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Single Sundays: Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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 Pretty Dead Girls (from Goodreads):
Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.

In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.

The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she’s next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she’s never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.

There’s something he isn’t telling her. But there’s something she’s not telling him, either.

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, High School, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Teen!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Monica Murphy fan. She has a knack for writing addicting drama in her stories and swoon worthy romances. So I was very excited to see what she could do with a YA suspense novel.

The Concept:

For me, this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I wanted a killer to be stalking in the shadows and dirty secrets being revealed throughout. Instead, we get a story about Penelope and the inconvenience these killings are having on her social and dating life. It wasn’t very suspenseful or exciting to me. In fact, I almost didn’t finish it.

The Plot:

The plot of this story reminded me a lot of Pretty Little Liars in the sense that the focus is on the drama of Penelope’s life with the murders taking a backseat and you only get those little tidbits of suspense throughout. I also imagine it is what Scream Queens is like (though I’ve never watched it). Very little time is dedicated to solving the murders until the very end, with most of the focus being on the everyday dramatic lives of these high schoolers. Which I could do because Monica Murphy is the queen of high school drama and angst for me. Only, the drama wasn’t as juicy as I wanted it to be. I found it all to be rather boring unfortunately.

I will say that the mystery did have me fooled. I had a few theories (based on the little scraps we get throughout the novel) and I was proven wrong in the end so this story wasn’t entirely predictable. That’s a bonus!

The Characters:

Penelope’s priorities are not what mine would be if the girls in my social circle were showing up dead. I’m not saying I would be full-out Sherlock Holmes but I would say that figuring out if Cass likes me and maintaining control over the social group wouldn’t be my biggest concerns. It makes her seem petty and that stopped me from being a fan of hers. I wouldn’t mind her pettiness so much if she had some solid character growth from the whole ordeal but she really doesn’t and so she comes across as a drab character.

The Romance:

As for the romance, it didn’t have me totally swooning either. I didn’t get the chemistry between these two at all and I didn’t like how it made Penelope act at times.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I think if I went into this book knowing it would be more about the drama of Penelope’s life as murders are taking place around her, I would have enjoyed this more. But the fact of the matter is, I didn’t enjoy these characters and I didn’t find it overly suspenseful either and so I ended up disappointed.

Read if You Like: high school drama, Pretty Little Liars, Scream Queens
Avoid if You: want a true thriller/suspense novel, dislike high school stories

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  • The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard (The Perfectionists Series #1)
  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars Series #1)
  • Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

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Series Review: Juniper Falls by Julie Cross

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

Juniper Falls Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Off the Ice (from Goodreads):

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

breakdown

Series: Juniper Falls
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Small Town
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – February 2019
Source & Format: Netgalley–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:

Julie Cross is an author I’ve enjoyed in the past and really need to read more by. She just writes consistently great stories.

Having read her other YA sports romance, Whatever Life Throws at You, I knew what to expect with this series. I knew I would be getting a slow burn romance that would take a bit of a backseat to the character development…and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–It Focuses on Hockey–

It’s the Canadian in me who adores anything hockey. I’ve read a lot of adult and new adult series dealing with hockey players but not so many dealing with high schoolers. Which brings a different sort of pressure to the character’s lives as they are trying to reach that next plateau for the prospective careers.

We have a slightly different draft system here in Canada (not so much pressure on playing for a college team but more so in certain divisions) so I found that aspect to be interesting as well as this takes place in Minnesota, USA.

–Small Town Romance Vibes–

I’ve really gotten into adult small town romances in the last year or so and this one definitely gave me those vibes. I like the nature of small towns settings in stories. Everyone knows everyone and their business, but there are always these underlying secrets and feelings that always come to the surface. There are also certain expectations and almost stereotypes that people feel like they have to be boxed into. It provides a great stage for character growth to blossom on.

I also find that you get really invested in all the side characters as well. There are a few characters I would love to see full novels from going forward just from the little inklings we got here.

–The Character Growth–

Both Tate and Claire have very interesting character stories. They both have very complex situations to deal with and I liked that they each had their own things to work on. They are also such genuine characters that you really start to get behind them.

This story is more so a coming of age story than straight romance. It’s about these two finding that confidence in themselves, figuring out what they want in life and how they can break out of the molds the small town has put them in for all their lives.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt a Little Long in the Middle–

I knew going in that this book would take its time to reach the plot climax and that’s what happened.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy all the moments leading up. I did. The scenes between Tate and Claire were great and I like that you get all the background info about the town and all the characters.

I guess I just wanted them to work on the issues a little earlier than they did. I felt like we reiterated the same things again and again–which is fine as it did contribute positively to the romance and character growth. It just made this book seem longer than it was. The ending isn’t rushed by any means but I think I would have taken away some of that exposition to have them tease out the various issues a little more.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

As I said above, I have a few characters I would love to see more from. I’m very excited for the next book though!

updates

–December 31, 2017– Book #2: Breaking the Ice

Again, this book just has the right balance to it. I loved the slow burn romance between these two. They have this fantastic chemistry together that makes their scenes together amazing. I also loved Fletcher–new book boyfriend alert! The character development here is perfect. My only complaint is that it took a little while for the plot line to establish itself. Once it does, it makes for a great read but the first half is a little slower.

>> Read my full review of Breaking the Ice as a part of my Blog Tour for its release here.

–February 27, 2019– Book #3: On Thin Ice

This was the Juniper Falls story I was waiting for the most and it did not disappoint!

I love how all the themes from the last two novels accumulated into this one and got brought to the forefront. The whole hazing plotline was fascinating and realistically on point with things happening in society right now. Sports are great for many reasons but they can become toxic when priorities shift for those with authority and I love that this book explores that.

I’m sad to say goodbye to this series but this book was the game-winning goal to this fabulous hat trick of a YA sports series.

(But I totally wouldn’t be upset if Rosie ever got her own book!)

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My Rating: 4/5

Off the Ice 4/5 | Breaking the Ice 4.5/5 | On Thin Ice 5/5

overall

This is perfect for fans of small town romance and sport romance fans. It has fantastic characters with great character growth and a sweet romance to balance it all off. Just a well-rounded series.

Read if You Like: sports romances, slow burn romance, more character focused
Avoid if You: want more romance focused stories

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Series Review: The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski

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

Synopsis for The First Kiss Hypothesis (from Goodreads):

Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’ epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction.

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s…trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing.
Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

breakdown

Series: The First Kiss Hypothesis
Author: Christina Mandelski
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes (?)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

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**This post was originally published as a standalone 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:

Thanks to the H.BSc that follows my name and the hopeless romantic in me makes it a requirement that I read any novel that uses a scientific term in its title. I’m a fan of the best friends to more trope, especially in YA, and the promise of a scientific theory to back up why that might not be the case for these two? I was excited to see how this experiment would play out.

The Plot:

This story definitely felt like it was more of a coming of age novel than straight romance–and I really liked that. Eli and Nora have a lot going on in their lives now that they are seniors in high school. They’re beginning to feel the pressures from family and friends when it comes to deciding what’s next. Throw in their long buried crushes on each other and the mutual agreed upon love of pies and you’ve got a bit of a sticky situation.

This book had me at the start. I loved Eli’s goal to make Nora see him as more than a friend and I liked how Nora was unknowingly trying to counteract that. It made from some sweet moments between them. However, it started to lose me in the middle when everything just seemed to repeat itself with nothing completely new to add to the story. It rounds itself out in the end with some solid character growth but my interest did start to wane.

The Characters:

I’m really glad that we got both Nora and Eli’s POV in this story because it does shed some light on why they act like they do. They have their moments of immaturity but I did find that they grew up as the story progressed. I wasn’t blown away by either of them but they worked well for this story.

I do have to give a shout-out to Eli’s autistic brother Ari. He was fabulous and a breath of fresh air in this story. He really grounds the story in a way that benefits everyone.

The Romance:

These two are super cute together, no denying that. I liked that they always had these feelings bubbling up at the surface–I love the type of tension that brings to a story. It’s a touch cliché but these two have enough quirks to keep it interesting.

updates

–September 17, 2018– Book #2: Love and Other Secrets

I had no idea that this book was the sequel of sorts to The First Kiss Hypothesis so it was a welcome surprise when I started reading and notice we were back at Edinburgh High.

This book started off strongly for me. I loved watching Alex moon over Bailey and fight his feelings for her while she explains her film making plan. That’s the sexual tension that keeps me hooked and wanting more. But I can’t help but feel that if I got to see these two interact a little more before the start of this book (ie the start of their friendship), I would have rooted for them a little more than I did. Yes, they are cute together and I can see why they are drawn to each other but I wanted that connection established a little more.

Unfortunately, the last half of the book is plagued by bad communication and assumptions on both characters parts and it’s a little frustrating to endure as it occurs in a slightly repetitive way. I get their fears of rejection but their defensive tactics always seemed premature to me–which in turn made the characters come across as immature.

Which brings me to the character development. I was very disappointed in Alex’s lack of growth as a character. To me, it was almost like he unravelled as the story progressed. I was a huge Alex fan at the start but his angst towards his parents (no matter how justified) never seemed to contribute positively to his coming of age story. I felt like that was a bit of a missed opportunity because the romance overshadows any character growth or resolution.

My Rating: 3/5

The First Kiss Hypothesis 3.5/5 | Love and Other Secrets 3/5

overall

If you enjoy cute coming of age stories where best friends fall in love, this perfect for you!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, best friends to more, coming of age, teenaged angst
Avoid if You: high school romances

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Series Review: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

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

Dance Off

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #2.5 Dance All Night

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press – Swerve!

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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:

I was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

updates

–November 20, 2017– Book #2: Dance With Me

Once again, the character development here is great! I often find in romances that one of the characters is “stronger” (or more put together) than the other when it comes to their lives but in this novel, I liked that they each had their flaws and things to work on. I loved watching both of our leads grow as people and push each other to better things. They make great partners in all aspects which is what I loved watching in this book.

They also make a great romantic pair because they have fantastic chemistry. Sure, the somewhat forbidden element of their relationship adds to the tension but they are both super passionate people and it shows.

The main reason this rating isn’t a 5/5 is that I wanted a little more showing than telling with the romance. It’s always hard to write a romance where the characters have already fallen in love with each other without the readers seeing that because we love watching the initial sparks fly (or at least I do). These two have had a relationship for a long time (one that isn’t really touched on in the previous book either other than its brief mention) and those feelings for each other are already established. As I said above, these two have great chemistry and it shows but often times I felt like I was reading the sequel novel to their story without reading the first because I wanted more of those sparks.

However, I still really enjoyed this book! The character development is truly the highlight of this novel (it’s hard to find a solid character driven romance instead of just a focus on sexy times) and Alexis Daria has succeeded once again!

–December 3, 2018– Book #3: Dance All Night

I’m so happy that we got to spend more time in the world of Dance Off. I love this series for so many reasons and this novella highlighted them all!

Despite finishing this book in a little over an hour, this never felt like a novella because it is so well developed. You’ve got great, layered characters; an addicting, sweet romance and just the right amount of drama to give this novel a little flare. Oh–and CHRISTMAS! Everything just mixed together so well.

It was nice to have the roles reversed a bit. I always like reading novels where the male hero is more invested in the relationship and he has to win over the somewhat cynical heroine. Nik is such a genuine guy that he will have you swooning from the start. And Jess has some great character moments as a result of her growing feelings.

My only downside is the conflict the two face: it’s a bit of a communication-assumption thing and that always irks me. But I loved these two together so much that I’m willing to over look that little bit!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me 4/5 | [Dance All Night 4/5] |

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
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Blog Tour: Saving It by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Saving It (from Goodreads):

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR (Netgalley)–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it goes without saying: if Monica Murphy writes it, I’ll read it. I always enjoy her works and this one sounded like such a cute one that I couldn’t say no!

The Plot:

I found it to be super refreshing to have Josh be the one who is the one primarily focused on losing his virginity. Most of the time, books look at this from the female perspective so it was really cool for me to get the teenage boy viewpoint. I know I forget the pressures that are put on boys in regards to sex because I am a girl so I really enjoyed that aspect.

The situation Eden and Josh find themselves in could happen to anyone anywhere in the world. Their fears and hesitations are so true for anyone who has ever found themselves in the same situation of realizing you may like your best friend as more than a friend.

I kept waiting for something over dramatic to happen as it often does with this genre but we get nothing of the sort. I liked that the focused stayed on the main plot of these two working out their feelings.

The Characters:

Eden and Josh are a great match and their connection and friendship is apparent from the start. They are great, true friends to each other and I loved that about them. The fear of ruining a life-long friendship, the pressures from their tight-knit group of friends; everything they go through is extremely relateable.

The Romance:

While I totally supported these two as a couple, I did want to see a little more romantic chemistry between them. Part of the reason this is somewhat neglected that is that it takes these two a long time to come to terms with their potential feelings. But I wanted more than just a few comments here and there about how attractive the other looked in their clothes. For a couple that had such a strong emotional connection, I just wanted those “swoon” moments to happen a little more often than they did.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
Fans of the BFF to more trope will truly enjoy this refreshing and genuine romance.

Read if You Like: BFF to more trope, high school romance
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon// Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

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Single Sundays: Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

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 Offsetting Penalties (from Goodreads):

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary 2017
Author: Ally Mathews
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Dance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Entangled Teen Crush!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw the premise for this novel, I just had to read it! You see, the book that introduced me to the New Adult genre, Crash, featured a football player and a ballerina meeting and falling in love. One of my favourite tropes in romance is when two unlikely people meet and fall in love and this one fit the bill. Throw in a little blackmail, tights and a goth, this is a wicked combination that seemed like it would be both fun and heartwarming at the same time.

The Plot:


I had so much fun reading this book! Not only are Izzy and Garret charming characters but the plot was fun and definitely adorable. I found myself sucked into this book and easily could have finished it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work.

What I liked about this book is that it had a great flow and plot progression. It had that great balance between plot development, character growth and sweet, romantic moments. The evolution of Izzy and Garret’s relationship was awesome to watch.

The Characters:

I loved Izzy and Garret from the start. Individually, these two are genuine people who you can’t help but love. They aren’t over-dramatic or angsty teenagers; they react in the rational ways to the various situations they find themselves in. Their characters could easily have been a cliche but they had this edge of individuality to their presentation that separates them from what you expect.

The Romance:

Together, these two are positively adorable! They have fantastic banter and chemistry from the start. The romance had a bit of a slow burn aspect to it as they two take their time to get to know each other a little more. I loved watching them establish that deeper connection.

A big positive for me was the fact that the romance doesn’t cause them to lose their individuality. I like when couples bring out the best in each other and this one succeeds in that aspect without a doubt. This relationship doesn’t consume them and they don’t lose sight over what they want or need.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

If you’re looking for a cute contemporary romance about two unlikely teens falling in love while aspiring to make their dreams come true, I highly recommend this book! You will easily get sucked into Izzy and Garret’s story.

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, enemies to lovers, high school romances
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary, don’t enjoy sport/dance stories

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Series Review: Red by Isabelle Ronin

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

Red Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Chasing Red (from Goodreads):

HER HEART MIGHT BE THE ONE THING HE CAN’T WIN…
When cynical straight-A college student Veronica “Red” Strafford gets kicked out of her apartment, notorious basketball player Caleb Lockhart offers her a place to stay. Intensely drawn to her, Caleb wants something for the first time in his life. But Veronica’s painful past makes trusting difficult, and her heart might just be the one thing Caleb can’t win.

They said she was going to be my ruin…then let her ruin me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2017 New Adult Fave, Canadian Author
Series: Red
Author: Isabelle Ronin
# of Books: 2 (Chasing Red, Always Red)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 5 ,2017 – November 7, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Sourcebooks Casablanca!


thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing upcoming releases, Chasing Red immediately caught my eye for a few reasons. One: is that cover–it’s just so colourful! Two: is the fact that Isabelle Ronin wrote this story on Wattpad–I’ve had great successes with stories that were first published there. Three: I love when the “popular guy” meets his match in a girl he never expected. (And I later learned that this book is set in Canada and is written by a Canadian Author! Bonus!!!)

I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel!

What I Liked:

–Veronica–

Red/Veronica is such an endearing heroine. She’s strong yet flawed and such a hard worker. You really get a great grasp on who she is and why so I never got annoyed with her actions. I fully understood everything she did because I knew her that well.

–Caleb–

Swoon! New Book Boyfriend Alert!

He knows all the right things to say but he is also so genuine about it as well. What a fantastic complement his character is to Veronica.

–Their Friends–

I also loved all of their friends and I truly hope we learn more about them in the sequel to this novel OR they each get their own story because I would love to read it.

–The Perfect Slow Burn Romance–

I had butterflies the entire time I was reading this–in like a totally awesome way. They have fantastic chemistry together, right from the start.

This romance had this amazing ability to feel like a slow burn romance but give you all the passion you expect in an already established romance. I loved watching these two explore their connection and building a relationship together. Besides physical attraction, they had that deeper bond. It was such a joy to watch them fall for each other.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really thought everything worked really well for this story. At first, I wasn’t sure about a particular plot line but I realized (as I was writing this review) that what I thought was a little unnecessary was necessary. I guess my biggest disappointment is waiting for the sequel!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to see how Red and Caleb’s story concludes! And maybe some more insight on their friends as well?

updates

–October 27, 2017– Book #2: Always Red

I didn’t love this book as much as Chasing Red for a few reasons. The main one is that all the drama got to me. It was a touch over the top but I kind of expected that given then ending of Chasing Red. The focus shifts from character development to navigating a relationship with all this added drama which is totally fine! It’s just that the character focus and growth was what charmed me in the first book.

The other reason is Caleb. He was just too much for me. His alpha male tendencies were overwhelming to say the least. Which is a shame because I really loved him in the first book. His approach made the relationship seem toxic at times. One positive though is that they do discuss his attitude and how it is impacting their relationship so that pleased me.

But I was still totally invested in this book! I loved having all these characters back in my life. I can’t wait for some sequels to be churned out and get the complete stories of everyone I’ve met so far. I think fans of Chasing Red will be pleased with this finale.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Chasing Red 5/5 | Always Red 4/5

overall

This story had everything I love in a great New Adult romance: genuine characters, great chemistry and a solid plot line. Completely addicting from start to end.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, new adult, books set in canada
Avoid if You: dislike slow burn
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Fresh Fridays: Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1) by Gabrielle Prendergast

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:

The Nahx Invasions Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Zero Repeat Forever (from Goodreads):

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…

breakdown

Series: The Nahx Invasions
Author: Gabrielle Prendergast
# of Books: 1+ (Zero Repeat Forever)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Aliens, Post-Apocalypse
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 29, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Simon & Schuster Books Canada!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this novel thanks to a Netgalley email and immediately requested it. I’ve only read a few novels about an alien invasion so it’s a genre I want to explore more.

What I Liked:

–It’s Set in Canada!–

I don’t read enough books set in my home country so I was really excited that it explored someplace I’m familiar with. I mean, it sucked to see it being invaded and subsequently destroyed but I guess it was nice to have a setting that isn’t the norm for the genre.

–The Getting to Know You’re Enemy Aspect–

I always enjoy stories when enemies become something more. Whether it’s a relationship that becomes platonic or romantic, I like seeing characters evolve and learn from interactions with people they normally wouldn’t. It provides such a great opportunity for character development and this one definitely had those moments

–The Diversity of the Cast–

This story hits all the marks in terms of diversity. You’ve got characters of various ethnicities, races and sexual orientation and it feels natural. It doesn’t feel like Prendergast is checking off boxes simply to meet the mark. It adds to the story in a way very positive way.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Plot–

One reason I haven’t read many alien invasion/post-apocalypse is that I find the plots to be terribly slow. These characters are just going through the motions, trying to survive and understand what is happening. The focus is almost too much on establishing the setting and not enough on the action.

This novel did have its moments of action–Raven and company have to evade the Nahx at various points but they seemed tiny in comparison to the grand scheme of things.

Also, Raven and Eighth don’t meet well into the 50% mark. I wanted that interaction earlier in the novel.

Some intrigue with regards to why the Nahx were invading or who they were–besides learning how to kill them–would have gone a long way to keep me interested.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The last 20 pages or so were very interesting and set up nicely for a sequel. I’m on the fence about whether or not I will pick it up; it really just depends on what the synopsis for the next one is.

My Rating: 2/5

Zero Repeat Forever 2/5| Book 2 TBP

overall

The best way I can describe this novel is the like movie Arrival (2016). It has this slower, mundane pacing to it where the characters go through the motions but not a whole lot is happening at one time. Readers who like the gradual build and don’t mind the slower pace will enjoy this. Action seekers should look elsewhere

Read if You Like: slower stories, invasion stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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readingchallengesArc August 2017

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Single Sundays: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

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 Forbidden (from Goodreads):

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-that instant chemistry that renders you weak in the knees. That is, until a night out brings her face to face with the dangerously sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her must be dangerous. She has no idea that he belongs to another. That he’s forbidden.

breakdown

Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve never read a Jodi Ellen Malpas novel but I know that she has a very strong and loyal fan base. So when I had the opportunity to read her latest novel, I knew I had to seize it.

It doesn’t hurt that this novel is billed as a “forbidden romance”. I LOVE forbidden/taboo romances. They have this edge of suspense to them that keeps me hooked thanks to all the secrets, drama and passion. I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel and see what was in store for me.

The Concept:

Let’s just say, I never saw what the “taboo” element was going to be and I loved that. When we had that big reveal, my mouth dropped and I muttered some curses because, damn, it’s a good one. It sucked me in like no one’s business.

The Plot:

While this story is a romance as its core, there is enough going on to keep the story moving and fresh. I never had a dull moment reading this novel. I was hooked.

The story has a great blend of being real and dramatic at the same time. The circumstances Annie and Jack find themselves in I think is fairly realistic. Some of the drama that accompanies it definitely has a dramatic flare but it just works so well with this story.

The Characters:

I really loved all the characters here. Malpas does a great job of bringing them to life and making you see their side of the situation. Did I agree with all their choices? No, but I could appreciate them and why they felt they had to make the choices they did.

The Romance:

One of the most important elements for me in a forbidden romance is that the novel has to convince me why these two should pursue their relationship despite all the obstacles in the way. I want to fall in love with these characters despite what they are doing–I want to root for them.

And this novel succeeded in that in every way!

I loved these two together–they have this phenomenal chemistry and connection–and I desperately wanted to see a positive outcome for them. And given the “forbidden” nature of this story, Malpas has done an amazing job to elicit that reaction from me.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of the best forbidden romances I’ve ever read. It kept me on the edge of my seat and had me totally invested in the outcome.

Read if You Like: forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike romantic dramas
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Series Review: Sins and Scandals by Lauren Smith

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

Sins and Scandals Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Earl by Any Other Name (from Goodreads):

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life—until his father’s death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it’s her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she’ll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who’s looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can’t stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

breakdown

Series: Sins and Scandals Trilogy
Author: Lauren Smith
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last year, I’ve discovered that Lauren Smith writes great novella series. They have solid plots, swoon worthy romance and never feel like they are half the size of other works in the genre. So I was really excited to see what she would do with a historical romance novella as opposed to the contemporary works I usually read by her.

What I Liked:

–Felt Like I was Back in Downton Abbey!–

The cover made me think this was a regency era novel but it’s actually set in 1911, which is fabulous! It had a great Downton Abbey feel to it because this is precarious time in history. You’ve got a change in the hierarchy of England and women are searching for the right to vote and be independent.

I loved the setting and how it contributed to the antagonism between Leo and Ivy. Instead of your heroine rebelling for the sake of rebelling, she’s rebelling to contribute to the greater good of society (suffragette movement!).

–Fun Plot Line–

It’s not in the synopsis but I liked that there was substance to the reason why these two were brought together. It added a lighter flare to the story and added some fun to the circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Just Needed a Little Bit More–

While these two had great chemistry and I could see why they would be a fabulous match, I felt like things were wrapped up just a little too quickly at the end. Not that I wanted some unnecessarily drama but another chapter would have been great!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really enjoy this setting and how there are so many interesting factors contributing to the character’s motivations. We’ve met the next hero so I’m curious to see what his story has in store.

updates

–September 6, 2017– Book #2: A Gentleman Never Surrenders

I’ll be the first to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Owen as the hero in this novel. He didn’t leave the greatest impression on me once I finished An Earl by Any Other Name for obvious reasons. But if anyone could get me to fall in love with an unlikely hero, Lauren Smith is that author.

And she definitely succeeds!

I immediately fell in love with Milly and Owen’s story–and their romance. I adored Milly’s independent spirit and her drive to be something more than what society deems. Watching her get that confidence and grow as a character was such a treat. And learning more about Owen’s motives and seeing him evolve as a character helped erase my previous misconceptions about him and love his characters.

Those misconceptions I had about him were the same ones that Milly had as well at the start. She’s apprehensive about the situation she now finds herself in and that brings out these fantastic moments between them. You get these heart-warming moments where they discover there is something more to the other than they ever thought and they fall that little bit more in love. They have a fantastic chemistry and have these delicious moments of sexual tension that I just adored.

These two charmed me completely and I absolutely loved this story!

–November 23, 2017– Book #3: A Scottish Lord for Christmas

I’ve been looking forward to this book since we where introduced to these two earlier in the series and it was just as good as I had hoped.

This story is just heartwarming from start to finish. It’s a story about learning to love again and accepting that love can happen anytime and that it is worth the risks.

It’s a delicate balance for Quinn and as a result he has some great character growth. You watch him struggle with a range of emotions and thoughts when it comes to his feelings for Rowena. It just gives his character a genuine edge that I really enjoyed as a reader. This is very much Quinn’s story about embracing the past but moving forward to the future.

In comparison, Rowena is very confident in her feelings and so she doesn’t have as much character growth as I expected. Instead, she’s more of a solid foundation to build this story up. In a way it was nice to see the female character be the “stronger” one who doesn’t have to learn or become more comfortable with herself.

While the chemistry is there from the start with these two, I found the sexual tension took a little longer to build. I think it’s because their initial meeting is so rushed and Rowena’s feelings are almost insta-love that it took me awhile to feel the sparks between them even though I knew they worked well on paper. But the romance between them definitely heated up the more I read.

Overall, it’s a great read in time for the holidays and a solid installment in this great series!

My Rating: 4/5

An Earl by Any Other Name 3/5 | A Gentlemen Never Surrenders 5/5 | A Scottish Lord for Christmas 4/5

overall

This was a nice break from the regency historical novels we often see. If you want a Downton Abbey era novella series, this is the one!

Read if You Like: quick reads, Downton Abbey, historical romance
Avoid if You: want a full length novel
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