Tag «first love»

Fresh Fridays: Pretending Not to Love You (Hazel Pathway #1) by M S Larson

Fresh Fridays: Pretending Not to Love You (Hazel Pathway #1) by M S Larson

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

Hazel Pathway Series

Other books planned to be in the series:


Synopsis for Pretending Not to Love You (from Goodreads):

It’s my first day at a new high school and I inadvertently become one of the most popular girls at Glass Hill High. The girls want to be my best friend, and the guys want to date me. The only guy I have eyes for is Alex Williams, but he’s determined to set me up with his best friend and star wide receiver, Chase.

I’ve been spurned by my ex-girlfriend. She dated me to get to my best friend, Chase, who most of the girls are in love with at Glass Hill High. Now I’m gun shy about dating any girl because I’m afraid they’d just want me to get to Chase. Raine is no exception. When she claps eyes on him on the first day of school, she’s going to fall madly in love, so it’s better that I protect my heart. I’m going to hook Raine up with Chase and pretend that I’m happy for the both of them. Only the more time I spend with her, I can’t help but fall deeply in love with her. And the situation is affecting my relationship with everyone around me, including Raine and Chase.

Will Alex let go of his past and pursue Raine?


Series: Hazel Pathway
Author: M S Larson
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books are planned
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you M S Larson!


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I wanted to read and review Pretending Not to Love You I thought the premise was super charming. I’m a sucker for “forbidden” love in whatever form it comes in so the idea of falling for your BFF’s (maybe) girlfriend had me intrigued.

What I Liked:

–Instant Chemistry–

I enjoyed the tension between Raine and Alex because it was so obvious they had instant chemistry from the moment they met but neither was sure what to do about it. I could really see why these two would fall for each other.

–Positive Parental Relationships–

I find we don’t see a lot of positive parental influences in YA so it always notable for me when I came across that.

Both Alex and Raine talked to their parents about their problems and feelings. And their parents were in positive, healthy relationships as well.

–Girls Supporting Girls–

While Raine does have a rival of sorts in Mary I liked that they were never overly petty about it. And Raine was great about helping out other girls to find their inner confidence in themselves.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Too Much Dialogue–

The flow seemed to be dampened for me because there seemed to be an excess amount of dialogue. Don’t get me wrong: it was great to see these two talk things out, but most of the chapters were dialogue. More inner monologues or summary paragraphs would help keep things moving smoothly I think.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am really excited for the next book! I liked the little hints we got here about what could happen next.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Pretending Not to Love You 3.5/5 | Want You to Love Me TBP | Book 3 TBP | Book 4 TBP


I think with a little more polish (which will come with writing more books) this would be a fantastic read. I’m excited to see what will happen next in this series!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, first loves
Avoid if You: want a darker story, want more angst


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Single Sundays: The Lies We Tell by Brittany Butler

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 Lies We Tell (from Goodreads):

Natalie Conner is a self-proclaimed liar who is used to doing what she wants. There’s only one problem: the truth always comes to light.

When issues arise in her new life, she finds herself back at square one and the web of lies she clings to are unveiling before her. With her life now revolving around the past, she has a choice to make. However, for Natalie, when her life starts to spiral out of control, a new life and a new web of lies have never sounded so good.

Natalie Conner might be a liar, but her story isn’t one she can make up.


Author: Brittany Butler
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

What I liked about the Brittany Butler’s work is that it has different take on the contemporary romance novel. It isn’t always sunshine and rainbows; rather, you get the grittiness of everyday life and the complications of genuine people.

The Plot:

For me, this is one of those novels that I didn’t really get until the end. What I mean by that is that I didn’t understand the bigger picture/the purpose of this story until I read that epilogue.

I don’t think it helped that I had completely different expectations for this novel. I went in thinking it was going to be a story laced with deception and callous motives but that was far from the truth. Instead, this story focuses on the little lies we tell ourselves to get through life and how telling them (or by omitting them) we create bigger problems for ourselves in the end.

The Characters:

I struggled with Natalie’s character at the start of the novel (she is one jaded girl and it can be hard to read such a negative headspace). She’s a little wish-washy and hard to read at times but these are the characters that have the best opportunities for growth and she certainly did. I was pleased with her evolution by the end of the story.

The Romance:

I don’t want to give much away by getting into details. The romance plays a big role in the story in the sense that it is the starting point that everything builds off of. I’ll just finish off by saying that this novel really explores that not so pretty side of love; the more realistic side that is often overlooked in other contemporary romance novels and I enjoyed divining into that aspect a lot.


My Rating: 3/5


This novel would be perfect for fans of Emily Giffin because it has that same realistic, everyday grittiness to it as you explore the not always happy side of relationships and life.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, adult contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike jaded heroines

  • Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
  • Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood Series #4)


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Series Review: Reverie by Monica Murphy

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


Synopsis for His Reverie (from Goodreads):

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (His Reverie, Her Destiny)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read pretty much anything by Monica Murphy so it’s no surprise that I had the first book sitting on my Kobo shortly after its release. And like many books I own, I don’t get around to them until years later (thought it’s no fault of their own).

I was eager to start this forbidden “New Adult” love story and I made sure to pick up the sequel from my library as my card was expiring to binge read the series.

The Concept:

First and foremost, I would classify this story as Young Adult and not necessarily “New Adult”. To me, “New Adult” stories take place the summer after high school to the first year after graduating college. These characters are still in high school and to me, it reads like your more dramatic YA contemporaries.

One thing I enjoyed about His Reverie is that it is mostly told through Nick’s POV with the occasional diary entry from Reverie along the way. It’s not often that you get a romance novel told solely (or close to) from the male POV so I enjoyed that fresh take.

The Plot:

This story centers itself on a very dramatic first love. Monica Murphy has a knack for writing dramatic YA and it definitely shows in this series. It reads almost like a soap opera but the characters are pretty grounded so it isn’t as over the top as you expect.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Nick is trying to do his best given the crappy hand life has dealt him but his heart is in the right place. You really want to root for him after all the stuff he has gone through.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure about Reverie at the start. I’m not always the biggest fan of the “innocent” heroine and their accompanying naivety but she really grew on me as the series progressed. I think she has the best character development in the series of the two.

The Romance:

If you enjoy stories about all consuming first loves, this is one for you! I thought these two were cute together but I needed to see more substance to their relationship. To me, they are in lust not love for a majority of His Reverie. It’s a very insta-love connection, one that is mostly based in attractiveness and this unspoken connection. Later on in the book it is implied that they talk and bond over other things but I felt like their feelings developed much too fast for me to be completely convinced it’s true love.

Series Rating: 3/5

His Reverie 3/5 | Her Destiny 3/5


If you like lots of drama in your YA contemporaries and stories about first loves, this is a great (and shorter) series to pick up!

Read if You Like: stories about first love, lots of drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: dislike lots of drama


readingchallenges   2018 Take Control

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Movie Mondays: Everything, Everything

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 edition’s offering:

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Book: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015) | Movie: Everything, Everything (2017)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


I’ve seen this book on countless blogs over the years and so it inevitably made it onto my TBR. I really wasn’t sure what to expect; I’m not a big YA contemporary fan and this looked like it could be an angsty romance depending on the way it was spun. But, as a healthcare worker, I was super interested in the SCID aspect so I went in optimistically.

I almost read this as an audiobook but I either read somewhere that there were illustrations or I previewed the novel and saw them. Anyways, I’m really glad I read this as a novel but I’m sure this would be a great audiobook because Maddy is a great narrator.

Which is why I gave this book a 5/5 on Goodreads though I would give the overall plot a 4/5. I loved Maddy’s energy. She was so endearing as a narrator to me and I immediately got sucked into her story. I truly had a hard time putting it down and it’s one of the only books in recent memory where I read it in one sitting.

I would give the overall plot a lower score just because it does stretch the realism of the situation a bit. But as I always say, let fiction be fiction and I knew I wasn’t reading it for realism. The situations and circumstances work well for this story in terms of entertainment and conveying the message that only you can determine what it means to live your life.


Don’t go into this expecting some super realistic book about a girl with an immune disorder nor expect a novel that delves deep into situations. This is really about a girl defining what it means to live her life and the joys of first love. It’s definitely a lighter, mostly romantic, YA contemporary.

Rating: 4.5/5

Note: Do NOT watch the movie trailer if you plan on reading the book. As someone told me on Twitter, it kinda gives away the plot twist of the story (and it’s a really good twist that you likely won’t see coming otherwise). My review below does not contain any spoilers.

Were My Expectations Met?

Yes, I’d say they were. The movie captured the light, feel good vibe of the novel. I was smiling like an idiot (on the airplane no less) as I watched Olly and Maddy interact and fall in love. Gah, it was so adorable!

How Close is it to the Book?

Fairly close though the “main twist” had a different way of delivering itself in the movie. I think given the length of the movie that the approach worked well so I understand why the change was made. But the backbone of the novel is in the movie and it’s a very close adaptation when all is said and done.

Did I Like the Cast?

YES! I thought the movie was cast perfectly. Everyone was great in their roles, particularly Maddy and Olly. They just had fantastic chemistry and truly captured the charm of their characters on the big screen.

thewinneris winbook

The movie is great! Don’t get me wrong! But I just loved the book and how charming it was to me.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Everything, Everything (from Goodreads):

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


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Single Sundays: Halo by R C Stephens

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 Halo (from Goodreads):
I fell in love with Thomas Wells and knew he was my forever.
I was sixteen when I gave him my heart.
Our love was the kind to last a lifetime.

But Thomas was broken.
The first day we met he told me he was going to become a Navy SEAL.
At nineteen he enlisted.
At twenty he married me.
At twenty five he left me pregnant and didn’t turn back.
I knew he was suffering….
I also knew I couldn’t save him.
He left me broken.
I was scared and alone.
Until I met Ryder St. John a wounded soldier…
He was lost.
I was lost.
Together we made sense.
I fell in love again…
What Ryder forgot to mention was that he held a secret so explosive that it could shatter both our worlds.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: R C Stephens
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Military
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source & Format: Read It, Review It (New Adult Book Club)–eARC



Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While this novel looked like it could have a love triangle, I really, really wanted to know what the ” secret so explosive ” was. Plus, I’m a sucker for military heroes in my novels. If I need a good mini-cry, those heroes always get me.

I didn’t know that R C Stephens was Canadian so that also swayed my decision. I love supporting my fellow Canadians <3

New Adult or Adult:

I heard about this book in a New Adult Book Club. But after reading it, I felt more comfortable labelling it as an Adult Contemporary Romance. Primarily because the lead characters are 25+ which is that cut off for me, especially if they aren’t in a “college” setting and are living in “the real world”.

However, it almost reads like a NA read so it’s one of those bridging reads that straddles the line in between.

The Plot:

This story is told through a series of past and present chapters, which is a brilliant way to execute this story. The story builds as you go and you start to put all the pieces together. And even then, I didn’t see the reveal coming at all–which is fabulous! Major bonus points for me for that!

However, this story seemed a little lop-sided as a whole. I felt like so much of the time was used to build up the relationships–which you have to for sure–but that it lacked a little more “drama” post-reveal.  Not that the ending was rushed by any means; it’s just that it could have been flushed out a tad more I think. There was definitely a lot you could do with that reveal and I felt like it never truly reached its potential in that respect.

The Characters:

I really liked Halo. She’s a strong girl but she has her weaknesses too. While she is raised on a pedestal by the guys and her family, she does have her flaws and personal struggles that she has to endure. She was a much more rounded character than I expected going into this story.

Thomas and Ryder irked me a little with their constant high praise of Halo (like I said, she’s on a pedestal) but I liked that they too had developed personalities and growth.

The Romance:

The flashbacks of Thomas and Halo in high school are sickeningly sweet; you know that couple that just sees nothing past their love? It leads to very long “sexy time” scenes which I wasn’t totally expecting. So that particular aspect I wasn’t a fan.

But what I did like is how they loved and supported each other through all their difficult times. In my books, I love seeing romantic leads that are partners in life and that definitely shows at times in this novel.

My Rating: 4/5


I really enjoyed this novel! Once the “secret” was revealed, I had a hard time putting this one down. It’s just a solid romance that makes you believe in the power of love.

Read if You Like: military heroes, big twists
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries romances


  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Out of Time by Jen McLaughlin (Out of Time Series #1)
  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick
  • Trapped by Beverley Kendall (Trapped Series #1)

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Series Review: Find You in the Dark by A. Meredith Walters

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 Find You in the Dark (from Goodreads):
How do you keep going when you feel like your life is over?

Maggie never thought she’d see Clay again. So, she attempts to put her life back together after her heart has been shattered to pieces. Moving on and moving forward, just as Clay wanted her to.

Clay never stopped thinking of Maggie. Even after ripping their lives apart and leaving her behind to get the help he so desperately needed. He is healing…slowly. But his heart still belongs to the girl who tried to save him.

When a sudden tragedy brings Maggie and Clay face to face again, nothing is the same. Yet some things never change. Can the darkness that threatened to consume them be transformed into something else and finally give them what they always wanted? And can two people who fought so hard to be together, finally find their happiness? Or will their demons and fear drive them apart for good?

The thing about love, is even when it destroys you, it has a way of mending what is broken. And in the shadows, you can still see the light.


Series: Find You in the Dark
Author: A Meredith Walters
# of Books: 2 (Find You in the Dark; Light in the Shadows)

There are two novellas: Cloud Walking (#1.5); Warmth in Ice (#2.5)

Book Order: Chronological

Cloud Walking (#1.5) is a connected story

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2012 – March 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook


Disclaimer: I stopped reading Light in the Shadows (Book 2) at 55%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t remember how I came across this series. I think Kobo recommended it to me and I had seen it on a few blogs.

What grabbed my attention was the focus on mental health. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am a huge supporter of mental health initiatives and I love books that explore situations dealing with mental illness and the consequences of it going untreated.

So, I was looking forward to seeing how a high school romance would handle mental illness and I wanted it to be done in a thought provoking way.

The Plot:

I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember too much about the plot of Find You in the Dark (FYITD). I read it in November of 2013 and didn’t pick up the sequel, Light in the Shadows (LITS), until November 2016 for my Rock My TBR Challenge. I had tried to read LITS after finishing FYITD but just couldn’t get into it…

I do remember that I enjoyed the mental health aspect of the story in FYITD. It’s handled in a great way and in a way that is pretty realistic. It tugs on your heartstrings; making you empathetic to the situation at hand.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the plot of LITS. It was a lot of mooning and just didn’t seem to be going anywhere to me. It was just so boring even if I could appreciate what was attempting to be done. So I had to DNF it at 55% and I haven’t regretted it once.

The Characters:

When I composed my draft to write this series review in November 2013, all I wrote about the characters was:

“hard to like Maggie at times”

While I could sympathize with Clay’s situation (Walters does a great job at that I think), I didn’t really like Maggie at all. Over time, I’ve developed less tolerance for high schooler actions and I think that is what happened here. She just made decisions and thought in a way that I didn’t like or agree with. So that made it hard to me to want to root for this couple at times.

The start of LITS seemed promising in term of Maggie’s character development, but I felt like nothing really happened with her. I would have liked her going to some therapy sessions as well–especially with everyhting that happens in  FYITD.

The Romance:

The romance in FYITD was one of those all-consuming teenaged romances. And it has to be for this story to work.

But overall in the series, it becomes one of those romances that asks the question: can love truly heal? And I liked how the book when about it in theory, and for the most part, in its execution. I think I’m just past the stage of enjoying high school romances that can be a little over dramatic and so it didn’t really work for me.

Novella–Cloud Walking:

This was really cute and probably something most readers of FYITD will enjoy. It isn’t necessary to read it but it does provide that little extra backstory to events that happen with some side characters in FYITD.

Series Rating: DNF

Find You in the Dark 4/5 | [Cloud Walking] 3/5 | Light in the Shadows DNF’d | [Warmth in Ice] N/A


This is one of those “great concepts; poor execution books” for me. Walters hits the mark right on the head with the mental health aspect. Probably one of the best I’ve ever encountered. It really just was the characters that fell flat for me. They bored me and I found it hard to root for them.

Read if You Like: mental health focused stories; realistic contemporaries
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy high school aged characters



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Series Review: Starcrossed by Leisa Rayven

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

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven | Starcrossed Series

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav Read 2015, Must Read Author, Fav Read 2016
Series: Starcrossed
Author: Leisa Rayven
# of Books: 3 (Bad Romeo, Broken Juliet, Wicked Heart)

There are a few short stories. See the full reading list here.

Book Order: Chronological; Wicked Heart is Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Second Chances, New Adult, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–hardcover, eBook; Wicked Hearts – NetGalley eARC


This review was original published as a Fresh Friday feature and has seen been updated to a full Series Review.

I read anything with a hint of Shakespeare so it’s no surprise I picked up this book given its title. I can’t remember how I learned of its existence but when I did, I added it to my hold-list at the library. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book–I’m not the biggest fan of second chance romances–but when I actually had it in my hands and saw that 3 of my favourite authors had given it high praise, I was really excited to read it.

When I was reading this book, I had to read another book at the same time so I budgeted to read this book over a few days, just a little bit at a time. That was hard to stick to because I really got into this story (as well as the other book I was reading!)! I love enemy-to-lover storylines and it has been so long since I read one that I instantly fell for this one. It also doesn’t hurt that Cassie is a funny heroine and Ethan is a suave jackass (my favourite hero characteristic). That made reading this book so easy and fun!

I think my favourite part about this book is that it has two congruent storylines: Cassie and Ethan’s past plus Cassie and Ethan’s present. It was almost like reading two stories at once, one that is a contemporary adult romance (the present) and a new adult romance (the past). When you read the present, you are trying to figure out what exactly Ethan did to break Cassie’s heart and you hate him a bit for making her feel that way. BUT at the same time, you watch them fall in love in the past and you can’t help but root for them in the present. It really kept me on my toes trying to get to the bottom of their “torrid” affair and I enjoyed every minute of it!

What I loved about the romance was all the sexual tension. I adore sexual tension in my novels and Bad Romeo had it in buckets. It’s far from erotica–meaning there aren’t copious amounts of sex scenes–but there are a lot of foreplay (that’s the best word I can come up with besides “heavy make out scenes”) scenes which I thought was really great because you actually got to see their emotional relationship together and not just their physical attraction.

As for the Shakespeare element, it isn’t overly in your face besides them acting in the play. I’m sure there are some parallel connections but it isn’t a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in anyway–so if that was turning you off of reading this, please think about reading it again!

I was kinda hoping Broken Juliet was going to be an alternate POV retelling when I picked up Bad Romeo but it is a continuation of the story. I’m glad it is the conclusion because I would hate to see this story dragged out! I’m really looking forward to getting some closure with these two and seeing what is in store for them in the next novel.


–August 5, 2015– Book 2: Broken Juliet

I simply could not put down this book! It  was intense, romantic and had such a great pacing to it! I loved the focus on the relationship and how it promoted healthy relationships and communication in those relationships. I really thought I would get bored and feel like the story was dragged out considering this is a sequel in a second chance romance. SO NOT THE CASE!

Leisa Rayven has done a superb job writing this novel! If this book had been written with the past in one whole book and the present in the sequel, this series would have lost me. But because we get these two stories simultaneously, it just hooks you in! You root for these characters, you want to slap these characters and you fall in love with this characters. I was just as engrossed in their present story as I was their past and that is what gives makes it a 5 star read for me!

I’m soooooooooooooooooo stoked for the new book in the series, Wicked Heart! I thought this series was going to be a duology (which it is in terms for Ethan and Cassie’s story) but I can’t wait to read Elissa’s story! Gah!

–April 16, 2016– Book 3: Wicked Heart


You have no idea how excited I was when Wicked Heart was uploaded to NetGalley–and you can’t even imagine how ecstatic I was when my wish was granted to read it! I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time and I had high expectations and guess what:

This book was AMAZING!

I was really looking forward to Elissa’s story and I was not disappointed! It was funny, amazingly sweet, had tons of palpable sexual tension with just the right amount of angst and it was very, very addicting. I easily could have finished this book in one sitting but ya know, I had to study for exams.

I’m not normally a fan of second chance romances but Leisa Rayven writes ones that make me a believer and a fan. This book follows a similar set-up to the previous books but definitely has its own unique charms and features to set itself apart. It had me laughing one minute, crying the next and squealing in delight. I was easily won over by Elissa and Liam.

In short: this book was contemporary romance perfection and a must read!

Series Rating: 5/5

Bad Romeo 4.5/5 | Broken Juliet 5/5 | Wicked Heart 5/5


If you like books with a dash of humour and loads of sexual tension, this IS the series for you! It reads like a Christina Lauren novel but with less emphasis on sex and more on the connection and relationship between the two leads (though there are definitely enough romantic scenes 😉 ). Even if you don’t like Shakespeare but love contemporary romances, this is great! One of my all-time favourites!

Read if You Like: relationship-focused romances, passion, second chance romances
Avoid if You: don’t like flashbacks, want more than a relationship focused plot


Synopsis for Bad Romeo (from Goodreads):
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan’s romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they’re forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they’ll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks.




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Series Review: Marked Men by Jay Crownover

Series Review: Marked Men by Jay Crownover

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

book book book6


Synopsis for Rule (from Goodreads):

Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want—and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, Sad to See Go (2015), Best New Adult
Series: Marked Men Series

There are two spin-off series: Saints of Denver & The Forever Marked

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 6  (Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological

Note: You can read each book as a standalone but they all follow a chronological order of events that may spoil an earlier story if you choose to read a later book first.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Bad Boys, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2012 – April 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook & Paperback


**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The Marked Men series is a review blog fan-favourite. Whenever I browse a New Adult fan list, some character or book from this series graces the list. So, I decided to bite the bullet and take a chance with this series despite my hesitation after reading the synopsis for Rule.

My Review:

I was hesitant to read Rule for two reasons: one was that the synopsis gave me the impression Shaw was going to be an airhead (not sure why when I reread it) and two was the fact that Shaw was Rule’s “dead twin brother’s girl”. I’m not a fan of reading stories where one person is unfaithful or there are love triangles; so when I read this line and the line that Shaw has “loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him” I winkled my nose in distaste thinking if she was his twin’s girlfriend, why did she love Rule?

I should have known that there was more to this book than the synopsis. Because the truth of the matter is: this book wasn’t what my first assumptions were–AT ALL! I actually really enjoyed Ruleone of the best New Adult stories I have read in a while in all honesty!

Shaw was a great, strong character and nothing like I assumed she would be; Rule was just plain awesome and together I really could see how they worked. The plot was also unexpected and a lot more suspenseful than I anticipated despite the fact that certain aspects were rather predictable. Regardless of its predictability, I still had a lot of fun reading it and it managed to capture my attention from start to finish.

I was super excited to read Jet simply based on the small taste we get of the leads in Rule. However, when I finally did read it, I felt like something was missing. I felt like there was more focus on their personal individual lives than there was with them as a couple; which was totally fine but not what I was really expecting when I picked up the book. I guess their relationship wasn’t as apparent to me as it was with Rule and Shaw and I just needed that little bit more.  I also felt like this book was acting as a bridge for the rest of the books in the series because we learn more about each of the Marked Men and their histories so it made me really excited to read the rest of the series. So while Jet was a good follow-up, it just wasn’t entirely what I was expecting so I gave it a lower individual rating than I thought I would.

Rome was more on par with what Rule was to me. I laughed, I cried and smiled to myself throughout the whole book. I really felt the relationship with this couple more so than in Jet. There was a good balance between them working on their relationship as a couple and them working on their individual lives. I would say it is my favourite of the series. It also served as the perfect segue to Nash which I immediately picked up after finishing Rome despite exams and a mountain of library books.

Nash was super cute and everything I thought it would be. It was a great blend of character growth and romance and also has a awesome message/theme about self-esteem which I really appreciate. And, no surprise, it made me super excited to read Rowdy.

Rowdy was everything I thought it was going to be though I didn’t find it as addicting as I expected it to be (though I did read it really fast!). I think it was because this couple has a strong history between them so everything felt like it was already established between them. But I still thought it was super cute and I liked the more dramatic/suspenseful elements featured in this novel.

Asa is going to be the last novel of the Marked Men series which makes me sad despite being super, super excited for this novel. I feel like this story has been building since Jet so I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

Future Spin-offs:

My understanding from reading Jay Crownover’s website is that she is planning a similar spin-off series that is set in the Marked Men universe but doesn’t directly involve the cast we see here. One character who makes a very brief appearance in this series is already slated to get a book. I’m hoping that two characters that I would love to see get a book but I guess we will have to wait and see what is in store!

Read my review of the spin-off: Saints of Denver


–June 2, 2015– Book #6: Asa

I finally grabbed a copy of Asa and while I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped, it was still a very solid novel. As I said earlier, Asa’s story has been building since Book 2 and it was nice to finally have it all wrapped up. It definitely picked up near the end in terms of plotline and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Asa was a great way to wrap up this series but also get you excited for the spin-off series. I already have a few ideas about who the next set of leads will be but I definitely expect to be surprised with some things!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Rule 4/5 | Jet 3.5/5 | Rome 5/5 | Nash 4/5 | Rowdy 4/5 | Asa 4/5


I’ve really enjoyed reading this series because it is so addicting and fun and just really well done! If you like tattooed swoon-worthy heroes and strong independent heroines this is a great series to read!


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Novella Serial Review: The Inheritance by Olivia Mayfield

Serial Saturdays: On Saturdays, I review serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Series: The Inheritance
Author: Olivia Mayfield
# of Parts: 6
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Chick Lit, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm (not a lot of sexual content but it is rather descriptive)
Point of View: Third Person


I randomly stumbled across this serial at my public library when browsing the newly added eBooks. I think at one point, I came across this book as a freebie on Amazon because the plot sounded extremely familiar to me when I read it  (but I opted not to download it because it was a serial series). However, my library had the complete novel available to borrow so I decided that I might as well grab it.

I don’t read a lot of contemporary mystery novels. In theory I should because I love puzzles, Clue is my all-time favourite board game and I just love the movies that require you to piece together clues to understand what is happening. But when it comes to reading, I prefer my suspense to come from drama and family secrets. This book has a mixture of both because the mystery focuses on family drama that is the result of a crime so I liked that it blended together. It managed to keep my attention and even when I wasn’t reading it I was trying to put the clues together.

I think like most serialized series, this series suffers from lack of character development. I didn’t really get attached to any of the characters and I didn’t love Maggie. I think part of the reason is the third person narration but from a technical aspect I understand why mystery novels are written in third person. But most of the characters are your cookie-cutter mystery characters so nothing felt wholly original to me.

As for the mystery, I was expecting something a little more complicated as the solution to be honesty. However, I didn’t fully figure out the solution until shortly before the big reveals so I liked that.


It was a cute read and it made for a good way to pass the time. Not the greatest story ever told but it was interesting and managed to keep my attention throughout. Don’t expect the romance aspect to be the main focus here; this book is primarily a contemporary mystery with a dash of romance on the side.

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

Similar Reads: His Wicked Games by Ember Casey (His Wicked Games Series #1) and Juliet by Anne Fortier

Synopsis for The Inheritance: The Complete Novel (from Goodreads):

Olivia Mayfield’s thrilling and sexy novel about seductive money, deadly secrets, and fatal attractions—available in one complete edition!

Maggie Willings knew that returning home for her estranged grandfather’s funeral would not be easy, but she never expected the reading of his will to be the most difficult part. It turns out her grandfather named four people beneficiaries to his vast estate—Maggie, her brother Robert, her ex-boyfriend Andrew, and her grandfather’s far-too-young girlfriend Bethany. But only one of them will win his millions: whoever finds out the truth about what happened to Maggie’s younger sister Cassandra, who vanished over eight years ago.

As her grandfather’s strange challenge pits Maggie against those nearest to her, she’s reluctant to drag up painful memories of her sister and distracted by a lingering attraction to Andrew. But as she delves deeper into her sister’s mysterious vanishing, she begins to discover that each of the contestants has dangerous secrets to hide—and with ten million dollars on the line, no one, not even those she loves most, can be trusted…

Single Sundays: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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 Thirteen Reasons Why (from Goodreads):
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.


This book is one of those books that always graces “Must Read Teen” Lists and while I maybe 7 years late to the party, I have to agree whole-heartedly. Everyone should read this book--not just teens– because it has a strong message that everyone needs to know: our actions, even the really small ones, can drastically impact another person’s life and we may not even know it.

I think anyone at any age can relate in some way to this story. It takes place in a high school but the scenarios we read about can really take place at work or in the neighbourhood or basically any place in society. I had tears in my eyes at multiple times and I cringed at some of the scenarios Hannah had to endure. I actually felt like I was Clay, reading about a classmate of mine because I could see how true this story could be and that really upset me. It is a very real story with real, everyday scenarios and that often makes this book hard to read–but that’s the point. This isn’t a subject to joke about and society needs to remove that stigma against mental health illnesses and bullying so that this book doesn’t become an everyday reality.

This book makes you think. It makes you think about how you treat others, how you react to rumours and how you lead your life. But it also made me appreciate all the people I have in my life and how thankful I am for the support system I have. I know a lot of people don’t have that support system and feel alone but I think the other important, often overlooked, message of this story is that you a not alone. There is always someone who loves you. They may not always be prominent, they maybe hidden in the background like Clay, but there is someone who cares for you and wants to be there for you so you are never alone.

This book is beautifully written and the delivery is fantastic. It grabbed my attention and held onto it throughout the entire novel. It was just very well done and it has been a very long time since a book has impressed me as much as this one has.


This book will draw every emotion from you and really make you think about who you are as a person. This isn’t a novel for just teens, it’s a novel for a human beings.

Rating: 5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: HELL YES! I would recommend this to everyone!

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health, Mature Subject Mature, Death High School 
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Reads 2014, Everyone Must Read
Similar Reads: You Against Me by Jenny Downham, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and Stolenby Lucy Christopher