Tag «crime»

Spin-Off Saturdays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Sinful Truths Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book3 book3


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Sinful Truths

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Ongoing
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

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


My Expectations?

Without a doubt, Truth or Lies is my favourite Ella Miles series. So I was ECSTATIC that she was planning two spin-off series focusing on characters that I would love to spend more time with. Sinful Truths is the first series to come about and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Compared to its predecessor, I thought this book started a little slower. There were quite a few unanswered questions at the beginning that had me a little hung-up but as things fall into place, the picture becomes clearer and it captivates your attention. The stakes are just as high here and that adds some depth to the plot that I love in Ella Miles’ novels.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Some of those unanswered questions bothered me because it made things seem a little sloppy in terms of the plot. But I should always know that Ella has something mind-blowing in store…

It also took me a lot longer to warm up to the romance. These two have great physical chemistry and they have this whole forbidden love attraction happening, but I didn’t find it as alluring as the original series. I’m hoping the depth I’m looking for comes out in the future novels as we get to uncover more about these characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea where this series is going or how it will relate further to the original series. But this is a trip I cannot wait to take!


–February 19, 2020– Book #3: Reckless Fall

This installment was a little on the slower side for me. Our leads are at a defining moment and that means we get quite a bit of self reflection. I wanted a little more drama and excitement.

With the original series, Truth or Lies, our leads have the on-going competition lingering in the background. I find this series so far lacks that overarching subplot. Yes, there are inklings that something larger is afoot but I find each novel is a more episodic, ending on a cliffhanger to keep you invested for the next installment. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, I just miss that white-knuckle tension Ella Miles can add to her novels.

–February 27, 2020– Book #4: Tangled Promise

I think this was a pretty crucial book in the series. Our leads have to start making big decisions for themselves and each other and I like how that test their relationship. I haven’t been entirely sold on their bond but this book helped me to see why they are such a great pair together.

My other complaint with the series so far is that there hadn’t seemed to be an overarching plotline but I think that it is starting to take shape here. I’m really excited for the trajectory of the last two books!

–April 9, 2020– Book #5: Fallen Love

Compared to others in the series so far, this was all about the relationships and testing loyalty. And that puts are characters in quite the bind. Overall though, I thought it was dry until the massive twist at the end!

–April 18, 2020– Book #6: Broken Anchor

This was super action packed. Never a dull moment in terms of the plot. It was perhaps a touch over the top but this whole series has been so I expect nothing less. Lots of twists and turns so I liked that I didn’t know how it would end.

Overall: I’m still not the biggest fan of Zeke and Siren’s romance but I can appreciate their loyalty to each other and how far they are willing to go to save the other. Plus, it was great to see returning characters from the original series and have the build up for the next spin-off!

My Rating: 3/5

Sinful Truths 4/5 | Twisted Vow 3/5 | Reckless Fall 3/5 | Tangled Promise 4/5 | Fallen Love 3/5 | Broken Anchor 3.5/5


A promising start to a great spin-off series that will captivate new fans as well as satisfy the returning.

Read if You Like: dark romances,
Avoid if You: dislike mentions of sex crimes and the like



Synopsis for Sinful Truths (from Goodreads):

She saved me.
Pulled me from the depths of the ocean.
Siren—her name fits. She is beauty; her voice heavenly.
But unlike the mythical version, Siren didn’t lure me to my death.
She saved me.
And now, seeing her about to be sold to the highest bidder, I know it’s my turn to save her.


I was raised to always tell the truth, no matter what.
And it’s served me well.
Until today.
Today, I wish I could lie.
Because my truth put me here—about to be sold.
A lie could set me free.
But I always tell the truth, even when I lie.

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Trope Thursday: Crime Families [7]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.

So I haven’t been the most proactive about getting these posts out on a monthly basis but that’s ok! I’m back this month with a new trope!

I dunno how I came up with this trope but it was on my list of topics for the year. I think as a society we have this fascination with the law and the people who break it. You see it everywhere from court trials of infamous cases to fictional TV shows based on crimes (Criminal Minds, Law and Order, CSI) to the people/families who commit the crimes (Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos). I know I’m a sucker for a good “crime family” story and I’ll explain why below.

October’s Trope: Crime Families


crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly the Mafia (both in Sicily and in the United States), often operating within a specific geographic territory. In its strictest sense, a family (or clan) is a criminal gang, operating either on a unitary basis or as an organized collection of smaller gangs (e.g., cellsfactionscrews, etc.). In turn, a family can be a sole “enterprise”, or part of a larger syndicate or cartel.

~Wikipedia (“Crime Family“)


For the sake of this post, I’m sticking with books or series that involve families that perform syndicated crime. I’m not focusing on characters that have had run-ins with the law or simply have a criminal past. I’m focusing on books that have organized groups that perform crimes.

Common Features:

  • Dark love
  • Possibility for Forbidden/Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Violence
  • Crimes
  • Mafia
  • Revenge
  • Motorcycle Clubs
  • Debts to be Paid

What I Like About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I love books that have me on the edge of my seat and I find books that centre around crime families have that suspense to them. You never know who to trust; there’s always the risk of mortal danger; and the stakes always seem to be higher. It makes for a thrilling read.

I’m a sucker for a good villain and I find your crime family stories supply some truly evil and despicable bad guys.

I also like the aspect of family and loyalty to that family. Some of these families can be so dysfunctional that they work so it’s a neat aspect to watch unfold. They say blood is thicker than water and I think that always rings true in novels that focus around crime families.

What I Dislike About The “Crime Families” Trope:

I sometimes find that the books can go too far with the “shock factor” and things seem out of hand. Then that just makes the whole plot seem ridiculous.

While I do enjoy the occasional dark romance, I sometimes find romances in crime family stories really straddle that line of toxic and unhealthy. Yes, fiction is fiction but I don’t overly enjoy how normalized and romanticized some of these toxic relationships get in these books.

Books that Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

Perhaps one of the darkest novels I’ve ever read, I loved this serialized series for many reasons. A kick-butt heroine bent on revenge, a passionate romance and some pretty dire circumstances, this novel will keep you on your toes! It’s the darker side of a motorcycle club.

>>Series Review: Gypsy Brothers


This series is all about family and the loyalty you feel to that family (or maybe why you don’t). There’s just so many layers to this series and it provides ample character development throughout. Add to it an overarching plot with the motorcycle club and you’ve got yourself one wild ride.

>>Series Review: Thunder Road


Others: Son of the Mob  |  Heist Society

Books that Didn’t Use the “Crime Families” Trope Well:

This series is here for two reasons: 1) the somewhat abusive romance and 2) the boring leads. Sometimes I thought these two had great chemistry and then our “hero” would “show his dominance” and it just turned me off immediately. It was cringe-worthy–even though I had prepared myself for the darker romance.

>>Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair


“You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story.”

Everything here is super over dramatic thanks to the young ages of the cast. It just pushed the drama and the like over the top and made everything seem unbelievable. I think if this was a New Adult Series with older leads, it would have been better. This was definitely a guilty pleasure read for me because it’s like a bad, cheesy TV show.

>>Series Review: Made Men


Others: Once Upon a Crime Family  |  Crossing Stars

Do you enjoy books with the “Crime Families” Trope?

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DNF Series Review: Youngblood by Liz Reinhardt

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


Synopsis for Fall Guy (from Goodreads):

Evan Lennox is going nowhere fast. She’s living with her grandparents after her parents bailed on her, she got kicked out of her posh private school, her ex-boyfriend proved to be the biggest sleaze imaginable, her former best friend is a back-stabber, and her current best friend is stuck in backwoods NJ. To top it all off, one teeny, tiny fire she lit to burn some memories of her ex goes a little out of control and winds up igniting a good piece of a very powerful family’s pecan orchard.

Evan lands her pampered behind in court and gets sentenced to community service. Which she knows she deserves. But the hard labor and humiliation may be her undoing.

Until she meets Winchester Youngblood on the site.

Everything about him is tricky, confusing, not at all what it seems, and so sexy, Evan can’t resist pulling closer. But every step she takes to get to know him gives her more of a reason to back up and put him as far out of life as she possibly can. Because Winch is one hundred percent complicated, and Evan isn’t looking for that. At all. She needs to meet a nice, responsible guy, not share searing kisses with the charming hustler she met after they both got sentenced in court.

But Winch is so much more than what he seems, and Evan finds out that she’s falling hard for the guy everyone underestimates and writes off. And Winch realizes that Evan is the one person who’s ever challenged him to ask for more out of his life, and her courage inspires him to try to be the person she sees when she looks at him. With every single odd stacked against them, Evan and Winch need to find out whether they have what it takes to fall for each other.


Series: Youngblood

This is a spinoff of the Brenna Blixen Series.

Author: Liz Reinhardt
# of Books: 2 (Fall Guy, Perfectly Unmatched)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September – December 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Fall Guy at 17% (Middle of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I came across this one years ago. I bought The Fall Guy in September 2013, around the time I became interested in the New Adult genre and was getting my hands on anything in the genre so I can assume that is the reason why.

What drew me to this title is the concept of these two meeting in community service after committing crimes. I like romances that start in different ways and I hadn’t come across something like this before.

What I Liked:

–Alternating POVs–

I like my romances to have alternating POVs because it provides better character development. It gives you insight into both characters and allows you to get a better understanding of who they are.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Set in High School–

I thought this was going to take place in college, not while Evan was still in high school. I kinda missed the “kicked out of her private school” part of the synopsis so it threw me for a loop when in the next chapter she talks about going to school. And while Evan is in high school, I think Winch is actually in his 20s. Which is fine but it rubbed me the wrong way because he acts like he is in high school sometimes. He just lacked that much needed maturity.

And you know when high schoolers start acting like they are privileged 30 year olds? Totally got those vibes here and it makes everything seem so over the top.

–I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you Tug of War–

I’m all for sexual tension but this was a little too much for me. They were constantly eyeballing each other’s body parts and getting ready for sexy times between tiny bouts of banter. Then, when they would try to progress further, one of them would pull away knowing that they shouldn’t let this relationship develop any further.

I read some other reviews while contemplating whether or not to continue and lots of people stated this was something that continues for the rest of the novel. I don’t mind back and forth for a small portion of the novel, but the entire thing, it’s just too repetitive for me.

Will I Finish It?

Never mind the fact that I can’t get the second novel through any eBook store in Canada, but this one just isn’t for me any more. So I will not be finishing it.

Series Rating: DNF

Fall Guy DNF | Perfectly Unmatched N/A


If you like over the top YA/NA contemporaries, this is a good one for you!

Read if You Like: soap operas, lifestyles of rich
Avoid if You: want more depth to your romances


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Spin-off Saturdays: The Breaking Point by Jay Crownover

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:

The Breaking Point Series is a spin-off of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy

book2 book3


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Breaking Point

This is a spinoff of the Welcome to the Point Trilogy Series.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 3 (Honor, Dignity, Respect)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Respect, will be published in Summer 2018
Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Dark
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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


My Expectations?

I was really excited to learn that Jay Crownover was returning to the Point. There were so many stories left untold in the original trilogy that I wanted to read and I was afraid I would never get to see them. But never fear, Jay Crownover knows she has created an addictingly dark world and is just as eager to continue these stories.

How Does it Compare to the Original Series?

–Perfect Balance Between Suspense & Romance–

Like the inaugural series, this one strikes the right balance between romance and the suspenseful plot. While the romance is a driving feature of these novels, there is also a fabulously thrilling plot happening as well. Unlike other romantic-suspense novels where your romantic moments are a little sparse (they feel like you are just checking off the romance requirements as you go), these are integral throughout the novel. But they never overshadow the plot itself which is fully developed and not something that is left to the very end to quickly wrap up.

–Romantic Partnerships–

I just love all the pairings in these world. They are so well matched for each other. It isn’t just physical attraction that brings the two leads together. They just understand each other so well and bring out the best in each other.

–Not Your Everyday Heroes–

I like that these characters aren’t your typical romance leads. They aren’t always the nicest people but that saves them from being cliche I think. Their stories are fresh and unique and that wants you to learn more about them. They all are fabulously crafted.

–All The Stories Are Connected via a Sequence of Events–

While each book focuses on a different set of leads, you are still integrated with the world. There’s this overarching plot line that is threaded throughout all the books and you just want to read the next one to see what happens next.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not particularly. This is just a solid novel and highly entertaining.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have to wait until Book 3 for the one story I am literally dying to read but the little cliffhanger we got at the end of Honor has me excited for Dignity–the story I never knew I wanted.

Series Rating: 4/5

Honor 4/5 | Dignity TBA | Book 3 TBA


I think you will get more out of this series if you read the Welcome to the Point Trilogy first but, if you love anti-heroes and true bad boys, this is worth your time.

Read if You Like: bad boys, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike violence, crime


  • Slade by Victoria Ashley (Walk of Shame Trilogy #1)
  • Ignited by J Kenner (Most Wanted Trilogy #3)


Synopsis for Honor (from Goodreads):

Don’t be fooled.

Don’t make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I’ve seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I’ve fought and I’ve survived. I’ve had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I’m here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She’s disappeared. But don’t worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don’t be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I’m the one front and center.

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Series Review: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

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


Synopsis for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (from Goodreads):

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Mystery Read 2017
Series: Veronica Mars
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
# of Books: 2 (The Thousand Dollar Tan Line; Mr. Kiss and Tell)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While I didn’t watch Veronica Mars during its initial airing (long story but I missed the premiere and this was before the days of easy internet streaming) but I marathoned the entire series just before the movie came out and LOVED IT!

The wit, the intelligent writing and the amazing characters: there’s a lot to love about this series! So I was really excited to see that the creator of the show was writing series novels because who better to write a spin-off series than the visionary himself?

When I started my new job, I wanted to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and I thought what better than a novel set in a world I am already familiar with? It also didn’t hurt that mystery/thrillers were my current obsession at the time and so I decided to give The Thousand Dollar Tan Line a shot.

The Concept / Time Line:

These books take place a couple months after the movie (and the movie takes place 10 years after the TV series ends).  Which is great because it ties up some of those lingering questions you likely had at the end of the movie. I felt like I got a lot more closure reading these two novels than I did by just watching the movie.

And these books read like you are watching the TV show. Maybe that was just because I was listening to the audiobooks (one is narrated by Kristen Bell herself) but I felt like I was watching the TV show.

The Plot:

In true Veronica Mars fashion, the mystery introduced is rarely cut and dry. There are twists on twists and it’s fabulous. You don’t want to know how many times I freaked out in my car when some plot twists (curious? more than 10 for sure).

The plot is always moving! I thought there was a great balance between the mystery, the character drama and Veronica’s character growth. There’s always something to pique your interest and everything just blends so well together.

The Characters:

Ok, I had so many great fangirl moments reading this series. There are so many returning characters that I freaked out many times. I adore all of these characters, but Veronica especially. She’s such a strong and independent female lead. I love her wit but I also love how she doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Image result for veronica mars gifs

The Romance:

I don’t want to spoil this but this was one of the many reasons for my fangirling 😉

Audiobook Experience:

OK, this series made me fall in love with fiction audiobooks!

I love that Kristen Bell (Veronica) narrates the first novel. It made me feel like I was watching the TV show and immediately got me comfortable with the story. She also does an AMAZING job when she narrates the other characters. She manages to capture their personalities in her delivery and it’s perfect!

Unfortunately, the second book wasn’t narrated by Kristen Bell (I think she was pregnant at the time) so I missed the true Veronica sass but the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line 5/5 | Mr Kiss and Tell 4/5


I will say, I think it helps if you are familiar with the series in some complicity but the mystery is great regardless and I think if you aren’t a fan before you start this, you will be when you finish!

Read if You Like: Veronica Mars, thrillers, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike modern mysteries, crime

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DNF Series Review: Heroes by Roo I MacLeod

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

Heroes Series


Synopsis for No More Heroes (from Goodreads):

On the crime ridden streets of Old London Town the law has been subcontracted and justice awarded to the highest bidder. But from the dark depths of despair and chaos, a hero is born.

A murder on the streets of Ostere isn’t headline news
A vagrant running from conscription is common place
But this vagrant was witnessed fighting with the deceased
So now the police want a word
As do the killers
Ben Jackman, 20 year old vagrant by day, hunter of road kill by night, isn’t the man to take the fall
Proving his innocence is obvious
Finding the killer is crucial
But Ben needs a gun, a big gun with lots of bullets, because the seedy streets of Ostere have a new breed of criminal and they aren’t looking to take prisoners


Series: Heroes
Author: Roo I MacLeod
# of Books: 2 (No More Heroes, Heroes Don’t Travel)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Suspense, Crime
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 2016 – February 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC  |  Thank you Roo I MacLeod!



Disclaimer: I stopped reading No More Heroes at 10% (start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Roo contacted me to see if I was interested in reading his book, I was willing to give it a shot. It was something I wouldn’t have picked for myself but I was intrigued by the dark and gritty feels I was getting from the synopsis and cover. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but I was curious to see how everything would unfold.

What I Liked:

–The World Vibes–

While I was reading this, I got all sorts of vibes from other novels as well as movies. The scorned, chip on his shoulder lead reminded me of Sam Spade from the classic, The Maltese Falcon. And the setting itself reminded me of the worlds of Judge Dredd and Sin City–dark, desolate and gritty. AKA, places I would never want to be on my own…or ever. It was amazing how quickly I created the world in my mind.

Image result for sin city gif

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Many Characters–

I just got a little lost in who everyone was while I was reading. They all had uncommon, nickname like names that I couldn’t keep straight. Add to that the street name and areas that also sounded like people…I got confused pretty early. I’m sure if I kept reading, it would have sorted itself out in time but I just felt overwhelmed.

–It Really Wasn’t my Cup of Tea–

MacLeod has an interesting writing style. I’m not sure how to describe it. I found that the narrator jumped a little all over the place and so I got lost in what was actually happening vs what was in the past etc.

I’m not really one to read crime stories, I prefer to watch them, and I think this book reaffirmed that I’m not as ready as I thought to leave the safety net of New Adult and Young Adult fiction.

Will I Finish It?

I stopped reading right when the main plot starts to unfold and while I’m curious to see how it all plays out, this story just couldn’t keep my attention.

My Rating: DNF


If you like crime novels and/or stories with a unique writing style, this is a great novel for you to check out!

Read if You Like: crime noir, unique writing style
Avoid if You: don’t like adult crime novels

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Movie Mondays: Room

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Room by Emma Donoghue (2010) | Movie: Room (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Crime, Contemporary
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Borrowed–Paperback


Room was everywhere when it first came out. I saw it every time I passed a book store or browsed online. At the time, I didn’t understand the premise. I honestly thought it was some abstract book about a boy and his mom who live within a single room. I blame the simple back-cover description for giving me that impression because when I read the synopsis now, it makes a LOT more sense.

I’m a huge Criminal Minds fan so I was intrigued by this premise when a friend mentioned this book to me again around the time its movie was premiering at TIFF.

This book took me a long time to read. Mostly because I’m a busy student and had lots of library books I had to read and return; but also because it is a very tough book to get through.

Jack, the 5 year old boy, is your primary narrator and it’s hard to get used to his narration style. He is the very definition of an unreliable narrator but I don’t know how else you would tell this story. It offers a unique view of the situation Ma and Jack find themselves in. I think most people would assume that it would be Ma who tells the story but I liked the fresh perspective Jack offers instead. His curious innocence gives this story a more positive vibe than if we were stuck in the darker, fully aware place of Ma’s mind. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to understand what is happening at times.

The other reason this book is hard to get through is the subject matter. Though Jack isn’t aware of the situation, you as the reader totally are and that makes it hard to read. This book tugs on your heartstrings in every way possible. It will also make you frustrated and cause you to cringe. But just a few pages later, you will get a big grin on your face because it is so hard not to like Jack and his attitude towards life.


When a book evokes every emotion in you, it’s hard not to give it 5 stars. This book is simply well done. Jack’s narration is brilliant and I think the book is super realistic, even if the topic is one we don’t want to think about often.

Rating: 5/5


  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  • Still Alice by Alice Genova

Were My Expectations Met?

Yes and they were even surpassed if I am going to be honest. My friend who saw the premiere at TIFF (where it won the People’s Choice Award) said everyone was in tears at the end. And while I didn’t come close to crying in the the book, the movie definitely evoked some high emotions in me and I will admit that I nearly cried.

How Close is it to the Book?

It’s pretty close actually and the main things from the book are present in the movie. I was also really worried from the trailers that they would cast Ma in a more “self-sacrificing” light than the slightly “selfish” tone she gives in the book. But I feel like the movie captured her character perfectly. You were still sympathetic to her situation and her, but it kept the very realistic tone of a bratty 5-year old Jack and an isolated mom who has her patience tested that is present throughout the book.

Did I Like the Cast?

Brie Larson was fantastic in the movie and definitely deserves all the award nominations and praise she has been getting for this role. She was flawless and made even more so by her young co-star.

Jacob Tremblay (Jack) really stole the show for me. It still feels very much like Jack’s story despite the fact that you aren’t seeing into his mind specifically like you are in the book because Jacob is so real and a natural actor. He really makes you feel everything and it was a joy to watch him in this role. I really think he has a great career ahead of him–even though he was totally snubbed of a Oscar nomination in my humble opinion!

thewinneris wintie

I feel like both compliment each other so well. Bringing a book like Room to life takes a lot of skill and class and this movie has it in buckets. I think the book provides readers with a unique experience but the movie just wraps everything up together in a way that is so approachable and real.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Room (from Goodreads):

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.


Series Review: Made Men by Sarah Brianne

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


Synopsis for Nero (from Goodreads):
Nero is the king of Legacy Prep, living a life of power.
Elle is the school’s punching bag, living a life of fear.
The only good girls Nero knows jump in his bed when he tells them to.
The closest Elle has come to a bad boy like him is in the cafeteria line.
The mob boss gave him orders to find out what she knows.
Her mouth is sealed.

I just want to be a fu**ing made man.
I’m just a fu**ing waitress.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Guilty Pleasure 2015
Series: Made Men
Author: Sarah Brianne
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Bad Boys, Dark
Heat Rating: really warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2014 – December 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t remember how I found this series. I think it was recommended to me by Kobo from my previous purchases OR I found them when I was buying other books. Regardless, the synopsis sounded intriguing. I love reading about player bad boys who get turned around by a girl they never expected and that’s what Nero looked like it was going to be given what I read.

Also, those covers! I’m not just talking about the attractive models, there is just something so visual striking about both of them. So I picked both Nero and Vincent up for under $5 and put them on my TBR.

The Concept:

I always really enjoy Mob/Mafia Family stories. While I’m normally not a fan of romantic suspense stories, I enjoy the complex nature of mafia-orientated stories. You have family loyalty tested and the perfect setup for forbidden love.

The mafia in this story is pretty stereotypical but that’s exactly what I expected. I also like how there is an ongoing plot regarding the family that links all the books together despite their focus on a different set of lead characters.

The Plot:

Hmmm…where to start…When I first started Nero, I almost put it down. You know when teenagers attempt to act like adults and it just makes everything a little awkward? That’s what the plot is in this story. I had to remind myself numerous times that these characters were 17 and in high school–not 24 and in college. Everything was really melodramatic and over the top. Some of the things Nero and his crew do blew my mind and had me shaking my head to make sure I was reading everything correctly. The plot in this series is definitely over the top…but the weird thing was that I kinda grew to like it.

Reading Nero reminded me of watching Secret Life of the American Teenager for the first time. You watch one episode to see what it is about and then you find yourself 5 episodes in because it is so cheesy and ridiculous you can’t wait to see what crazy stunt they are going to make the characters undergo next.

This series reads like a soap opera but with a lot of suggested violence and descriptive sex scenes. It really isn’t unlike anything you might see on your typical teen TV soap nowadays but everything was just taken to that little bit too far for me.

Basically, this series was so bad it was good–in a total guilty pleasure kind of way. I feel like if I hadn’t bought these books (thus feeling a compelling need to read and finish them), I would have DNF’d Nero and never picked up Vincent. And now that I am two books in, I feel the need to read Chloe when it comes out because I need to know what happens next…damn.

The Characters:

I like a confident guy but, as you can already guess, Nero was a little too much for me. He did have some really sweet moments but for the most part, I wasn’t a huge fan. He seemed too wish-washy in his personality (sometimes he would act like a teenager and other times he acted like a 40 Christian Grey) and that made it hard for me to get a solid grasp on his character. Elle was the same way. I liked her desire to protect her friend but I didn’t like her character development too much. In Vincent, I didn’t really care for either of the leads for the exact same reasons.

The girls in both Vincent and Nero really bothered me and I explain why in the Romance section.

The Romance:

This is where my mixed feelings about Nero come in. Near the end of the story, I really started to root for Elle and Nero. Like I said before, I have a soft spot for forbidden love and stories where the bad boy falls for the nice girl.

However, at the same time, their relationship really disturbed me. Again, part of the problem is their young age and how I felt like they were playing pretend adults throughout the story. I thought their relationship dynamic had its moments where it just wasn’t healthy. It really upset me how easily Elle fell into a submissive role and it worries me that young girls will read this and find Nero’s possessive and dominating attitude “sexy”. Some moments boarded on abusive, making it hard for me to love their relationship.

It was the exact same situation in Vincent, even if the heroine of that one did seem to be aware of the situation. And given the potential characters in Chloe, I know it is going to be the exact same. My hope is that people will read this romance and see that it is FICTION--not realistic or reflects romance in the real world.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Chloe is going to focus on a love triangle–normally a huge turn off for me and to be honest it still is here. However, I’m curious to see how it will play out. I’m not dying to get my hands on it, but I will consider picking it up if I come across it after its release and the price is reasonable.


–February 7, 2017–

I have opted not to continue with this series. I don’t even remember anything about the characters so I think now is a good time to let this series go.

Series Rating: DNF

Nero 2/5 | Vincent 2/5 | Chloe N/A | Lucca N/A | Angel N/A


If you like over-the-top, melodramatic books where teens try to be adults, you will really like this series! For me, it was just too much and I had a hard time taking it seriously. In the past, I’ve read a lot strong YA/NA series that have a similar tone but a better execution.

Read if You Like: melodramatic series, high school new adult
Avoid if You: dislike alpha males, dislike soap operas



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Series Review: Once Upon a Crime Family by Tiffany Schmidt

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

Once Upon a Crime Family



Synopsis for Hold Me Like a Breath (from Goodreads):
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.


Series: Once Upon a Crime Family
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
# of Books: 2 (Hold Me Like a Breath, Break Me Like a Promise)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 2015 – June 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

First off, I love the cover! That’s mostly why I even considered reading this book. Tiffany Schmidt has a few books on my  TBR list but the promise of a mafia/crime family book stole my attention. Add to that the fairy tale retelling, I’m sold!

I was hoping this book would be faster paced and grittier than Nicole William’s Crossing Stars (which was a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with modern day crime families). So I was really excited to read it but some “meh” reviews made me lower my initially high expectations.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what the fairy tale element of Hold Me Like a Breath was until I read the author’s note at the end. That’s when everything clicked into place. So don’t go into this thinking it is a straight fairy tale retelling: it’s simply influenced by one particular fairy tale and that’s about it.

On the other hand, I loved the organ black-market aspect. It was nice to read a a story about a crime family that doesn’t deal in drugs or loans. It also added an interesting ethical/moral debate to the book (though it isn’t a highly philosophical book by any means).

The Plot:

I found this book took a long time to build up to the main plot. It definitely has a slower vibe to it but it always held my attention. I won’t lie: I definitely wanted more physical action when it comes to crime family conflicts but that really didn’t happen. It’s there in little spurts but nothing crazy.

While this book did have the gritty parts to it that I wanted, the majority of this plot is about Penelope growing up and becoming independent. Which is great but not entirely what I was expecting.

This book kept me on my toes. While I had predicted some plot elements (they were super obvious) there were other aspects that stopped me from knowing the ending right away. I really had no idea how everything was going to wrap up and I liked that a lot.

The Characters:

Penelope is exactly what you would imagine from a girl in an overprotective family; she’s struggling for independence and wanting to rebel. This can get really annoying in a character but I really warmed up to Penelope and loved watching her grow.

The rest of the cast is pretty typical and perhaps borders on the cliche; however, they really worked for this story and truly supported Penelope in a way that didn’t take away from her development or overshadow her.

The Romance:

While the romance is really important in terms of the plot, it isn’t some grand romance novel. For me, it left a little something to be desired (I LOVE romances) and I wasn’t sold on it. I think it is was how it was executed (which is one of the twists I talked about earlier) and how I had my heart set on one outcome but it didn’t play out like I expected.

So while I don’t love how everything unfolded (that’s just the romantic in me), I think it worked for this story and liked that it took a backseat when it needed to.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have NO clue what is in store for the rest of the series. I assume it’s going to follow a different set of characters but I have no idea. It isn’t high on my priority list to read but I’m curious to see what the sequel’s spin will be.

I have opted not to pick up the sequel because A) my library doesn’t have a copy and B) the plotline doesn’t interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Hold Me Like a Breath 3.5/5 | Break Me Like a Promise N/A


I enjoyed reading Hold Me Like a Breath even if it wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s not a high action, fast paced adventure rather, it is a coming of age story with a small fairy tale basis. Unfortunately, it just didn’t WOW me. I’m interested in the sequel but I’m really have no idea what to expect so I’m not counting down the days; hence, time will tell!

Read if You Like: slower stories, coming of age stories, crime families
Avoid if You: want a integrated fairy tale retelling, don’t like coming of age stories, want more action





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Single Sundays: Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

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 Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator (from Goodreads):
Guy Langman can’t be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren’t expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they’re assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy’s mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father’s past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He’s going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .


As you may or may not know, I am taking part in Books and Iced Coffee’s Everything YA Challenge this year. This month’s (March) mini-challenge is to read a book someone ELSE has picked for you. Sad truth is I didn’t really know who to ask but then I got a great idea to “ask” my local library. First, I decided that I would see what books the library recommended for me based on my eBook check-outs but because I have been taking out more adult romances lately, it wasn’t really suggesting YA novels or ones that I haven’t already read. So I browsed their recommended reads list and came across one that was called “What’s So Funny? Hilarious Books for Teens”. I wanted to read a standalone because I was long overdue for one and I recognized this title as one I came across years ago put never picked up. And luck was on my side when I saw that the eBook version was available for check-out.

What drew me to this book was the Crime Scene Investigation portion. Back when CSI was big, I was a fan and because I am a science student (plus a huge Sherlock Holmes fan!) I love the forensic science aspect of it all.

So I felt like I was a little mislead by the synopsis because we really don’t get the mystery aspect of the “crime” until well over halfway through the novel. Instead, the focus is on Guy dealing with his father death–which is fine and dandy, just not what I was expecting. This book definitely had a more “coming of age” vibe to it than it did mystery.

When we do get to the murder (which is just a little over halfway through), I thought the book picked up in its pace. Despite the clues, I really didn’t put everything together until it was revealed so I appreciated the twists we got.

As for the humour, the primary reason why I picked up this novel, it wasn’t as great as I was expecting. I found a lot of the lines were odd or a little on the rude side; some were funny though, especially near the end–I thought his mom had some good lines 🙂 To be fair, I had just finished reading the 4th Tangled book, Tied, by Emma Chase which was freakin’ hilarious so I had higher humour standards going into this one. As I said, I though the humour got better near the end and I did laugh a few times after that.


Nevertheless, I was entertained reading this book. I wish there was more focus on the crime aspect of the synopsis and if I had known that it wasn’t going to be the main focus of the novel, I probably wouldn’t have felt as let down by it as I was. But if you are looking for a coming of age novel told by a boy with a dash of forensics, this is a great one for you!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Teen, Coming of Age, Mystery, Crime, Grief
Recommended for: 15+ (boys will like this one!)
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Similar Reads: #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler; Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Trust Me Series #1) and Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein (Cold Fury Trilogy #1)