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Single Sundays: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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 Without Merit (from Goodreads):

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.


SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore Colleen Hoover’s works. She writes really unique and emotionally captivating novels. Novels that make me think and make me swoon. I’m definitely a die-hard fan when it comes to her works.

But I had no idea what to expect when I read the synopsis for Without Merit. What I did know was that I needed to be in an emotionally ready state to read the novel (for anyone who has read It Ends With Us you know what I am talking about) and so I mentally prepared myself and dove in.

The Concept / The Plot:

Like most Hoover novels, there is an overarching theme or message that she wants to convey. The message for this one wasn’t completely obvious to me until the last few chapters when everything started to come together.

I had a hard time deciding on my feelings after finishing this book. On one hand, I loved the message and what Hoover is trying to convey. But on the other, it all felt a little messy to me. I almost think too many things were at play and it took me a long time to figure out what was happening.

I’m going to do a little bit of a rant with spoilers below because it’s hard to articulate what I mean without referencing certain things.

My Spoiler Explanation

This book is all about perspectives and Merit assuming things to only be a certain way. There’s a lot she doesn’t know because there is so much going on with the character’s in this book. Just look at the letter she writes with her family’s many secrets. I think that there were almost too many problems to handle. Sagan’s story in particular just seemed to add to an already full glass.

Why I’m torn is due to the fact that life isn’t straight-forward and linear. It’s complicated and messy like it is for the Voss family–even if most families don’t have the same problems that they do. So in one respect, I appreciate that they are a complicated family but in the other, I think it almost overwhelms the story and its message.


There isn’t much to the plot besides Merit living her everyday life, burdened by her secrets. It sounds a little boring but that’s where the characters come in. I know I found Merit’s narration intriguing because she has such a unique outlook on life. So I was drawn into Merit’s experience and the need to uncover what was happening in this family.

The Characters:

I enjoyed Merit as the lead. She’s intriguing and unlike any character I’ve ever encountered. She had me chuckling at some of her observations. I’m not sure if everyone would enjoy her but I know I did.

The rest of the cast is equally as interesting. Everyone has their little quirks and secrets so I found myself drawn in to know more.

The Romance:

Definitely not my favourite of Hoover’s that I’ve encountered. It doesn’t play a huge role in this story but it is a key factor of Merit’s story. I almost wonder if the story would have been stronger without it and things remained platonic…

My Rating: 3.5/5


While I appreciate and understand what Hoover was trying to showcase in this story, I think some readers will get lost in the eccentrics of the characters and the fact that there is a little too much happening along the way to get that message across.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, contemporary
Avoid if You: realistic fiction of a darker nature, eccentric characters


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Fresh Fridays: One & Only by Viv Daniels (Canton #1)

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:

One & Only by Viv Daniels | Canton Series

Other books in the series:

Series: Canton
Author: Viv Daniels (penname for Diana Peterfreund)
# of Books: 2 (One & Only, Sweet & Wild)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Sweet & Wild will be released in 2014
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person POV


Normally, I avoid books with “love triangles” like the plague. As soon as I see two male/female characters in the synopsis, I immediately list the book as a pass on my Goodreads account and move on. I can’t stand the back and forth between the heroine (or hero) and the idea that “I love both of them so much in different ways” (aka Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome) has never made sense to me. I’m a hopeless romantic but even I have my limits.

Why I ended up picking up this book–despite the fact that it screams love triangle–is the fact that Tess is an illegitimate child. Nowadays it isn’t a big deal if your parents aren’t together and affairs seem commonplace but the idea that Tess’ mom is a legit mistress to a man really captured my attention. So I put aside my fears of an irritating love triangle and focused on some good drama.

To be fair, the love triangle isn’t really a love triangle (in my opinion). I also like that Tess isn’t the one torn over two guys, but that she is the “other woman” essentially (which she would hate to classify herself as :P). It put a different spin on things and it made it easy to be on her “team”.

Tess and Dylan are both likeable characters and watching how they meet and fall in love is super cute. And as a science student myself, I can appreciate their hard work and great brains. Now if only I could find someone like Dylan in my labs…

Overall, I found the drama pretty mild but I did like that the story wasn’t predictable. There were a few things that threw me off course and that kept things interesting. I also really enjoyed the characters so it wasn’t a chore to read this book in the slightest.

I’m looking forward to Sweet & Wild and will definitely be picking it up when it comes out.


A solid and well-written New Adult read. It isn’t like other books out there so it is super refreshing!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Into the Deep by Samantha Young (Into the Deep Series #1); Everything Between Us by Mila Ferrera and Foreplay by Sophie Jordan (The Ivy Chronicles #1)

Synopsis for One & Only (from Goodreads):
One night they can’t forget…

Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.

…And only one chance to get things right