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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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Single Sundays: American Panda by Gloria Chao

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 American Panda (from Goodreads):

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Contemporary 2018
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, Family
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source & Format: Own–Audiobook via Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A lot of the blogs I follow reviewed this book around its release date and had nothing but praise for it.

I will admit I was a little scared to read because of said hype but also because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to our lead, Mei. I’m not of Asian decent (though I’m familiar with some of the cultural aspects thanks to close friends) and we don’t have a similar family background, so I was worried some of the humour and situations might be a little lost on me.

But I’ve been proven wrong before and I’ve had a great track-record with listening to the audiobooks of similar stories so I decided to use one of my Kobo Audiobook credits to get the audio version.

Review Spoiler Alert: One of the best decisions I made all year 😉

The Concept:

As I said above, I wasn’t sure how well I would understand Mei’s various situations. I’m not Asian and my parents aren’t immigrants to my country either; I’m a smorgasbord of cultures so I just identify as Canadian. I’ve never felt torn between two cultures like Mei does. And my parents never were nothing but supportive of my educational and professional goals.

But that being said, I still related to Mei on many levels once I started to listen to her story; in particular with her views on family. Regardless of culture, age and the like, I feel like there is a universal feeling that you never want to disappoint your parents or your family. I know I felt that way when I decided in my final year of university that I didn’t want to pursue my original professional school. And I’ve also found myself in situations where it feels like it’s me and my brother vs our parents. So while I might not have a similar situation to Mei and its extremes, I do understand the heart of her inner conflict and that’s what drew me to her story.

The Plot:

Simply put, this is a coming of age story about a girl deciding what she wants out of life. But I never got bored. So many things happen along the way and there’s this great balance between everything. You get a dash of romance, a dash of friendship and a dash of family—everything that makes up great story.

The Characters:

Mei’s a fabulous lead. I loved watching her transform as the story progressed. She has some great character development and you can’t help but root for her as she finds her way. She’s also hilarious with her somewhat awkward ways and personality quirks. Frankly, she’s nothing but adorable and the type of lead who makes a novel amazing.

Also, special shoutout to Mei’s mom. She was a fantastic character and her voicemails to Mei left me in stitches!

The Romance:

Darren made me want to go back to university just to see if I could find someone like him for myself 😛

In all seriousness, the romance was really cute but also an important aspect to the story. Like a romance should in a great coming of age story, it should enhance the story and never distract from it. And I feel like that was what was done here. Her relationship with Darren is key in highlighting Mei’s struggles but I never felt like it became the main focus of her story and I greatly appreciated that.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m SO SO SO glad I listened to this as an audiobook! Emily Zoo Weller did a great job bringing Mei to life. Her accents were great, all the characters sounded different, and her expressions were awesome. I always consider it a plus when an audiobook can make me cry when a character does and this did that quite a few times. I also laughed hysterically throughout–people driving by probably thought I was crazy as I drove to work.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of the best coming of age stories I have read in a long time. I also highly recommend the audiobook!

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about culture, diverse leads
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike coming of age

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Single Sundays: Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern

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 Sh*t my Dad Says (from Goodreads):
After being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, twenty-eight-year-old Justin Halpern found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad. Sam Halpern, who is “like Socrates, but angrier, and with worse hair,” has never minced words, and when Justin moved back home, he began to record all the ridiculous things his dad said to him:
“That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.”

“Do people your age know how to comb their hair? It looks like two squirrels crawled on their heads and started fucking.”

“The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two.”
More than a million people now follow Mr. Halpern’s philosophical musings on Twitter, and in this book, his son weaves a brilliantly funny, touching coming-of-age memoir around the best of his quotes. An all-American story that unfolds on the Little League field, in Denny’s, during excruciating family road trips, and, most frequently, in the Halperns’ kitchen over bowls of Grape-Nuts, Sh*t My Dad Says is a chaotic, hilarious, true portrait of a father-son relationship from a major new comic voice

breakdown

Author: Justin Halpern
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humour
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Sometimes, I get car sick when I read. It puts a damper on my reading plans (that’s 3-6 hours I could use to starting/finishing a novel!) but when I discovered the awesomeness that is audiobooks last year, I saw a great alternative. So when it came to the summer and I had two road trips scheduled, I made sure I had some audiobooks on hand just in case I felt like tossing my cookies while I attempted to finish a novel.

Honestly, I found this novel by browsing the nonfiction>humour>available now options at my library. I was familiar with this story though and thought it would be a fun one to listen to, especially with my family who loves witty comedies.

The Concept:

This is a pretty fun concept. We all have that one family member who seems to say the randomest things that make you laugh. It could be your dad, your uncle, your mom, your sibling, your grandma–the list is endless. And then. ever once and a while, they impart this little nugget of wisdom. So I think it goes without saying that most readers can relate to this in some way or another. I know I can from all of the above.

The Writing/Narration:

Each chapter focuses on Justin coming to terms with his current life situation and how something his dad says applies to the lesson he learns. And in between the chapters, you get random quotes from his dad.

I honestly think this book is one the is 20x more fun to listen to than read it. By listening to the story, you get to actually hear the lines delivered to you the way they were delivered to Justin. It almost makes this book seem like a comedy routine instead of a novel.

Did it Impact My Life?

I’ve now started to compile a list of all the sh/t my dad says…just kidding 😉

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This book is short but highly entertaining. I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook over the physical book–it is so, so funny.

Read if You Like: humour, family based stories, memoirs
Avoid if You: dislike audiobooks, want a longer read

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Series Review: Capturing the Carlisles by Anna Harrington

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

Capturing the Carlisles Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for If the Duke Demands (from Goodreads):

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: he’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

The first book in Anna Harrington’s new sexy Regency trilogy about the Carlisle brothers—three unrepentant rakes who become respectable gentlemen when family tragedy strikes.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Regency Romance 2017, New Must Read Author
Series: Capturing the Carlisles

This is a spinoff of the The Secret Life of Scoundrels Series.

Author: Anna Harrington
# of Books: 3 (If the Duke Demands, When the Scoundrel Sins, As the Devil Dares)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, As the Devil Dares, will be published January 2018
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It was the main concept of this novel that captured (pun not intended) my attention. I LOVE the romance trope where the two people work together to get the objects of their affections, only to fall in loved with each other. It promises to have a ton of sexual tension, swoon worthy moments and leads you can’t help but root for.

So I was really excited to dive into this series!

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Honestly, I didn’t stop smiling when I was reading this book! It was just pure enjoyment from start to finish for me.

These two were PERFECT for each other and it was so much fun to watch them discover that. I literally got butterflies reading some of their scenes together because they were just so adorable. They had fantastic banter and the chemistry was just dripping off the pages.

But my favourite part was the emotional connection these two develop. It’s my favourite aspect of this trope. They just get each other. The fact that these two grew up together in some capacity provides a solid foundation to start this story off. I liked they they didn’t really like each other until they talked and got to know each other on that intellectual level. And from that, their romantic attraction to each other develops. It’s not just insta-love or physical lust that drives them together. Perfection.

–Miranda–

I find heroines in this genre can be a little over-bearing or rebellious just for the sake of being different. But Miranda is never like that. While she is independent, she’s intelligent about it. She’s willing to fight for things but never in a brash or irresponsible way and that made her extremely likable to me. I couldn’t help but root for her.

And I also liked that she grew as the story progressed. She isn’t this totally confident girl right away and as she learns to accept who she is, she really blossoms.

–The Brothers–

I just love this whole family (which readers are first introduced in Harrington’s How I Married a Marquess). They were just so much fun and quite the cast of characters. I’m really excited to learn more about the brother’s and see how they get “captured”!

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s Over and I Have to Wait for the Next One–

I want the rest of this series NOW! Good thing Anna’s other series is out so I can get into that while I wait.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

With the little teaser we got of When the Scoundrel Sins, I wish that August was next week. It looks like it is going to be just as awesome as its predecessor and I’m so excited to read it!

updates

–August 3, 2017– Book #2: When the Scoundrel Sins

I was SO EXCITED to pick this novel up that I put it to the top of my TBR pile despite the mountain of other books–and I was not disappointed.

These two had fantastic chemistry right from the start. So it was hard to watch them keep their distance when you know that they would be PERFECT together. But then again, that’s the fun of this book! I had a blast watching them spare back and forth, fighting their budding feelings and denying the obvious. I love sexual tension and Harrington succeeds once again with these two.

The one disappointing aspect for me was that the plot wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I found it took a back seat to the the romance (which isn’t a bad thing) but it did make the wrapping up seem a little rushed just because you did forget about it a bit. I also found it to be terribly predictable which was disappointing. I suppose that aspect wasn’t as engaging as I wanted it to be.

But I thoroughly enjoyed this one and had a very, very hard time putting it down. Another solid installment!

My Rating: 4.5/5

If the Duke Demands 5/5 | When the Scoundrel Sins 4/5 | As the Devil Dares TBP

overall

If The Duke Demands reminded me why I love historical romances. Swoon-worthy heroes; strong-willed, intelligent heroines and brimming sexual tension from the start. I’m definitely going to be picking up Harrington’s previous works ASAP!

Read if You Like: historical fiction, emotional romances
Avoid if You: want more erotica based
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Single Sundays: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

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 Wrong Side of Right (from Goodreads):
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

breakdown

Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Politics, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book one day when I was trolling the blogs I follow. The cover captured my attention, as did the positive reviews; but it was the synopsis that made me want to read this book right away.

Meg Cabot’s All American Girl is one of my favourite teen novels ever. Typical of all Meg Cabot’s work, it just had that great blend of teen romance and humour with a dash of realism, making it so much fun to read. So while I knew The Wrong Side of Right was going to focus more heavily on the realistic world of politics, I was hoping it would capture my heart like All American Girl would.

The Concept:

Don’t be turned off of the fact that this book may present political views you might not agree with. I didn’t find it preachy, pushy or biased in any respect. It focuses more on the world of politics in the sense of how politicians present themselves to the public rather than particular agendas/policies.

The Plot:

The plot mostly focuses on Kate throughout the campaign trail. I truly think this book could have been 50 pages shorter and still got its message across. Because the beginning was strong, as was the end, but somewhere in the middle it started to lose me. It’s interesting for the most part (especially if you like following campaign stories) but after a while it gets a little monotonous. Like, I got the point: she wasn’t sure she was in the right place–now what was she going to do about it?

What I did enjoy about this story was Kate’s interaction with her new family. I loved the approach this story took with that respect because it seemed so real to me. It wasn’t plagued with over dramatics and I could easily see the situation happening to any family–whether they are in politics or not–when an unexpected child enters their lives.

The Characters:

I have such mixed feelings about Kate. There is no doubt about it: she is an extremely naive girl. I can’t say that I entirely blame her either given the situation she finds herself in. Politics–especially American politics–is its own world and you truly don’t understand it, I’m sure, until you’re immersed into it. I get that. However, what frustrated me is that she was so campaign savvy–she knew she had to act a certain way while in public–yet she was surprised when she did have to act a certain way. It’s confusing I know, which is what bothered me the most while reading.

I suppose her naivety is used to show a non-cynical view of politics. She is that fresh voice on her father’s campaign trail. (Why they gave her as much power as they did within the campaign still baffles me.) But it shows her age that she just doesn’t get it-and hey, what 16 year old really does get politics? I’m 23 and I still don’t get it! I think it’s the fact that she gave me the impression she had a better understanding of how it all worked–when in fact she really didn’t–that made her seem wish-washy to me. She was so strong in her political convictions and quickly interfered on those matters, yet struggled with the simplest aspects of her daily life when it came to her family. Yes, it is a coming of age novel and I totally get the journey she has to go on–I just didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I had hoped when we were first introduced to her.

Also, I just have to get this off my chest because it frustrated me to no end:

Spoiler Rant of Frustration

Ok, so the whole deportation situation with her friend frustrated me to no end! Sure, I can get the initial assumption that her father ratted her friend’s parents out. HOWEVER, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the family staring in a photo with Kate that is publicly released before her father’s apparent change in immigration are somehow linked. That just seemed like a MAJOR DUH to me and I guess I was the only one who saw it that way…

[collapse]

The Romance:

For some reason, I really thought this was going to play a bigger role in the story than it actually did. I think it was my All American Girl bias–which is book that is primarily a romance with a side-story of Samantha’s growing up. I wanted more personally but I understand that it was never to be the primary focus of Kate’s story.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This book started strong but lost me along the way. I think Kate’s naivety may turn people off but I think you have to cut her some slack given the situation she is in. At the same time, this book helped me reaffirm that I am not the biggest YA Contemporary fan. I personally really struggle to connect with the characters in this genre so I think my rating may reflect this.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, the world of politics (especially American)
Avoid if You: don’t like naive heroines, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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 Fangirl (from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

breakdown

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 30, 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you don’t follow any YA blogs, I’ll let you know that there are two books that always get high praise: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and basically anything by Rainbow Rowell–but more often than not, it’s Fangirl.

So, I was curious and just had to pick up this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was up for anything and I tried to not let the numerous positive reviews cloud my judgement as I read.

The Plot:

This is probably one of the greatest examples of a coming of age story in recent times. This story is all about Cath adjusting to the many changes in her life: college, separation from her twin sister, navigating her relationships with her parents and basically anything that a young adult has to go through. Oh, and don’t forget first love!

What makes this story great is that everyone can relate to Cath in some way. I think the most obvious one is going to college but we all can relate in some indirect way. Sure, I don’t have a twin but I sympathized with the evolving sibling relationship–and that relationship could just as easily be with your BFF. I think lots of bloggers can relate to Cath’s need to write fanfiction. I know there were times in my undergraduate career where I told myself “just finish this assignment and then you can write your book reviews” just like Cath.

And the fandom part…I think we’ve all been there about something in our lives.

This is a slow journey watching Cath evolve but it touches on so many different aspects that it keeps the pace steady and true. While it was long for my personal tastes, I thought it was very thorough and well-balanced. Nothing is resolved immediately so in that respect, I found it to be very realistic in how the characters react and deal with various issues.

The Characters:

Cath can be a very hard character to like. I’m a very stubborn person so I find it hard to read about other stubborn characters. Cath is the very definition of stubborn and I think that can be off-putting to a lot of readers. She can make it hard to root for her when she says or acts a certain way when she knows it’s wrong. But I think that’s what makes this book so great; you watch Cath evolve and grow up right before your eyes. Does that make it very easy to read all the time? Of course not! But I can appreciate the journey.

I really liked all the characters in this book. They were really close to being clichés but they just had that little something that kept them grounded in reality. I think we all have these people in our lives to some degree which again, adds to the realistic element of this story because it is very character driven.

The Romance:

Yeah, that didn’t go the way I expected! I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the romance. I thought it was going to play a minor role in the story but it definitely had a larger role than I anticipated–not that it was a bad thing. I thought it was really well developed and I feel like it contributed in a very beneficial way to the plot.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I didn’t fall in love with this book. One part is that I’m not the biggest coming of age YA fan (which is weird because I love New Adult and that’s pretty much coming of age all the time) and I think part of the reason is because it is so hyped up. I was expecting this book to blow me away and put other coming to age novels to shame…and I’ll admit, it was great, but I just never got sucked into it. It just didn’t WOW me.

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about everyday relationships
Avoid if You: don’t like stubborn characters, want a more romance driven novel

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Series Review: The Burke Brothers by Emma Hart

My 200th Series Review Post! Thanks for reading!

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

Dirty Secret by Emma Hart | The Burke Brothers Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Secret (from Goodreads):
Conner Burke never expected Sofie Callahan to come back.

Where she’s been for the last two and half years is a mystery, and so is the reason she left in the first place. Now, though, she’s back in their hometown of Shelton Bay, South Carolina, at the same time Conner’s band Dirty B. is home on a tour break.

Sofie Callahan has spent the months since her father’s death avoiding anything to do with her hometown. But with her brother in Afghanistan, she has no choice but to return and sort out her father’s house, even if it means facing the boy she fell in love with and revealing the reason she left.

Conner has questions, and when his broken heart and her guilty one collide, Sofie has to start answering them. Their present is rocky, their future unknown. Only one thing is certain: Sofie’s daughter will change everything.

breakdown

Series: The Burke Brothers
Author: Emma Hart
# of Books: 5 (Dirty Secret, Dirty Past, Dirty Lies, Dirty Tricks, Dirty Little Rendezvous)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Second Chances, Drama, Family
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2014 – May 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

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

Like most readers do, when I enjoy a work by an author I tend to pick up the other stuff they write and Emma Hart is no exception. I really enjoyed her Game Series and have a few of her other series on my to-read shelf; however, this new series got to be read first thanks to the library.

Normally second chance contemporary romances aren’t super high on my reading list: especially ones involving a kid. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because they are predictable and a cliche to a certain extent. BUT, I really enjoyed reading Trapped by Beverley Kendall because it had a little bit of a twist to it which made things more interesting; as is the case with this story, Dirty Secret, and the spin of a famous musician ex-boyfriend as the father of the baby.

Did I know exactly why things went down as they did in the past before even reading this book? You bet your last dollar I sure did. But did that stop me from enjoying the cute story? Not really. I think I was in the mood for a lighter story after reading a particularly darker New Adult novel so Dirty Secret served as a nice refreshing read.

Really this book is everything I expect from Emma Hart’s work (solely based on my experience reading one of her series). You’ve got a stubbornly independent female lead and a charming hero and their cast of entertaining friends.

I didn’t really like Sofie and by that I mean her and I wouldn’t be friends in real life. There was nothing really wrong with her, we just have conflicting personalities. I liked Conner but he wasn’t anything really special either. The romance steam (ie sex) is there but it takes a backseat to the emotional connection of the leads, only popping up here and there. And I would say there really isn’t much of a plot other than Conner and Sofie getting angry at each other but simultaneously wanting to rip the clothes off of the other; but, as I said before, it was a cute, sweet story so I didn’t mind that much.

Again, like in the Game series, my only peeve was the dialogue, specifically the Southern Accent. Now, I will admit, I don’t know what everyday conversation is like in the South but it just seemed like the characters’ accents were latent and would therefore only pop up occasionally. It just seemed inconsistent to me–but I am a Canadian so I’m running slightly on the stereotype of what a Southern accent “should” be. I also felt a bit of a disconnect between some of the narration and what was happening: like the whole baby gate and the naughty step. Maybe that is because I’m not a mom but that just threw me for a loop and I still don’t understand. But it isn’t enough that I would tell you to not read this book because if you ignore that little detail (and it really is a little detail), the book was a smooth read.

I’m looking forward to Dirty Past for two reasons: I really liked Tate’s “bad boy” character AND we actually get to see the two leads fall in love. Dirty Secret was cute and while we do get to watch them fall back in love I just felt like a lot of their relationship was assumed from the past and not really elaborated on. I enjoy watching my leads fall in love as a read and with Dirty Secret it’s like they are already there and are just working out a lover’s quarrel you would see in the second book of their love trilogy–only you didn’t read the first book to see them come together in the first place.

I’m also not sure how many books will be in this series. I am assuming there will be 4 because there are 4 brothers but there also is their sister who I would like to read about as well (but her story could always be a subplot to her brothers’). I guess we will have to wait and see…

updates

–July 19, 2015– Book 2: Dirty Past

I really liked Tate in Dirty Secret so I was excited to meet his match in Dirty Past. Overall, I liked them together but I just had a hard time reconciling their relationship at times, especially at the start. Tate can be quite egotistic and for someone just ending an abusive relationship, I’m not sure if they were the best match initially. Perhaps I was just reading too much into it, but I didn’t love the way he talked to her. I thought it was rude (which I expect from his character) and not the best environment for the heroine’s situation.

BUT, I did get past that and really enjoyed the story overall. It was a solid sequel overall and made me super pumped for Dirty Lies!

–December 28, 2015– Book 3: Dirty Lies

Sigh…I really wanted to like this one. It has everything I normally love: fake romance, asshole hero and a rockstar to boot. But it just fell apart for me despite its promising start.

I have a huge soft spot for asshole heroes and Aiden seemed like I would love him. But something just rubbed me the wrong way with him. I don’t mind confident assholes–which Aiden is–but he is also a little rude and I didn’t particularly like how he would talk about Jessie with his brothers.

On the other hand, I really liked Jessie. She was funny and I liked her independent attitude. And while I could see how these two would work out in theory, I just didn’t like the way their relationship developed. It’s a shame.

I’m holding out hope for Dirty Tricks though. Kye is the last brother and I think he is the nicest. And his heroine seems like she will be an interesting match for him!

–February 14, 2016– Book 4: Dirty Tricks

This book started strong, lost me a bit in the middle and ended on a good note. Kye is probably my favourite brother because he seems the most genuine to me and I liked how he wasn’t a complete asshole like the rest of his brothers (especially his twin).

Chelsea, hmm, I’m a little mixed on her. I totally got where she was coming from and I felt like I understood her character the most out of anyone in this series because her past is so well explained. But I didn’t like her immaturity even it I knew why she would act the way she did. Again, the dialogue was what really showed this and made me have that disconnect.

So while it was probably my favourite story premise of the series, I was a little bored with it at times. It was a solid way to end the series and I’m going to pick up the spin-off; but otherwise, this series was a bit of a bust 🙁

–July 2, 2017– Book 5: Dirty Little Rendezvous

**I DNF’d this book at 23% (start of Chapter 6)**

I really was not feeling this book and I really wanted to like it because Leila was (finally) the heroine and she’s been in the background throughout the series, peaking my interest. But damn, this was bad.

I can tolerate a little bit of crude talk in my novels but this was just brutal. I swear, every other page was about Leila’s vagina and her need to see some action. I’m all for a girl exploring her sexuality but I don’t like reading that in my novels, regardless of the POV’s gender. It get monotonous.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous double standards of her brothers. I get it, she’s their little sister but after reading all their stories, they don’t really have any moral ground to stand on in my opinion.

Oh, and the romance? It seemed very shallow and rushed to me. Maybe if we got to see their past interaction, I would be on board with it but I just wasn’t liking these two.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Dirty Secret 4/5 | Dirty Past 3/5  |  Dirty Lies 3/5  |  Dirty Tricks 3.5/5

overall

I enjoyed the cute romance between the two leads but it wasn’t really anything memorable. If you want a sweet read about teen sweethearts reuniting after one becomes a celebrity years later, this is the book for you! Or if you enjoyed Emma Hart’s other works, this is right up your alley! However, I feel like the newest books in the series are essentially the same recycled romances, causing the series to lose some lustre.

Read if You Like: over the top drama, rockstar stories, stories about families
Avoid if You: want a more mature romance, want stronger romantic relationships

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Single Sundays: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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 We Were Liars (from Goodreads):A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Review:

If you haven’t heard of We Were Liars, you were probably living under a rock for most of 2014. But in all honesty, it’s ok if you haven’t–I actually stumbled upon it by accident and then discovered that people have been raving about it for the last 7 months. So I put it on hold and had to wait a very long time to get it and by the time I did, it had won the 2014 Goodreads Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. So when I finally picked it up, I was excited to read it to see what all the fuss was about.

It’s hard to describe what my feelings are about this book. It’s really good and really well done but it didn’t overly impress me and here’s why:

After reading the synopsis, I really didn’t know what to expect. And when I started reading it, I felt a little lost and a little overwhelmed  with all the character names and their family relationships. But, there is a very handy family tree at the start of the book that quickly sorted that all out for me.

However, I still felt a little lost as I was reading due to Candace’s way of describing things. At times I found it hard to know when she was being literal and when she was using metaphors. I suppose that is part of the charm of a book title “We Were Liars”: is Candace really telling the truth or is she lying? And it was fun trying to figure out what was really going on the island and that was when I really got into the book.

Why I have mixed feelings is because I read a very similar book to this called Unravel by Calia Read earlier this year. That book blew my socks off and has a very similar premise to We Were Liars in that you are trying to find out the truth about the lead’s life. I think that if I read We Were Liars first, I would have been much more impressed with it than I actually was. Unravel was much more enjoyable to me because I think its execution is a tad more put together (meaning, I never felt lost in the prose of Unravel as I did in We Were Liars).

Conclusion:

BUT that doesn’t mean that We Were Liars isn’t a great read–because it is! And it you have never read a mystery or rebuilding the past type of book, this is a great one to read!

Rating: 4/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: Yes

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, Coming of Age, Family
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Standalone 2014
Similar Reads: Unravel by Caila Read

Series Review: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

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 On Dublin Street (from Goodreads):

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

breakdown

Series: On Dublin Street
Author: Samantha Young
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are a number of novellas (See Here)

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Family, Tragedy, Abuse
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: August 2012 – June 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

My Expectations:

This series has been on my to-read list for a really long time so I pounced when they were available at my library. After a blah start with Samantha Young’s Into the Deep series, I was really excited to see where these books would go because I have heard very good things.

Book 1: On Dublin Street

First up is On Dublin Street. I didn’t know what to expect with this book but I was hoping for a cute read with a dash of excitement and sexual tension. Unfortunately I feel like this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I enjoyed reading it but I just didn’t LOVE it.

I’m not sure where things went wrong because I did enjoy the first few chapters. The initial chemistry between Braden and Jocelyn was great but I found it wasn’t enough to carry the book for me. Part of the reason is their character personalities. I had a hard time liking Jocelyn despite her having characteristics I usually love in a heroine like wit and independence. I think she was just too extreme in her independence and that drove me a little nuts. Also, given her past her outlook on life is a little bleak and seeing as that the POV given is only hers, it makes it a sad place to be. As for Braden, I did like him but he was just on that cusp of being too alpha male for my personal tastes. (Read my full review of the novel here)

The plot was also a little lackluster in my opinion. It didn’t really get exciting until the last 50 or so pages. It just seemed to go through the motions and even the little petty drama things weren’t that exciting. It also didn’t help that I liked the relationship between Ellie and Adam a lot more than these two (which is thankfully the focus of the novella Until Fountain Bridge). (Bit of a side note: I have to hand it to Samantha Young for leaving the little tidbits about the next couple in each of the books. It always makes me super eager to get my hands on the next book.)

But I decided not to give up on the series because I really wanted to read Until Fountain Bridge and Down London Road because I liked those characters from On Dublin Street a lot more than I liked Jocelyn. And in the end I’m really glad I stuck with the series.

Books #1.5 to #4:

Until Fountain Bridge is listed as a novella and it’s about half the page length as On Dublin Street. Before reading it I was upset that Ellie and Adam’s story wasn’t going to be longer but once I read it, I realized it was the perfect length. I really liked its delivery which is a series of flashbacks as Ellie reads her diary–you basically get all the great romantic highlights but without all the angsty whining about the partner. It was super cute and super quick so I really liked that.

Down London Road started slow like On Dublin Street. But unlike its predecessor, I felt like the plot got a lot more exciting a lot quicker and didn’t really stop. It was a good blend of romance, drama and we get just enough of a taste of the next two leads that I was really excited to read the next two books. I also liked the tension between the two leads a lot more as well and loved their interaction and connection to each other. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot more though I wish the first 100 pages or so were cut down to make things move a little faster.

Before Jamaica Lane was the perfect length and had a great execution. It wasn’t as “dark” (and by dark I mean depressing) as the previous two novels. It definitely had a serious side to it but I found it a lot more fun to read. I LOVED the male lead in this one and it was everything I expected it to be and a little bit more. I devoured it and it only made me more excited to read Fall from India Place and Echoes of Scotland Street.

In fact, I was so excited to read Fall from India Place that I immediately read it after Before Jamaica Lane despite having other books to read. It was sweet and not what I was totally expecting but I enjoyed reading it. I didn’t love it as much as I wanted or hoped but, I would take it over On Dublin Street any day.

updates

–November 9, 2017– Book #5: Echoes of Scotland Street

I was super excited to read Echoes of Scotland Street. I think I’ve been anticipating this book since On Dublin Street, even more so since Before Jamaica Lane since we first met Cole. It was great! The story was interesting, the leads were great and it was the perfect length. Those who have been waiting for this book won’t be disappointed. 

Turns out, it isn’t the last in the series! I’m actually really excited that we will be getting at least one more book in this series. Although the next lead is someone we were just introduced to in Echoes of Scotland, I’m intrigued to read about his story and will be looking forward to its release this coming summer.

–February 5, 2018– Book #6: Moonlight on Nightingale Way

I was very excited to read this book but clearly time got away from me!

I had very high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint!  I had high anticipation for Logan’s story and I loved it. The slow burning tension kept me hooked. I loved the plot too! It was so sweet! But I really loved the character development. Both our leads are so complex and they have a lot of growth to do independently.

Not only was this a great book (I literally couldn’t put it down!), it was a fantastic way to wrap up the series. Seeing everyone again was just awesome.

Series Rating: 4/5

On Dublin Street  3/5| [Until Fountain Bridge 4/5] | Down London Road 4/5 | Before Jamaica Lane 5/5 | [On Castle Hill 4/5] | Fall from India Place 4/5 | Echoes of Scotland Street 5/5 | Moonlight on Nightingale Way 5/5

overall

These books definitely got better as the series progressed. If you don’t like On Dublin Street, I encourage you not to give up on the series until you read another novel in the series. They get shorter but also better because you get more involved in all the characters lives. Each character is different and I find all their respective stories are different as well. A great contemporary romance series that I finally understand what all the fuss is about.

Read if You Like: adult contemporary, complicated characters, Scotland
Avoid if You: dislike longer romance novels

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Series Review: Grayson Siblings by Faith Andrews

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 Keep Me (from Goodreads):

Sexy, tatted up, underwear model Marcus Grayson is every girl’s dream—or more likely worst nightmare. He’s a player, a self-proclaimed bachelor for life, and he’s got no problem living up to his man-whore status. But when his older sister’s friend comes back from the past, he may just have the chance to turn some of his adolescent fantasies into reality.

Tessa Bradley is a self-sufficient, take-no-bull, single mother—well, now she is. Finally rid of her abusive, alcoholic ex, she’s making a new life for herself and catching up with old friends; the ones she was forced to break ties with because of her controlling husband. When she runs into Marcus, her friend Riley’s once-adorable turned smoking-hot little brother, she has no idea how he’s about to rock her world.

breakdown

Series: Grayson Siblings
Author: Faith Andrews
# of Books: 2 (Keep Me, Keep Her)
Book Order: Companion, Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary, Family
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

thoughts

Why I Picked This Up / My Expectations:

After reading a particularly slow young adult novel, I needed a lighter book to read  and decided to read Keep Me. Ever since I bought it, the plot synopsis had been stuck in the back of my mind so it was the first book that I thought to read.

My Review:

It was just what I needed when all was said and done. It was a cute romance with an interesting spin on what I have seen in the past. Instead of a younger sister crushing on her BFF’s older brother we get a reversal with the younger brother falling for his older sister’s BFF. It was a lot of fun to watch and I love the subplot romance we get introduced to (and later becomes the focus of the companion novel Keep Her).

I really enjoyed reading Keep Me. It kept my attention and I had fun reading it. There is a lot going on in their lives so I found that helped keep things moving. However, I wish the romance was elaborated more. It seemed like there was a lot of talking saying how Marcus always wanted her but all they seemed to do was have sex constantly with each other. I wanted to see more banter and sexual tension leading up to them sleeping together because I truly liked the two of them together. It was just lacking that something to make me give it that full 4 stars.

That’s where Keep Her succeeds more in my opinion. It’s a companion novel in the sense that a majority of the book takes place during the events of Keep Me but instead focuses on Marcus’ sister instead. But I liked that we got more interaction between her and her love interest: you get to see the connection between them forming more than in Keep Me and their relationship isn’t just based on sex. I also felt like their characters were better developed overall.

Until about 75% through Keep Her, I was fully going to give it a 4/5 and mark it off as my favourite of the series. But within the last quarter of the book, it got a little too soap-opera-ry for me. I understand why it was added–there were a few loose ends to tie up–but it was just a little too much for me; especially when it felt like we were getting our resolution to everything. A little over the top if you ask me but not as elaborate as I have read in some books.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Keep Me 3.5/5 | Keep Her 3.5/5

overall

These books reminded me of a New Adult version of the Darcy and Rachel Series (aka Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin). Similar setup in the sense that it revolves around a group of four friends and the romantic drama in their lives but with a young set of leads. Overall, these books are a sexier light read that fans of New Adult romances will enjoy.

Read if You Like: “off-limits” romance, new adult, drama
Avoid if You: want less sex

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