Tag «Rating: 4/5»

Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

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

The Forbidden Series is a spin-off of the Broken Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: To Watch Author
Series: Forbidden, The Bellantis

This is a spinoff of the Broken Series.

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2022 – August 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

There were still a few lingering plotlines from the Broken Series that I wanted to see resolved so I was really excited to spend more time with the Bellanti family. While I really thought Armani’s story would be next, I was excited to see what was in store for Marco, the brother who kinda took a backseat in the first series but was still a captivating character to read about.

Can you Read the Forbidden Trilogy Without Reading the Broken Trilogy?:

Yes, you could but I really think you get more out of it by reading the Broken Series first. There are a lot of overarching dramatic plotlines from that first series that become the main focus of this series so it helps to know what is going on and why. Plus: I feel like you really need that context (why the families hate each other) to amplify the forbidden romance as well.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Great Character Growth–

I’m uber impressed with the character depth Stella Gray packs into her stories! I really enjoyed watching both Marco and Karina grow and evolve as characters. Marco was one heck of a playboy in the previous series and seemed a little one-dimensional as a result. So I loved getting deeper into his character.

When I first started this series, I really worried that Karina would fall into the stereotypical sheltered virgin trope; but she also has a fantastic character story! To me, she is the star of this series. Her character development was one of my favourite aspects of this series.

–Romeo & Juliet Inspiration–

I’m a Shakespeare nerd so anything to do with the Bard gets bonus points. I loved all the allusions to the classic play but with a modern flare. It highlighted the forbidden element perfectly and pumped up the family drama perfectly!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not really. I always found myself compelled to read more. I can’t really pinpoint what is missing for me to make it a 5 star read. Maybe the pacing could have been a little better at the start of each novel? But I never struggled to finish these books.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While this trilogy is somewhat self-contained, I am really excited for Marco’s brother, Armani’s story!

Series Rating: 4/5

Forbidden Bride 4/5 | Forbidden War 4/5 | Forbidden Love 4/5

overall

These star-crossed lovers have me rooting for them all the way! Who doesn’t love a suspenseful family saga filled with love and danger?

Read if You Like: Romeo & Juliet inspired; forbidden love
Avoid if You: darker romances
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forbidden Bride (from Goodreads):

I was promised to a man my uncle chose… but I ran away with the enemy.

In this valley, my family name means something.
To some, protection. To others, destruction.
When a Bellanti stole my heart, he started a war.

A ring on my finger put a target on his back.

I hardly know the man I threw my life away for.
He looked like I imagined Mr. Darcy would.
He wrote me poetry.

But he’s locked me away exactly the way my uncle had.
Choosing him was my last taste of freedom.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

He will burn me alive either way.

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Spin-off Saturdays: Once Upon a Broken Heart (#1) by Stephanie Garber

Spin-off Saturdays: Once Upon a Broken Heart (#1) by Stephanie Garber

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

Once Upon a Broken Heart Series is a spin-off of the Caraval Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: To-Watch Author
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart

This is a spinoff of the Caraval Series.

Author: Stephanie Garber
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library—Audiobook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, I knew that there was going to be a spin-off of Caraval eventually but I kinda forgot that fact when I picked up this book. It didn’t take long for me to clue in and I was excited to dive back into this fascinating world Stephanie Garber has created…and see a few old friends along the way!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Twisty Though Not as Suspenseful–

I had a hard time putting down Caraval when I read it and while this story was engaging, it didn’t have the same thrill level for me. There are plenty of twists along the way to be sure but I felt like everything moved at a gradual incline to the big finale. That made the last third of the book super engaging but I wasn’t as WOWed as I could have been.

–Sister Dynamic–

At the core of Caraval is the love between two sisters and the lengths they will go to save each other. Here, we see a different side to the sister dynamic and I really enjoyed watching that play out. It was very reminiscent of the original series but entirely unique at the same time.

–Jacks–

I’ll admit that the finer details of the Prince of Hearts is lost to me but I do know that I enjoyed his character immensely in both series. He’s still the enigma of a Fate but I feel like we might be seeing his true side come to the surface.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slow Start–

As I said above, it took me a will to get into this. I think in Caraval we get thrown into the game right away but Evie is still trying to figure out her role so it takes her a bit to realize she is a player.

–Craved More Romance–

Perhaps I read too much into the gift of “three kisses” but for a story with the title “broken heart” I did crave more romance and sexual tension.

My Audiobook Experience:

I read the original series but decided to try the audiobook this time around and I really enjoyed it. It was easy to follow along and, as I often do with audiobooks, enjoyed the hearing the emotions of the characters brought to life. Even with it being a third person POV, I easily connected with Evie’s emotions.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very, very curious to see how this all plays out now that the players are making their moves!

Series Rating: 4/5

Once Upon a Broken Heart 4/5 | The Ballad of Never Ever TBP

overall

With a gradual crescendo, fans of the Caraval Series will appreciate the return to the magical world; and those new to the world will enjoy this story of devious Fates.

Read if You Like: high fantasy, omnipresent beings, riddles
Avoid if You: want more romance

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Once Upon a Broken Heart (from Goodreads):

How far would you go for happily ever after?

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game—and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy….

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Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

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 Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

In a single moment, she becomes my obsession…

Elaine Constantine will be mine.
And her destruction is only my beginning.

I’ve known all my life that the Constantines deserved to be wiped from the face of the earth, only a smoking crater left where their mansion once stood. That’s my plan until I see her, the woman in gold with the sinful curves and the blonde curls. My will to dominate her runs as deep as the hate I have for her last name.

No matter how beautifully she bends beneath my hands, I’ll leave her shattered, a broken toy for her cruel family.

I’m a sadist, and she’s the object of my obsession.

breakdown

Series: Starcrossed Lovers | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Jade West
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2020 – March 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I mentioned in my review of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing review, I deviated from the readers’ recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe and read Leo’s book before Lucian’s.

Lucian was such a blip in the Cinderella Trilogy compared to Leo–who had a bigger role as a villain–that I wasn’t interested Lucian’s story as much. But in Book #3 of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing, Fallen Rose, Lucian’s heroine is revealed and I became obsessed with reading their story!

Needless to say, I immediately picked up this Romeo and Juliet inspired tale when I finished the other series!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) 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 characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy is inspired by Romeo and Juliet but I’d say it is loosely so. Lucian and Elaine are from feuding families; have lots of cousins and there is quite a bit of death that follows in their wake. It isn’t a straight up modern retelling by any means but if you know the classic play, I’m sure you will see some similarities.

This story is super dark though and I think a lot of people will be uncomfortable with the subject matter. There’s a lot of sex (and high BDSM sex at that as Lucian is a sadist lover), lots of violence and some content that might be triggering to readers (abuse, self-harm). I think you really have to be a fan of darker romances to enjoy this and I wouldn’t recommend this book as the series to start with if you want to get into the dark romance genre.

I am a fan of dark contemporary romances and it took even me a while to get used to the obsessive nature of our two leads. However, I quickly became consumed with their story. I enjoyed the pursuit of the first book and watching them slowly realize how they were perfect for each other in the subsequent novel.

I really enjoyed Soulless (#2) which is why Relentless (#3) was such a letdown. It was really great until (I felt) it abruptly ended. It didn’t really resolve any of the major dramatic plotlines with the exception of their final relationship status. I kinda thought there would be a fourth book with the way it ended but there isn’t which makes its ending super open-ended. Having read the next recommended series (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) in the Midnight Dynasty Universe series, I know that there really isn’t much of a resolution there either. So I ended the series on a bitter note after enjoying it so much.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series, yet all share the same characters as each other.

Lucian makes a brief appearance in the Cinderella Trilogy but he takes a backseat to his brother Leo (Beast of Bishop’s Landing). He’s a super intense person and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Normally, I don’t enjoy super alpha male heroes and Lucian is definitely an alpha–and a sadist at that. However, I feel like he is the first one to break when it comes to his feelings for Elaine and I love when the hero is the first to crack. As you start to know him and his past, you start to understand his character and appreciate why he is the way he is.

Elaine is also a complicated character and one that you don’t really see the true side of until you keep reading and start to peel back those layers. She’s feisty and strong in her own way which I always like in my heroines.

The Romance:

The tension between these two is down-right palpable the minute they set eyes on each other! They’ve got the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet fueling that flame which is always great. But they also have this great connection of understanding between them. They’re the perfect match for each other–even if they don’t realize that right away. They balance each other out and I could see why they are “starcrossed lovers”.

That being said, the romance is definitely dark and twisted. If you don’t enjoy high level BDSM–heavy emphasis on the SM part of that–then don’t pick this up!

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:

Series Rating: 4/5

Heartless 4/5 | Soulless 5/5 | Relentless 3/5

overall

Those who enjoy dark and twisted romances will devour this. But those who don’t enjoy BDSM in their novels or violence should stay away. Out of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I’d say this is the darkest.

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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Fresh Fridays: This Woven Kingdom (#1) by Tahereh Mafi

Fresh Fridays: This Woven Kingdom (#1) by Tahereh Mafi

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:

This Woven Kingdom Trilogy

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for This Woven Kingdom (from Goodreads):

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: This Woven Kingdom
Author: Tahereh Mafi
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2022 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I promised myself I wouldn’t start a new series by an author if I already had one started but I couldn’t resist trying Tahereh Mafi’s newest series despite not finishing the newest books in the Shatter Me Series. I was on a high fantasy kick when my audiobook came in for this one and I was eager to dive in!

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

We take some quality time to set up this world and its characters. I became so captivated by their stories as we progressed through the novel. So while not a lot was happening drama wise, I was still motivated to keep reading to learn more.

–Alizeh–

I love a strong heroine, especially one that grows into her independence and abilities. I really enjoyed watching her character’s story unfold.

–Alizeh & Kamran Banter–

GIVE IT ALL TO ME! I loved any scene these two shared. I think I listened with a small smile on my face anytime these two start their verbal sparring.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Start–

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the slower start. Great world and character building helps you interested in reading but I could have used some more action a little earlier on.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am so excited to see where this series will go next!

My Audiobook Experience:

This was super easy to listen to and follow along with as an audiobook.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

This Woven Kingdom 4/5 | These Infinite Threads TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

It takes its time to set up the world and its characters but it is well worth the investment!
Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance
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Spin-off Saturdays: Deception Duet by K Webster

Spin-off Saturdays: Deception Duet by K Webster

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

Deception Duet is a spin-off of the Cinderella Trilogy

breakdown

Series: Deception Duet | A Midnight Dynasty Series

This is a spinoff of the Cinderella Series.

Author: K Webster
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance, Erotica, Reverse Harem
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2022 – March 2022
Source & Format: KoboPlus—eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

The first book in this series, Triple Threat, is actually the entire reason I found out about the Midnight Dynasty Universe. The cover caught my eye when I was browsing Kobo Plus titles and I thought the premise was super unique. I was about 7% into the book when I realized it was linked to another series (Cinderella Trilogy) and that’s when I learned about the Midnight Dynasty Universe. In order to get a better appreciation, I back tracked and read a few of the other series in the universe before I came back to this duet.

The Terror Triplets don’t get a name like that by being warm and fuzzy all the time. They were absolutely brutal to Ash in the Cinderella Trilogy–almost to the point that their scenes made me uncomfortable. But, I’m always up for a redemption story so I was curious to see where this would go.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) 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 characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Romantic Suspense–

This duet reads more as a suspense novel since the boys are playing Landry at the request of their uncle. She doesn’t know that there are three of them so it’s an interesting dynamic to watch unfold.

–Reverse Harem–

I’ve only read a few reverse harem novels over the years. Any harem novel truthfully isn’t a trope I am a fan off. However, the fact that these 3 are triplets makes for an interesting dynamic when feelings start to evolve.

–A Deeper Side to the Terror Triplets–

Due to the shorter page count and the fact that we are getting POVs for 4 different characters, I think the boys could have had some more character development. But I felt like I understood them a little more by the end of this series. So they did get redeemed in my eyes–something I thought I would never say.

You definitely don’t have to read the Cinderella Trilogy to understand what is happening but I think having that experience with these 3 helps enrich your reading experience here.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Borders on Taboo–

Maybe this is a spoiler, but I think it’s important for the reader to know that there are group sex scenes between Landry and the boys. Now the boys don’t partake in any incest but there is something incredibly odd about brothers being in the same room as each other while having sex. I enjoy dark romances but there are certain lines I don’t like to cross. If they were 3 friends or stepbrothers (not blood related) instead, I’d probably feel differently about it but the fact is, they aren’t. So it borders on icky sometimes.

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:

Series Rating: 4/5

Triple Threat 4/5 | Death Wish 4/5

overall

You need to know what you are going into with this duet. If you enjoy the idea of triplet brother’s claiming one woman as theirs, then this is for you! I think fans of the Midnight Dynasty Universe will love the continued heat and suspense they have come to know from this world of books.

Read if You Like: dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike taboo
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Triple Threat (from Goodreads):

I’m a prisoner in a prestigious world.

A perfect princess locked in a tower.

My father will never let me go.

Not that I could leave. I would never abandon my little sister. Hope comes in the form of a devilishly handsome man with dark eyes and darker secrets.

With each encounter, I’m lured deeper into the labyrinth. The danger lurking beneath his surface calls to me, even as it warns me away.

Except there’s a new side of him every time we meet. A different danger each time we touch. It’s as if three different men want to devour me.

He’s not just one villain. He’s three.

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Series Review: The Royals by Kim Karr

Series Review: The Royals 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 Washed Up Royal (from Goodreads):

A simple notification turns my world upside down…

The tabloids are reporting,
I’ve taken the crown and run. (Not entirely true)

As you might have guessed,
I’m not an ordinary girl and I don’t lead an ordinary life,
But that doesn’t mean I always follow the rules.

This time, though, I feel compelled to obey.
Which means I have to find a king,
To sit alongside my throne,
Or lose it all.

With only the clothes on my back,
I head to the land of majestic playboys,
Where a royal rebel strides right into my life.

With his sultry eyes and sinful lips,
He turns my world right-side up.

The press is calling him washed up. (I think he’s anything but)

Gorgeous, sexy, irresistible,
And utterly charming,
He’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Everything is almost too perfect,
Too easy.

Until I discover,
This hot-blooded royal has a reason for being here.
And it’s more than just me.

That thing I said about easy,
Turns out…
Nothing ever is.

My royal rebel has a name,
It’s Prince Adrien Laurent.
My name is Princess Victoria Blanchette.
And this is our story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Royals
Author: Kim Karr
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2019 – March 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In recent years, I’ve become a fan of Kim Karr’s contemporary romances. Her stories just have a great blend between romance, character development and plot — they’re simply entertaining! So when I needed a new audiobook series to read for my commute to work, this fit the bill perfectly.

The Concept / The World:

This is a modern day royal romance series but the kingdoms aren’t countries you are already familiar with (ie real places). There are some overarching plot themes throughout the series so there is some world-building to keep up with. I feel like we get the best overview of the royal system and the kingdoms at the start of Book #3, Wannabe Heir, which was a little too late for me to keep up with everything but I did find it helpful.

The Plot:

I liked that all these books had a few tropes at play and how they kept the plot moving. At times I was reminded of the TV show, The Royals, (oh, how I miss it!) where there is a great blend of family secrets, monarchies, danger and romance.

The Royals GIFs | Tenor

I felt like all the books had a fresh take on modern royal romances with the blending of social media, reality TV, tabloids and expectations for royalty.

The Characters:

These books are substantial enough to allow for some solid character growth. I really liked all our leads and I enjoyed watching them evolve as characters individually. Life might not always go to plan so sometimes you adapt and pivot, and I thought these characters all did that very well. They were easy to connect with, even if I don’t live as royalty.

The Romance:

Things happen quickly in some of the stories but thanks to the character development and the scenes we do get, it was easy to like all the couples. Plenty of steam to compliment the great sexual tension and chemistry!

My Audiobook Experience:

I struggled a bit keeping straight all the kingdoms and the secondary antagonist characters but the productions themselves were great!

I will say that in Book #2, Would Be King, I thought that the character accents were inconsistent. Like our hero spoke with an accent in his dialogue but when his brother from the same place spoke, there was no accent. And the inner monologues would or wouldn’t have accents and then the dialogue would. It just threw me off a bit.

Series Rating: 4/5

Washed Up Royal 4/5 | Would Be King 4/5 | Wannabe Heir 4/5 | The Pretend Prince 4/5

overall

One of the more consistent modern royalty romance series I’ve read in recent years. It’s packed with lots of sexual tension and drama with solid characters; making it a great series to binge read!

Read if You Like: modern royal romances
Avoid if You: want full-blown erotica

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Spin-off Saturdays: Dirty Wild by Laurelin Paige

Spin-off Saturdays: Dirty Wild by Laurelin Paige

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

Dirty Wild Series is a spin-off of the Dirty Duet

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Wild, Dirty Universe

This is a spinoff of the Dirty Duet Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-3)
Publication Date: March 2021 – September 2021
Source & Format: Kobo—eBook (Own-#1); KoboPlus (#2-#3)

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

It’s a given at this point, I love anything Laurelin Paige writes. The Dirty Universe books have been cohesive yet original for each series. They’ve all got a darker edge to them but the plots differ as they explore different tropes with unique characters.

I’d been looking forward to Cade’s book because he was such an enigma in the other books in this universe. So I patiently waited for all these books to be released so I could binge them in one go!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Darker Edge–

If you’ve read the synopsis I think it’s obvious that this book has a darker tone as our heroine, Jolie, recruits our hero, Cade, to kill her father. That plot-point brings an edge of danger and action to this series that wasn’t there in the previous books. It also introduces a bit of a mystery about why Jolie has returned after staying away for so long.

–Relationship Starts at Zero–

Both Cade and Jolie are characters we don’t know too much about. Honestly, I’m not even sure if Jolie is mentioned in the other books–or if she is, I totally forgot about it! Cade plays a small role in the other books, but he is only briefly mentioned so I didn’t know much about him either. So their shared past is a completely unknown to me and therefore, I wasn’t sure what to expect of their relationship.

Whereas, the other books that are in this universe, allude to things a little more with the next set of leads thanks to plotlines that interweave a little more.

–Interweaves With Other Series–

I always enjoy when these books overlap with the previous novels in the Dirty Universe. It helps give you as the reader a 365-degree view of what was happening and how other characters felt about it. Like I said above, it doesn’t overlap a lot but enough that you can see where it fits in the grand scheme of the universe.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slow Start for Wild Rebel–

I thoughts things moved a little too slowly in Book #1, Wild Rebel. We did a lot of dancing around issues for the first half of the book. Things picked up by the end though and once we get on that track, the plot and romance picks up rapidly in the subsequent books.

Series Rating: 4/5

Wild Rebel 3/5 | Wild War 4/5 | Wild Heart 5/5

overall

This was a series that slowly built as you put the puzzle pieces together to see the entire picture. It’s a great series to binge for that reason!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, suspenseful romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark stories, stories involving abuse

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wild Rebel (from Goodreads):

We were supposed to run away after graduation.
When she didn’t show at our meeting place, I got brave and went after her.
It was a mistake.
I left bloodied and bruised.
I had no choice but to walk away.

Years passed.
I traveled, settled halfway around the world,
made enough money that I didn’t have to look back.
But I never got over her.

Then, out of the blue, she calls.

And, what she asks for, the favor that she wants?
I never thought I’d be willing to take a life.
But the truth is, and always has been: I’d do anything for her.

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Series Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Series Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (from Goodreads):

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav of 2020
Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella called: Kill Joy

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: May 2019 – September 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it was the title that drew me into reading the synopsis for this book. I had noticed it as an audiobook addition at my library and once I read the synopsis, I immediately put a hold on it. I love a good murder mystery and we don’t often encounter them a lot in the YA genre (I suppose that’s a good thing) so that always catches my attention. And while I don’t listen to podcasts, they seem to be all the rage–especially true crime–so I was interested to see how it would all play out.

The Concept:

I really loved how this series was formatted! It’s a blend of notes, interviews and reports from Pip’s projects interspersed with a narrated story. I’ve only read a few novels that use this approach of documents–The Illuminae Files being the most notable for me–but it works so well with a mystery novel. You almost feel like you are building the case yourself as all these pieces of evidence come in. It just gives this great suspense to the story.

The Plot:

The key to any good mystery is making it not too obvious but still making it within the realm of possibility. I took a detective fiction course in university so I really judge mystery novels hard because I’ve studied the bones of the genre. This series had enough red herrings along the way to keep you guessing but the solutions were always within reason.

At times, I feel like Books #1 & #2 wane a little bit in the middle; but I had such a blast listening to the audiobooks (thanks to the different mediums the information is delivered in) I didn’t notice all that much.

I did struggle with the direction of As Good As Dead (#3) however. This book has a completely different tone to it thanks to the outcomes of the first two books. There were a lot of options to reach the same conclusion and I think some readers won’t like the options that were chosen. I know I didn’t love a lot of the choices. However, when I take a step back and see how this book fits in with the overall series, I understand why things unfold the way they do.

The Characters:

I liked Pippa a lot. Not every “detective” is Sherlock Holmes (though he is fab) with their aloof intelligence. Pippa is kinda like the everyday girl, and I think that appeals to a reader: because if she can solve the mystery, surely you can as well.

Like any good mystery in a small town, you get to know all the other characters (or suspects?) throughout the series. It’s a solid cast of characters.

The Romance:

It’s not a huge part of the story but the little inklings warmed my heart. It brings home the fact that Pip is a regular girl in the midst of her own coming of age story and grounds the story when she gets those romantic moments throughout the series.

My Audiobook Experience:

Honestly, I think this is the whole reason why I rated this series so high: I LOVED the audio versions. Having a whole cast to bring the interview scenes to life and all the other documents (complete with sound effects) just gave me so much joy as I listened. It isn’t often I just lay around listening to an audiobook (usually I’m driving/walking or doing chores) but I was so addicted to this, I made time to listen. I guess I get the appeal now of true crime podcasts!

When to Read the Novella:

I didn’t read the prequel novella Kill Joy. My library didn’t have a copy and I wasn’t interested enough in it to buy it for myself. However, my research shows that you can read it at any time as it takes place before the first book but doesn’t spoil anything.

Series Rating: 4/5

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder 5/5 | Good Girl, Bad Blood 4/5 | As Good As Dead 3.5/5

overall

A thrilling, suspenseful murder mystery that keeps things grounded in reality. A fabulous series–and one I highly recommend you listen to as an audiobook!

Read if You Like: true crime podcasts, thrillers, mysteries
Avoid if You: want a romance-based story

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Spin-off Saturdays: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime by Monica Murphy

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

A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime is a spin-off of the Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did)

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Series: Lancaster Universe

This is a spinoff of the standalone Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did).

Linked with The Wrong Brother, The Reluctant Bride and Promises We Meant to Keep.

Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 10, 2022
Source & Format: Author—eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was consumed by Monica Murphy’s Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) when I read it last year. It was angsty, passionate and a soap opera in a book. It’s by far one of the best high-school-bully romances I’ve ever read. So I was excited to return to Lancaster Prep but I had no clue what to expect with this new book and its new characters.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not A High School Bully Romance–

The romance between Whit and Summer in Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) is the definition of hate to love you. But here, the romance is more subtle and sweet than hard and angry. It was sweet watching them slowly fall for each other; for them each to see that they had more depth to their characters once they spent time together. There’s just something so charming about finding first love and that person who truly sees who you are for the first time. I loved how they were able to find a partner who they could be their true selves with–and not just the person their families were trying to mold them to be.

–Crew is Much Nicer than Whit–

Whit in was one of those characters you love to hate. Crew, he’s one of those characters with a tough exterior is a big softy inside. Much like Whit, he has an interesting family dynamic that he is trying to break free of. But he is quite the charmer when he wants to be and defintiely not as alpha male as his cousin.

–Just As Sexy–

Monica Murphy writes her books with plenty of steam, even her YA ones. I think some people will find that off-putting if they don’t enjoy erotica or sex scenes, but fans of her work will feel right at home with her steamy scenes.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slower Start–

I’ll admit, it took me a while (about a third of the book) to get into this. But that’s because Wren and Crew really don’t know each other. They’re just classmates who have their preconceived ideas about each other and usually stay away from each other until a class project brings them together. There is an underlying tension and chemistry between them but it really doesn’t spark until they start spending more time together. That’s when this book starts coming alive.

How it Links / Crosses Over With Other Monica Murphy Works:

Other than a brief mention of Whit and his relation to Crew at the start of this novel (their cousins), you can definitely read this independently from Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did). However, Crew Lancaster is related to a few of Monica’s other lead characters. Crew’s brother Grant has a novella titled The Wrong Brother and his sister Charlotte is the heroine in the Midnight Dynasty Series The Reluctant Bride!

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

With plenty of steam, sweet and swoon this romance will slowly melt your heart as you read.

Read if You Like: First love, prep school romances
Avoid if You: dislike sexual content in your YA romances

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Synopsis for A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime (from Goodreads):

Wren Beaumont is many things.

Beautiful.
Smart.
Sweet.
Innocent.

At Lancaster Prep, the girls love her. They all want to be her friend. Only I see Wren for who she really is.

A repressed little virgin who keeps her feelings locked up so tight she’s probably close to bursting. She thinks she’s above us all.

Even me.

I shouldn’t be drawn to her. She’s not my type.

Until we’re forced to work together in class and realize we might have more things in common than we originally thought. Soon enough I find myself completely obsessed. I will do anything for this girl to make her fall in love with me.

Anything.

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Spin-off Saturdays: Shifter Royals by Leigh Walker

Spin-off Saturdays: Shifter Royals by Leigh Walker

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

The Shifter Royals Trilogy is a spin-off of the Vampire Royals Series

breakdown

Series: Shifter Royals, Vampire Royals

This is a spinoff of the Vampire Royals Series.

Author: Leigh Walker
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2020 – March 2020
Source & Format: KoboPlus—eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really remember much of Tamara from the first three books of the Vampire Royals Series. I can’t remember if I liked her or not but I was intrigued by her when she makes a cameo in Books #4 & #5 of the series. Rhys on the other hand has a pretty big role in those same books and one that doesn’t start in the most positive light either. So I was really interested to see what would happen when these two were matched together!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Return of the Dating Competition–

I love this paranormal Bachelor dating show aspect that these books have. I think it’s a lot of fun to read about. It was something I really missed in the previous two books of the Vampire Royals Series that take place just before this trilogy. So its return was welcomed to say the least. But I also think it was a little more well done here as well. Perhaps the fewer girls competing for Rhys heart helped to really establish his connection with Tamara (plus it helped they met before the competition as well).

–Stronger World Politics–

When we weren’t focused on the dating show, we got to delve into the world of politics. Rhys is the new king of a new kingdom and not everyone is a fan of that. So I liked the suspense that came along with that. I thought this series did a great job balancing the back and forth between the dating show and the drama outside of it. All the books just had a great flow to it.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–“Snogging” and Wine–

Honestly, this is just being nit-picky but I thought it was weird that they would use the term “snogging” but no other terms that were really British. I also thought there was a lot of wine usage to get through difficult social situations…which just seemed odd in a book that was very toned down in terms of sexual content and language.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Realm 4/5 | The Uprising 4/5 | The Crown 4/5

overall

I would say that I enjoyed this series a lot more than its original predecessor! I loved the balance between the politics of the world and the reality dating competition and it was simply a fun series to get lost in for a few days!

Read if You Like: vampires and/or werewolves, love dating competitions
Avoid if You: want more action, want erotica

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Synopsis for The Realm (from Goodreads):

He wants to make me his queen. The problem? I’m an heiress. And he’s…a beast.
I mean he is really a beast, a werewolf to be precise. I’m the first to admit that I’m born to be royalty, but this wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured it!

Rhys is about to be crowned king of the Realm, and he wants me to rule by his side. He said if I refuse, he’ll have the prince “gift” me to him. The nerve! One thing the new king needs to learn? I don’t take orders—not from him, not from anyone. But when Rhys makes it a contest and invites other women to audition to be his bride, he gets my ire up. I don’t know if I’m meant to marry a werewolf, but I do know that I was born to win. I’ll show that beast what I’m made of—I’ll make him sit, beg and heel. So may the best woman win.

And since I’m already certain that’s me, I’m all for it… Let the games begin!

*This is a brand-new series that is part of the Vampire Royals world. You do not need to read Vampire Royals in order to read this book.

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