Tag «ongoing review»

Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Belles (from Goodreads):

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control beauty, and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite-the Belle chosen by the queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie-that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

breakdown

Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’ t think you could really escape The Belles when it first came out. It seemed to be everywhere in the blogosphere and I could understand why. The concept was really neat and the cover is gorgeous.

My library had the audiobook version and so I marked it on my “wishlist” but it wasn’t until I read Clayton’s other cowritten novel, Tiny Pretty Things (and absolutely LOVED it!) that my interest in picking up this series spiked.

The Concept / The World:

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the people living in The Capitol of The Hunger Games? I feel like this book attempts to answer that question by highlighting the vanity of humanity and what we would do if we could alter our appearance with a single touch. The concept is fascinating and, like you often do in dystopian novels, taken to an extreme to highlight the flaws within.

There was a lot to like about the world itself. I like how layered the Belle system is. From the history of their role to how they are trained, you know that some serious thought was put into the process. The world has a cool modern vibe (like paparazzi, etc) but felt old at the same time with the way the kingdom is set up.

The Plot:

When I was reading The Belles, I felt like much didn’t happen in the first half. It was a lot of setting up for the future and going through the motions. We do get little clues here and there but nothing overly exciting happens. The latter half, when everything falls into place is much stronger and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

The Everlasting Rose builds on that momentum though and introduces a few more twists. However, I thought the ways things came together in the end was a little messy and rushed. The ending seemed a little lacklustre to me.

The Characters:

Honestly, I could take or leave Camellia as a lead. She doesn’t really standout to me as a lead and I thought she made some terrible decisions. To give her some credit, she does evolve in The Everlasting Rose somewhat. It was nice to see her assert some independence.

The other belles are very hard to read. Perhaps that is the by-product of them being raised to act and do certain things in society. Amber is a good example of that where she can’t seem to rebel against the ideals instilled within her from birth—and I totally get why that would be the case. But it also makes her seem sporadic in her actions and in turn, you can’t get a good read on her as a character.

But I liked how the villain was a true villain.

The Romance:

The romance in the first book gave me some unease right from the start so I was immediately thrown off. As things progress in the series, I think the reasons why become clear and the romance itself evolves for the better (and I really hope it stays that way but I doubt it).

My Audiobook Experience:

So for a story that takes place in “Orleans” I just assumed everything would be french-influenced, including the narration. It was a slightly off-putting to have a British accent for the narrator for Camellia. Otherwise, the narration was really well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect for the third book. I have ideas of what I want it to be given the way things wrap up at the end of Book #2 but I’m not sure.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Belles 3/5 | Everlasting Rose 3.5/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

Great for fans of the classic YA dystopian novels though it does leave a little to be desired at times.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, unique concepts
Avoid if You: dislike dystopian fiction

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Series Review: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

Series Review: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Duchess Deal (from Goodreads):

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Girl Meets Duke
Author: Tessa Dare
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Book 4 to be released in February 2021
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was in a historical romance phase, I discovered Tessa Dare and I’ve never looked back. Even though I don’t go out of my way to read much of the genre anymore (there are a few exceptions like Anna Harrington and Kelly Bowen), I make it a point to read anything Tessa Dare writes.

The Plot:

I’d read 14 other books by Tessa Dare by the time I started this series and you know what is shocking to me? That all her series and novels feel fresh and unique. Certainly, there are aspects to her novels that are her trademark–like the unconventional-to-society heroine or a scared hero or the way she can convey humour throughout–but I never truly feel like I’m reading a regurgitation of her previous novels or that they follow a set, formula.

I had a blast meeting all these new characters and watching all the hi-jinx they get into as they fall in love and challenge societal norms.

The Characters:

I immediately fell in love with ALL our leads in The Duchess Deal. When our heroine meets the future heroines in the series, I was so excited to see who was getting their story next that I definitely peeked at the synopsis for the rest of the series.

Everyone is just delightful. And I love how their individual struggles and growth are highlighted in their novels through the plot and romance.

The Romance:

The tension is so delicious in each novel! I couldn’t get enough of our couples–it made the books so addicting to read! But I really loved how the romances had a bit of a slow burn to them where they take their time to truly fall in love with the person and not just because they have insane physical chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

Humour doesn’t always come across in written novels for me–though that has never been a problem with Tessa’s novels–so audiobooks are a great way for me to get the humour because you hear the tone the author wants the dialogue to be delivered in. Now that I’ve started listening to her books in audio, I think that’s the only way I can enjoy them! They are just so easy and fun to listen to!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Duchess Deal 5/5 | The Governess Game 5/5 | The Wallflower Wager 4/5 | The Bride Bet TBD

overall

Honestly, this series reminded me why Tessa Dare has become an automatic must read author for me. She never fails to disappoint when it comes to characters, romance, plot and humour!

Read if You Like: historical fiction
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction romances

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Fresh Fridays: You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

Fresh Fridays: You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

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:

TBA Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for You Had Me At Hola (from Goodreads):

RITA® Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and The Kiss Quotient.

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: TBA
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more book(s) are planned
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 4, 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Harper Collins!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since I read (and loved) Alexis’ Dance Off Series, I’ve been keeping an eye out for her other releases. When she announced this title on her eNewsletter I was SO EXCITED! I LOVE the TV shows Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty so anything that is recommended to fans of them, that’s me!

What I Liked:

–It Reads Like a TV Show–

It felt like I was binge-watching a TV show–which is exactly what I wanted out of this.

It is easy to see how this series is inspired by telenovelas and shows like Jane the Virgin. You’ve got the focus on family roots; highlighting the prejudices Latin Americans face; and those highly entertaining moments of comedy laced throughout a story about love and all the drama it brings about.

–Slow Burn Romance–

The steady slow burn romance between Ashton and Jasmine that sucked me in. They take their time to get comfortable with each other. And I really thought their love scenes together were refreshing in the sense that they communicate about what they need intimately from a partner by talking and seeking consent. It isn’t just hot and heavy immediately; rather it is sensual and romantic.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slightly Off-Pace for the Romance–

I think Ashton was maybe a little too aloof at the start? I wish that they had a few more interactions to really cement that deeper bond at the start by simply talking to each other.  While the attraction is slow burn, those deeper feelings just seemed to happen pretty quickly once these two give into the attraction and I wasn’t entirely sure the intensity was warranted.

–The Episode Scenes As Chapters–

I wouldn’t say that I disliked this approach–I thought it was neat and did add to the story overall. I just think some formatting needed to be done to distinguish the characters’ feelings from the actors’. It was a little hard to separate the inner monologue. I’m hoping that is just a formatting issue in the ARCs.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really excited to explore this cast of characters a little more. I know from Alexis’ newsletter who the next book will be about so I’m curious to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4.5/5

You Had Me At Hola 4.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This reads like a great rom-com movie and it’s perfect for fans of contemporary romance looking for diverse, well written reads.

Read if You Like: telenovelas, diverse reads, rom-coms
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike rom-coms

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

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

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

Hazel Pathway Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

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

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

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

Will Alex let go of his past and pursue Raine?

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–Instant Chemistry–

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

–Positive Parental Relationships–

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

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

–Girls Supporting Girls–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Too Much Dialogue–

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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Fresh Fridays: American Royals by Katharine McGee

Fresh Fridays: American Royals by Katharine McGee

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:

American Royals Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for American Royals (from Goodreads):

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.

Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.

And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav 2020
Series: American Royals
Author: Katharine McGee
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Majesty, will be released September 2020
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Alternate History, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since the TV show The Royals abruptly ended, I’ve been going through modern royalty withdrawal. So when I saw that Katharine McGee’s next YA series was about royalty, I was stoked! I loved her debut series for so many reasons and I just knew she’d do the monarchy justice!

What I Liked:

–The Concept–

As a Canadian, I always find it so interesting that Americans seem to be somewhat obsessed with the British Monarchy despite their tension filled past. So this idea that there is still a monarchy in modern day USA is cool to watch unfold.

–Interwoven Relationships–

I think the plotline is pretty basic. I mean there isn’t a ton of stuff going on (and I think that perfectly reflects the saying “less is more”) but what is going on is amplified by the many ways things are linked together.

We follow 5 POVs throughout the story and while each person has their own struggles going on, they are somehow relate to someone else’s. And that adds this great tension to the story as you want to see what happens when the truth and the past comes up to catch everyone.

–The Romances–

I ADORED all the romances that happen or are alluded to throughout. It was so addicting to watch the various couples fall in love–even when they shouldn’t. So many great tropes at play!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

I think I had a good idea of how this was going to end after Chapter 2–it wasn’t hard to figure out but I’m not sure if it was supposed to be. And some other things seemed a little cliché but that really didn’t stop me from watching these characters react and navigate the various scenarios.

My Audiobook Experience:

Even though we only have one narrator for 5 people, the third person narration was easy to follow. Everyone had a distinct voice and the added emotion just amplified the story for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I might have predicted the end but I have no idea what will happen next!

My Rating: 5/5

American Royals 5/5 | Majesty TBP

overall

If you love royalty and romances, this is a great one!

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances, coming of age
Avoid if You: want lots of drama, want less romance
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Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Blog Tour: Realm of Knights by Jennifer Anne Davis

Synopsis for Realm of Knights (from Goodreads):

Reid has spent her whole life pretending to be a man so she can inherit her father’s estate, but when a chance encounter threatens to expose her lie, she is forced to risk everything.

In the kingdom of Marsden, women are subservient to men and land can only pass from father to son. So when Reid Ellington is born, the fifth daughter to one of the wealthiest landholders in the kingdom, it’s announced that Reid is a boy.

Eighteen years later, Reid struggles to conceal the fact she’s actually a young woman. Every day, her secret becomes harder to keep. When one of Marsden’s princes sees her sparring with a sword, she is forced to accept his offer and lead her father’s soldiers to the border. Along the way, she discovers a covert organization within the army known as the Knights of the Realm. If Reid wants to save her family from being arrested for treason and robbed of their inheritance, she will have to join the Knights and become a weapon for the crown.

To protect her family, Reid must fight like a man. To do that, she’ll need the courage of a woman.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Knights of the Realm
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released in December 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (7hrs & 58mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover drew me in, it was the synopsis that sold me. I loved the idea of exploring a character like Reid who has played the role of the opposite gender for all her life. Immediately, I thought about Disney’s Mulan and how she dresses as a man to save her family; challenging gender stereotypes along the way. And I loved the concept of this secret order of knights.

What I Liked:

–Reid’s Identity Struggle–

Reid’s struggle between living as a man versus a woman was an interesting dynamic to watch a character go through. The privileges of a man coupled with the expectations of women in the society here was an interesting lens to see everything through. And that is only heighten by the fact that Reid shifts between her two identities throughout the novel. It provides some fantastic character moments and a deeper layer to this novel.

–The Lack of Romance–

I’m a hopeless romantic and so I crave copious amounts of romance in my novels but I loved the lack of one here. Sure, there are some flirtations and attractions between characters but we completely avoided some cliches along the way and that was uber refreshing.

–Continuously Built–

Everything just builds up in this novel. We learn all these bits and pieces at a time and by then end, we see how everything comes together for the sequels. It really made the book flow nicely from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Needed a Little “Umph”–

I wanted a little more from the plot but I’m not sure what. Perhaps more physical action? There are a lot of subtle twists along the way and I never found myself being bored so I’m not sure what was lacking for me.

My Audiobook Experience:

Highly recommend the audiobook! This was such an easy listen that time literally flew by. The accents were great and everyone had their own voice. Sometimes I struggle with third person narration but this was incredibly easy to follow.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m dying for the sequel! I just need to know what happens right now!

My Rating: 4/5

Realm of Knights 3.5/5 | Shadow Knights TBP| Hidden Knights TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mulan, knights, realm politics
Avoid if You: want a romance

similarreads

  • Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist Series #1)
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)


Jennifer Anne Davis

Jennifer Anne Davis graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. She is currently a full-time writer and mother of three kids, one weimaraner, and a tortoise. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and lives in the San Diego area.
Jennifer is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel (2013), winner of the Kindle Book Awards (2018), a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards (2014), and a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2014).
Publishers Marketplace listed Jennifer as one of the best-selling indie authors in June 2017. She has also been ranked among the top 100 best-selling authors on Amazon.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pintrest

Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 35 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.

Narrator Links: Website

Realm of Knights Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

Book Tour Organised by:

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Fresh Fridays: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Fresh Fridays: Little White Lies (Debutantes #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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:

Debutantes Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Little White Lies (from Goodreads):

“I’m not saying this is Sawyer’s fault,” the prim and proper one said delicately. “But.”

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother’s “society” might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father’s identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn’t expect to find is friendship, but as she’s drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn’t the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother’s glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer’s search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

breakdown

Series: Debutantes
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Deadly Little Scandals, will be released November 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had a hit (Every Other Day) and a miss (Raised by Wolves) experience with Jennifer Lynn Barnes. But the premise of Little White Lies captured my attention when I read Jen @ Jen Ryland‘s ARC review of the novel. So when I needed a new audiobook to read, this one immediately popped out and I instantly downloaded it.

What I Liked:

–The Drama–

There are a lot of layers to this story so I never had a dull moment while I was reading. Between the antics of the other debutantes and the mystery of Sawyer’s father, it was a fun, thrilling read.

–The Lack of a Romance–

While I am a romance addict, it was great to not have a story focused on a boy. Instead, the focus shifted to female friendships and family dynamics–something that often gets left behind when the romance gets the spotlight.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Certain Things Were Predictable–

It was easy for me to figure out certain aspects of the story BUT I have to say that there were some unexpected twists that took things to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

From the accents to the snark: I’d highly recommend the audiobook!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We’ve only scratched the surface so I can’t wait to see what happens next.

My Rating: 4/5

Little White Lies 4/5 | Deadly Little Scandals TBP

overall

This was just a fun, addicting read that kept me guessing and hooked from start to finish.

Read if You Like: Pretty Little Liars
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

Spin-Off Saturdays: Briar U by Elle Kennedy

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Briar U Series is a spin-off of the Off-Campus Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Series: Briar U

This is a spinoff of the Off-Campus Series.

Author: Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2018 – October 2019
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I LOVED the Off-Campus Series! It’s one of the best NA series out there; especially if you love sport romances. I was craving more as soon as the series ended so I was super happy when Elle Kennedy announced she had a spin-off series in the works.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It pretty much has all the same magical elements as the original series. You’ve got a great mixing of romantic tropes to drive the plot; genuine, unique characters (both leads and side characters); lots of hockey time; and some guest appearances by the original leads.

I think one of the main highlights though is how well the romantic pairings work. Never once did I doubt why these characters are drawn together. Elle Kennedy does a great job of developing individual characters while building up a great partnership (that’s more than just lust or some innate connection) and I think it really shows in these novels as much as it did in the original series.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I had some pacing issues with the second book, The Risk. I thought the synopsis was slightly misleading about what the actual plot would be so I was expecting something a little different. But I still really enjoyed the story despite that fact and it’s more so a personal hang-up than anything else.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I read Off-Campus, all but one of the four books had been released so I always knew who the couples would be for the next book. Not the case with this series! It’s been a lot of fun to wait and see who will star in the next book. We get little clues as we await the release both in the novels and if you follow Elle Kennedy’s reader newsletters. I definitely have a few people I would love to get full books for so we will have to see!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Chase 5/5 | The Risk 4/5 | The Play TBA

overall

Fans of the Off-Campus Series will not be disappointed with this brand new series. And those new to the world will definitely find themselves entertained!

Read if You Like: New adult romance, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Chase (from Goodreads):

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

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Blog Tour: Slay: Rivalry by Laurelin Paige

Synopsis for Slay: Rivalry (from Goodreads):
Edward Fasbender is a devil.

He’s my father’s business rival, a powerful, vicious man who takes what he wants and bows to no one. I only took the meeting because I was curious. I thought he was going to offer me a job.

But that’s not what he’s after at all. His proposal is much more intriguing, and I see an opportunity. An opportunity to turn the tables and bring down the devil.

I’ve gotten in trouble playing these games before. I know when the risk is too great, when the stakes are too high. I know how to be cold and strong-willed and destructive. I know how to withstand dominant men with arrogant charm and rugged features.

Yet I can’t resist taking on Edward.

And I can’t resist the pull he has on me.

Soon I’m not so sure which side of the battle I’m standing on–if I’m the warrior meant to slay,

Or the one who will be slain.

Other books in the series:
book3 book4

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Slay Quartet

This is a standalone spin-off of the Fixed Series

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Ruin (#2) will be released October 2019
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild | Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 4, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Laurelin Paige fan. She writes one of my all time favourite contemporary romance series, Fixed. That’s the series I recommend to everyone who wants a delicious contemporary romance read with a hint of drama.

I’ve been dying for more insight into Celia as a character since the moment we met her in the Fixed Series. She’s fascinating as a character and her storyline later in the series is definitely intriguing. So I was eager to dive in to this.

The Plot:

The beautiful thing about all the spin-offs that Paige writes is that you don’t need to read the previous series to get what is happening. Yes, it helps to know what the allusions mean but you can definitely get by without knowing the full details. But each characters’ story is isolated to their own novels.

As some who has read all the previous novels, it was neat to see how this story fits in with the timelines and put some of the pieces together. And even though I somewhat know what happens with their story, Laurelin Paige is still able to deliver this air of the anticipation. After all, I may know some of the outcome of their relationship, but the journey itself is completely unknown!

And what a journey it is! This book had me hooked from the start! I loved this game of cat and mouse between Edward and Celia. Add to that their explosive chemistry and you’re in for a ride.

The Characters:

As I said before, Celia is one of those characters that I’ve been dying to know more about ever since she was introduced. I was so excited when it was announced she was getting her own series.

There’s just something about getting into a character’s head after only seeing them through the filter of other characters. To get her inner monologue now helps me understand her motivations and actions in a completely new way.

As for Edward—it’s funny but I always pictured him as this really old man from the first series. Probably because he is rivals with Celia’s dad. But oh boy! I’ve seen him in a completely new light and me-likey! He’s everything I want in a darker alpha lead. He’s got this air of mystery and authority but he has these moments of vulnerability that charm me every time.

The Romance:

The tension is palpable between these two! I love enemies to lovers stories because the rivalry just amps every thing up, including the romance.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Is the sequel here yet? I’m feeling a little book-hangover here…

My Rating: 5/5

Slay: Rivalry 5/5 | Slay: Ruin TBR | Book 3 TBR | Book 4 TBR

overall
New and returning fans will love this new, darker romance from Laurelin Paige. It has the right amount of angst, romance and drama to keep you hooked!

Read if You Like: Darker Contemporary Romances, arranged romances
Avoid if You: dislike anti-heroes

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Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Boyfriend Bargain by Ilsa Madden-Mills

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

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

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

If only he knew she was alive.

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

Why I’m SO EXCITED There is a Sequel:

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

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

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

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Ilsa Madden-Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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