Tag «Contemporary»

romances set in today’s time

Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Arrogant by Winter Renshaw

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Arrogant Bastard (from Goodreads):

The last time my father beat me to a bloody pulp was the night he walked in on me with his woman in his bed.

To be fair, she seduced me. And to be honest, I liked it. But to CPS, I was a victim.

They shipped me to Utah where my estranged mother lived with her husband and two sister-wives. And that’s when I met her. My innocent, wholesome, perfect step-sister. Well, one of many. But Waverly stood out because just like me, we’d been fighting a losing battle our entire lives.

Falling for her was a mistake, but shit, it’s not like I ever made good decisions.

F**k being “family.” I must have Waverly Miller, and I won’t stop until she’s mine.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a full-length, standalone, HEA romance. Contains forbidden themes as well as religious undertones not meant to offend. Please be 18+.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Arrogant
Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Taboo, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild [Master]; Kink: mild [Master])
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – November 2015
Source & Format: Own–Kindle; Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I picked up Arrogant Bastard, it was a test of sorts to see if I would enjoy Winter Renshaw’s other works. I had read (and enjoyed) her Rixton Falls Series but I wanted to see if she follows a formula when it comes to her other titles (she certainly doesn’t). I was a little skeptical given the author’s note but I’m always up for a different type of novel. And after reading Arrogant Bastard, I knew that Renshaw was a must read author for me…

The Concept:

I know that the religious note will be off-putting for some people but this isn’t a novel that preaches a certain belief to its readers. Instead, it an aspect of the story that helps drive the plot forward but it isn’t the main focus.

As for the companion aspect, all these stories overlap with each other throughout giving you little insights into what is happening with the other leads. But where Winter Renshaw really succeeds is giving you just enjoy to drive your curiosity yet still withholding enough that the twists are still shocking when you read the actual novel.

The Plot:

Each novel has its own unique plot–with some great twists along the way. They share the “forbidden love” aspect but they also have different tropes at play. Every story felt fresh and even though I had inklings about what would happen in the sequels, I never failed to be surprised. And there is also this air of suspense with these stories as well and I found that to be really addicting.

The Characters:

I was really impressed with the character development in all the novels. Both leads get ample time to grow before your eyes and I think it really helps that we get alternate POVs to help get that inner monologue.

The Romance:

I loved how the romance highlighted every aspect of the novels. It brought out the best in the characters; never once did they lose themselves as individuals because they were a couple (and they easily could have given the circumstances). Each pair is a fantastic match and we really get to see that great connection grow as the story progresses. There was just a perfect balance between the romance and the plot.

Series Rating: 4/5

Arrogant Bastard  4/5  | Arrogant Master 5/5 | Arrogant Playboy  4/5

overall

If you want a fresh take on a romance novel or you are a fan of forbidden romances, this is a series you have to check out!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, companion series
Avoid if You: dislike novels with religious overtones

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Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

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 Dance for Me (from Goodreads):

Natasha is one of the most promising ballet dancers at the prestigious Fenbrook Academy of Performing Arts and she’s just landed a life-changing audition. But no one knows the guilt she carries…or the damage it makes her inflict on herself when she’s alone.

Darrell is a multi-millionaire designer at 25. But past traumas have pushed him into isolation and the intense pressure of his work has brought him to the edge of burnout. Seeking inspiration, he sees Natasha dance and hires her as his muse.

As she dances for him, the two become entwined in a passionate but troubled relationship. He starts to see the pain inside her and helps her gradually lower her defenses…but Darrell has demons of his own. Can two broken people save each other? Or will the darkness they’re hiding consume them both?

This New Adult Romance is recommended for 17+ due to mature themes, sexual situations and language.

breakdown

Series: Fenbrook Academy
Author: Helena Newbury
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 Losing My Balance

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Losing my Balance)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited (Acting Brave)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely certain how this series crossed my radar; probably when I browsing NA reads that were a little darker. I know that I liked the idea of the series taking place at an academy for performing arts. It’s very Fame-esque (the old TV show that they rebooted in a so-so movies a few years ago).

The Concept / The World:

Each novel focuses on a girl who attends the school but for a different art. One’s a dancer, one’s a musician and the other is an actress. They also have different familiar situations and pasts so I found each story had its own unique spin and plot. There isn’t a linear overall plot but you get a taste of what is going to happen in the sequels in the previous novel; and you still see the previous leads in the sequel novels as well. However, you could read each one as a standalone if you desired.

The Plot:

Because our three heroines differ, the plots for their respective novels are also very different.

Dance for Me (#1) definitely has a darker, twisted edge to it; one I wasn’t entirely expecting so in that respect it was refreshing. But because of those vibes, everything seemed rushed to me and I wasn’t a huge fan of that.

Whereas In Harmony (#2) was lighter and more of a coming of age type of story. Unfortunately, it suffered from some logic holes with the plot near the end but I really enjoyed it! It was definitely my favorite of the series.

And the final novel, Acting Brave had its own feel to it. There was a dash of suspense but it seemed to focus more on a slow burn romance. Or maybe it only felt slow because it is such a long novel! The pacing was a little off for me on this one and while it was my most anticipated of the stories, I ended up a touch disappointed.

The Characters:

There are many layers to these characters and I liked how this book explored them. A good new adult romance novel should have a fantastic romance but it should also have strong character growth and I felt like these books had that latter aspect. Of course, not every reader can relate to all the situations the characters face but I think we can all identity with the need to find your own identity and fight the possible demons from our past.

The Romance:

With the exception of In Harmony (#2), I thought all of the romances happened really fast. What I mean by that, it that they get very intense really quickly (like “I love you” is thrown out pretty early within the couples even meeting each other). I’m ok with that but a lot of the times, I felt like the characters were more in love with the idea of their partner than the partner themselves. My opinion did change further into the stories when we learn more about the characters but it was a little off-putting how quickly these people were falling in love with each other.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 Losing My Balance:

I read this after I had finished the novels in the series but you can safely read this following book #1. And I would actually recommend that you do read this right after Book #1 when you still remember the tension and how the scenes from it are integrated in the first novel.

Series Rating: 3/5

Dance for Me 3/5 | [Losing my Balance 3/5] | In Harmony 4/5 | Acting Brave 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a different type of New Adult Series–and don’t mind a copious amount of pages–this will be a great series for you to pick up.

Read if You Like: darker new adult stories; long novels
Avoid if You: want better pacing; dislike long novels

similarreads

  • The Mad Tatter by J M Darhower
  • Chasing River by K A Tucker (Burying Water #3)
  • She Laughs in Pink by Jessica Calla (Sheridan Hall Series #1)

 

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Series Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Series Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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 Crazy Rich Asians (from Goodreads):

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

breakdown

Series: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Family, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: June 2013 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I remember when Crazy Rich Asians (the novel) came out; it was around the same time I got my very first eReader. But it didn’t sound like something I would enjoy so I passed on it despite the buzz. Fast forward to 2018 when it was the movie of the summer and I decided to give the novel a shot based on the recommendation of a family friend after watching.

The Concept / The World:

I think we all have an idea of what the filthy rich do with their money…but it’s nothing like what is described here. These characters take money, privilege and family to a whole other level! So everything comes across as over the top and that just amplifies every aspect of the story throughout the series.

I’ll admit, I know the basics of high end couture and the like so I wasn’t totally lost. However, I did get a little bored with all the descriptions of it all at times. But I loved the insights into culture and the like.

The Plot:

There’s just something about the drama of rich people’s everyday lives that is so fascinating to uncover. I found for the first half of the series, we get lost in the flow of everyday life. Yes, there are some dramatic twists along the way but they are few and far between the pages. (I mean there is certainly drama–and it’s over the top–but no reveal is truly revolutionary with the exception of Book #2).

Think of these books as tomes of local gossip…only the local gossip is from groups of elite around the world with a lot of money.

The Characters:

There are a lot of characters to follow but for the most part, it’s easy to keep track of them all. I think it helps that I watched the movie first so that I can put names to faces as I read.

Some characters get more airtime than others depending on the novels. The character development is there but it’s much slower because it takes place across all three of the books.

The Romance:

While it isn’t as big as a deal as the movie has you believe, we get enough of a taste of various relationships to satisfy the romantic in me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I highly recommend the audiobooks because they do a great job bringing all the characters to life. I also think it makes it easier to keep track of everyone because they all have their own distinct voice.

Series Rating: 3/5

Crazy Rich Asians 3/5 | China Rich Girlfriend 3/5| Rich People Problems  3/5

overall

I think those expecting more of a romance novel (like the rom-com movie) might be disappointed in the lack of romance here. I also think that not everyone will enjoy the theatrics of the characters and the somewhat mundane plot. However, it is definitely entertaining in its own way if you know what to expect.

Read if You Like: gossip, lives of the rich and famous
Avoid if You: want more romance

similarreads

  • Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot (Queen of Babble Series #1)
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic Series #1)

 

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Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

Series Review: Blocked by Jennifer Lane

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 Blocked (from Goodreads):

College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. ¡Híjole! Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

breakdown

Series: Blocked
Author: Jennifer Lane
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Politics
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2014 – October 2016
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Blocked); Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I think I got this series mixed up for another when I was selecting my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge Titles. I blame the very similar covers. (The book I’m thinking of is Love Garage by Liz Crowe). Regardless, I thought  the premise for Blocked was very interesting; especially in the politically charged environment we find ourselves in today.

The Concept:

While the political system is quite different where I live in Canada, I know enough about the American system to understand why the “hate to love you trope” is quite the obstacle for our leads to overcome. I’ve read books in the past where modern politics are a theme but never to the levels that are displayed here. By no means are the characters preachy to the reader; but various views are expressed throughout the novels and they are used well as plot devices.

Another major theme in these novels is sports and how athletes balance sports and their everyday lives. There is a big emphasis on therapy and counselling–which I loved. Mental health is often something shied away from in novels and I liked how these books broke down the stereotypes and included the sessions in the scenes.

The Plot:

For me, all of these books had a weird pacing to them. We spend so much of these novels focusing on the individual characters and their stories that the romance gets a little lost in the shuffle. It all felt a little repetitive to me at times; and more often than not, it felt like we were trapped in the mundane of everyday life. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than it could have used a little polish to fine-tune everything.

The Characters:

First, hats off for diverse characters! It was awesome to read about Latino and Black leads and get that layer to our characters.

What I didn’t like about the leads was the maturity level…or the lack of a higher one. I get that they are freshman in college but I don’t think anyone talks like that as freshmen (or maybe I’m just getting old). I wasn’t a fan of how we would go from serious conversation about therapy to wanting to “bonk” the girl. Nope. It was almost like a parent was trying to be “hip” with the kids but used all the wrong slang…

The Romance:

While I could see the draw to all the romantic pairings (they had a lot of common interests with the exception of politics), I wasn’t entirely sold on them either. They all seemed to be based on lust and some unspoken connection that never gets built upon. For the majority of the story we get their individual stories and then in one instance they are a couple and declaring everlasting love. And perhaps the romance is just a small piece of the story the author wants to tell but I went into this series thinking it was the main one…thus my disappointment.

Series Rating: 3/5

Blocked 3/5 | Aced 3/5 | Spiked 3/5

overall

I think I had the wrong set of expectations for this series. The premise is refreshing and if you want more politics in your contemporary reads, pick this up! But I think it needed a little polish to get the pacing just right.

Read if You Like: modern politics, sports
Avoid if You: like more romance
similarreads

  • Dirty English by Isla Madden Mills (English Series #1)
  • Unbreakable by Rebecca Shea (Unbreakable Series #1)
  • Pretty Smart Girls by Shea Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

Single Sundays: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

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 Touching Down (from Goodreads):

The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.

Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.

But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.

They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.

Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.

When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.

No man can take Grant Turner down.

But one woman certainly can.

One woman will.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance, Sports
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 8, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Nicole Williams is the author who first introduced me to the world of New Adult romance and I’ve repaid the favour by picking up any book I can of hers…with mixed results. But I was hoping her Adult romance in Touching Down would break the funk I’d been having with her titles when I randomly picked it up to read for my Tackling the TBR 2019 Challenge.

The Concept:

The heart of this story is a second chance romance which is usually fine and dandy with me. But this one just had too many logistical pot-holes to have me fully on board. The reasons for the separation; the choices Ryan has made over the years and some other things had me going “really, that’s how this all plays out?”. Everything seemed like it was played out to an extreme and it just made it all seem unnecessary.

The Plot:

I think I was two chapters in when I figured out all the major twists that were going to happen. Nothing surprised me about the drama except the reason for the separation.

There are some extenuating circumstances that come to light and instead of enhancing the story, I actually think they dampened it. Nothing really gets elaborated on and we just gloss over those opportunities for character growth or plot developments.

The Characters:

I thought Ryan was an idiot–I didn’t understand a single choice she made in the last 7 years with the exception of one. Grant was so stereotypical and boring I forgot he was there half the time.

The Romance:

I always say this in second chance romances that I review but you have to show my why these two people should reunite after all this time. And this novel did not do that. I’m not sure why these two even loved each other besides proximity and shared tough experiences.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I really wanted to like this but I just wasn’t overly impressed with this story.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, football stars
Avoid if You: want a strong romance novel

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

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:

Briar U Series is a spin-off of the Off-Campus Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Series: Briar U

This is a spinoff of the Off-Campus Series.

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Play (#3), will be released October 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I LOVED the Off-Campus Series! It’s one of the best NA series out there; especially if you love sport romances. I was craving more as soon as the series ended so I was super happy when Elle Kennedy announced she had a spin-off series in the works.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It pretty much has all the same magical elements as the original series. You’ve got a great mixing of romantic tropes to drive the plot; genuine, unique characters (both leads and side characters); lots of hockey time; and some guest appearances by the original leads.

I think one of the main highlights though is how well the romantic pairings work. Never once did I doubt why these characters are drawn together. Elle Kennedy does a great job of developing individual characters while building up a great partnership (that’s more than just lust or some innate connection) and I think it really shows in these novels as much as it did in the original series.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I had some pacing issues with the second book, The Risk. I thought the synopsis was slightly misleading about what the actual plot would be so I was expecting something a little different. But I still really enjoyed the story despite that fact and it’s more so a personal hang-up than anything else.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read Off-Campus, all but one of the four books had been released so I always knew who the couples would be for the next book. Not the case with this series! It’s been a lot of fun to wait and see who will star in the next book. We get little clues as we await the release both in the novels and if you follow Elle Kennedy’s reader newsletters. I definitely have a few people I would love to get full books for so we will have to see!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Chase 5/5 | The Risk 4/5 | The Play TBA

overall

Fans of the Off-Campus Series will not be disappointed with this brand new series. And those new to the world will definitely find themselves entertained!

Read if You Like: New adult romance, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Chase (from Goodreads):

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

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Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

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 Tiny Pretty Things (from Goodreads):

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Audiobook Read 2018, Cover Love
Series: Tiny Pretty Things
Author: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2016 – July 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover captured my attention when it was first released, it was actually a review by Cristina @ Girl in the Pages that convinced me to read this. Like many items on my TBR, I didn’t get to it until two years later but that worked out in my favour because I could binge the entire series as an audio one 😉

The Concept / The World:

When I think about ballet, my mind immediately goes to the movie The Black Swan and to Fame (more so the movie than the show). Fame highlights some of the stresses performing artists highlight but keeps its tone pretty light and basic. The Black Swan shows the grittier side of ballet but more so the psychological side? I’m not sure since I only watched the movie shortly after its theatre release…

Thanks to Cristina’s review, I knew that this series is much darker and not as petty as the YA label would have you fear. Yes, some of their issues are petty (they are in high school after all) but some of the pranks and thought processes aren’t. These girls and guys take it to that darker, intense level I wanted. The sabotage and intrigue in this series had me hooked from the start! It was so addicting!

The Plot:

I really loved the delivery of this series. Part of it is character driven–I’ll explain more about the cast below–as we watch these ballerinas carve their way in the company. But there is also this aura of mystery as well because there are many acts of sabotage. Sometimes we know the culprit; sometimes we don’t find out for a long time. But I’ll just say I had many theories about what was happening and I was proven wrong quite a few times. I loved that suspense and the drive to find out exactly who and what was happening.

The Characters:

This cast of characters is quite diverse and not just because of race or ethnicity (though there is that). Each of our three leads also has their personal struggles–and some that we don’t often see in books. At a glance, I wondered if these characters had too much going on; if they were perhaps too layered given the drama of this novel. You know, the idea that less is sometimes more. But I think all their “issues” really highlighted the setting and tone of the novel. What happens when characters are pushed to their breaking points? What happens to characters who’ve been kept inside this one bubble their whole lives and the real world comes crashing in? It was fascinating to watch.

The Romance:

There is a little dash of romance thrown in but I’d classify it as a small factor that contributes to the overall story. You aren’t getting chapters dedicated to romance unless it relates back to the characters.

Series Rating: 5/5

Tiny Pretty Things 5/5 | Shiny Broken Pieces 5/5

overall

This series had me hooked from start to end! I loved the diverse cast; I loved the intrigue and I loved the setting! It was every dark, addicting thing I wanted it to be.

Read if You Like: ballet, diverse casts, suspense
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV, dislike darker YA
similarreads

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Spin-off Saturdays: Co-Ed by Rachel Van Dyken

Spin-off Saturdays: Co-Ed by Rachel Van Dyken

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:

Co-Ed is a spin-off of the Wingmen INC Series

breakdown

This is a spinoff of the Wingmen INC Series.

Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I didn’t even know there was a spin-off of the Wingmen Inc series; I just stumbled upon this book when I was browsing a Kobo sale and somehow discovered the link to the original duology.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

What I loved about the original Wingmen Inc series is that they were charming and not overly dramatic. It focused on the characters and growing the as the romance blossomed into something more.

But Co-Ed, it was just lacking something to make it a touch more cohesive. I really loved the start, it was so reminiscent of the original series with the premise of Shawn trying to seduce Knox. Yet that storyline disappears (unfortunately) as quickly as it is mentioned. Instead we get this jumble of repeating, predictable sentiments that fail to fully flesh out the romance or the characters and I was left feeling a little “meh” about the whole experience.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I really thought I wasn’t going to enjoy the reverse harem aspect. But then I remembered it was a staple of some anime I used to watch so I got over it. It was well done all things considered. It was nice to not have every guy in love with the heroine.

The one thing that really irked me was something I have to put in spoilers because it talks about the ending:

The Moment I was Over this Book

It really bothered me that Shawn opted not to press charges against Jessica even though the girl literally tried to kill her. WHAT!? Why would would let the girl get away with it!

Rating: 3/5

overall

Lately, Rachel Van Dyken’s works have been misses for me. I’m not sure if my tastes or changing or what but this one just didn’t work for me.

Read if You Like: new adult romances, reverse harems
Avoid if You: dislike drama

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Co-Ed (from Goodreads):

Four guys.

Constant moaning.

And a revolving door across the college suite I somehow ended up in because my first name is Shawn.

They don’t discriminate. Girls. Guys. Grandmas. Plants (okay maybe not plants) all walks of life stroll in stressed to the brim, and leave so satisfied I’m wondering what sort of talents lie behind that door.

My roommate calls them the pleasure ponies.

But the rest of the college campus?

They just call them the new face of Wingmen Inc. A paid for relationship service that makes big promises.

Breakup? They’ll glue you back together again.

Depressed? They have the magic pill.

Lonely? Just spend a few minutes while they rub you down and you’ll forget all about it.

And broken hearts? Well, that’s their specialty. They’ll fix you.

For a price…

I swore I wouldn’t get involved.

But apparently they like a challenge, and a girl who doesn’t put up with their BS is basically like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

They. All. Charged.

But one holds my attention above the rest.

Knox Tate looks like a Viking — and getting pillaged is starting to look more appealing by the day. Though he’s hiding something — all of them are. And the closer I get. The more I realize that some things are left better in the past.

You’ve read reverse harem books before — but you’ve never read one like this. It’s not what you think, or is it? Dive in and find out…

Knox, Leo, Finn, and Slater are waiting, and they aren’t patient men.

Welcome to the new face of Wingmen Inc — You’re welcome.

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Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

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 Forget Me Not (from Goodreads):

I fell in love with a boy a long time ago.

I was only a small girl. Scared and frightened, I was taken from my home and held against my will. His father hurt me, but he protected me and kept me safe as best he could.

Until I left him.

I ran the first chance I got and even though I knew he wasn’t behind me, I didn’t stop. The branches lashed out at me, punishing me for leaving him in the hands of a monster.

I’ve never felt such guilt in my life.

Although I survived, the boy was never found. I prayed for him to be safe. I dreamed he’d be alright and come back to me. Even as a young girl I knew I loved him, but I betrayed him.

Twenty years later, all my wishes came true.

But the boy came back a man. With a grip strong enough to keep me close and a look in his eyes that warned me to never dare leave him again. I was his to keep after all.

Twenty years after leaving one hell, I entered another. Our tale was only just getting started.

It’s dark and twisted.

But that doesn’t make it any less of what it is.

A love story. Our love story.

breakdown

Author: Willow Winters
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Psychological
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Do you subscribe to author newsletters? You really should if you don’t; you can get a ton of freebie reads by authors in the same genre every month. I wasn’t a frequent subscriber until recently and I’m so glad that I started! This book was a freebie for the month of April 2018 for Melissa Foster subscribers.

I’m an absolute sucker for dark romances; and while this one seemed extremely similar to Monica Murphy’s Never Tear Us Apart, it also promised to forge its own path.

The Concept:

Like I said above, the concept was similar to other reads given the synopsis but it quickly transformed into its own unique story. We don’t spend a lot of time in the past–which has its pros and cons in terms of development–so it has second chance romance vibe to it for the most part, with a psychological edge.

The Plot:

I think anyone who has read a psychological-rooted dark romance can figure out the one big aspect of this plot early on; I figured it out fairly early on. But I’m not sure if that was the intention either. By knowing the aspect early on it does give the story a different feel to it. It’s hard to say.

This book started well for me but my enjoyment started to wane by the halfway point. Part of the reason was that I figured out the twist so that anticipation was lost on me. The other reason is that I felt like the development (both plot and character) was lacking. I felt like we regurgitated the same scenes over and over which got to be a little tiring instead of taking this story to the next level.

The Characters:

I saw so much potential in these characters but they felt a little underdone to me. Robin started strong but I felt like she lost part of herself in the plot and her character never recovered. Jay on the otherhand does get some strengthen moments later on in the book but for the most part it was stifled until the end.

The Romance:

I wasn’t really sold on this one sadly. I think if we spent a little more time highlighting their shared past I would have had an easier time understanding their love. Otherwise, it seemed like their connection was based on proximity and a shared event.

When to Read the Prequel Novella, Something to Remember:

This was included at the start of my version of the novel so I really didn’t have a choice about when to read it. You can safely read this before–it doesn’t give much away and only one chapter is repeated word for word in the actual novel so it isn’t straight up recycling material. I think in some ways it helps you to understand why these two bonded during their shared experience before you get reintroduced to them.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This isn’t the best dark romance I’ve ever read but it does have one of the more unique approaches I’ve encountered.

Read if You Like: dark romances, psychological
Avoid if You: want stronger development

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Single Sundays: The Way of Lessons by Michelle Schlicher

Single Sundays: The Way of Lessons by Michelle Schlicher

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 Way of Lessons (from Goodreads):
Luca Marin is a third grader and the son of an addict. He doesn’t have much. There’s no one he relies on. Until he meets Xander Davis. Xander is a fourth grader at Easton Elementary and soon earns Luca’s trust to become his friend. As Luca’s mother, Leslie, deals with her addiction, Luca and Xander’s school community is struggling with a hard truth–that Easton is in danger of closing.

Thomas Marshall and Sophia Snow must navigate the halls of Easton along with their fellow teachers as best as they can in the wake of this possibility. While others connected to Easton also become affected by the potential loss, they each face unique challenges of their own.

For many, Easton will become a symbol of hope. For others, it will represent a great loss.

The Way of Lessons reaches into the heart of a community and shows the power of small moments that can make all the difference in a complicated time.;

breakdown

Author: Michelle Schlicher
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 13, 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Michelle Schlicher!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I usually don’t go out of my way to read realistic adult fiction but there is just something about Michelle Schlicher’s works that have me coming back again and again. She has a way of making you care about and relate to the characters in her books. I always know when I pickup one her novels that I’m going to get a genuine story that will touch my life in one way or another.

The Concept:

For me, this was an interesting story to read. I loved the setting of the school and how we get the POV from various people in the community. A thing is really only the sum of its parts and that is without a doubt the heart of a school. It’s captured beautifully here.

This is one of those stories where the bigger picture was a little lost on me until the very end. But once I put the pieces together, I was impressed by the purpose of this story. I love Michelle Schlicher’s work for the emotions she can evoke from me when I finish one of her novels.

The Plot:

Even though we only get a brief glimpse into the various characters here, I still found myself absorbed in their lives. I think it’s their realism that draws you in because these characters are people you encounter everyday in your life…or you might be one of them yourself. Regardless, this story emphasizes humanity and the human condition.

The Characters:

I love books with multiple POVs because I love the fuller picture it provides. It’s done in a cool way here with a mix of perspectives and narration styles. Even if we just get a brief glimpse into someone’s life with a short chapter, it adds in a great way to the larger story.

My only negative thought is that perhaps we are introduced to too many people along the way? It got a little hard to keep everyone straight near the end (though I am terrible with names…). But I understand the purpose of the many people we meet.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Again, I think every reader can relate to this in one way or another thanks to the characters, the setting and the message.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs
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  • Come This Way by Michelle Schlicher

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