Tag «Rating: 3/5»

Series Review: The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A Nielsen

Series Review: The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A Nielsen

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 Traitor’s Game (from Goodreads):

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip.

A group of rebels knows this all too well – and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home. The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected.

Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what – and who – it is they’re fighting for.

breakdown

Series: The Traitor’s Game
Author: Jennifer A Nielson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2018 – March 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This was a series I stumbled upon at the library when browsing audiobook titles. I loved the cover and once I read the synopsis (and saw that my library had all the audiobooks in the series), I put myself on the holds list. I love a good fantasy novel and this one seemed to be a solid blend of stories I had liked in the past yet had its own flare to it.

The Concept / The World:

The idea of magic is a touchy thing for me because it isn’t always the most logical (or can quickly have “exceptions” when it needs to) but I didn’t mind it here. There was a system to the magic and how it was used that I appreciated.

I also enjoyed how rich this was in the politics. I think there might have been a few too many groups involved to keep it all straight (it was hard as I was listening to the audiobook, trying to remember all the details as I read the books a few weeks apart).

The Plot:

Book 1, The Traitor’s Game, started like any other book in the genre. It seemed to follow the same generic formula and I found my mind starting to wander and not absorb as many details as I should have. And that is a real shame because there are some great twists near the end of that first book that were exciting and fresh.

That freshness continues on throughout the rest of the series. I loved the evolution of the plot. There are a lot of players involved and lots of aspects that contribute to the narrative. One thing that really impressed me was that nothing ever felt like “filler” content in the 2nd and 3rd books.

However, I do think the romance overshadowed a lot of stuff and because it was lacklustre for me, it dampened the reading experience quite a bit.

The Characters:

I’m going to admit that people started to blend together a bit for me. I blame the audiobook on that one and my crappy memory at trying to keep characters straight.

There are a lot of players in this game and they all do their job well.

The Romance:

I didn’t really feel Simon and Kestra as a romantic pair. I’m not really sure why because they have all the makings of a cute couple. I think it was just that there was a massive focus on their romance and how it drove so many of their decisions that just irritated me a bit. I never really felt invested in it like I should have been.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production itself is great. I just think as someone who has a crappy memory that this wasn’t the best format for trying to keep everything/one straight and clear.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3/5

The Traitor’s Game 3/5 | The Deceiver’s Heart 3/5 | The Warrior’s Curse 3/5

overall

I think those who are on a high fantasy kick who will enjoy this. You have to give it some time to find its own footing but once it does, I think you’ll be impressed with its trajectory.

Read if You Like: high fantasy, politics, slow building stories
Avoid if You: dislike romance-focused stories

similarreads

  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Snow Like Ashes Series #1)
  • The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty (The Traitor’s Circle Series #1)
  • Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson (Dance of Thieves Series #1)

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Series Review: Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

Series Review:  Sexy Jerk World by Kim Karr

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 Sexy Jerk (from Goodreads):

My best friend is married.
Everyone I know is married. It doesn’t bother me. I like my life the way it is.

Since I’m single though, when my best friend and her husband finally decide to go on their dream honeymoon, she asks me to watch their three-year-old son.

Of course I say yes.

What my best friend neglects to tell me is that I won’t be babysitting alone.

Feeling Max might be too much for me to handle, her husband asks his only single friend to help.

Nick Carrington and I have met a couple of dozen times. I’ve never really given him a second thought—other than to say he’s kind of a jerk. Out loud. So he can hear. Sure, he’s tall, dark, and handsome. And yes, he has the best ass I’ve ever seen, and I mean ever seen quite literally. You see he mooned me at last year’s Fourth of July barbecue because, like I said, he’s a jerk.

He always has to be the life of the party.
He’s also arrogant.
Imposing.
Rich.
And a playboy.
I’d even go as far as to say he’s a manwhore.

Yet somehow before I know it, this manwhore and I are co-parenting. Living under the same roof. Eating meals together and yes, talking.

Don’t look at me like that—it’s not like I had a choice. Even though I knew every minute would be hell, I had to say yes.

But after two weeks what I didn’t expect is that I’d been wrong about him.
That under his smart-ass exterior, he’s quite charming.
That his arrogance is actually confidence.
And that the sight of his naked body would do really bad things to me.

So yes, I’ve misjudged him. And yes, I like him. Really like him. Although there are times I still think he’s a jerk…I now think he’s a sexy jerk.

And I want more of him.

The question is—does he want more of me?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Sexy Jerk World
Author: Kim Karr
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Uptown Girl

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty (Kink: mild in Big Shot)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle); Audiobook (#2, #3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I read Kim’s No Pants Required (and loved it!) she quickly became a staple on my contemporary romance TBR lists. But I haven’t been the best about actually reading her books. That’s why I added Sexy Jerk to my 2019 5 Year 5 Books Challenge as a pick for the year 2017 and the last two books to my 2020 5Y5BC.

The Plot:

Compared to Kim Karr’s Men of Laguna Series, I didn’t think this series was as rom-com-esque. There’s a dose of real life thrown along the way as you watch these characters struggle with finding themselves.

I think the drama gets a little top heavy near the end. Things reach their climax at the end and seem a little rushed as the majority of the books are dedicated to sexy times and character moments.

One thing I really loved how open all the characters were about sex and exploring sexuality in their relationships. That’s not something that you get all the time in contemporary romance.

The Characters:

Besides the first book, I kinda struggled to connect with these characters. I’m not really sure why because they did have layers to them so they had some depth. I think I just didn’t understand some of their struggles or hesitations? My other theory is that the pacing and flow of the novels just didn’t work for me and I found my mind wandering.

The Romance:

All of these romances felt fast to me because of their quick plot timelines. I could see the connections though for the most parts so I tried to overlook it.

The one I really struggled with was in Big Shot (#2). Given the nature of that relationship and the second chance mentality, I just craved more from that story and its characters.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Uptown Girl:

Some sites list this book as #4 in the series but I think that’s only because of its publication date (it was released after the 3 full novels). But I think you will get the most out of it by reading it first. It just fills in some of the little holes that are alluded to in Sexy Jerk. However, you can definitely skip it and not miss much either.

My Audiobook Experience:

Despite owning all the books in the series, I listened to the last two as audiobooks from my library simply because I’m running out of audio titles to read! The productions are great and do a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 3/5

[Uptown Girl 3/5] | Sexy Jerk 4/5 | Big Shot 3/5 | Hot Stuff 3/5

overall

This wasn’t my favourite Kim Karr series ever but if you are looking for a refreshing lighter romance, these standalones are great.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sex positive stories
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike contemporary

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Series Review: The Keeper’s Chronicles by Becky Wallace

Series Review: The Keeper’s Chronicles by Becky Wallace

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 Storyspinner (from Goodreads):

Drama and danger abound in this “intricately woven” (Shannon Messenger, author of the Sky Fall series) fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

breakdown

Series: The Storyspinner; The Keepers’ Chronicles
Author: Becky Wallace
# of Books: 2 (Full Series Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (#1); Scribd–eBook (#2)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When The Storyspinner first came out, it seemed to be everywhere. It was gracing lists and seemed to be a staple review post around the blogosphere. I love a good fantasy novel; especially one where the lead heroine is strong in perhaps unconventional ways and there are political maneuvers abound. So I had some high expectations for this.

The Concept / The World:

Like its title suggests, this story weaves together many character stories into one. I loved the multiple POV because it kept the story moving when the plot is somewhat dry. But it also provides a full-circle view of the world and drives the world building.

It might have been me and my somewhat of a rush to finish this book before I had to return it, but I wasn’t totally clear on the roles of Keepers. I’m going with “it’s a me thing”. I often struggle with magic premises…despite the fact that I adore fantasy.

The Plot:

In the grand scheme, I felt like not much happens in the first book. It felt like there was a larger focus on character development or maybe it just felt that way because we got multiple POV. I did enjoy the mystery of who is after Johanna–it wasn’t predictable–even if most other things about Johanna are.

The sequel follows much of the same flow but perhaps at a little faster pace because everything has been building up to this. I read the books too far apart to appreciate the finer details but it was easy to get back into the swing of things.

The Characters:

As I often am, I was drawn to the side characters. I like Jo enough and I liked her drive and intelligence. But I found the paths the other characters went down to be more intriguing. I was surprised by some of the evolving and harder paths the characters follow. It allowed for some great growth throughout the series.

The Romance:

I wasn’t totally sold on Johanna’s romance. I think in the sequel it improves but I was often drawn to the side characters’ relationships. But if you love romance in your novels, no doubt something will appease you here.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Storyspinner 3.5/5 | The Skylighter 3/5

overall

Perfect for fans of fantasy who prefer more character driven stories with a dash of romance!

Read if You Like: fantasy, not overly complicated plots
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV

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Series Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

Series Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

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 Contagion (from Goodreads):

It got in us

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

breakdown

Series: Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
# of Books: 2  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: July 2018 – July 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I kinda stumbled upon this series by accident. I was browsing audiobooks at my library and noticed the author’s name so I decided to see if it was something I’d be into. I really enjoyed Vengeance Road by Bowman and I knew she could create a great world. I’ve been searching for that great SciFi thriller ever since I read Across the Universe and this one seemed like it had the potential to be that.

The Concept / The World:

There’s just something so suspenseful about an isolated space colony with an unknown enemy lurking in the shadows. I found that despite the slower plot, the setting really kept me interested in what was happening because I was invested in solving the mystery.

The scientist in me loved the science of this novel and how it contributed to the story. Sometimes I find the Science Fiction stories I read crossover into the fantasy elements but this one kept it pretty real and was pretty accurate with its scientific terms/explanations.

The Plot:

This story took a while to get its plot to take off. I think part of the problem is that I was a little overwhelmed with all the characters we are introduced to (more on that below). But the combination of the setting and the mystery kept me reading.

The mystery was good though I thought it was pretty basic. Nothing overly shocking or ground-breaking in either novels. I had a pretty good idea of what was happening for the most part fairly early on but I appreciated the science behind it all.

The Characters:

I’m someone who LOVES multiple POVs in a novel but even I was overwhelmed by the number of characters we are introduced to. I had a really hard time distinguishing all the characters from each other so it kept them at a bit of a distance throughout the first novel. I just never connected with any of them or their stories.

The Romance:

I love a little romance in a novel and though there was an inkling early on in Book #1 that was interesting, it fizzled out pretty quickly and nothing else ever sparked. It gets a little more of a focus in Immunity (#2) which was a refreshing element to the story.

My Audiobook Experience:

In hindsight, the audiobook might have been a not-so-great choice for me. Part of the reason I had such a hard time separating the characters from each other was that I didn’t always notice when we switched POVs. I listen to audiobooks at 1.5X the speed (and usually when I’m doing something else) so the page breaks aren’t always noticeable to me. And instead of having each chapter as a different character POV, we got multiple character POVs within the same chapter. So everything just blends together here and it made it hard to follow as a reader.

Series Rating: 3/5

Contagion 3/5 | Immunity 3/5

overall

If you want a science fiction novel that grounds itself more in the practical than the fantastical, this might be a great duet for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: science fiction, little romance
Avoid if You: want lots of action and drama

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Series Review: The Storymakers by Betsy Schow

Series Review: The Storymakers by Betsy Schow

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 Spelled (from Goodreads):

Somewhere over the rainbow, all spell is about to break loose…

Fairy Tale Survival Rule No. 32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the charming brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

breakdown

Series: The Storymakers
Author: Betsy Schow
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2015 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually think I first saw Spelled on Netgalley but even if I didn’t, it was those shoes on the cover that called to me. I have an obsession with shoes–it’s probably unhealthy. But besides that: I really enjoy fairy tale based stories and this own sounded like a lot of fun.

Of course, it sat on my library Wishlist for a long time, but when I saw that my library had all the audiobooks available, I decided it was time to give this series a shot!

The Concept / The World:

I’ve read a few retellings of the Wizard of Oz over the years as well as the classic Fairy Tales and Classic Myths, but it was cool to have everything weaved together into one story and world.

I loved all the little details Betsy Schow threw in along the way. The chapters all have a fun take on classic fairy tale elements and stories. Like quotes from fake autobiographies on classic fairy tale characters. Even the curse words were puns on fairy tales! I just had a blast getting to know this world and how everything fits together.

The Plot:

One thing I loved about the plots of the respective books is that they were always moving. There’s a lot of action in these books and I liked that. Things were always evolving and twisting as you progressed through all the obstacles. It made things less predictable as well which is always a treat.

I will admit though that I did get a little lost in what was happening from Book #2 Wanted onwards. There’s a lot of jumping around and that impacted the flow of the story for me. I really struggled to keep everything straight and my interest started to wane at times.

The Characters:

I would say that this story is more for the younger YA fans. Some of the dilemmas the characters face seem juvenile compared to some of the other YA characters out there. Though I’m not sure if they would be able to follow the way the plot jumps around…

But what I will say is this: although the leads we meet might not be the most likeable characters at the start of their stories, they are redeemable. It was great to see them grow a bit as they conquered the various obstacles and saw more of the world than just their own individual story.

The Romance:

It’s easy for fairy tale retellings to get caught up in the romance but that’s not the case here. It plays an important role for sure but it isn’t the main focus which is refreshing.

My Audiobook Experience:

All the books were great audio productions. No complaints here!

Series Rating: 3/5

Spelled 4/5 | Wanted 3/5 | Banished 3/5

overall

This is a super creative world and I loved the weaving of stories…even if I did get a lost sometimes. But out of the many fairy tale retellings I’ve read, this is one stands out as being super unique!

Read if You Like: fairy tale retellings, Shrek, Ella Enchanted
Avoid if You: want a darker read

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Fresh Fridays: In the Penalty Box by Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blout

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:

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for In the Penalty Box (from Goodreads):

The Cutting Edge meets Friday Night Lights in a sizzling new hockey romance from bestselling authors Kelly Anne Blount and Lynn Rush.

Willow
Figure skating was supposed to be my whole world. But one unlucky injury and now I’m down…but I’m definitely not out. I just need to rehab—a boatload of rehab—and who’d have thought I could do it on the boys’ hockey team?

Of course, the infuriatingly hot captain of the team seems to think I’m nothing but sequins and twirls. What’s a girl to do but put him in his place? Game on.

Brodie
Hockey is my whole world. I’ve worked my tail off getting my team in a position to win the championships—hopefully in front of major college scouts, too—so what’s a guy to do when a figure skater ends up as our new goalie?

Of course, the distractingly sexy skater thinks I’m nothing but a testosterone-laced competitive streak. And surely she’s only biding her time to heal, then she’s gone. Game over.

breakdown

Series: TBA
Author: Lynn Rush and Kelly Anne Blount
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: TBA
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 5, 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for YA sports reads and have had tremendous luck with them in the past. So when I read the synopsis about a figure skater trying to make it in the world of hockey AND a forbidden romance, I was so on board.

What I Liked:

–Gender Roles in Sports–

I grew up in small towns where there weren’t always enough players to have separate boys and girls teams and so girls would be on the “boys” hockey time all the time. I also know a lot of the Canadian Women’s Hockey players play in men’s leagues. But it is naïve to think that there aren’t barriers in place or assumed gender roles from those who play in the sports, even today.

So I really liked the added dimension of people pushing back against Willow playing with the boys. I thought it provided great material for her character development and highlighted the fact that preconceived notions can literally stop you from winning or being the best team you can be.

–Self-Discovery and Growth–

I think Willow had the most obvious character growth in the pair thanks to the challenges her injury presented her and her family life. But Brodie had a very heavy storyline as well. I think some of it could have been hashed out a littler earlier but I appreciated his struggles and how his reactions to everything were grounded in realism.

–Slow Burn Forbidden Romance–

While I would have loved a few more flirty interactions (and not just inner monologues about how good the other looked in workout gear); I really did love how these two bonded as friends and teammates before they gave into the chemistry.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

It took me a while to get into this book. It is really slow at the start as Willow orients herself in her new town and with her new limitations. That’s why I think more flirting or tension filled moments between her and Brodie at the start would have kept the pacing up. It just made the latter half of the book feel rushed and top-heavy with drama and developments.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There haven’t been any officially announcements about a sequel but I could see some tensions brewing between the best friends of our leads here.

My Rating: 3/5

In the Penalty Box 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

If you are looking for a sweet, clean teen read about navigating the challenges life throws at you in a sports world setting, this is the one for you!

Read if You Like: slower stories, sports romances
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, dislike sweet romance
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Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

Single Sundays: Arrogant Fiancé by T L Smith and Melissa Jane

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 Arrogant Fiancé (from Goodreads):

He wasn’t meant to be on my radar, he was definitely the off-limits guy.
My brother’s best friend, my friend’s ex, but most of all he was my boss.
Hawk Carnage resembled one thing, and one thing only. Sex.
He used it, he knew it, he lived it. Hawk owned the largest lingerie company in the world, and I was his leading lady.
In business.
But now business and friendship were about to be crossed. The lines blurred, and I was ready to dip my toes in the forbidden water. Because no matter how much I said I could refrain from Hawk Carnage, now was not the time.
He was to be my fake fiancé.
And I was about to sink into that forbidden water, with Hawk’s hands clutching my sides.
Lord help me because I was about to enjoy every moment of it.
Even if it was just for fun.
Even if it would ruin everything.
I was going to dive in head first.

breakdown

Author: T L Smith and Melissa Jane
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not entirely sure why I bought this book. It might have been a recommendation from Kobo? Regardless, it has some of my favourite tropes at play like fake fiances and forbidden romance so I’m sure that’s why I picked it up.

Of course, it’s been sitting on my Kobo for nearly 3 years. I picked it up when I was working a boring shift at work and wanted something quick to read (and something I owned for my Tackling the TBR challenge) that I could pickup when I actually had to stop reading and do my job.

Previously Published as “Cocky Fiancé”:

So at first I really struggled to find this title on my Kobo! I had it marked on Goodreads as “Cocky Fiancé” and typing that in lead me to nothing. So searching for the authors helped me find it and that’s when I realized it had been rereleased as “Arrogant Fiancé”.

That’s when I remembered #CockyGate and all these books that had to be renamed because someone trademarked the work “cocky”. You can read more info about it here. So in short, Arrogant Fiancé = Cocky Fiancé.

The Plot:

One thought I had when reading this book was: did the author’s have a challenge to see how many romance tropes they could throw into one book? You’ve got the forbidden romance of a boss and his employee, who happens to be her brothers’ BFF; who she decides is the perfect person to play her fake fiancé. It was a lot thrown at you plus whatever drama was in store.

I think you have to take this book with a grain of salt. It’s melodramatic to say the least. I mean the reason Hawk becomes her fake fiancé is because Britta seems to be a glutton for punishment and agrees to go to a wedding she should never have gone to in the first place.

Add to that the other drama that is packed in at the end and I feel like just pushed the romance to take a backseat which is a shame because I really liked their chemistry together.

The Characters:

Like I said above, Britta is a glutton for punishment. It’s weird because she is so assertive in some scenes but then a complete wimp in others. I understand she is broken from a past relationship but all the more reason to say “no” to certain situations she finds herself in.

Hawk lives up to the “cocky”/”arrogant” name. He says “cock” more than I’ve ever encountered in book before that’s for sure. But I found him to be charming in a way because he clearly wants to do the right thing by Britta.

The Romance:

I really loved the chemistry between these two. You could tell that spark has always been there (especially for Hawk) but these two have had all those tropes in their way. All the drama seems to be the push they finally need but it also got in the way of really grounding the romance.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick, steamy read with a charming bad boy lead this is a great choice!

Read if You Like: lots of romance tropes, drama
Avoid if You: want more layered characters

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Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

Series Review: Game for It by Karen Erickson

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 Game for Marriage (from Goodreads):

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Game for It
Author: Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think I found out about this series after I finished Erickson’s Worth It Series but I’m not sure. All I know is that in the time since I picked up Game for Marriage as a freebie, I’ve read many of Erickson’s works as Monica Murphy so I was excited to dive back into her world of adult romance.

The Plot:

If you love the fake relationship trope, this is the series for you! Honestly, all three of these books focus on some form of a “arranged relationship” so I really liked that.

But these books just skim the surface of everything. They focus on the sexy times and don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts anymore than they need to. And you’ve got your classic little white lies that blow up into something huge simply for the sake of drama. All of that just left me feeling like I was missing that little je-ne-sais-quoi to take these books to that next level.

The Characters:

They’re all likeable albeit somewhat bland. Again, it comes back to not really developing them all that much for the sake of sex scenes. They do their job at delivering the story.

The Romance:

While I love sexy times as much as the next reader, I also like conversations between my romantic leads. So while they had tangible sexual chemistry, that deeper connection was missing for me a little–especially when everything plotwise seems to happen within a month or less.

Series Rating: 3/5

Game for Marriage 3.5/5 | Game for Trouble 3/5 | Game for Tonight 3/5

overall

If you want quick, flirty romance reads this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: quick romance reads
Avoid if You: want deeper plots and characters

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Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

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 Trade Me (from Goodreads):

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

breakdown

Series: Cyclone
Author: Courtney Milan
# of Books: 2+ (Full Reading Order Here)

There are multiple novellas — see Reading Order.

Book Order: Direct Sequels & Connected
Complete?: No, Find Me is to be released
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Owned & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Trade Me from a NA Recommendation Post by Sil at Dani Reviews Things. I was drawn to it for its premise of a fake romance but also because our heroine was Chinese and the emphasis on family.

I didn’t get around to it for years–which turned out to be an ok thing since Courtney Milan is notoriously known as a slow writer so the rest of the series has yet to be published–but I made it an addition to my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2020.

The Reading Order:

Everything follows a chronological order of events so it is important to follow the publication order of the series even if some books focus on different people. Books #1, #2.5 and #3 focus on Tina and Blake with the other novels focusing on other characters we meet along the way.

What I Like:

–Character Diversity–

In December of 2019, there was a big uproar with the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Courtney Milan was at the centre of it. There is a great article about the controversy here by the New York Times for those who missed it. The gist is, Milan called out another author on Twitter for her “racist mess” of a novel and how it personally offended her as a woman of Chinese descent.

One of the things I loved the most about this series is its inclusivity. You’ve got a lead of Chinese decent in Trade Me and a trans woman lead in Hold Me. And the best part is, she makes it all seem so natural—BECAUSE IT IS! I never once felt like she was putting these character traits in for shock and awe. Everything about these stories felt so organic.

–Very Character Focused Stories–

Yes, there is a romance in these novels but I think the larger focus is on the characters and navigating their lives. All the characters we meet go through some drastic growing pains in these novels and who we start the novel with isn’t who we end up with. So if you love character-focused stories, this is a great series for you!

What I Didn’t Like:

Hold Me (Book #2)–

I was really excited to read Maria’s story in Hold Me but I ended up DNFing it at 30%. There was just too much “hate” in the hate-to-love you aspect that I didn’t see how these two would ever rectify their differences. And even as someone with a BSc, their science banter was way too hard to follow for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m actually super invested in Blake’s dad’s story (you’ll understand once you read the books–I promise!) and that’s the one I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for!

Series Rating: 3/5

Trade Me 3.5/5 | Hold Me DNF | [Year of the Crocodile 3/5] | Find Me TBR |[What Lies Between You and Me TBR] | Keep Me TBR | Show Me TBR

overall

If you like stories that take their time to evolve and you enjoy books featuring a diverse cast of characters, this is a great NA romance series for you to try!

Read if You Like: diverse characters
Avoid if You: more erotica based romance

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Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Series Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tempest (from Goodreads):

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies — nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors — it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

breakdown

Series: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3  (Full Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Tomorrow is Today

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult / Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Time Travel
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2012 – January 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series seemed to be everywhere when it first came out and I quickly marked it for my TBR; even picked it up when it was on sale at Kobo one day. But like many books on my TBR, it went unnoticed for years. In that time though, I’ve I read many other books by Julie Cross–quickly becoming a fan of her work–as well as some other time travel novels. So I was looking forward to reading this when I saw that the audio version was available at my library.

The Concept / The World:

I thought the time travelling elements were easy to understand. Jackson is learning them as you do so everything is explained nicely.

Where it did get confusing is with all his jumping around. And later on, it there are a lot more characters in the mix. Even though the dates and times are stated at the start of the chapter, there are a lot of parallel storylines happening and minor changes that can make it hard to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

I felt like things took a long time to get going in Tempest (#1) but I kinda knew that would happen with my previous Julie Cross experiences. She takes time to establish characters and plot to provide a richer read, but it just made this book seem a little underwhelming despite the time travelling aspect.

And I found it was like that in all the books. There is almost too much focus on the character development and not enough on the drama. Those moments of dramatic tension are often lost in the many character dialogue scenes. It just stopped the momentum at times and I found as the series progressed, I was getting lost in what was truly happening.

The Characters:

I’ll be straight: I wasn’t a huge fan of Jackson. He’s a bit of a self-centred guy who seems to be singularly focused on his relationship with Holly. And you’d think the romantic in me would find that devotion charming—only I didn’t. More about that below. But he just never seemed to win my seal of approval even as the series wrapped up.

There are a lot of characters and there were quite a few side characters I was particularly drawn to. But it’s interesting to see how all their stories weave together as the series progresses.

The Romance:

I really struggled with this because I wanted a fast paced time travel novel but at times, it felt like a romance novel with time travel elements. I think it’s because we were thrown into an already established romance; and one that our hero is willing to do anything for. But I just didn’t see it. Perhaps reading the novella first would have helped me bond with Holly and Jackson as a couple and root for him more to save her. (It didn’t, but I’ll explain more below).

But there is a line that one character saves to Jackson about how he doesn’t like Holly and Jackson to be a couple I definitely agreed with him. In fact, I actually shipped them both with other people. I thought those relationships were stronger. Timestorm (#3) does see their relationship (as well as Holly as a character) get a little more fleshed out but by then I was over their romance.

When to Read the Novella #0.5 Today is Tomorrow?

I read it after I read Tempest (#1) but you could read it before or anytime in the series. I didn’t get much out of it and it didn’t help me become a fan of their romance but it’s always nice to get bonus scenes.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio production is great. It’s easy to listen to.

However, I do think I would have enjoyed this series more if I had read it as a physical book. I think I would have been able to follow the timelines better and not have struggled so much remembering characters. It’s hard with audiobooks to pickup sometimes where you left off because you can’t flip back to read the subheading of the chapter, etc.

Series Rating: 3/5

Tempest 3/5 | Vortex 3/5 | Timestorm 3/5

overall

I think I’m in the minority for this one. If you enjoy more character driven non-contemporary stories this is a great read. Though I recommend not reading the audiobook if you struggle to remember things in novels.

Read if You Like: time travel, non-contemporary New Adult
Avoid if You: want a faster paced novel; action

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