Tag «netgalley»

Single Sundays: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwall

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 Mechanica (from Goodreads):
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

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Author: Betsy Cornwall
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Steampunk, Romance, Magic, Faeries
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you very muchHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first got my Netgalley account, this book captured my attention for its title and cover. And then when I read the synopsis, I really wanted to requested it. I love fairy tale retellings and a steampunk retelling of Cinderella? That’s just a major bonus!

Needless to say, I was really excited when I requested, got approved and finally picked it up.

The Concept / The World:

The steampunk application to the traditional (ok, the Disney Animated version of Cinderella) was really well done. I liked how mechanical creatures replaced the mice and how the magic was replaced with the machines Nicolette had made. It gave the story a gritter feel than the medieval story Cinderella is usually told in.

I also thought it was explained very well. There are lots of pages dedicated to Nicolette describing her mother’s work–too much if you ask me, but it helped me to get a good idea of the world this story was taking place in. However, that kinda fell apart at the end but that might have just been me reading the book to fast to fully grasp what was happening.

The Plot:

This is where the book fell apart for me. Nothing really happens for 200 pages and that makes it hard to get into. Which is a shame, because I was definitely enamoured with the world we are presented in the first 50 pages. Those pages flew by as I learned more about the politics, the faeries and the mechanics (literally) of the world. But then, it just kept going and I felt like too much time was spent in the past recalling Nicolette’s tough childhood. It really isn’t until the last 100 pages (FYI, my PDF eBook was 306 pages in length) that we get an actual story happening but at that point my interest was waning (which is a shame because I loved the approach it took for the ending).

If things were paced better, and the focus was more on certain plot aspects and less on others, this book would have been great! Because all the right gears were there, they just weren’t aligned properly to keep this flow going (see what I did there? :P).

The Characters:

I really appreciated Nicolette’s determination to fix her own problems. She isn’t some damsel in distress waiting for someone else to save her. Traditionally, (again, Disney animated version) Cinderella is just too nice to do anything about her situation (ie she’s a bit of a doormat) and thus relies on others (aka her fairy godmother) to solve her problems. Nicolette really doesn’t rely on others in the same sense. When she sees an opportunity, she goes for it and I really admire that. So much time is spent recalling her past, you do feel for her and want to see her succeed.

As for the rest of cast, they were exactly what you would expect and get very little air time.

The Romance:

I have mixed feelings about this. I kinda liked that the romantic side of things wasn’t the main focus of the story. You know, for the longest time I even forgot that there was a romantic plot in this story because so much time is spent watching Nicolette grow as a character.

But at the same time, I was hoping the romantic story would save the otherwise dry plot and give me something to be interested in.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

This is a classic example of a book simply missing its mark and it is a real shame! There are so many great take-away messages in this book: that it is ok for girls to fight for their own destiny; that you don’t always need someone to save you and that it is OK to be interested in fields usually “reserved” for the opposite gender. All these messages are winners in my eyes and ones that girls SHOULD associate with a story like Cinderella.

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, steampunk, coming of age stories
Avoid if You: don’t like slow paced books, want a faster/exciting plot, want more romance

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Single Sundays: Perfect Betrayal by Season Vining

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 Perfect Betrayal (from Goodreads):
To the outside world, Taylor Hudson has it all: beauty, money and social status. But Taylor’s privileged life is far lonelier than it appears.

Levi is the inside man on a job to steal fifteen million dollars from one of the town’s wealthiest families, putting him on a crash course with Taylor. Neither of them believe in love, but lust. . . that’s undeniable.

Now they’re locked in a wicked game of seduction and it’s unclear who is playing who. But neither of them expected the affair to lead to the deepest connection they’ve ever experienced. Because beneath Taylor’s perfect exterior lies a need for love that mirrors Levi’s own.

As the heist approaches, how can Levi protect Taylor from the truth?

Is he willing to give up everything to save the one girl who’s made him want to be a better man?

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Author: Season Vining
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you St Martin’s Press!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m  a sucker for romances that have a little bit of deception to them. When people aren’t supposed to fall in love but do–I am SO there. It may be cliché but it works for me!

Add to that the heist plot line and this book was a must request for me! I couldn’t wait for the sexual tension and the inevitable forbidden love!

The Plot:

The plot isn’t super focused on the actual heist in the sense that it is strictly a heist novel. The elements are there though and I thought it counter balanced the romance nicely. There was also a lot of character growth as well. I’ll talk a bit more about Taylor later but I enjoyed watching her grow as a person.

The plot progression overall reminded me a lot of a Harlequin romance, only with New Adult aged characters. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just felt like this book had a much more subdued plot line than I expected. It coasted at a nice pace until everything hit the fan near the end. And what a splatter that was! Here I thought I had everything figured out but I was pleasantly surprised! Bonus points!

The Characters:

After the first chapter, I had come to the conclusion that Taylor was a bit of a cliche. I got the impression that she was your typical rich girl who comes across as a spoiled brat but really had a heart of gold. SO NOT THE CASE! She is a spoiled brat–but that made watching her grow so nice! When you learn more about who she is a person, you start to root for her a bit. You want her to succeed and find herself and I enjoyed watching that journey for her.

Levi also had some character growth but not as much. I feel like this was Taylor’s story first and foremost and Levi was just a catalyst for change. I liked him but I didn’t love him.

The Romance:

For me personally, I wanted more close encounters with these two. BUT, I appreciated why the romance was done the way it was. I like how the parallels to Romeo and Juliet were discussed by the characters.  It helped establish their attraction and subsequent relationship. I liked the two of them together but I didn’t love them. I wanted a little more but, it definitely worked for this story I think!

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

This book wasn’t has high action/tension as I was expecting but I did enjoy it overall. It’s more subdued from my usual New Adult Romance reads but I liked the change of pace. It had a great balance between the romance, the heist and the character growth. I think those who want to dip their toes into New Adult would really enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: rich girl-poor boy stories, character growth
Avoid if You: want more suspense

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Fresh Fridays: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #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:

The Heartbreaker Chronicles

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Heartbreakers (from Goodreads):
“When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Netgalley Read 2015
Series: The Heartbreaker Chronicles

This series is linked with her other novel, My Life With the Walter Boys

Author: Ali Novak
# of Books: 2 (The Heartbreakers, The Queen of Hearts)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Queen of Hearts is currently being published on Wattpad
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Music, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  |  Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Fire!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well of course, the cover drew me in, and it was a cover that kept popping up everywhere I turned. So, I read the synopsis and knew I IMMEDIATELY had to read it. Average girl falling in love with a popstar? That’s right up my alley (Rockstar romances are my favourite trend this year). But what really captured my attention was the ill sister–this was an aspect that promised a heartwarming (possibly heartbreaking) plotline.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I was a approved to read this and couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

– The Romance –

Boy, I was swooning within five seconds of meeting Oliver! He was charming and genuine–basically everything you want in your favourite pop-punk crush. Watching Stella and Oliver interact had me wanting more and I couldn’t put this book down! (It was torture being at work when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and read this!)

– The Family Dynamic –

Stella’s family situation was perfectly balanced with the romance. I enjoyed watching her grow as a person; learning what her fears were and how to conquer them. The situations she faces in her everyday life–a sick sister, a brother leaving home for college, herself leaving for college–really grounded this book in realism, making Stella relatable in an otherwise unorthodox situation. It added a depth to Stella’s character that I appreciated.

What I Didn’t Like:

– The required Romantic “Drama” Scene –

I was LOVING this book until this one romantic plot element that I could have done without. Now, because I don’t list spoilers, that previous statement makes it seem like some unfathomable event happened that ruined the entire book.

That isn’t what happened!

I saw this particular plot device a mile away but I had really hoped that wouldn’t happen. I see why it was added but for a book that was pretty logical and flowing, it really put a not-so-great kink in things. It made my love for the characters diminish just a touch BUT, it was really just one small aspect in an otherwise great novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I didn’t know this was going to be a series when I picked it up so I am ecstatic! I loved the rest of the band and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the boys!

+

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

It has been a long time since I wanted to put everything on hold just to finish a book! Normally, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary YA romance but this one had so many great elements that I loved. Can’t wait for more!

Read if You Like: coming of age stories, musicians, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: don’t like YA contemporary

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Series Review: Bad Reputation by K.B. Nelson

Series Review: Bad Reputation by K.B. Nelson

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

Bad Reputation Series

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Bad Reputation  (aka Wicked Games)(from Goodreads):

She knows better. She just doesn’t care.

Apple Malloy is a woman scorned. Scorned by a society that has shamed her, and scorned by the men who have claimed her. On the verge of college graduation, Apple finds herself entangled in one last game of manipulation, deceit and sexual corruption with her former lover, and constant enabler, Brick Valmont.

Apple sets her sights on Jensen Moon—the enigmatic professor who had failed her the semester prior—and vows revenge. She’ll make him fall in love with her, and then break his heart, leaving his reputation destroyed in the process.

Brick makes her a wager she can’t refuse.

If Apple can seduce Jensen before Brick can sleep with Tyra Young, the beautiful, innocent daughter of a sitting U.S. Senator, then she will emerge victorious. If she wins, she gets the satisfaction that she has beaten him at his own game. If she loses, she must sleep with Brick one last time before heading separate ways.

Apple is a pro at this. She knows how to maneuver men and wrap them around her finger. She knows how to get what she wants, but Jensen tosses an unexpected grenade into her path to victory. Soon, she realizes it is she that might face the worst fate of all.

She falls in love.

Jensen has a power over Apple and it terrifies her. He can make her feel things. He can make her heart race. He might be the only one capable of saving her soul before it’s too late. But one thing is certain—nobody escapes unscathed in this titillating story of manipulation where nothing is as it appears.

Bad Reputation is the first book in the Bad Reputation series, and is loosely based on the 1782 classic novel, Dangerous Liaisons.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite ARC Read 2015
Series: Bad Reputation
Author: Dylan Heart (aka K.B. Nelson)
# of Books: 2+ (Wicked Games, Dangerous Games, Imitation Games)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: No, Imitation Games, has yet to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (#2)
Publication Date: June 11, 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2)

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Note: ARC only provided for Book #1, Wicked Games

Please Note: The first book in this series was previously titled as “Bad Reputation” and has been since renamed “Wicked Games”.

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**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:

When I saw this book on Netgalley, I just HAD to read it! Why? One reason is that I love stories about love games. The other is the mention of Cruel Intentions.

While I was definitely too young to enjoy Cruel Intentions when it first came out, I really enjoyed it when I older. I also really enjoy the story it is based on, Dangerous Liaisons and have seen the play (it was fantastic!).

Needless to say, Bad Reputation had a lot of live up to but it sounded like it was up for the task. I preempted the other books I was reading so I could dive into this one as soon as I was approved.

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

This story lived up to the salacious tone of Cruel Intentions but in a more modern world. It wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty in more ways than one 😉 No, in all seriousness I loved that this book didn’t hold back. While it was crude at times it just added a darker layer to this already dark story.

But don’t go thinking this is a knock-off of Cruel Intentions! This book definitely has some twists up its sleeve and some interesting spins that keeps readers on the edge of their toes!

–The Characters–

Honestly, you love to hate Brick and Apple. They are both so devious and manipulative but at the same time you have to feel for them because you know that something awful has happened to make them this way. I loved the drama that their relationship created and how they are always pushing each other. It makes for an interesting–and intense!–read.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Romance–

It happened a little too fast for me but I understand why it had to progress at the pace it did. I can see the connection, I just wanted more time to develop it. Because the passion is there–boy is it ever!–it’s just the timing of it all that didn’t work for me

–The Abrupt Page Breaks–

It felt like every time we were getting to the good stuff we would get a page break (you know, a change to a scene later on). At first I thought my Kobo was skipping pages (sometimes it does that) but it was actually the scene changing in the novel. I really wanted to see those cutoff bits elaborated on because they would have helped me understand the characters more. At the same time though, it did leave the characters with a sense of mystery so I guess it had its positives.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for Brick’s story in the next novel! There is just so much more to uncover with everything that happened and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next!

updates

–February 13, 2020– Book #2: Dangerous Games

After I read Bad Situation (#1), I was eager for the sequel but never found out anything more about it. And so it went to the back burner for a bit until one day I was doing some research about some series that I had marked as “unknown series status” and discovered that this series had been rebranded and republished under new titles and with a completely different author’s name.

So even though it has been 5 years since I read the original book and the characters and events were a vague memory, I still wanted to give Dangerous Games a chance and it seemed like fate that it should be in Kindle Unlimited when I renewed my subscription.

This was a quick and dirty read. I would say easy but the scene jumping I struggled with in the first novel reappeared here. I felt like things ended abruptly or things were left intentionally vague when the shouldn’t have been. There were also some minor editing mistakes (like typos, etc) but it was sporadic.

Some of the twists were good, some were predictable. Overall, it was nice to see these characters fleshed out a little more as they see the consequences of their games.

There is supposed to be a standalone sequel about another character but I don’t know if it will ever be published so I’m going to close the door on this series here.

Series Rating: 4/5

Wicked Games 4/5 | Dangerous Games 3/5 | Imitation Games N/A

overall

I’ve been looking for a great dark New Adult read and this series is looking VERY promising! It’s gritty, it’s dirty and it makes no apologies. If you want a book full of manipulation, love games, sex and damaged characters, Bad Reputation has nothing but a good reputation 😉

Read if You Like: love games & manipulation, characters you love to hate
Avoid if You: don’t like crude language, don’t like dark New Adult

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Series Review: Wicked White by Michelle A. Valentine

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

Wicked White Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wicked White (from Goodreads):
After his mother dies, rock star Ace White—lead singer of the red-hot band Wicked White—is done with the celebrity game. The phony people, the meaningless one-night stands: he doesn’t want any of it anymore. Quitting in the middle of a sold-out tour, Ace sets out to find some place—any place—where he can be alone.

Aspiring singer Iris Easton’s life has never been easy. First, her mother walked out on her when she was a kid. Now she’s buried in debt, weeks after losing her beloved grandmother. When a mysterious and sexy new guy moves in next door, Iris can’t help but be drawn to his soulful gaze. She can tell there’s something from his past haunting him—something he’s not telling her.

Just as Ace starts falling for Iris, the media go on a worldwide hunt to find the missing rocker. Will true love conquer all, or will the truth be the very thing that tears the couple apart?

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Series: Wicked White
Author: Michelle A Valentine
# of Books: 3 (Wicked White, Wicked Reunion, Wicked Love)
Book Order: Connected but Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Music
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 23, 2015 – May 31, 2016
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook    Thanks Amazon Publishing!

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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:

While High Fantasy novels are my current Young Adult trend, rock-star romances are definitely my New Adult trend. So when I saw this book on Netgalley, I just had to request it.

I have Michelle A. Valentine’s Black Falcon series on my Kindle but haven’t managed to read it yet. I know that her other rock-star series have consistently high ratings so I was looking forward to Wicked White. Good guy rock-star in hiding? Yes please.

What I Liked:

-The Communication-

Iris and Ace share an insta-connection, but one that is based on mutual attraction. While their romance develops fast, I feel like we had enough time to learn why these characters were suited for each other. They definitely share a lot of common interests, views on life and a shared comradery over a rough childhood. But what I liked most of all is that they communicated with each other and shared their thoughts and feelings about their relationship. It’s just so refreshing to read about characters who aren’t consumed by the need to “work” on their physical relationship and actually spend time trying to get to know each other. So while things happen at a faster pace, I felt like there was still a solid foundation for a relationship to start from.

(Of course the communication between them only lasts so long before it becomes a plot device but nonetheless, when it comes to initiating their relationship it’s great!)

-Character Growth-

What I liked is that these characters not only develop their relationship together but they also mature on their own. Sometimes I think New Adult novels forget about the “growing up” aspect of the genre. Ace in particular really grows up throughout this novel and I liked that. And I like that Iris doesn’t become solely dependant on him either. They had a great balance to their relationships that made you want to root for them.

What I Didn’t Like:

-Happy-Go-Lucky Plot-

Everything in this book just happened wayyyy to easily for me. Nothing ever met resistance for very long and that made it a little boring at times. I guess I’m just use to lots of over the top drama with rockstars because of the other novels I read so I wanted that flare and dramatics. The problem (it’s not really a problem, perhaps it is an “issue”) is that Ace is a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t like the way he is presented to the world. He isn’t some sauve jack-ass and that is A-OK, believe me. It’s just that he isn’t like your typical rockstar so don’t expect your typical rockstar situations.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea what the next book is going to be about. I have some suspicions but I really don’t think they are right. I’m definitely curious to see what is going to happen next in this series!

updates

–December 7, 2015– Book #2: Wicked Reunion

Normally, I’m not a fan of second chance romances. They are a little boring and are often predictable (I mean, I think we all know how they are going to end). But I have noticed lately, thanks to Bad Romeo, that I enjoy ones where we get scenes from both the past and the present. It gives a bit more suspense to the story and pushes you to find out what really happened to split these two apart. This book is one of those cases!

I thought the story was much more compelling and addicting. I wanted to know what happened and it helped me to see why these two belonged together.

The only flaw I find with this story is how the reunion comes to be. I suppose I wanted more dramatics between the two of them when they finally reunite. I wanted sparks to fly (and they did) and I wanted the dramatics (and there definitely were some)–but I really wanted them to FIGHT for their relationship. It seemed like a lot of “you’re here and I haven’t stopped thinking about you so lets do this”. But that didn’t really come across to me on Jared’s part. I was really disappointed in how he just didn’t put too much effort in when all was said and done. And that sucks because I could see why they would work thanks to the scenes from the past; but in the present 5 years later, I just needed a little more convincing.

Regardless, I really did enjoy their story and their character growth. This story was completely addicting and had me on the edge of my seat, trying to find out what was going to happen next. Definitely my favourite of the two books so far!

–May 9, 2016– Book #3: Wicked Love

Wicked Love had a lot of potential but it just fell flat to me in the end.

Part of the issue was the maturity of the characters. Avery had so much potential to have some great growth (especially with her self-esteem issues) but she is stilted by her immature views that are never matured as the story progresses. I cut her some slack considering she is only 18 or so when the story starts but I scratched my head in confusion a few times with some of her thoughts and actions. Tyler was only slightly better but these two both lacked the ability to think two steps ahead, only seeing the immediate future and not thinking any further than that. It was really frustrating to read because the logic was screaming out at me as I read but they were both oblivious to it.

I also didn’t realize that a majority (~70%) of the story is actually the retelling of their past. It establishes their relationship which is a cute story but these two failed to impress me with their thoughts and actions. When I picked up the book, I actually thought that it would focus more on their reunion and only allude to the past as they worked through their struggles. The last 30% or so does focus on their reunion but things just happen too easily and without any resistance. Like in the previous novels, the “happy-go-lucky” attitude prevents these characters from really maturing and developing because they never face any true conflict. I was really disappointed in how everything wraps up and I wanted more drama–especially when there was so much potential for said drama.

While this was an enjoyable read to pass the time, I wanted more from it.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Wicked White 3.5/5 | Wicked Reunion 4/5 | Wicked Love 3/5

overall

This book was a refreshing take on the rockstar world. I really like that it humanizes celebrities and reminds readers that they are people too. I enjoyed watching Ace and Iris grow together and grow up throughout the novel. And while I didn’t find the drama to be anything scandalously juicy, it still kept my interest the entire time.

Read if You Like: celebrities finding love, nice guy celebrities, don’t want over the top dramatics
Avoid if You: dislike happy go lucky stories, want more passionate romance and dramatics

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Fresh Fridays: Days Like This (Landslide Series) by Danielle Ellison

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:

Landslide Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Days Like This (from Goodreads):
Sometimes the only thing standing between fear and hope is you.

Almost a year ago, nineteen-year-old Cassie Harlen had a lot to deal with. A stack of college acceptance letters waiting for answers, a proposal from the boy next door, and a mother whose most recent bipolar episode left Cassie hurt and confused. Tired of cleaning up the messes caused by her mother’s disorder, of resenting her mother for not being there, and scared of being trapped by an inevitable future—which included marrying Graham Tucker—Cassie did the only thing she could think of to keep from ending up like her mother: she left.

Graham never knew why Cassie walked away. He woke up one morning and she was gone—along with the life that he’d created around her. After eleven months, Graham has a new plan for his future. One that doesn’t involve Cassie Harlen.

When Cassie’s mom nearly burns down her house, Cassie’s forced to return home. Back to a mother she’s tried to ignore and the guy she’s been unable to forget. Graham doesn’t know how he’s going to spend the whole summer living next door to the person who broke his heart without letting those old feelings push through to the surface.

Neither does Cassie.

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Series: Landslide Series
Author: Danielle Ellison
# of Books: 1+ (Days Like This, book 2)
Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, this is a part of a new series
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Second Chance, Mental Health, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 2, 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook  Thank you Bookish World Press for the opportunity!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Normally, I don’t read second chance romances. They’re predictable and often full of cliches and I miss watching the couple fall in love. But lately, I’ve found them to be fairly interesting–especially in the New Adult genre. While the reasons why the one lead leaves is often the same between books, I love the drama, sexual tension and secrets of the past (even if I can figure them out pretty quickly). I guess you could say they are my guilty pleasure NA reads.

But what captured my attention with this book was the fact that Cassie’s mom is bipolar. As a health care student, I really love anything that promotes mental health awareness because it is a serious health concern. When it isn’t plagued with stigma, it’s completely neglected or ignored and that just isn’t cool with me. SO, I was really interested to see how this would add to the story and how the characters deal with a situation that is becoming more prevalent in society.

The Plot:

The plot isn’t a fast-paced, drama riddled one. Instead, it’s a slow burn with Cassie and Graham trying to navigate the messy world of best friends-turned lovers-turned scorned exes. This isn’t as bad (ie as flip-floppy) as it sounds. I actually really appreciated the way they handled things; even if I found them to be naive about their feelings. Nothing is more frustrating than watching people not talk to each other when it would solve everything. But hey, you wouldn’t have a story otherwise so I took it with a grain of salt. As I said, it really wasn’t overly annoying because I understood why they both were afraid to open up to each other given all that has happened to them.

You also have Cassie’s coming of age story, trying to find out who she is independently of Graham, her mom and her friends. Sure, it wasn’t the happiest story ever but it was great watching her learn from her faults and truly work on becoming a stronger person. This story was just as much about character development as it was about the second chance romance and that was just fabulous.

As for its dealings with mental health, I thought it was really well done. I feel like they captured all sides of it: the direct impact it has on the person, the impact it has on their immediate family and the indirect impact it has on friends of those directly involved.

The Characters:

As I said before, this story held a great balance between character development and romance.

Sure, it was frustrating to watch Graham and Cassie dance around their relationship issues but I felt like you learned enough about their past relationship to understand why they were acting like they were. Plus, you kinda sign-up for it when you decide to read a second chance romance.

Graham was a total sweetheart and you could tell he was genuinely a nice guy who cared about the impact of his actions. So that made it hard to like Cassie because she really screwed him over when she left without telling him why. (WHY do people think this it is always a good idea to leave without a word! Humans need closure by nature–why are we so afraid of honesty!*endsrant*). However, I really appreciated the journey of self-growth she took in this book. It takes a lot to admit what your own faults are and even more strength to try and fix them so I really grew to respect her character.

The Romance:

This was definitely more of a slow burn romance. You can tell the attraction and feelings are there so I never struggled with understanding why they cared for each other. Like with all second chance romances, I missed reading about them falling in love for the first time but I enjoyed watching them reconnect and work on building up the trust in their relationship.

It’s your typical childhood sweetheart story but the hurdles they have had to overcome really adds a genuine depth to their characters. I could definitely see this happening in real-life and I liked that realistic element it had to it.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure who the next book is about. I have some ideas but I’m curious! I will definitely be checking it out regardless!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed this book! Once I was into it, I had a hard time putting it down because I really loved watching the journey these two characters took. It was refreshing to read a New Adult novel that focused more on self-growth than it did on sex. I also loved the mental health aspect–it was really well done and eye opening.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, stories dealing with mental health, childhood sweetheart romances
Avoid if You: want more passion (ie sex scenes), don’t like coming of age stories/vibes

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Series Review: College of Charleston by Kate L. Mary

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

College of Charleston

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The List (from Goodreads):
The List. Twenty things every girl must do before she turns twenty. . .

Body piercing
Get drunk
First kiss

But thanks to her crazy, over-protective father, Annie Roth is way behind schedule. Good thing it’s her first semester of college, because Annie is more than ready to start checking off items. . .

Fake ID
Skinny dipping
Road trip!!!

Where it gets complicated? Ryan and Chris. Best friends. Both sweet, funny, totally hot, and totally into Annie.

But there are some things on The List that Annie only wants to do with Ryan. . .

Lose it
Get Heart Broken
Fall in love

breakdown

Series: College of Charleston
Author: Kate L. Mary
# of Books: 4 (The List, No Regrets, Moving On, Letting Go)
Book Order: Companion (No Regrets); Connected (Moving On, Letting Go)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Toasty; warm (No RegretsMoving On)
Point of View: First Person, Single; First Person Alternating (Moving On)
Publication Date: May 26 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley & Author–eBook  Thank you Kensington Books & Kate L Mary for the opportunity!

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Note: This was originally published as a Fresh Friday Post on May 29, 2015 where only The List was reviewed. As of March 18, 2016 it is now the Series Review Post.

Why I Picked Up The List / My Expectations:

I love making lists–I make them for everything! Whether it’s books to read to tasks I need to do in a day, I constantly make them. So when I saw this book was about a girl making a list of things to do for college–yeah, I was so there!

My only hesitation was the promise of a love triangle–I really hate those! But, the synopsis lead me to believe that it really was going to be one sided so I went in hoping for the best!

The Plot (The List):

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much going on besides Annie flip-flopping between the two guys–more on that particular situation later. It’s a shame because I think if the focus was on Annie finding herself as a person WITHOUT a man, it would have been a great story. More of a coming of age instead of a “why doesn’t he love me” type of situation.

There is also the mystery of Annie’s mother’s death and why it had such a huge impact on her upbringing. Again, I wish it was elaborated more because it really would have helped develop Annie’s character and maybe garner some sympathy from me as a reader because Annie sure wasn’t getting any from me!

The Characters (The List):

I didn’t really like Annie; she irritated me for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t understand her. I’ll touch on it in a bit in my romance section, but I really didn’t like how she treated one of the guys. It was like he would say one thing honestly and she would just snap at him; but if the other guy said it to her she was like “oh, ok”. It just rubbed me the wrong way as did some of her other actions. She is a very selfish, reckless character who really didn’t think about the consequences of her actions and did things simply because she could. Which, I get given her home life and all but these were just poor decisions.

The two love interests, Ryan and Chris, weren’t anything special either. They were your typical love interests: the super nice guy and the off-limits sensitive boy. And I really didn’t understand why they instantly loved Annie besides her looks because she wasn’t any prize in my eyes and they really didn’t talk to each other much either.

As for the rest of the cast, I was far more interested in Annie’s BFFs situation than Annie’s which isn’t really a good sign…

The Romance (The List):

My only hesitation picking this book up was the vibe of a love triangle in the synopsis. But I also got the impression that this wasn’t going to be a full blown love triangle; rather, it was more of a situation where two love interests are present but really only one is in contention. And this story definitely leaned more that way well sorta kinda maybe…

Because you knew that she really didn’t like the other guy and the worst part is that SHE knew she didn’t like him the same way but she kept toying with his emotions anyways and didn’t truly feel guilty about it! UGH! So FrUsTrAtInG! (Thus why I dislike Annie so much!)

And so begins the saga of Annie flopping like a fish between the two guys (the worst part of a love triangle ever!). Whining that the guy she likes, and who likes her back, is too “honourable”/weak to tell his BFF that he likes the same girl he likes because he is sexually attracted to her.

The whole situation I found to be extremely immature and annoying. I also didn’t know why the boys liked her so much because they really didn’t interact all that much or really spend that much time together to warrant such strong feelings. It just didn’t add up for me which is very disappointing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Despite not liking this book, I do want to read No Regrets. I really liked these characters and want to know their story. I’m undecided about Moving On–I’ll have to read the full synopsis when it’s released to make a decision though I feel like the unresolved events in The List will cause me to read it anyways.

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disclaimer

–March 18, 2016– Book #2: No Regrets

I was looking forward to reading this story because I’m a sucker for the “forbidden” romance trope. Not that this romance was forbidden, more like it was “off-limits”.

It took me awhile to like Cami. She’s a bit of a rambling person and it makes her come across as an airhead (and I think she is to a certain degree) but I knew that she was going to have some strong character development as the story progressed.

Unfortunately, I wanted to read about her falling in love. I wanted to actually see it happen and not have it neatly summarized as “we talked everyday for the next week and I couldn’t stop thinking about him”. So I had a hard time understanding the connection between these two beside physical attraction. Their relationship seemed like a side plot which is fine, just not what I was expecting.

If I had to give an overview of the whole novel, I would say it was all about Cami growing up. Which is why I would label this story as a coming of age story more so than a romance. Cami is dealing with some pretty heavy stuff and I did like that her character grew up a bit as you read. It took a while for me to get comfortable with that idea because I wanted it to be a romance. But once I realized the direction it was taking, I enjoyed the latter half of the book.

I also didn’t realize that this novel would be a companion novel (ie. taking place simultaneously with The List). I actually liked that a lot because it helped me keep the pacing of everything and answered some of the questions you have while reading The List when it comes to Cami and Liam’s relationship.

–March 20, 2016– Book #3: Moving On

Having just finished No Regrets the day before, I was better prepared for the type of story I was going to get with Moving On. I knew it was going to be more of a slow burn romance story, with the romantic passion coming on in the end. And that was exactly what we got.

What I enjoyed about this novel was the alternating perspectives and their character development. I liked watching these two form their bond of friendship first and getting to know each other. I understood why they liked each other and how their feelings developed. Again, the story is more about them growing as people and coincidentally finding love along the way. It’s a quick, cute read and by far the best of the series.

(Fun Fact: This book has the two lead characters from Diana Gardin’s Falling Deep [Nelson Island #2] in it!)

–February 1, 2017– Book #4: Letting Go

I will not be picking up the 4th book in the series.

My Rating: 3/5

The List 3/5 | No Regrets 2.5/5 | Moving On 4/5 | Letting Go N/A

overall

The List was too much love triangle for me and not enough character development. Whereas the opposite was true for No Regrets. Moving On had a great slow burn romance but if you are looking for loads of passion and sexual tension, there are other New Adult Series that would suit you better.

Read if You Like: slower stories, coming of age stories
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, don’t like reckless rebellious characters, want a hotter romance

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Series Review: Sutton College by Rebecca Paula

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

Sutton College Series

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Between Everything and Us (from Goodreads):
Matisse Evans is determined to make her sophomore year of college successful after failing out of a prestigious art school and spending a horribly boring gap year at home. Despite her focus, time isn’t on her side as she struggles to hold down three jobs so she can afford her first apartment while juggling course work. In the chaos of it all, Beau Grady moves in and shakes up her world. A college dropout and tattooed bad boy, the rumors about Beau mean one thing for Matisse—trouble. Paralyzed by the fear that she’s missing out on life, Matisse discovers plans may unravel, but what rises in their wake can be worth the uncertainty.

After spending the summer couch surfing, Beau Grady moves into an empty room at his ex-girlfriend’s Portland bungalow, skipping his senior year of college to spend his days working at a Vietnamese food cart instead. Once a star hockey player and gifted student, he’s put his life on hold after receiving a life-altering diagnosis, complacent to live in the moment. Hiding behind false rumors and bad habits, Beau falls for Matisse, letting her believe the worst until their relationship blooms into something they both can’t ignore. Falling for her means having to face a future he’d rather forget, but loving her just might be worth it.

breakdown

Series: Sutton College
Author: Rebecca Paula
# of Books: 2 (Between Everything and Us, Anything More than Now)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2015 – January 2016
Source & Format: NetGalley –eBook  Thank you Rebecca Paul for the opportunity!

disclaimernetgalley

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**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The cover of this book drew me to click on it when I was browsing Netgalley after creating my account but the synopsis is what made me want to read it. It sounded like it would be a book filled with sexual tension but great character growth–plus who can resist a bad boy hockey player? (I’m Canadian, what can I say!?)

The Plot:

While this book is a romance, I love that both Beau and Matisse grow individually. The vast majority of this book is spent with these characters trying to find out what the next steps in life will be in terms of school, health, career paths, parental relationships and, of course, their relationship. It isn’t always a happy story and that means it isn’t the easy novel to read because it is a little depressing at times. It’s raw and it makes you think about life.

However, I felt like the book focused too long on their unhappiness with their everyday life and not enough time on the romance (or dealing with Beau’s condition). The last 50 or so pages when that becomes the focus was the best part of the book to me. That is what I thought I was going to be reading and that appealed to me the most. That was when I got sold on Beau and Matisse being a couple and saw how/why they would care for each other. Up until that point I didn’t really get the connection between the two of them (besides the physical attraction).

The Characters:

Both Beau and Matisse are flawed characters which made this book enjoyable because you really get to watch them grow and mature. But I never fell in love with them. I think it was the overall tone of the book, which is slightly depressing and sad, that just stopped me from really enjoying their characters. I warmed up to them by the end but by then it was just too late.

It also didn’t help that I started to get a little more interested in the secondary characters, specifically the two that are the leads in the next book. I felt like their stories and relationships weren’t fully explained and were left unresolved so I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store next.

The Romance:

After reading the synopsis, I thought we would start the book right when Beau moves into the house but it actually starts about a month after. So by that point, they’ve established a bit of a relationship, though it is fair from romantic. However, I had a hard time seeing why they liked each other at the start because I didn’t see them build their initial relationship. I definitely started to see it as I continued to read because they actually spend some time together but it took far longer than I expected to get on bored with their relationship.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I plan on reading Anything More Than Now just because these two characters peaked my interest in this novel. I felt like there were some unresolved plot issues with each lead so I’m want to see where their story goes next.

I’ve opted not to pick up the sequel simply because I’ve been to far removed from this world and its characters.

My Rating: DNF

Between Everything and Us 3/5 | Anything More Than Now N/A

overall

I appreciated Between Everything and Us more once I finished it because I appreciated the realistic, raw edge it had to it. I just feel like if there was more focus on some plot aspects and less on others, this would have been a great read. If you want a true coming of age new adult read, this is the one you want!

Read if You Like: slower stories, characters in a dark place of mind, realistic romance
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Unforgettable You by Beverley Kendall

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

Only for You by Beverley Kendall | Unforgettable You Series

  book3 book3

Series: Unforgettable You
Author: Beverley Kendall
# of Books: 4 (Only for You, All Over You, Always Been You, Forever With You)

Technically, All Over You is a novella and #1.5 of the series but is to be read like a sequel

Complete?: More novels planned
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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My Expectations:

I discovered this series after finding All Over You as a free Kobo eBook and decided to buy Only for You to get the full story. I was really excited to read Only for You because I normally love these type of stories. Much like Mad for You, it promised the meeting of unrequited loves in college and that always provides some reading entertainment. Now you will noticed that I said “normally” because lately I seem to be out of luck with these unrequited high school love stories and this is one I can add to the pile.

Thoughts on Only For You:

It never helps a story when you don’t like one of the main characters and I just didn’t like Olivia. I’m not sure why when I look back at it, but I think it’s because I get the impression that we would never be friends in real life. I just didn’t like her thought process and she seemed really immature. Her problems seemed really petty and while I know that they just left high school, I felt like I was still there with them based on the way they handled things.

Josh was alright. I liked that he was a decent guy and seemed to genuinely like Olivia but again, not the sharpest tool in the shed. His reasoning for not acting on his true feelings felt a little far-fetched and overly dramatic when it didn’t need to be. There is also one scene where I sincerely doubt his intelligence because how did he NOT know that about her?! I have a feeling it would be noticeable and he should be able to put two and two together.

Based on the synopsis you would think that they spend most of the story in Paris, but they actually don’t. So don’t expect to see a lot of action from Paris as most of it takes place in the States. If you want a novel about two people falling in love abroad, read Meant to Be by Lauren Morril instead.

One thing Only for You succeeds in doing is getting me acquainted and excited for the other character’s stories. Truth be told by the end of the book I was mostly reading for updates about Scott, April, Troy and Becca.

Thoughts on All Over You:

After reading Only for You I couldn’t wait to start All Over You because there was just so much buildup. It didn’t disappoint and I really enjoyed this book a lot more than the first one. I just liked the characters more and their past actually made sense and was a lot more realistic which made it more enjoyable. I wish this book was longer and not as rushed near the end as it was.

I’m looking forward to Always Been You and hoping that it will be as enjoyable as All Over You when it comes out.

updates

–February 29, 2016– Book #3: Always Been You

I was really excited to read this one after the little hints we got in the previous book. I’m not usually a fan of romances between BFFs–I hate when they go unrequited and the usually lead to love triangles–but I do enjoy romances where two BFFs are unknowingly in love with each other…such is the case here.

Unfortunately, the “angst” went on a little too long in this one. I wanted more plot besides “he/she doesn’t know” and sabotaged new relationships. I found the synopsis to be very misleading as well. The whole thing about Playboy doesn’t become an issue until 60+% through the book which is when we start to get some drama not of the romantic variety. Just seemed a little late for something that was featured in the synopsis and I wanted to spend more time on the other drama aspects introduced later.

I am, however, very curious for the next novel. Seems like some juicy stuff is about to be revealed and I can’t wait!

–September 13, 2017– Book #4: Forever With You

I was really excited to see how the events would unfold in this novel. We are left in a lot of suspense for Emily’s story at the end of Always Been You and I was eager to uncover the secrets.

It’s an interesting choice to reveal the past right at the start. It begins with a bang and watching the aftermath is intriguing. However, you lose some of the mystery and suspense as the story progresses. I found the middle of the novel to be a little stale since it was them simply rehashing their hurt feelings again and again.

I wanted more interaction and moments where it was reaffirmed to me that they belonged together–not just arguing pack and forth. Yes, they have fabulous physical chemistry together but I needed more “talking” time to prove to me that they were a good fit.

It’s a cute second chance romance and it builds up perfectly for sequels with the introduction of new and interesting characters.

Series Rating: 3/5

Only Been You 3/5 | All Over You 4/5 | Always Been You 3/5 | Forever With You 3/5

overall

These are cute stories but there are a lot better books out there that have a similar plot line. But if you enjoy series that interweave character stories together, try this one out!

Read if You Like: stories about true love, more romance focused
Avoid if You: want more steamy romance scenes

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Synopsis for Only for You (from Goodreads):
College freshman Olivia Montgomery is thrilled at the chance to start over, escape the rumors that plagued her in high school. And she can finally put her juvenile crush, Zachary Pearson, where he belongs–in her past. Then her unrequited love strolls into her French class, shattering Olivia’s newfound peace, and the feelings she’d thought buried for good come rushing back. Now she can’t shake her unwanted attraction to the one guy who can twist her stomach into knots with just a smile…but has never given her the time of day.

Zach’s good looks may have always gotten him his pick of girls, but it’s the star quarterback’s skill on the football field that gives him his pick of the Big Ten colleges. To escape the crushing demands of his win-at-all-costs father, Zach opts for a private university in upstate New York where…his present and past collide. And the one girl he’s always wanted but can’t have–and a class trip to Paris–turn out to be the ultimate game changer that has him breaking every one of his rules.

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