Tag «Rating: 4.5/5»

Series Review: Heartache Duet by Jay McLean

Series Review: Heartache Duet by Jay McLean

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 Heartache and Hope (from Goodreads):

Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.

breakdown

Series: Heartache Duet

Set in the same world as the More Than Series & Preston Brothers Series.

Author: Jay McLean
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2019 – July 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Jay McLean fan and was eager to read this series when it first came out. But being a Jay McLean fan means I know I want the full series to be released before I dive in so I’m not biting my nails waiting for the next installment thanks to her massive cliffhangers!

When the audiobooks were made available at my library and I wanted to listen to contemporary romance next, this was the one I downloaded.

The Plot:

There was something incredibly addicting about Heartache and Hope (#1). I was so absorbed into Connor and Ava’s individual stories in addition to their blossoming romance. I laughed, I cried, I exclaimed things aloud while listening to this audiobook in public. I just became engrossed in this story.

While First and Forever (#2) wasn’t as addicting to read for me, it was still a solid finale. I just felt like we regurgitated a few of the same sentiments again and again. But it was great to watch these characters grow and see where they end up in the world.

The Characters:

No one writes angst — real heart-wrenching, truly tough angst — like Jay McLean. These characters aren’t simply upset because their crush won’t give them the time of day. They have experienced trauma and are doing everything they can to overcome the hand life has dealt them.

I loved Connor and Ava — and I definitely would read some books about some other characters we meet to. Everyone had such great personalities and development; they helped enhance the story.

The Romance:

I love a good slow burn, hate-to-admit-I-like-you attraction between characters. There was just this delicious tension between these two. Some of their banter was a little quirky but it worked for these two. Yes, it has all the moments of that all encompassing first love but you could see how these two would work long term which always balances that aspect out.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook production was great. I loved how the narrators brought these characters to life. I think I got a lot more of the emotion and turmoil these characters were experiencing simply because someone was saying those sentiments allowed.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Heartache and Hope 5/5 | First and Forever 4/5

overall

If you want a book series that will make you laugh, cry and shout aloud, why are you waiting! Real world angst at its finest here!

Read if You Like: first loves, complicated characters
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance, want lighter subject matter

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Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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 Hush, Hush (from Goodreads):
A SACRED OATH
A FALLEN ANGEL
A FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

breakdown

Series: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
# of Books: 4 (Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Silence; Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Angels
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2009 – October 2012
Source & Format: Own-Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this series before I even knew about Goodreads or blogging. Back when my only source of novels was whatever I purchased from Chapters, I stumbled upon this when they had an Indigo Teen Club (or something) blog/page. It was my first “fallen angels” series and the one I compare to all others too.

The Concept / The World:

Back in 2009, fallen angels and vampires were surging for YA dominance. So while most books seemed to have the same foundations (mysterious, handsome hero; unknowing heroine), they each had their own unique quirks.

What appealed to me about the Hush, Hush Saga was the darker edge it seemed to have. I liked that it toyed with the idea that not all angels are “good” angels. It also toys with the idea of why angels come to Earth and what that can mean for the human population.

The Plot:

Hush, Hush takes your typical paranormal YA approach and focuses mostly on the romance. It’s exciting and fun to watch these two navigate their relationship nonetheless. It also sets up the foundation for the rest of the series by introducing the world of fallen angels and their role.

Crescendo and Silence are by far the strongest of the series. While the romance is still heavily featured, you get more twists and turns when it comes to the angels. These had me on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next.

I had high, high hopes for Finale. I honestly think I was scared to read it because, despite the fact that I pre-ordered it, I didn’t read it for nearly 4 years. I made sure I included as a priority novel for my 2016 Rock My TBR AND added it to my 2016 Make Me Read It Challenge in the hopes it would “force” me to read it.

Finale was a huge disappointment for me. It seemed to contain everything I dislike about YA–whiny heroines, and a subpar plot–something I thought this series was above. Perhaps 4 years between novels is just too, too much. I think if I read this when I should have, I would have enjoyed it more.

The Characters:

I really liked Nora as a character. When I first started this series, she was in a league of her own compared to the Bella Swans of the world. She didn’t become a co-dependent mess and actually used her brain. She remains pretty consistent throughout the series though I felt like she lost that unique flare in Finale.

I often hear complaints that Patch is a bit of a stalker in the first novel and so they find the romance creepy. In a way, I can agree though I never really got that impression. (Maybe I was young and naive?) I feel like as the series progresses, you understand more about Patch’s character and his motives, putting everything in perspective.

The Romance:

Like I said, how Nora and Patch’s romance comes to be is often the biggest complaint about this series. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it and really enjoyed it. I thought they were a nice compliment for each other, especially as the series progresses. It’s your typical YA romance but I feel like it’s a bit more on the mature/older YA side of things.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Hush, Hush 5/5 | Crescendo 5/5 | Silence 5/5  |  Finale 3/5

overall

This series will always have a special place in my heart, even though I was disappointed in the very last book. It’s definitely in my top favourite fallen angel themed novel of the YA genre.

Read if You Like: fallen angels, darker series
Avoid if You: more “alpha” male leads

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Series Review: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Final 4 Blitz: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady 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 The Girl in the Steel Corset (from Goodreads):
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles
Author: Kady Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)
# of Books: 4 (View Full Reading Order here.)

There are 3 novellas: View Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2011 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first saw the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, in 2011 I was intrigued. By this point, my only exposure to Steampunk had been through the Infernal Devices Trilogy but it was a genre I was eager to explore deeper. So when I saw that The Girl in the Steel Corset was another YA Steampunk novel–I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Steampunk is the unique world the books are set in. I adore the mix of science fiction and history. It’s so much fun to read about! And this series is no different.

The very cool part of this series is the paranormal abilities of its lead characters. They remind me a bit of the X-men where you have this group of ragtime, unique characters who somehow create a family and a support system while kicking serious ass. It’s a blast watching them on their adventures to make London a safer place.

The Plot:

While each book has its own plot and focuses on a particular character or two, there is an overarching plot that links all the books together. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the series because it always feels like it is moving forward.

There’s romance, there’s action and there are many, many plot twists. I just love the unpredictable nature of these novels and they were a joy to read from start to finish…and super addicting!

The Characters:

This cast is awesome! Probably some of my favourite characters ever!

Not only are they all unique when it comes to their abilities but they are also unique in their personalities. It was a blast reading about them and uncovering more about each of them as the series progressed.

Finely is particularly noteworthy. As the series progressed, I worried she would lose herself in the typical female protagonist role when they meet a guy they like, but she never did. She was strong, kick-ass, independent but knew when to work together. Love her and the rest of her friends, particularly the females!

The Romance:

The romances in this series are great additions! While they aren’t a major focus of the plot, they add to it in a fabulous way that makes you want more!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Girl in the Steel Corset 4/5 | The Girl in the Clockwork Collar 4/5 | The Girl with the Iron Touch 4/5 | The Girl with the Wind-up Heart 5/5

overall

Might seem bizarre that a series I essentially gave 4 stars to is one of my favourites but I LOVE this world and I LOVE these characters. I think the only reason I gave these books 4/5 was the fact that they ended! I had to wait a long time for the next installment and I know if I read them in one go, they would all be 5/5!

Read if You Like: steampunk, action, friends who act like family
Avoid if You: dislike steampunk

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Fresh Fridays: Defy the Night (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer

Fresh Fridays: Defy the Night (#1) by Brigid Kemmerer

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:

Defy the Night Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Defy the Night (from Goodreads):

A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

breakdown

Series: Defy the Night
Author: Brigid Kremmerer
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A few years ago now, I read Kemmerer’s Elemental Series and really enjoyed it. Despite that, I never picked up another title by her and I honestly have no good reason to explain why I haven’t. But when I read Kait @ Katie’s Book Blog‘s review, I decided to get my hands on my library’s audiobook.

I love a good fantasy novel and this one sounded great! I definitely forgot about the Robin Hood inspiration when I read this book, but that was one of the reasons I decided to add it to my TBR.

I had just finished reading the audio version of Realm Breaker–which I didn’t enjoy–so I wasn’t sure if reading another fantasy audiobook immediately after that flop was a good idea. But, my library loan was going to expire and I was optimistic I would enjoy this one!

What I Liked:

–The Pacing–

I felt like this story was always moving. Yes, it definitely helps that we have two POVs that we flip between but I found both Corrick’s and Tessa’s stories to be equally intriguing. Plus, I couldn’t wait to see how they would cross paths.

–Kept Me Guessing–

I liked that nothing was overly predictable with the plot. While I certainly had some theories that turned out to be true, they certainly got tested along the way and had me second guessing.

–Tessa–

While Corrick has great character development and layers, I really enjoyed Tessa’s character. She’s passionate and compassionate. She’s certainly stubborn but I appreciated that she could see when she was wrong. There’s three sides to every story (yours, mine and the truth) and as Tessa starts to learn more about the kingdom, she discovers that maybe her views aren’t necessarily the right or the only ones.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Was Just Missing that Next Level–

While I really enjoyed this book, there was just something missing here to take it to that next level. Perhaps it was the fact that I was reading about a medical epidemic in a kingdom during the global COVID-19 pandemic that stopped me from getting totally into it. I also think that some of the other side characters could have been developed a little more, like King Harristan.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the audiobook production was great. I was very happy with my decision to listen to this story. It’s easy to follow along and the narrators were fabulous.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Now that there have been some great character and plot developments, I’m excited to see where this will go next!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Defy the Night 4.5/5 | Defend the Dawn TBP

overall

With a dash of romance and a dash of Robin Hood inspiration thrown in, this fantasy book makes for an engaging read.

Read if You Like: Robin Hood, fantasy, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy
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Series Review: The Arranged Marriage by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: The Reluctant Bride (The Arranged Marriage Trilogy #1) by Monica Murphy

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 Arranged Marriage Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Reluctant Bride (from Goodreads):

Everyone’s for sale, including me. One moment I’m the forgotten daughter of one of the most wealthy families in the country, and the next I’m the blushing bride in an arranged marriage. My fate is sealed in my wedded union with a complete stranger.

In public, Perry Constantine is the life of the party. Easygoing. Adored. In private, he’s brooding. Dark. Angry. But so am I. It’s a contest of wills to see who will break in the bedroom first, and while I try to remain strong, I find myself craving the very man I swore to hate.

My husband.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Arranged Marriage Trilogy, Wedded Bliss | Midnight Dynasty Series

Linked to A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime & The Wrong Brother

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2022 – August 16, 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

**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:

I wanted to read this book as soon as Monica announced she was writing it. It was only a happy coincidence that I discovered the Midnight Dynasty Universe, before this book was published and met Perry in his brother’s book, Stroke of Midnight, and absolutely loved him. So I was DYING for his book to be released.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

This series takes place after a number of other titles in the world chronologically. It is also linked to other Monica Murphy titles: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime and The Wrong Brother — the books about Charlotte’s brothers.

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn–

Forced into a marriage to appease their powerful families, these two fight this innate connection pulling them together. When they start to realize that they have more in common than the thought, the walls slowly come down and the beginning of something beautiful starts to take shape.

–Charlotte–

I adored her. She has such depth to her character but, like her relationship with Perry, it slowly comes up to the surface as she tries to make her way in the world.

–Perry–

I’ve always loved Perry. He’s got this charisma to him and a heart of gold that I was so excited to see him find his perfect match. Charlotte keeps him on his toes and brings out his true self which I appreciate.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Have to Wait for the Next One–

Since February, I’ve been binge reading all the Midnight Dynasty Universe that have been published so far. I hate that I have to wait to see what will happen next and not simply pick up the next book immediately after finishing!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I quickly put together the ending within the last few chapters, I cannot wait to see where this one goes!

updates

–June 23, 2022– Book #2: The Ruthless Groom

I love these two so much! It was great seeing them get to know each other a little more and open up to the idea of this being a real marriage. They have a great dynamic and communicate so well together. It’s an absolute treat to watch them in a scene together.

I’ve adored Perry every time he makes an appearance in the Midnight Dynasty novels, but it is so fantastic to get his inner monologue. He is quickly becoming a favourite of the universe for me. And I love seeing this vulnerable side that Charlotte seems to bring out of him. It expands his character development perfectly.

Charlotte is coming into her own too. I’m enjoying her character evolution in this series. She’s feisty as she learns to rebel and become her own person. It’s so satisfying to watch.

There was also this edge of suspense that steadily built until that cliffhanger ending! Gah! Can’t wait for the finale!

–August 24, 2022– Book #3: The Reckless Union

This installment has an edge of dangerous suspense to it that made it hard to put down. All the while it’s laced with plenty of steamy moments to satisfy the Perry and Charlotte fans. It cements this series as the perfect addition to the Midnight Dynasty Universe, especially for those fans who have been waiting for Perry’s story for a long time!

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Reluctant Bride 4.5/5 | The Ruthless Groom 5/5 | The Reckless Groom TBP

overall

This series has all the suspense and family intrigue of the Midnight Dynasty Universe but those unfamiliar with the world will find themselves captivated by this couple and how they fit into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, fake relationships
Avoid if You: want hardcore erotica

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Fresh Fridays: Iron Widow (#1) by Xiran Jay Zhao

Fresh Fridays: Iron Widow (#1) by Xiran Jay Zhao

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:

Iron Widow Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Iron Widow (from Goodreads):

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Reads 2022
Series: Iron Widow
Author: Xiran Jay Zhao
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: Warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I first heard of this book in K A Linde’s author newsletter and was really intrigued by her brief review of it. When I read the synopsis I immediately thought this was something I needed to read ASAP! It seemed like it was going to be a blend of Mulan and Gundam SEED (the anime that got me into anime!) so I was really excited to dive in!

What I Liked:

–Gender in Society–

Before you even start the novel, the author has left a note stating “This book is not historical fantasy or alternate history, but a futuristic story set in an entirely different world inspired by cultural elements from across Chinese history”. And I think that is important to keep in mind that she is exploring various aspects of the female role in society throughout various points in history.

I think a lot of readers will draw allusions to Mulan when they read this because Mulan is a mainstream, popular culture story about Chinese Tradtions. Zetian’s story about joining the “army” and the expectation that girls need to serve their families by getting married is very similar to Mulan’s. It was fascinating to see Zetian say “why does being a girl stop me from doing this?” and then proceed to see that yes, she can do it and slowly release herself from the binds that have been placed on her for her whole life.

I enjoy books that challenge the way you think and I felt like this book did that a lot when it comes to societal norms. There have only been a few times in my life where I have felt like my sex has been used against me in a negative way. I couldn’t even fathom Zetian’s reality being a true reality but I know that there are many places in the world where girls are treated as second class citizens simply because they are girls.

–The Romance & Sexuality–

I don’t want to give too much away about the romance but all I’ll say is that it went the way I expected and wanted it to go and I can’t wait to see how it will go in the sequel!

I feel like you can’t talk about gender roles in society without bring sex and sexuality into it. And, again, I liked how we explored sexuality in a lot of different tones throughout the novel. From the male pilots using women sexually before fights, to females needing to be virginal, to the use of violating someone to control them and to queer relationships. There is a lot to unpack but I felt like this book hit the right balance in all respects.

–Zetian–

She’s an interesting heroine to follow and understand because she truly doesn’t understand herself. It was fascinating to watch her grow and evolve as the story progressed and she had obstacle after obstacle thrown at her.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Truly Understanding the Qi World–

I think this is mostly a “me” thing because I feel like things are explained well enough. I usually read this book just before bed, so sometimes I don’t remember the finer details of how things work. So I struggled keeping the moments of reality and fantasy straight sometimes or remembering how or why certain people could do certain tasks.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have a lot of questions I want answered and I can’t wait to see how they are!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Iron Widow 4.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This book certainly lived up to the hype for me! I can’t wait to explore more of this fantastic world!

Read if You Like: fantasy novels, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike science fiction

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Series Review: Twisted by Ana Huang

Series Review: Twisted by Ana Huang

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Twisted Love (from Goodreads):

He has a heart of ice…but for her, he’d burn the world.

Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:

A crack.
A melt.
A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.

But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.

Her brother’s best friend.
Her neighbor.
Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Twisted
Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first two books of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Last year, I discovered Ana Huang when I read her If Love Series and quickly became a fan. She writes the type of romances I love to read with great chemistry between her leads and addicting plots. I was never bored reading that series and I made sure to keep an eye out for any of her future works.

The Twisted Series was pitched to me as something a little darker than her previous series, but I love dark contemporary romances so I was totally on bored. I loved the premise and couldn’t wait to dive in!

The Plot:

Each book focuses on a different set of leads and their respective stories. I found that Twisted Love (#1) was much darker than Twisted Games (#2) thanks to the characters’ pasts. But both had an air of suspense to them when it came to the plotlines that made them addicting to read. And while I was able to see some plot twists coming, others I did not so I liked that I was kept on my toes.

There is a good balance between the drama of the characters and the romance; though sometimes the pacing felt choppy. However, I was so invested in these characters that I really didn’t mind that when it’s all said and done. The pacing definitely improves as the series progresses.

The Characters:

I love complex characters in my books because that usually means there will be great character development–and that’s the case here. The romance and the drama help contribute to the growth we see in our leads (and their friends as well!) and I couldn’t ask for more.

I thought that all these characters were fresh and unique. They aren’t perfect snowflakes but they also aren’t overly jaded and angsty either. Overall, everyone is just very well rounded and you can’t help but like them.

The Romance:

Both books so far have had a slow burn type of romance which I LOVE! Watching our leads slowly fall into love made the romance that much sweeter. Nothing better than watching two people who aren’t so fond of each other succumb to those deeper feelings!

All the pairs have great chemistry from the start. The underlying attraction is always bubbling up to the surface which makes this story addicting to read in itself. But I also liked how they challenged each other and how their characters grew as a result.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! We always get a little taste of what is to come at the end of the previous book and I cannot wait for the next book!

updates

–January 29, 2022– Book #3: Twisted Hate

I love a good enemies to lovers trope and I have felt this one brewing since the very first book in the series! So I was excited to dive in!

The leads are both complex and well developed. The drama returns to the slightly darker, twisted side of the first novel. And these two live up to every aspect of the “hate” to love you trope. It comes out in every aspect of their relationship and in every interaction–especially in the bedroom! I think this is one of the first books I’ve read where the “hate” transforms into “rough” and for me there is a fine line of what I enjoy reading.

I struggled a bit with the pacing in this book. I thought there was some missed opportunities to have the sparks fly a little earlier between these two. There were chances to up the sexual tension a little more and we didn’t in the first third of the book. But the pacing gets better for the last two-thirds of the book.

–July 12, 2022– Book #4: Twisted Lies

I feel like this story has been building throughout the series. These two have always had this undeniable chemistry between them and I couldn’t wait to see that unfold!

This was the slowest of slow burns along with an edge of danger to the plot. I struggled with the pacing of both though, the book just felt a touch too long. But I enjoyed watching this finale come to life and I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up this one of a kind romance series!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Twisted Love 4/5 | Twisted Games 5/5 | Twisted Hate 4/5 | Twisted Lies 4/5

overall

If you enjoy a darker tone to your romances (without the BSDM or other kinkiness that is often associated with “darker” romances), this is the series you have been waiting for! A great blend of slow-burn romance and suspenseful drama to keep you addicted for more!

Read if You Like: dark romances, hate to love you romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances, want a lighter read

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Series Review: Blood of Ra by M Sasinowski

Series Review: Blood of Ra by M Sasinowski

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 Heir of Ra (from Goodreads):

TEN THOUSAND YEARS BENEATH THE SAND. TWO MYTHS ON A COLLISION COURSE.

An excavation of the fabled Hall of Records beneath the Sphinx unleashes an ancient disease that leaves Alyssa’s father fighting for his life.

As Alyssa races to find a cure, she stumbles upon a haunting artifact–and trespasses into the mind of an Egyptian god.

ANCIENT HISTORY AND PRESENT TIME INTERTWINE.

A global epidemic looms. Alyssa relives memories of an advanced race and unravels clues hidden within the relic, as she evades ruthless adversaries set on exploiting the power of the ancient genes. Then she makes a staggering discovery…

The world is not quite what it seems.

WILL YOU QUESTION YOUR ORIGIN?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Best Series Reads of 2020
Series: Blood of Ra
Author: M Sasinowski
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: August 2018 – December 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you M Sasinowski!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a kid I loved learning about the Ancient Egyptian world. From the curses to the culture, it’s a fascinating history to explore. I also adored the movie The Mummy. It just had a great blend of action, comedy and history that captivated you as you watched.

The Mummy Run GIF by PeacockTV

So when M Sasinowski asked me to read his debut novel, Heir of Ra, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I don’t get to read a lot of fantasy adventures laced with the curses of Ancient Egypt so it seemed like a no brainer.

The Concept / The World:

I love Egyptian history: the idea of curses, rituals and royalty makes a lush backdrop for a novel. Which is why I find it odd that we don’t often get to explore this world in fiction. The blend of science and mythology is great. You’ve got all the classic elements of Ancient Egypt mixed with advanced (yet easy to follow) modern day science and it’s simply great.

The best way to describe this series’s feel overall is if you mixed “The Mummy” with “National Treasure” together. Everything just continuously builds as you uncover the next plot point.

The Plot:

Each book literally hits the ground running and the plot keeps moving at a great pace. Honestly, there isn’t a dull moment here thanks to the multiple POVs you get; helping to build a 360-degree view of everything that is happening plotwise. Yet I was never overwhelmed by following multiple characters. It just helped built up the tension and suspense of what will happen when everything inevitably crashes together.

The Characters:

I liked Alyssa as our lead a lot. She reminds me a little of Indiana Jones and how she doesn’t let anything stop her when it comes to obstacles and getting what she wants. She’s this great blend of thoughtfulness yet reckless all at the same time. She’s what you want in a strong female lead.

The rest of the cast is just as solid. I found even as Alyssa’s story becomes the focus as the series moves forward, the supporting cast evolves just as much. Getting those extra POV along the way, in addition to Alyssa’s, helps to shape the story.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge focus of the series but there are little dashes along the way.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Heir of Ra 5/5 | Daughter of Ra 4.5/5 | Legacy of Ra 4/5

overall

If you want a series you can sink your teeth into and binge read (honestly, I could read all of these books in one sitting, they were hard to put down!), this is it. A great blend of fantasy, science and myth unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time.

Read if You Like: Egyptian mythology, adventure
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike multiple POVs

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Series Review: Primas of Power by Alexis Daria

Fresh Fridays: You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

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

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: Primas of Power
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
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:

**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.**

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!

updates

–September 17, 2021– Book #2: A Lot Like Adiós

I felt more chemistry with these two after one chapter than I have in some entire romance novels!

There are a lot of tropes at play here (friends to lovers, second chances, fake dating) but the story always feels organic. I always worry with second chance romances that I won’t see the connection between the two leads; sometimes authors think it’s enough to mention the shared past to establish that connection — not the case here! There’s a great mix of past and present experiences to help cement that romance but also provide some solid character growth.

Just like the first book in the series, I loved how these two talked about their intimate moments and needs with each other throughout. There’s also an incredible amount of diversity throughout this book when it comes to race and sexual orientation. Whereas the first book focused a little more on racial prejudices, I felt like this one focused more on the family core and how that can be strained over time; which is universal for all cultures.

My Rating: 4.5/5

You Had Me At Hola 4.5/5 | A Lot Like Adios 4/5

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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Single Sundays: The Cruelest Stranger by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Cruelest Stranger by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Cruelest Stranger (from Goodreads):

The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and two cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind—and the umbrella he left behind.

Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.

They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.

I never could have anticipated his…

And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric.

They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.

This one’s ours.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 20, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Winter Renshaw!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Winter Renshaw’s novels. They always surprise me with their trajectory and I couldn’t wait to uncover who this “cruel stranger” was!

The Plot:

While I was able to put together the pieces fairly quickly, that didn’t stop me from becoming engrossed in this couple’s story. From their hostile first meeting to the crazy coincidences that happen afterwards, there was something captivating about these two.

The Romance:

The communication between our leads was great. Their ability to patiently react to situations and Astaire’s ability to opt and see the best in Bennett was great to read about. It isn’t always sunshine and roses in relationships and this book reminds us that things take work and time.

The Characters:

And I loved how that relationship added depth to their individual characters! As we peel back the layers, these characters evolve before your eyes and contribute even more to the story.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

If you are looking for a contemporary romance that is unique from its peers, check this out!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance with a twist
Avoid if You: want erotica

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