truth She Knew by J A Owenby

Synopsis for The Truth She Knew (from Goodreads):
Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me.
For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a rollercoaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love.

But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair.

Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth.

The Truth She Knew offers an honest and powerful glimpse into mental illness, the meaning of true love, and the psychological waltz that a daughter dances as she endures her mother’s unpredictable emotions, manipulation, and abuse.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: The Truth
Author: J A Owenby
# of Books: 3 (The Truth She Knew, Echoes Beneath, Whispers of Hers)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2016 – July 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ Kobo

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thoughts

This is just a review of the first novel, The Truth She Knew.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE advocate for mental health. I think people often stay focused on the physical health of a person; I’m guilty of it at times as well because that’s what my job focuses on. But mental health is such a massive factor in a person’s overall health. I think we’ve come a long way in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health but we’ve still got a long way to go.

So when I saw that this book dealt with the impact a parent’s mental condition can have on their child, I desperately wanted to read this book! I’ve come across this premise in other books but rarely does the protagonist not know about the parent’s condition and so I was interested to see how it was dealt with here.

What I Liked:

–The DRAMA!!!–

I’m not one for unnecessary dramatics so when I find a novel that has the right amount of drama & it’s given in the right way, I feel like I’ve struck gold.

This story does that.

Everything just builds up as you read which makes this book pretty addicting. But what I liked was that the drama all stems from something. Whether’s it’s the result of Lacey’s actions or her mother–nothing ever felt like it was added simply for shock factor. It all serves a purpose and one that contributes to the grand scheme of things.

–That it is Set in the 1980’s–

I don’t read a lot of contemporary novels that don’t take place in the last 10 years. I loved how these characters had to call the home phone or use a payphone to contact each other then simply shooting off a text to their cellphone. It just brings a simplicity to the story that I like. Plus, it reminded me of my younger days (though I was born in the 1990’s–just sayin’).

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Love–

Maybe in the 1980s people fell in love really fast–I’m sure there are stats out there that can prove that–but I didn’t love how the romance progressed here. Mind you, I wasn’t reading this novel for the romance so it wasn’t a huge factor; I just thought it all happened really suddenly even though I enjoyed the dramatics it brought to the story.

–Everything Happens at the End!–

The shit literally hits the fan in the last few chapters of this novel and it just makes you wish the book didn’t end! It all just reaches its climax and you are left wondering: what is going to happen next?!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really want the next book to focus more on the mental illness aspect of this story. While it was present here, I want to see Lacey grow more from her experience still. And some resolution to the other dramatics would be great 🙂

My Rating: 3/5

The Truth She Knew 3/5  | Book 2  TBR

overall

This is a heartbreaking story that will definitely touch its readers. In particular, The Truth She Knew does a great job of building up this story for its sequel. While my rating is lower here, I know that great things are in store and I can’t wait to read them!

Read if You Like: books dealing with mental health
Avoid if You: want a straight romance novel

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J A Owenby

J. A. Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

She’s a published author of six short stories and is beginning her first full length novel. J.A. doesn’t mess around when it comes to working with a professional team in order to present her best writing.

She also runs her own business and helps people find jobs they love as a professional resume writer.

She is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and pop tarts. Her downtime consists of a beautiful summer evening, snuggling with her hubby outside underneath the stars. If it’s winter, listening to the rain and watching NFL football.

You can follow the events of her upcoming novel on https://www.facebook.com/JAOwenby

Author Links: Website  |  Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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Series Review: Furious Rush by S C Stephens

Synopsis for Furious Rush (from Goodreads):
The first in an emotion-fueled, New Adult series from the #1 bestselling author of the Thoughtless novels!

Too fast, too furious—and way too hot to handle…

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense—and strictly forbidden—attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Furious Rush
Author: S C Stephens
# of Books: 1+ (Furious Rush, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Forever Publishing

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance and this one seemed to fit the bill perfectly when I read the synopsis. Rivals falling in love? It doesn’t get much better than this folks!

The world also grabbed my attention. Racing stories are few and far better–or they are for me–and the premise of a young women trying to break into a male-dominated world fascinated me. I dunno how many people remember the Disney Original Movie Motorcrossed, but it was a favourite of mine growing up.

The World:

I know nothing about professional racing but Stephens provides you enough to get easily understand the world. You aren’t bombarded with information nor are you left hanging wondering what the heck is happening.

It was great entering this world and a nice change in pace from the endless Football heroes…

The Plot:

This one started on the slower side for me. While the sexual tension was brimming from the get-go, I found the drama took awhile to reach its peak. In hindsight, it’s a great set-up for the rest of the series but I just felt like there were too many open-ended questions left.

The Characters:

Kenzie was a strong heroine. She sticks to her convictions even when the world is telling her not too. Her love and loyalty for her family is commendable and two of her best attributes. It made it easy for me to root for and empathize with her as the story progressed.

Hayden is the bad boy with a heart of gold that you can’t help to fall for. One of the nice things about not getting his POV is the mystery of who he is and why. I loved uncovering more about him as Kenzie did. I forget how nice only having a single POV can be in terms of suspense.

The Romance:

These two are perfect for each other and I love how obvious that is early on. If it is a forbidden romance, you need to convince me that these two belong together–and Stephens does that excellently! It was great watching these two fall in love, fighting every obstacle in their way!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I felt a lot of things were left open-ended so I’m very curious to see what is going to happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Furious Rush 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBA

overall
It was super refreshing to have a sports novel set in a non-traditional sport like racing. The forbidden love aspect provides the perfect slow burn romance to keep you eager for more. Plus, the drama promises lots of fallout in the novels to come!

Read if You Like: sport-based novels, drama, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike slow burn romance

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About S C Stephens:
S. C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Website| Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Fresh Fridays: Touch Me Not (Manwhore #1) by Apryl Baker

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Manwhore Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Touch Me Not (from Goodreads):
A past tragedy has left Lily Holmes burdened with a devastating secret…

Since the death of her twin sister, Lily can’t bear to be touched. Not accidentally, not casually…and certainly not intimately. This makes it impossible for her to confess to her best friend Adam Roberts that she’s in love with him. She can’t give him the sort of relationship he needs, so she watches in silence while he plans his wedding with someone else.

Enter Nikoli Kinkaid, the campus manwhore…

Nikoli is a self-proclaimed connoisseur of women, and he wants to add Lily to his list of conquests, but she wants nothing to do with him—until he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. He’ll teach her to enjoy human contact again, giving her a chance to win over Adam, while Nikoli uses all his considerable charm to seduce her.

But Lily raises the stakes…

Lily loves cars. Her late father was a racer, and she grew up under the hood of a car and on the racetrack. Nikoli has a limited edition 1970 Plymouth Barracuda she covets, so she informs him the terms of their deal also require he not sleep with anyone for six months. If he does, she’ll win the car. If she surrenders and ends up in his bed, his beloved ’Cuda is his to keep.

In an intricate dance of control and surrender, a reluctant friendship becomes something more. Lily begins to crave things she never believed she could, and Nikoli realizes there is more at stake than his reputation.

If Lily overcomes her phobia, will she crave Adam’s touch as she’s starting to crave Nikoli’s? Or will she only find pleasure from the touch of a semi-reformed manwhore?

breakdown

Series: Manwhore
Author: Apryl Baker
# of Books: 1+ (Touch Me Not)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, this is the first of a series
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC (Read It, Review It Program)

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I told myself I wasn’t going to pick up anymore review copies for the month of January but I couldn’t resist the temptation of reading this one when I read the synopsis for Touch Me Not. It has some of my favourite New Adult tropes like:

  • Taming a playboy
  • A dating/learning to love arrangement
  • A bet
  • An interesting character tick

Needless to say, I was SO IN!

What I Liked:

–The Characters–

I was worried that Lily would be some goody-two-shoes virgin who would be nothing but an airhead (ie lacks personality or substance). Harsh, but a combination that is A) boring and B) slightly over-done. So I was SO HAPPY when Lily turned out to be nothing like I had worried she would be. She had a great back story and seemed to have a solid head on her shoulders. It was great to watch her develop as a character and person as the novel progressed.

The same can be said for Nikoli. He too had a lot of substance to his character. I liked their complexity as people and it added to the story in a fantastic way.

–The Romance–

It’s been a long time (ok, only a few books ago) since I’ve found a couple that I truly felt were a fantastic match for each other. Not only do Lily and Nikoli have a lot in common in terms of interests and hobbies but even their personalities complimented each other so well. In other words: their emotional connection to each other was just as strong as their physical, if not stronger. It was so easy to fall in love with them as they fell in love with each other–an absolute pleasure to watch!

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Inevitable “Communication Assumption”–

Perhaps a bit of a spoiler but one that is definitely expected with this type of story. I had hoped that these two would escape that inevitable plot device–and for a while it looked promising–but alas, they too were susceptible.

–Trying too Hard to have a more Complex plotline–

I have a feeling that one of the particular plot lines is going to be the focus of a sequel book, so I can understand why it was added and I can overlook it.

However, at times, I felt like things were randomly thrown in for more drama. They seemed to come from nowhere and it really threw me off. I was THIS CLOSE to giving this book a 5/5 but the random bits deterred me from that. I’m sure that those devices worked for most readers but for me, I just wanted that little bit of polish or even some insinuation earlier in the story about what was to come. I’m all for a good surprise but I feel like some of these “twists” should have been alluded to earlier.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really have no idea who the next book with be about though I have my suspicions. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for it regardless!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Touch Me Not 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

I was really impressed with Touch Me Not. It had great characters and a solid story! If you enjoy New Adult romances, this is a great new series to get into!

Read if You Like: New Adult romances, stories about playboys,
Avoid if You: dislike arrangement/bet storylines, want more spice

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Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Series Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Ember in the Ashes (from Goodreads):
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

breakdown

Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4, will be published in April 2020
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Supernatural, Magic, Dystopian, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: cool *mature subject matter*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating; Multiple (#2 on)
Publication Date: April 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (#2)

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was everywhere around it’s release date but I had put it on my list in March when it was added to my library. In hindsight, it was great because High Fantasy novels have been my JAM lately and this fit the bill perfectly! But the key words that drew me in: “inspired by ancient Rome” and “spy”. Also, the promise of a forbidden romance–yes please!

So needless to say, I was really excited to read this book.

The Concept / The World:

I really liked the world this book takes place in and I’m sure I would have liked it more if I knew more about ancient Rome. I know general stuff but nothing to confirm this book has deep-rooted inspiration. Though it is important to note that the subject of rape is brought up multiple times within the book so if that makes you uncomfortable, just be aware.

The societal hierarchies were easy to follow with their Latin names but I found the supernatural elements to be VERY confusing. Confusing in the sense that I couldn’t remember what each creature did as I read because the names were in Latin and I have an awful memory. It would have been easy to rectify if I bothered to flip back in the book–though in the end it really isn’t a huge deal.

The Plot:

This book started really slowly for me. It took me a while to get into the story because the first quarter or so is used to build up the world. Which is fine, it just makes this book seem longer than it is (though it is long, even as an eBook).

But once this got going, man, I was hooked. It helps that we get to very well developed POVs. Elias’ POV is packed with action while Laia’s is more of the political side of things and in addition they each have their own plotlines. It’s almost like you have two different stories in one and the reader in me who loves lots of things going on really liked that. (Don’t worry, it’s really easy to understand what is happening and it isn’t very overwhelming!).

However, while there were some excellent mini-twists along the way, there were some points that were too predictable for me. That’s why this book is only a 4 star and not a 5 star to me because I really wasn’t WOWed by any of the plot points. Yes, those few twists we got were great and the battle scenes were hard to call; but I just felt like it was lacking that book-altering twist for me. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed reading this book!

The Characters:

I loved Elias as soon as we met him. I just loved his personality and morals plus, I adored his friends. His POVs were easily my favourite to read about because they were so interesting and action-packed. Honestly, this book could have just been his POV and I would have been happy.

I liked Laia but she isn’t going to win any “amazing heroine awards” in this book; but at the same time, I don’t think she’s supposed to. Unlike other high fantasy heroines that I have been reading about recently, Laia isn’t prepared for the life she is thrust into in any way. She isn’t a fighter, she isn’t a rebel: she is a scared girl who makes rash decisions because she doesn’t know any better–which is so refreshing to me!  She reminds me that not all heroines are like Katniss or Celaena and that is A-OK! (Though I agree that as a reader she is hard to read about because there is a great secondary character who is like those two heroines that I think readers will/do like more). It was great to watch her grow into the independent woman she always could have been. Her passion to help her brother is her greatest strength and weakness and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the future because of it.

The Romance:

This one is hard to review without giving too much away but I’ll give it a shot!

Normally, I’m not a fan of love triangles but I really enjoyed the interchanging ones in this book. I say interchanging because there a multiple suitors for multiple characters–and when I say ‘suitors’ I mean people who have crushes on characters but they aren’t all serious contenders in the end. What I really liked is that I don’t know who I want to “win” the main love triangle because I really like all the characters involved. But at the same time, I feel like all the possible romantic relationships need some series attention before they can be resolved–they aren’t fully developed because the romance really isn’t a huge focus of the book. It’s important but it isn’t the sole focus of the book–which is why it is hard to say who will end up with who in the end. The love triangles do their job of adding to the plot but they don’t take away from it so I really didn’t mind their presence.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to read the sequel to this book! This book didn’t WOW me but I really think the next one could because all the great lead-ups are there, they just need some fine tuning.

updates

–May 9, 2019– Book #2: A Torch Against the Night

After years away from this series, I decided to read the sequels as audiobooks to get me back into it. I have to say, it was a great choice! I loved the audio performances and I think it helped keep my attention.

This book was so-so for me. Laia grates on my nerves and I can’t stand the romance with Elias. I think that’s because I could read a book featuring only Helene and be more than satisfied. I loved her story line.

There were some great twists though! And while I’m not the biggest fan of the supernatural elements, I’m warming up to the idea now that they are being elaborated on more in this novel.

–August 21, 2019– Book #3: A Reaper at the Gates

If these novels only focused on Helene, I’d be giving them 5/5 every time. I find her story fascinating and it’s everything I want in a fantasy novel: dirty politics, action and a girl giving it everything she has. I lived for her chapters.

Otherwise, this book had some pacing issues. I’d find myself a little bored in the middle. I think part of the reason is that Laia’s story just seems so run of the mill to me and we go very little from Elias near the end. And once again, I’m getting lost in all the paranormal/supernatural elements but they are starting to mesh with the story.

I honestly have no idea how this is going to end–and that has me pretty excited for the finale.

My Rating: 4/5

An Ember in the Ashes 4/5 | A Torch Against the Night 3/5 | A Reaper at the Gates 3/5

overall

Like I said, this book was missing the WOW factor for me but I really, really enjoyed reading it! It has all the great elements needed for a high fantasy YA series that seem to build as the sequels progress.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance, don’t like supernatural elements

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Series Review: Bad Reputation by K.B. Nelson

Series Review: Bad Reputation by K.B. Nelson

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

Bad Reputation Series

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Bad Reputation  (aka Wicked Games)(from Goodreads):

She knows better. She just doesn’t care.

Apple Malloy is a woman scorned. Scorned by a society that has shamed her, and scorned by the men who have claimed her. On the verge of college graduation, Apple finds herself entangled in one last game of manipulation, deceit and sexual corruption with her former lover, and constant enabler, Brick Valmont.

Apple sets her sights on Jensen Moon—the enigmatic professor who had failed her the semester prior—and vows revenge. She’ll make him fall in love with her, and then break his heart, leaving his reputation destroyed in the process.

Brick makes her a wager she can’t refuse.

If Apple can seduce Jensen before Brick can sleep with Tyra Young, the beautiful, innocent daughter of a sitting U.S. Senator, then she will emerge victorious. If she wins, she gets the satisfaction that she has beaten him at his own game. If she loses, she must sleep with Brick one last time before heading separate ways.

Apple is a pro at this. She knows how to maneuver men and wrap them around her finger. She knows how to get what she wants, but Jensen tosses an unexpected grenade into her path to victory. Soon, she realizes it is she that might face the worst fate of all.

She falls in love.

Jensen has a power over Apple and it terrifies her. He can make her feel things. He can make her heart race. He might be the only one capable of saving her soul before it’s too late. But one thing is certain—nobody escapes unscathed in this titillating story of manipulation where nothing is as it appears.

Bad Reputation is the first book in the Bad Reputation series, and is loosely based on the 1782 classic novel, Dangerous Liaisons.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC Read 2015
Series: Bad Reputation
Author: Dylan Heart (aka K.B. Nelson)
# of Books: 2+ (Wicked Games, Dangerous Games, Imitation Games)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: No, Imitation Games, has yet to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (#2)
Publication Date: June 11, 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2)

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Note: ARC only provided for Book #1, Wicked Games

Please Note: The first book in this series was previously titled as “Bad Reputation” and has been since renamed “Wicked Games”.

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw this book on Netgalley, I just HAD to read it! Why? One reason is that I love stories about love games. The other is the mention of Cruel Intentions.

While I was definitely too young to enjoy Cruel Intentions when it first came out, I really enjoyed it when I older. I also really enjoy the story it is based on, Dangerous Liaisons and have seen the play (it was fantastic!).

Needless to say, Bad Reputation had a lot of live up to but it sounded like it was up for the task. I preempted the other books I was reading so I could dive into this one as soon as I was approved.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

This story lived up to the salacious tone of Cruel Intentions but in a more modern world. It wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty in more ways than one 😉 No, in all seriousness I loved that this book didn’t hold back. While it was crude at times it just added a darker layer to this already dark story.

But don’t go thinking this is a knock-off of Cruel Intentions! This book definitely has some twists up its sleeve and some interesting spins that keeps readers on the edge of their toes!

–The Characters–

Honestly, you love to hate Brick and Apple. They are both so devious and manipulative but at the same time you have to feel for them because you know that something awful has happened to make them this way. I loved the drama that their relationship created and how they are always pushing each other. It makes for an interesting–and intense!–read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Romance–

It happened a little too fast for me but I understand why it had to progress at the pace it did. I can see the connection, I just wanted more time to develop it. Because the passion is there–boy is it ever!–it’s just the timing of it all that didn’t work for me

–The Abrupt Page Breaks–

It felt like every time we were getting to the good stuff we would get a page break (you know, a change to a scene later on). At first I thought my Kobo was skipping pages (sometimes it does that) but it was actually the scene changing in the novel. I really wanted to see those cutoff bits elaborated on because they would have helped me understand the characters more. At the same time though, it did leave the characters with a sense of mystery so I guess it had its positives.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for Brick’s story in the next novel! There is just so much more to uncover with everything that happened and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next!

updates

–February 13, 2020– Book #2: Dangerous Games

After I read Bad Situation (#1), I was eager for the sequel but never found out anything more about it. And so it went to the back burner for a bit until one day I was doing some research about some series that I had marked as “unknown series status” and discovered that this series had been rebranded and republished under new titles and with a completely different author’s name.

So even though it has been 5 years since I read the original book and the characters and events were a vague memory, I still wanted to give Dangerous Games a chance and it seemed like fate that it should be in Kindle Unlimited when I renewed my subscription.

This was a quick and dirty read. I would say easy but the scene jumping I struggled with in the first novel reappeared here. I felt like things ended abruptly or things were left intentionally vague when the shouldn’t have been. There were also some minor editing mistakes (like typos, etc) but it was sporadic.

Some of the twists were good, some were predictable. Overall, it was nice to see these characters fleshed out a little more as they see the consequences of their games.

There is supposed to be a standalone sequel about another character but I don’t know if it will ever be published so I’m going to close the door on this series here.

Series Rating: 4/5

Wicked Games 4/5 | Dangerous Games 3/5 | Imitation Games N/A

overall

I’ve been looking for a great dark New Adult read and this series is looking VERY promising! It’s gritty, it’s dirty and it makes no apologies. If you want a book full of manipulation, love games, sex and damaged characters, Bad Reputation has nothing but a good reputation 😉

Read if You Like: love games & manipulation, characters you love to hate
Avoid if You: don’t like crude language, don’t like dark New Adult

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Series Review: The Game by Emma Hart

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

 book2 book3 book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Love Game (from Goodreads):

His challenge? Make her fall in love with him.
Her challenge? Play the player.
Until life changes the rules of the game.

Maddie Stevens hated Braden Carter on sight. Arrogant, egotistical, and the playboy of the University of California, Berkeley, he’s everything her brother Pearce has taught her to despise. So why, when the girls challenge her to play the player, doesn’t she say no? She doesn’t know either.

Braden wanted fiery little Maddie the second he laid eyes on her – and he’d do anything to have her, hence why he’s agreed to make her fall in love with him. After all, it’s the only way he’ll get what he wants. Sex.

But, as Braden discovers, there’s more to the girl from Brooklyn than he ever imagined – and he can’t help but care about the broken girl behind those pretty green eyes.

Maddie finds Braden isn’t just a walking erection – he actually has feelings. He can be sweet, funny and his good looks don’t exactly hurt. That means trouble – but when her brother Pearce turns up in Berkeley begging for her help, she realises Braden and Pearce aren’t so alike anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, they’re exactly what each other needs.

breakdown

Series: The Game
Author: Emma Hart
# of Books: 4 (The Love Game, Playing for Keeps, The Right Moves, Worth the Risk)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Toonie Tuesday review of the first book (The Love Game) of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Review of The Love Game:

Given the facts that it is a romance novel and the main protagonists are trying to get the other to fall in love with them, you pretty much know how it is going to go–they are going to fall in love with each other for real. But that shouldn’t stop you from reading this book because there is more to it.

I found this novel very refreshing. Despite the fact that it has characteristics of New Adult novels (ex. at least one protagonist has a tragic past which results in their inability to trust and love others) it also puts its own spin on the genre. The whole premise of the game was very Shakespearian (in theory) which I love; especially when you add in the supporting characters.

I also love the fact that Maddie and Braden don’t have an “insta-love” connection (a major turn-off for my reading) and I appreciate that this is talked about in the book as well. It made it very realistic and believable. Another plus is that you actually watch them fall in love with each other and you can see why they do. I find that some novels fail to provide the backbone to a relationship and just focus on the “physical connection” between two characters.

Maddie is great at telling Braden to calm the “caveman” act down. I think a lot of New Adult novels promote the idea that a man who claims you as “his” at every turn is sexy when it is not always the case (this isn’t to say that they present an abusive relationship in anyway–because they don’t–I just think it can border on an unhealthy relationship in the real world and I fear it will give girls the wrong impression). And this isn’t to say that Braden is always caveman like that, he does have really cute moments throughout and is genuinely a nice guy.

My only negatives about are more pet-peeves of mine. Sometimes when Maddie talked it was a little too metaphor-y for me. Given the fact that she is 18 it just was a little “too deep” for me at times (especially the whole comparison to various board games at one point in the last few chapters) but I guess I see how she might be a little wiser beyond her years considering her backstory. Still, she’s only 18!

But to end on a bright note: the story of Maddie and Braden concludes within this book. So yay for not dragging on a story! From what I can see the second book is about two different characters we meet in this book and there are enough hints throughout that I am excited to see what happens next!

>>Bonus: Here is the epilogue for The Love Game (WARNING: It contains spoilers!)

updates

–January 15, 2014– Book #2: Playing for Keeps

I just finished Playing for Keeps after having it sit on my Kobo for months and I have to say another great book in the series! While I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Love Game, it definitely had its enjoyable moments throughout. I’m happy with the way the story went though at times I felt like it was a little over the top considering everyone’s ages. I think if the characters were, say 4-5 years older, I would have an easier time believing their maturity and some of the things they say. I’m not saying you can’t be mature at that age, it just seemed a little odd to me when I was reading.

One thing I didn’t like about this book was that it just jumped into things without much background. Considering Meagan is a secondary character in the previous book, we don’t know a whole lot about her and while I knew there was tension between her and Aston, I just wished it was elaborated more at the start of this book. It’s been a long time since I read The Love Game so I forgot about their interaction in that book–I guess I just wanted to see more of why they liked each other in the first place. But to be fair, the rest of the book is about them finding love in each other so it does make up for it in a way.

These books aren’t like typical New Adult reads. The hot romance really takes a back seat to the building up of a relationship and love and using love to heal broken pasts. So if you are looking for a crazy steamy read, these aren’t the books for you!

I’m interested to see where the next book, The Right Moves, goes from here. From what I have read of the synopsis it has nothing to do with the cast of characters we met in the last two books which I think is a good thing because I don’t know if I could handle another story about this group (I just think all their stories have been exhausted and I wouldn’t want everything to be dragged out). I guess we will see what happens.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Love Game 4/5| Playing for Keeps 3.5/5 | The Right Moves TBA | Worth the Risk TBA

overall

I really enjoyed reading this book. It had me turning pages and was such an easy read (writing-wise). If you enjoy books about love healing tormented past and changing playboy ways, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: NA romances, love heals stories
Avoid if You: like when characters act more their age

similarreads

  • Someone to Love by Addison Moore
  • Charade by Nyrae Dawn (Games Series #1)

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