Tag «First Person POV: Multiple»

Series Review: Retrieval by Aly Martinez

Series Review: Retrieval by Aly Martinez

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 Retrieval (from Goodreads):

One story. Two couples.

I proposed on our first date.
She laughed and told me I was insane. Less than a day later, she said yes.
It was a whirlwind, but we were happy…
Until we got greedy and wanted a family.

It was a life I couldn’t give her, not for lack of trying. Fertility just wasn’t on our side. We sought out doctors and treatments. Spent money we didn’t have. Lied to our families. Smiled for our friends. Put on a brave face for a world that didn’t understand.
Finally, we were successful…
Until we were forced to bury our son.

We were left broken, battered, and destroyed.
They say love is in the details, but it was the details that ruined us.

This is the story of how I took back what had always been mine.
The retrieval of my wife and our family.

breakdown

Series: Retrieval Duet
Author: Aly Martinez
# of Books: 2 (Series Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Second Chance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: September 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Retrieval as a freebie from one of the book deal emails I subscribe to. What drew me into it was the fact that this couple struggled with fertility–a topic that isn’t always covered in romances (or at least the ones I read). It didn’t sound like your everyday second chance romance and I was excited to read it.

The Concept:

The following line from the synopsis is key:

One story. Two couples.

You’re not just getting Elisabeth and Roman’s story and it’s important to remember that. Everything gets clearer the further into the story you are.

The Plot:

The plot completely surprised me. It went in a direction I didn’t expect–and I loved the suspense that brought out! I’ll admit, it is a little confusing as the start, trying to figure out how it all connects; but like I said above, the further you read, the more it makes sense.

However, the dramatic moments are broken up by the romance and sometimes I felt like it stifled the movement of the plot. This was particularly the case in book #2 Transfer. The pacing was off a bit for me there and I got a little bored of the repetitive scenes.

The Characters:

All the characters are well developed and likeable. I was immediately drawn into their stories and histories. Because we hop around between the characters I was impressed by how fleshed out they were.

But, I do have a little rant for something Roman did in Retrieval:

Spoiler for Retrieval about Roman

When Roman goes to convince Clare that he is there to help her (knowing full well that she is likely abused by her husband), he forcefully grabs her. Why would you do that to a woman you know is abused? Do you think frightening her will bend her to your will? Why should she trust someone who does exactly what her husband does? This irked me to no end when it happened. He is a little too brash for my tastes.

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The Romance:

Surprisingly, this isn’t as important as I expected it to be. The romances are great don’t get me wrong and they do their job to enhance the story when needed.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Retrieval 4/5 | Transfer 3/5

overall

This isn’t your everyday second chance romance. It has a suspense edge to it with some great twists that will suck you in!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike suspense

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Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

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 American Queen (from Goodreads):

Warned as a girl to keep her kisses to herself, Greer Galloway disobeys twice–once on her sixteenth birthday as she’s kneeling in a pool of broken glass, and another time after a charming stranger named Embry Moore whisks her into the dazzling Chicago night. Both times she falls in love, and both times her heart is broken beyond repair. And so as an adult, she vows never to kiss–or to love again.

That’s until the Vice President of the United States shows up at the university where she teaches, and asks for one thing: for her to meet with the hero-turned-President Maxen Colchester. Maxen, the soldier who was her first kiss in that pool of broken glass.

And the other complication? The Vice President is none other than charming Embry Moore himself.

Soon, Greer finds herself caught between past and present, pleasure and pain–and two men who long for each other as much as they long for her. And as war and betrayal press ever closer, they tumble headlong into a passionate love affair that will change the world…

From the USA Today bestselling author of Priest comes a contemporary reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot–elegant, carnal, and unforgettable.

breakdown

Series: New Camelot Trilogy
Author: Sierra Simone
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There are 2 novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Multiple (#2-3)
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#1-3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for anything with an Arthurian Legend twist (I even took the literature class in university) and when I saw that Sierra Simone–who co-wrote one of my favourite contemporary romances, Porn Star— was the author, I was very curious to see what modern spin she would put on arguably the most famous love triangle in history.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy non-vanilla romances, I’d avoid this one. It’s full of BDSM moments and kinky sex scenes. And while there is substance to the romance (as in it’s not just sex scene after sex scene though I’d say 70% of the books are dedicated to the deed), the sex scenes are quite detailed when they do appear and I just think it would make you uncomfortable.

But I mean, how great of an idea is it to make the classic love triangle a menage? It’s one of those true love triangle situations I rarely encounter in a novel/series and I was definitely on board for seeing how it would all work out.

As for the Arthurian Legend aspect, it’s one of those little hidden eggs you find along the way. And I don’t think most of it becomes apparent until you complete the trilogy and see the bigger picture. But I appreciated the modern spin (President instead of King, etc) though I wasn’t a fan of the creative license employed by the end.

The Plot:

I kept waiting for something to happen in American Queen; it just took a little too long to build for me. While I liked the flashbacks, I almost wonder if it would have been better to have all the past events thrown out at once and then jump to the present. (Perhaps have each book dedicated to a different time instead of a different character).

American Prince definitely amps up the suspense when it comes to the dramatic plot. And at times, I wished that would remain the focus. While I loved having a new perspective (Embry’s) I did get a little tired of all the passionate sex. I just found the scenes to be distracting and I’d often forget what important drama/twist/secret had just happened. It became especially hard since I was listening to the audiobook and we do jump a lot between the past and present. The situation was the same in the finale (American King) as well and I found myself getting pulled away from the plot.

The Characters:

I usually don’t enjoy the “Guinevere” character (only exception has ever been from the TV Series Merlin) and Greer was just ok for me. She’s a little wish-washy and part of that translates to her romances with the boys She’s just so non-confident in her everyday life but as soon as you dim the lights, she’s a confident submissive and they just didn’t seem to go hand and hand for me. Yes, all the power to her for owning her sexuality but I struggled to reconcile the two versions we see of her.

Embry and Ash served their roles well. It was nice for them to each get their own books to heighten their development. Otherwise, I would have wondered what the big deal was.

The Romance:

I was disappointed in this because everything seemed to instalove to me (with the exception of Ash and Embry’s relationship). But Greer’s love for the boys just seemed like some fixated school girl fantasy that she has lived in for so long that it comes across as superficial when she actually begins a relationship with the boys. I didn’t see this all-consuming, soul-deep connection they seemed to go on about.

I really adored Ash and Embry together though. I could see the passionate draw they had between them and that only strengthens as the series progresses. I could have just read a book about those two honestly and have been satisfied.

My Audiobook Experience:

Emotions are always more apparent to me when I listen to audiobooks and I think that helped bring these characters to life for me in a way that could understand their dilemmas and struggles.

That being said, I wish we had a second male narrator for Ash in book 3. It was weird to have the same voice for both Embry and Ash and when you stop suddenly in a chapter, it was hard to recognize who the POV was.

When to Read the Novellas:

I have yet to read them but both seem to be recommended for reading after you have finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: 3/5

American Queen 3/5 | American Prince 3/5 | American King 3/5

overall

If you are searching for a romance novel that works around a “true” love triangle and don’t mind the steamy scenes, pick this series up. But I think those who don’t enjoy erotica should stay far away, even if the Arthurian draw is there.

Read if You Like: erotica, menage romance, contemporary retellings
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM

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Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

Series Review: Fenbrook Academy by Helena Newbury

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dance for Me (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

There is a novella: #1.5 Losing My Balance

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept / The World:

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

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

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

Series Rating: 3/5

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

overall

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

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

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

 

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

Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tiny Pretty Things (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept / The World:

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

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

Series Rating: 5/5

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

overall

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

Read if You Like: ballet, diverse casts, suspense
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV, dislike darker YA
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Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

Single Sundays: Forget Me Not by Willow Winters

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Forget Me Not (from Goodreads):

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

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

Until I left him.

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

I’ve never felt such guilt in my life.

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

Twenty years later, all my wishes came true.

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

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

It’s dark and twisted.

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

A love story. Our love story.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Concept:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

When to Read the Prequel Novella, Something to Remember:

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

My Rating: 3/5

overall

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

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

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Blog Tour: Boyfriend Bargain by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Synopsis for Boyfriend Bargain (from Goodreads):
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills returns with an all-new swoon-fest of a novel about what happens when you take a chance on love.

Wanted: one hot guy with rock-hard abs and a big stick.

Broke and desperate, Sugar Ryan has no use for arrogant, bad boy athletes . . . until she’s forced to bargain with the cockiest of them all.

If only he knew she was alive.

Her mission? Get on this hockey player’s radar any way possible.

Zack Morgan is the king of the ice and the bedroom—but nothing prepares him for the mystery girl who shows up everywhere he does—frat parties, his favorite bar, and finally his front door with an offer he can’t refuse. The only rule in her boyfriend bargain: no falling in love.

But after one (um, two) smoking-hot hookups, he’s done with pretending and vows to make their fake relationship real. Too bad she can’t trust a player with a reputation for breaking hearts.

Will this hockey star score his forever girl or will their Boyfriend Bargain end in heartbreak?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Series: TBD
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
# of Books: 2
Book Order: Connected
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 5, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always eager for a new Ilsa Madden-Mills New Adult read but when I saw that her newest book featured two of my favourite tropes–hockey player and a fake relationship premise–I knew that this was going to be a read-ASAP type of book.

The Plot:

I thought that this book would be a little lighter than it was but I liked the tone it had. Both of our leads have their own struggles and I enjoyed watching them deal with them as they navigated their budding feelings.

In particular, I really appreciated and admired Zack’s mental health storyline. Anxiety in sports (not simply the pressure of doing the sport but how one’s personal mental health affects their playing) isn’t something I’ve really come across in the genre before. I loved how it was dealt with here and how it was one of the main focuses and not something mentioned in passing.

The Characters:

Like I said before, Zack and Sugar have their own issues which make them layered characters. I thought Zack had the strongest character story but Sugar definitely evolves as well throughout the story. It was great to see her come outside her comfort zone.

The Romance:

For me, I didn’t see the chemistry between these two right away. Zack borders on some insta-love I thought in the first bit and I wasn’t entirely convinced why. But by the mid-way point we watch them talk and share a little more so it helped me to see why they were a good pair. This is one of those times where the various dramatic stressors they undergo helped to cement why they work as partners.

Why I’m SO EXCITED There is a Sequel:

I LOVED some of the various side characters we met and there was an inkling of something between two particular characters that I can’t wait to get the full story on!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Boyfriend Bargain 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBR
overall
This is a solid contemporary romance and one that has a refreshing take on the genre!

Read if You Like: sports romances, new adult
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Single Sundays: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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 Wink Poppy Midnight (from Goodreads):

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

breakdown

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book seemed to be on a ton of lists in 2016 because I remember seeing it a lot. I’ll be the first to admit: I was drawn to the cover mostly–I love it so much!

I’ll also admit that I totally forgot about this book until I was browsing audiobooks to listen to last year.  I’m always up for a good mind-bending novel. You know, the ones that have this underlying mystery that changes your entire reading experience once it is revealed? I was eager to see what this one had in store.

The Concept / The World:

I’m going to quote the little blurb that is a part of the synopsis for the audiobook to give my thoughts on the concept/world of this novel.

The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the “supernatural or not” question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

I definitely did see the parallels to The Raven Boys Cycle with the setting. Wink’s connection to tarot cards and mysticism is very similar to Blue’s in The Raven Boys. (Only Wink is a lot odder than Blue). Add the aspects of school and I felt like I had returned to Blue’s world.

I’ve never read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (it’s another TBR item) but you do find yourself questioning if what is happening is supernatural or something else at play. It makes the story suspenseful in an intriguing sort of way.

The “no one is quite who you think” — yeah, that’s not really the case. Maybe because I read this line I knew that there was more to these characters than meets the eye. When you read something like that you try to put the pieces together. So while I wouldn’t say this is predictable, it is perhaps a touch cliche in its character twists.

The Plot:

I really struggled with the plot for this novel because I really don’t think there was one. Or at least, there wasn’t one that is apparent from the start. The whole idea of this book is to figure out how these characters’ stories are intertwined by listening to them tell their side of events. Which is fine, I just wanted a little more focus.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this story seemed a little aimless in its delivery to me. It reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys where there is something happening in terms of plot but you kinda just go through the motions of everyday life for 80% of the novel. That just bores me.

The Characters:

I didn’t particularly like any of these characters. You aren’t really supposed to like Poppy so job well done there. Wink I had a hard time figuring out–literally and figuratively–so I didn’t particularly love her character. And I just felt so bad for Midnight because he is so easy to manipulate and he doesn’t seem to have a backbone.

And going back to what I said above: they all seemed a little cliche to me. That is part of the point though and its how they contribute to the story but I think I just wanted a little more substance to them.

The Romance:

I think you can assume that there is a love triangle of sorts between Wink, Poppy and Midnight just by reading the synopsis. It contributes to the story but because I didn’t love any of the characters, I wasn’t really feeling the romance.

Audiobook Experience:

One of the main reasons I picked the audiobook version of this novel was the narrators. When I picked this one up, I was fairly new to the world of fiction audiobooks. See, I was curious if I would be thrown off by a novel that had narrators I had already listened to. Kinda like the phenomenon where you see an actor from one role in another and you can only see them as that first role (no matter what they do after).

In this novel, Midnight’s voice is done by Michael Crouch who was Simon in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Poppy is Caitlin Davies who was Kristen in None of the Above. Both were novels I read a few weeks before this one.

The good news is that it only took me a few chapters to get accustomed to the narration here and associating the voices with the characters. The audiobook is fantastic; truthfully, it is one of the reasons why I gave this book a 3 instead of a 2. All the narrators do a great job bringing these characters to life.

And Michael Crouch has easily become one of my favourite voice actors to listen too. He does a fabulous job and I’ll be looking for more novels by him in the future.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I spent 80% of this book trying to figure out what this novel was trying to achieve and I’m not sure the big “twist” was worth the time. The book is definitely unique in terms of its writing style and the audiobook is very well done but there isn’t enough here to really impress me.

Read if You Like: magical realism, intrigue
Avoid if You: want a stronger plot
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Series Review: Dirty by Ella Miles

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 Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Obsession (from Goodreads):

Arlo Carini saved my life, only to destroy it.

When I first met him, he was the wealthy, powerful, sexy stranger giving me and a dozen other art history students a tour of his mansion. But he soon became my everything.

My savior. My lover. My obsession.

He tried to warn me. Every chance he could, he tried to get me to run far, far away. But it only made my obsession grow stronger. Until I made the worst mistake I could. And ended up trapped forever.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Dirty
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Dirty Obsession, Dirty Addiction, Dirty Revenge)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Beginning included in Dirty Obsession

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple (Obsession); Alternating (Revenge)
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 – July 5, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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**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:

Ella Miles never fails to disappoint me when it comes to her books. I always think I’m going to get one story but I end up with another–one that never fails to entertain and surprise me.

I love a good dark romance and after reading the novella, Dirty Beginning, I was curious to see what was in story next for these characters.

What I Liked:

–Dark and Twisted–

This is probably one of the darkest romances I’ve ever read. It’s deliciously dark and twisted which means it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t enjoy dark erotic romances, don’t pick this up! But if you do, you are in for a treat!

This story did keep me on my toes. You always get the sense that there is more lurking underneath with all the characters involved and I loved the tension that brought to the story. I became a little obsessed (pun intended) trying to figure out what was happening and why. And the twists when everything is revealed (and how it ties back to the novella, Dirty Beginning): awesome.

–The Characters–

I really enjoyed the main characters we get to meet. You’ve got your very evil villain; the mysterious hero and a strong heroine. Nina is very likeable, more so in this book than in the novella I think. She has some solid character growth from start to end which I always appreciate!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Allusion to the “Game”–

I do wish the “game” was allude to more than it was throughout the novel. Just some little hints along the way would have been great. Even though the game is always afoot, I felt like we got a little too wrapped up in the sex scenes at times and I wanted a little more insight into the “why” of it all.

When to read the Prequel Novella: Dirty Beginning?

Definitely before you read Dirty Obsession! It gives you context for the first novel and introduces you to all the key players. You could get by without reading it but seeing as it is included in the Dirty Obsession, just read it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the next set of leads. I have a particular soft spot for our hero so I can’t wait for him to meet his match!

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–May 30, 2018– Book #2: Dirty Addiction

I couldn’t wait to see how these two would fall in love and what the consequences of it would be. But it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to see them as a couple chemistry wise.

I found for the first third or so of the novel, they didn’t interact all that much and if they did, it wasn’t always a positive experience, so I didn’t totally see the draw between them. I suppose the somewhat “forced” circumstances they find themselves in is part of the draw to the “dark” romance but I like those little moments of vulnerability in my forbidden romances.

Things started to improve though once we pass the halfway mark. I found the drama of the plot line helped to bring the romance and the characters to life in a way that started to win me over. That’s when Matteo and Eden started to interact more and the chemistry between them became more apparent.

–July 16, 2018– Book #3: Dirty Revenge

This is by FAR the darkest book in the series…but perhaps the most addicting?

I’ll admit that parts of this were hard for me to read. Gia has a lot of awful things (like cringe-worthy) happen to her but I appreciated the character growth she received as a result. For me, this story was more about Gia finding herself and her independence more so than a straight romance and I liked that. Gia gets broken-down but she rebuilds herself into a much stronger woman as a result.

The plot line itself is engaging. You don’t know the good guys from the bad guys which always brings an air of anticipation and tension to the story. Like any Ella Miles book, you really don’t know what direction the plot will go and I enjoyed the journey to find out.

As for the romance, I thought these two were a good match. Conti was a little too much for me at the start with his alpha ways; however, I expected that given the nature of the book. But I appreciated the partnership that forms between these two thanks to mutual understanding and experiences so I could see why they would be drawn to each other.

My Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Beginning 3/5] | Dirty Obsession 4/5| Dirty Addiction 3/5 | Dirty Revenge 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of truly dark romances and sexy times! But if you don’t enjoy erotica or more graphic scenes, don’t pick this up!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike erotica, love triangles

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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.

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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

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thoughts

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

overall

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

similarreads

  • 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: The Illumination Paradox by Jacqueline Garlick

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lumière (from Goodreads):
One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.

After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.

Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.

Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Illumination Paradox
Author: Jacqueline Garlick
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: cool (gets a little more suggestive in Noir)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2013 – July 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley–eARC (#1, #2); Kindle Unlimited (#3)

disclaimernetgalley
Note: Copies provided for Books #1 and #2 only

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love steampunk! Its one of my favourite genres because I find each series has its own little spin on the genre. So when I saw Lumière in the Read Now section of NetGalley, I couldn’t pass it up!

I was looking forward to a perhaps more dystopian steampunk world (the Vapours sounded like something from Under the Never Sky) with a take-charge heroine. I also was looking forward to this alluring stranger character and the fact that there seemed to be a true evil villain.

The World:

I really enjoyed the world of this series. It’s classic steampunk but with a more supernatural spin to it. I find a lot of steampunk stories focus on the mechanical aspects of the story (ie machines) but only a few have a paranormal/supernatural element. Sometimes it felt like there were too many elements to it all but once you get used to everything, it’s easier to keep everything straight.

I think at times this book is a little too descriptive. I would find myself drifting away from the long paragraphs. It definitely helps the reader get a clearer picture of everything, but at times it seemed to be a little too much.

The Plot:

At first, the plot of Lumière reminded me a bit of Vengeance Road as Eyelet suddenly finds herself on the run from an enemy. But it quickly morphed into more of a Beauty and the Beast premise, something I really wasn’t expecting. And then that quickly changed into its own unique story for the rest of the book.

I liked the premise for the plot, I just felt that it took WAY TOO LONG to get there. Lumière is nearly 400 eBook pages long, which is about 150 pages longer than your average eBook. And unfortunately, I really felt like nothing happened until the last 150 pages or so. The extra page length was great for establishing the complex world but I felt like I had a good grasp of everything about 100 pages in and would have liked the main plot line to have shifted into focus earlier. I just wanted more because the last 100 or so pages were exciting, but my enthusiasm for them had significantly decreased by the time I got there.

The Characters:

I liked Eyelet and Urlick. They had their strengths and their flaws which I appreciate. However, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of character development for them in Lumière despite the length of the book. Who they are as characters is readily established and is well done, I just felt like there was something lacking for me when it comes to their characters–which might be a result of the romance clouding my impression of them (see below).

Otherwise, you have quite the interesting cast of characters. The supporting characters do their jobs perfectly and Smrt as a villain (though he has a smaller part than I expected) was entertaining.

The Romance:

In Lumière, the romance just didn’t work for me. It seemed like it bloomed out of nowhere. That really frustrated me because I could see why these two would work together but I failed to understand how they knew that. I really don’t think they had spoken all that much to each other before they were feeling these deeper things. I get the physical attraction part of it all, I just didn’t see the emotional connection and that resulted in a lacklustre romance for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I think now that the world has been established and all the major players have been introduced, we are going to get more from Noir. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds.

updates

–November 6, 2015– Book 2: Noir

This book moved well from beginning to end. I felt like it kept the pace at a constant and didn’t drag on like Lumière often did. Secrets are revealed, there are lots of interesting plot twists and the characters get a little more depth to them. Overall, Noir just felt complete. It was solid and built up as you read. I got hooked into the story and the pages just flew by. This book was a lot of fun to read and really made me happy that I stuck with this series.

I’m excited to see what will happen in the next one!

–April 14, 2020– Book #3: Soleil

It has been 5 years since I read Noir but I’ve always been curious to find out how these series wrapped up. So I made it a point to read this novel when I had my Kindle Unlimited Subscription to find all that out.

This started ok for me. Thankfully, I kept some notes about the series so I was able to get back into the world quick enough. I really struggled to stay with it. Maybe I’d lost those finer details in the 5 years since? I just skimmed it to the end.

Series Rating: 3/5

Lumière 3/5 | Noir 4/5 | Soleil 2/5

overall

If you like really quirky books (a la Alice in Wonderland) this is a good series for you to try. But others might struggle with its oddities.

Read if You Like: slower stories, steampunk with supernatural elements
Avoid if You: want a faster story, want more romance

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