Tag «Rating: 4/5»

Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

Series Review: Dirty by Laurelin Paige

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 Dirty Filthy Rich Men (from Goodreads):

When I met Donovan Kincaid, I knew he was rich. I didn’t know he was filthy. Truth be told, I was only trying to get his best friend to notice me.

I knew poor scholarship girls like me didn’t stand a chance against guys like Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, but I was in love with his world, their world, of parties and sex and power. I knew what I wanted—I knew who I wanted—until one night, their world tried to bite me back and Donovan saved me. He saved me, and then Weston finally noticed me, and I finally learned what it was to be in their world.

And then what it was like to lose it.

Ten years later, I’ve found my way back. Back to their world. Back to him.

This time, I’m ready. I’ve been down this road before, and I know all the dirty, filthy ways Donovan will try and wreck me.

But it’s hard to resist. Especially when I know how much I’ll like it.

breakdown

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

There are a spin-off Series: Dirty Games Duet, Dirty Sweet Duet

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here) (Dirty Universe Reading Order)

There is a free prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Filthy Rich Boys

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retelling, Dark
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: March 2017 – September 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything by Laurelin Paige without much thought because I just love everything that she writes. But this series in particular was one of my more highly anticipated reads by her. I’ve been craving a new darker contemporary romance and this seemed like it would fit the bill.

The Concept:

I’m not at all familiar with the movie Sabrina (1954 version or the 1995) so the basis for this story was a little lost on me. (I read the synopsis of the movie on Wikipedia so I was able to draw the allusions after the fact). But if you are, I’m sure you’ll love this take on the story. And if you aren’t, there is this anticipation from not knowing that will hook you in!

The Plot:

This is a story that is driven by the relationship of the major characters and there was just something so freaking addicting about their lives that had me completely invested.

I found sometimes things seemed to be a little repetitive in the narrative. I really noticed it in Book #2 Dirty Filthy Rich Love where we seemed to watch Sabrina rehash the same sentiments again and again. But perhaps I was just being picky about it.

The Characters:

Sabrina was a great lead to follow; she has everything I like in a strong heroine for a romance novel like this. Her independence was great.

Donovan is such an enigma–and the mystery around his character was so addicting to read! In the same breath, I wanted more from him in Dirty Filthy Rich Men. I found we seemed to rehash the same stuff with him again and again when I wanted a new layer to add to his evolution. His character evolves in the sequel though.

The Romance:

I was worried that there would be a love triangle given the synopsis but you’ll find out early on that isn’t really the case (and if you read the novella you’ll already know that).

I really loved the chemistry and the tension between these two. It’s thick and twisted (and that will definitely turn people off and away from this story; especially if you are triggered by/references to sexual assault) but I couldn’t get enough of it! And they actually,y took time to communicate with each other which I always appreciate!

When to Read #0.5 Dirty Filthy Boys:

Definitely read it before you start Dirty Filthy Men! While it gives away the slight mystery about why Sabrina hasn’t seen these guys in 10 years, it provides a lot more context about the relationship (and Sabrina’s character) than I thought the first few chapters of the novel did.

The Dirty Universe:

This duet is the start of what Laurelin Paige refers to as her Dirty Universe. Basically, each duet follows one of the guys that work/own the company. You see little inklings of each of the spin-offs here and parts of the Dirty Games Duet take place during these novels. There is a full reading order on Paige’s website to guide you but you can definitely read each series on its own and in any order if one is not to your tastes.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Filthy Rich Boys 4/5]| Dirty Filthy Rich Men 4/5| Dirty Filthy Rich Love 3/5

overall

I think some people will struggle with the darker nature of the romance but for those who like darker romances, this is great!

Read if You Like: dark romances, loosely based on other stories
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, are triggered by rape/sexual assaults

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Single Sundays: Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Single Sundays: Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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 Top Secret (from Goodreads):

LobsterShorts, 21. Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21. Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, MM Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge fan of any works these authors write individually or co-write together. But if you haven’t read Him and you want to dive into the male-male romance genre DO IT! So needless to say, I was super stoked to see these two had finally written another MM romance nearly 3 years later!

The Concept:

I think the Q&A included in the Goodreads synopsis gives you a good idea of the main focus of this book.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?
A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?
A: Not really. You’ll see.

I know I was a little apprehensive because I tend to not enjoy menage romances and that’s what the synopsis had me thinking this was; but the Q&A put me a little at ease

The Plot:

From the start, I was immediately hooked into the story. Part of it was the suspense of knowing that once these two figure things out: it’s going to be explosive. But it was also the building up of the tension as these two explore their budding relationship. Plenty of steam mixed in between some dramatic moments.

However, I did think that this book started a little too slowly. It almost felt redundant because there reaches a point where you as the reader know what’s going on and you’ve got good enough feel for the situation but the writing keeps building it up. It does make the latter half of the novel though pretty explosive.

The Characters:

I really loved all the characters we got throughout the novel. Everyone comes across as genuine which gave this story a realistic feel to it–which in turn made the romance even sweeter.

The Romance:

While there was plenty of steam, there was also plenty of substance. Like I said before, the buildup was great as it kept you interested in a reader. But it also provided this great foundation for when the “real-world” comes swooping in.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you love romances with plenty of swoon and steam and a dash of drama, this is a great book for you to read!

Read if You Like: MM romance, new adult
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance
similarreads

  • Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen (Him Series #1)
  • Leveled by Jay Crownover (Saints of Denver Series #1)

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Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

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 Paper Princess (from Goodreads):

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Royals
Author: Erin Watt (aka Jen Frederick and Elle Kennedy)
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #3.5 Tarnished Crown

Book Order: Chronological (#1-3) and Connected Sequels (#4-5)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Single; First Person, Alternating (#2 onwards)
Publication Dates: April 2016 – March 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had Paper Princess on my radar for a long time but the potential soapy-ness of it all scared me a little. But after I read (and adored) Erin Watt’s When It’s Real, I immediately made plans to bump this up on my TBR. And once I discovered that this was an author duo whose individuals works I’ve enjoyed in the past, it seemed like a no-brainer to pick it up. That’s why it was a 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge pick for the year 2016.

The Concept / Genre Classification:

While this does take place in high school (which I classify as YA), it definitely has more New Adult undertones to it; especially when it comes to the sexual content.

The first 3 books focus on Reed and Ella but the 4th and 5th books focus on Easton. However, they all follow a chronological order of events so it is best to read them in the order they are listed as on Goodreads.

The Plot:

These books definitely read like your favourite teenage soap opera drama. You’ve got mean girls; hook-ups; backstabbing; angst; sexual tension and secrets–and not just from the teenagers, the parents are just as bad 😉

But that makes for an addicting read in many ways. Yes, some of the moments were a little too overdramatic for my tastes (the antics that Ella finds herself in especially) but it worked within the context of the story. Or at least I thought that was the case with the first three books; not so much with the last two novels.

I think some people would classify it as a “guilty pleasure” read if they don’t read many contemporaries novels.

The Characters:

Ella is a fighter and I appreciated her blunt honesty at times; she’s not ashamed of herself or her past and that was refreshing. At times, she is perhaps a little melodramatic but I understood her actions.

As for the Royals, they are all as captivating and intriguing as you want them to be. Each brother is unique and has their own air of mystery around them. It was fun to watch their antics as well as see that deeper side to their characters.

The Romance:

In Paper Princess (#1), I wasn’t totally sold on the romance between Ella and Reed. I could definitely feel the lust but I thought the “deeper” connection they kept feeling wasn’t really elaborated on. That changed in Broken Prince (#2) though; it became more apparent to me why they were drawn together and how great they could be together.

However, that wasn’t the case with Easton’s two novels. I was really disappointed in the romance there. I just didn’t see it at all.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There are no further books planned featuring the brothers–BUT, I wouldn’t be opposed to the twins getting their own novel(s) one day 😉

Series Rating: 4/5

Paper Princess 4/5 | Broken Prince 4/5 | Twisted Palace 3/5 | [Tarnished Crown 4/5] | Fallen Heir 3/5 | Cracked Kingdom 3/5

overall

If you love drama and teenaged angst in your reads, this is the series for you!

Read if You Like: angst, drama, older YA reads
Avoid if You: dislike contemporaries

similarreads

  • The Heir by M J Prince (Dynasty Series #1)
  • Bully by Penelope Douglas (Fall Away Series #1)
  • Last to Know by Micalea Smeltzer (Willow Creek Series #1)

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Single Sundays: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

Single Sundays: xo, Zach by Kendall Ryan

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 xo, Zach (from Goodreads):
The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he’d left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty–and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I’m crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that’s the only reaction I can get out of you, I’ll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I’m falling for you, and I know it’s wrong. I know that I’m only supposed to be the adviser to your program and nothing more, but here’s the thing. I think you’re falling for me too.

xo, Zach

breakdown

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how I had heard about this book. I might have read a synopsis for it while reading another Kendall Ryan title. Regardless, I loved the synopsis and it was the perfect book to pick up to counteract the denser fantasy novel I was reading.

The Plot:

This book was a great reminder of what a solid contemporary romance novel can be. It had great character chemistry; a moving plot; and character growth. It didn’t get caught up in melodrama nor sexy times. It was just well rounded.

Now, it was a little cheesy near the end but the cute moments along the way allowed me to graze over that. And while it was a little ridiculous that Poppy couldn’t put two and two together about the notes.

The Characters:

I love confidence in a romantic hero and I think sometimes authors think that means that he needs to be an alpha or an asshole to exude that confidence. But confidence doesn’t equate ego. So it was so refreshing to meet Zach. He’s such a charmer and downright nice guy. But he knows what he wants and he knows how to respectfully get it.

And I loved watching Poppy grow as a person. I get her “I can do it myself” attitude but it was great to see her learn that being independent doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help.

The Romance:

While this isn’t exactly a forbidden romance—it’s probably classified as a “off-limits” since he isn’t her teacher, just an adviser–the nature of their positions adds some great tension to their already strong chemistry. It was great to watch their journey together.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

An engaging romance novel that has strong characters, great chemistry and a solid plot!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance,
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike lighter romance

similarreads

  • Four Years Later by Monica Murphy (One Week Girlfriend Series #4)
  • Keep Me by Faith Andrews (Grayson Siblings Series #1)

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Spin-off Saturdays: Wright Love Duet by K A Linde

Spin-off Saturdays: Wright Love Duet by K A Linde

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 Wright Love Duet is a spin-off of the Wright Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks:  Must Read Author
Series: Wright Love Duet

This is a spinoff of the Wright Series Series.

This crosses over with the Cruel Series and the Seasons Series.

Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

When we first meet Sutton Wright, she’s happily married to her college sweetheart and expecting her first baby. Throughout the Wright Series we see her and husband interact and I started to wish that we would get a novella or something about how these two lovebirds met because she was the only Wright sibling without a novel. And then tragedy strikes and I saw that the story we’d get about Sutton wasn’t the one I originally wanted.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

I found the original Wright Series to be very melodramatic. It read like a Dallas TV Soap Opera episode arc and that was fine and all but a little much for my tastes.

Sutton’s story has always intrigued me. It seems to lack the melodrama her siblings’ stories has because its grounded in some realism. It’s powerful in the sense that she has to learn to love again after tragedy.

Some twists were obvious but I did enjoy watching these two finding themselves before they found “we”. We see some good character building here.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Sutton gave me some whiplash in the final book. She seemed to be all over the place with her feelings and I think the shorter length of each book just made it seem fast and in turn more dramatic than it needed to be.

My Audiobook Experience:

Great listens. The cast did a good job with accents and bringing the characters to life.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Wright Love 4/5 | The Wright One 3.5/5

overall

I felt like this was a step-up for its original series, focusing more on the characters than the drama.

Read if You Like: love after death stories, shorter reads
Avoid if You: want erotica

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Wright Love (from Goodreads):

I have the perfect life.
Until the day my husband tragically dies.
Being a single mom and widow was never part of the plan.
When David Calloway enters my life, I have no room for love in my heart.
But he’s determined to do right by me.
Could he be the Wright love?

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Series Review: Ransom by Rachel Schurig

Series Review: Ransom by Rachel Schurig

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 Ransom (from Goodreads):

Daisy Harris has no reason to suspect that her day will be any different than usual. She’ll go to class, alone. She won’t speak or make eye contact. She’ll spend her entire day doing her best to go completely unnoticed. That’s what life is like for Daisy now—an endless cycle of loneliness and fear. A life lived hiding behind the walls she so faithfully maintains.

Then she sees it. A magazine, left behind in class. A simple picture—just his face. And it changes everything.

It’s been a year since she’s seen Daltrey Ransome. A year since he and his brothers left town to pursue their dreams of rock and roll superstardom. A year since he left Daisy behind—left her to watch as everything she knew crumbled around her. She’s been running from Daltrey ever since, desperate to keep her secret.

But she can’t run anymore. And now that Daltrey has found her—the girl he’s loved his entire life, the girl he’d give up everything for—he’s determined never to let her go again.

breakdown

Series: Ransom
Author: Rachel Schurig
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading List Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rock Star
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2014 – June 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Kindle Unlimited

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I got Ransom as a freebie for my Kobo and I think if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you know why I snatched it up. I love romances involving rock stars and secrets so this was a perfect fit!

The Plot:

Ransom (book 1) was definitely a little cheesy and I didn’t totally love the leads. So watching them do these somewhat immature things without thinking about the consequences irked me a little. This book just lacked that polish to it. HOWEVER, I really liked the rest of the cast and the potential I saw there for the sequels.

I’m really glad I gave the rest of the series a shot because I truly enjoyed them. Familiarity with the characters and watching everyone grow as the band navigates success was such a treat. And watching the guys meet their match was awesome. The rest of the series has this great balance between character development and romance. It was nice to see characters connect on a deeper level than just physical attraction and not focus solely on the sexy times.

The Characters:

Truthfully, Daltrey and Daisy are the weakest links in this series for me. So once I got past their novel I really enjoyed everyone else we get to meet.

The character growth of everyone else in the series is fabulous! All the leads are flawed in one way or another but they have their own strengths as well. Watching these characters work on themselves as individuals before committing to a romance is exactly what I love to see in a romance novel and I loved those moments.

What I also enjoyed was the fact that everyone had their own unique story. A lot of rockstar romance series follow a similar pattern but each installment here always surprised me with the plot and tropes used.

The Romance:

If you want a romance series that is more sweet than sexy, this is it. That doesn’t mean you don’t have great sexual tension or heated moments though. I just mean you aren’t going to get page upon page of sexual content written out; rather you get deep conversations between the characters. So it just rounds out the romantic connection and helps you see why they match beside attraction.

Series Rating: 4/5

Ransom 3.5/5 | Release 4/5 | Redeem 4/5 | Relent 3.5/5 | Rescue 4/5 | The Ransome Brothers 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of rockstar romance who want all the sweet moments but not necessarily all the spicy moments. If you enjoy books with great character development and lots of tension between leads, this is worth a read!

Read if You Like: rockstar romances, new adult, sweet heat level
Avoid if You: want erotica

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Series Review: If Love by Ana Huang

Fresh Fridays: If We Ever Meet Again (If Love Duet #1) 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:

If Love Duet

booksynopsis

Synopsis for If We Ever Meet Again (from Goodreads):

One year, two opposites, and a love that will blindside and, ultimately, shatter them.

She’s an aspiring interior designer who dreams of falling in love.
He’s an ex-football star who thinks love is a con.

She’s a virgin, and he doesn’t do virgins.
He’s cocky, infuriating, and not her type.

She wants the fairytale.
He wants freedom.

Blake and Farrah shouldn’t have fallen for each other the way they did: totally, completely, and irrevocably.

Because they’re studying abroad in Shanghai, and they only have one year.

Because forces at home threaten to rip them apart, even if they don’t know it yet.

And because, eventually, they must face the most heartbreaking lesson they’ll ever learn: sometimes, even the greatest love can’t conquer all.

breakdown

Series: If Love
Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 30, 2020 — December 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ana Huang!

Copies Provided for Books #1-3

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:

When Ana asked me to review her newest novel, I easily accepted for a few reasons. First, I loved the premise of a year abroad in Shanghai. Second, I liked that this is a duet of books about the same couple. I find we rarely get those series about the same couple anymore. We tend to get a single book and then the next book is about a different couple. But this one has somewhat doomed start so I was eager to see what she had in store for us!

What I Liked:

–The Setting of Shanghai–

A lot of novels that have the year abroad or the expat premise to it tend to take place in European countries (or at least the ones I’ve come across are). So I was excited to explore this new setting. I’ve always wanted to go to Shanghai but this has me really dying to explore it!

–The Bittersweet Tone of the Romance–

The story starts with a bang by showing the relationship’s eventual demise. Knowing that things aren’t going to end well for these two gives this story a bittersweet tone when we start to see their relationship from the start. But the “sweet” outweighs the “bitter” if you ask me and I was totally in love with these two.

–The Struggle With Intimacy–

I just loved how real their romance was. They struggle a little with their intimacy and I really appreciated how that was all handled. I thought that was a real approach for a character like Farah who really hasn’t had that stronger physical intimacy before. I find a lot of romances portray the virginal heroine as some one who is immediately great in bed in all aspects so it was refreshing to watch these two explore that deeper connection together and talk about it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Almost Too “Hot and Cold” At the Start–

The first few chapters were a little bumpy for me. I thought their hot and cold attraction was a little too cold on Farah’s end; I didn’t really see how she would be attracted to Blake besides his physical appearance. But once those deeper feelings started to come to the surface as they spend more time together, I was really onboard with their romance. It kinda went from 0 to 100 though and I would have liked another chapter of them hanging out as friends to really cement their connection.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I will admit, I shed a tear or two near the end even knowing how it would end early on still didn’t prepare me for how much I would feel for their inevitable breakup. I can’t wait to see their second chance!

updates

–July 14, 2020– Book #2: If the Sun Never Sets (*copy provided*)

This was SO good! The chemistry these two have–even when they try not to–is so palpable. I really loved the character growth here and how they not only evolved in the 5 years since they broke up, but how they grew once they reunited. Yes, there were a few frustrating moments but I think that’s because as the reader, you see how obvious it is that these two belong together. It’s a solid sequel and conclusion to this second chance duet.

I really hope we get to see some of these characters again!

–October 26, 2020– Book #3: If Love Had a Price (*copy provided*)

This was great and unexpected in a lot of ways. Ana has managed to blend genuine characters and drama together in a way that seems like this could happen to anyone, anywhere. And this is a book packed with a lot of aspects to it in terms of the characters and their drama.

I really loved Kris when we first met her in the series, so it was nice to uncover her character a little more.

–July 9, 2021– Book #4: If Love We Were Perfect

I’ve wanted this book since the first one in the series…and I couldn’t imagine a better way to wrap up this great series.

I loved how these two talked to each other. Yes, they were reactive but they always took a breath and looked at it rationally. It helped stop some of the useless drama other contemporary romances seem to thrive on.

But it was a second chance romance where you knew how they felt and why. I fell in love with their story all over again.

My Rating: 4/5

If We Ever Meet Again 4/5 | If the Sun Never Sets 4.5/5 | If Love Had a Price 4/5 | If We Were Perfect 5/5

overall

This was a great read! As I read more and more about their story, I was super invested and addicted to finding out what happens next. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for future releases by Ana.

Read if You Like: love stories, set aboard, New Adult Romance
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike romance

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Series Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Series Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

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 Seven Black Diamonds (from Goodreads):

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.

Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.

Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there.

breakdown

Series: Seven Black Diamonds
Author: Melissa Marr
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Faeries, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2016 – February 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Melissa Marr is the one I credit with introducing me to the wonderful world of Faeries. Wicked Lovely is a series that has stuck with me over the years and in some ways, it has become my gold standard for Faerie novels. I had marked this series on my library wishlist but never found the time to read it. So when I needed a new audiobook and this popped up, I figured this was the perfect time to dive in!

The Concept / The World:

I loved the mix of dystopian and fantasy. This isn’t the world we know today and thanks to the interference of Fae, it’s quite the place. I loved the mixing of fantasy and reality.

One thing I love about Melissa Marr is her ability to create these layered worlds yet have them be totally accessible and understandable to the reader. She weaves quite the tale!

The Plot:

This plot moves very fast thanks to the multiple POVs we get. You get that 360 view of all these plots happening at once and the anticipation for how they will all cross over is addicting.

I think Seven Black Diamonds (#1) has a faster paced dramatic plot whereas One Blood Ruby (#2) is more character driven. Both have their strengths and weaknesses as a result. I think Book #2 feels a little rushed at the end because the drama is so concentrated in the last few chapters. And I also felt like some things were left too open-ended because there are so many characters to resolve with.

The Characters:

There are a lot of them but it was crazy how quickly I became invested in all their stories. Even if we only spent a few moments with them, I thought they were quite layered. Which is why I would have liked a fuller ending with more closure because we do meet so many great characters that you become attached to.

The Romance:

This is weaved so seamlessly throughout. I loved all the romantic interests.

My Audiobook Experience:

The narration is beautiful to listen to. Where I struggled was with the multiple POVs in third person. If I was listening for an extended period it was good because I would get the character name we were focusing on at the start of the chapter. But if I stopped in the middle of a chapter, it took me a while to reacquaint myself with who I was following at that moment. And there are a lot of characters to remember and not having the true ability to flip back and forth to doublecheck things provided a learning curve.

Series Rating: 4/5

Seven Black Diamonds 4/5  |  One Blood Ruby 4/5

overall

Perfect for readers who love multiple POV and fast paced stories!

Read if You Like: multiple POVs, Faeries
Avoid if You: dislike third person POVs

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Single Sundays: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

Single Sundays: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

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 Exit, Pursued by a Bear (from Goodreads):

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: E K Johnston
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything that links back to the Bard has my full attention. Arguably one of the best stage directions of all time comes from The Winter’s Tale and it is the title of this book. While I didn’t love the last (and only other) E K Johnston book I read, the subject matter of this one is vastly different so I went in with an open mind.

The Concept / The World:

I studied The Winter’s Tale in University, I’ve seen the play and the ballet version of it so I’m fairly familiar with it all. But other than the fact that her name is Herimone, I didn’t really see all the allusions that I wanted to. Perhaps it has been a long time since I read the play so I missed stuff.

What I will say: it was super cool to–literally–have a book set in my neck of the woods. Most of the books I read take place in the United States with the rare book that takes place in Toronto. But this takes place in rural Ontario which is where I am from so that was pretty neat.

The Plot:

There are a lot of positives to how this book handles the various topics it brings up. Compared to some other novels I’ve read in the past, Herimone definitely has a different reaction to her situation, though that doesn’t make it any less valid. In some ways it was refreshing to be reminded that everyone handles a trauma differently.

But in some ways, for a book that is grounded in realism, I thought things fell into place just a little too easily for everyone. Or perhaps I’m just not convinced that the way it ended was the right way for the story to wrap-up.

The Characters:

Like I said, Herimone wasn’t what I expected given the subject matter but good on E K Johnston for showing a different heroine. She definitely didn’t fit in a neat little box like she’s billed as when you first meet her at cheerleader camp.

What I also really liked is that there was a great emphasis on friendships and how they can evolve after it affects a member of the group. It’s a ripple effect when a sexual assault happens and I think we sometimes forget about that.

My Audiobook Experience:

If you are someone who struggles with capturing emotion through written text alone, definitely get the audiobook. It’s a short listen but definitely packs a punch!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are someone who is sensitive to rape and/or sexual assaults in novels, use discretion when picking this up. But I think this is a great read to remind people that trauma affects everyone in different ways and it isn’t afraid to talk about the various components and aftermath with candour.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction
Avoid if You: are triggered by sexual assaults in novels

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Spin-off Saturdays: Rivals by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: A Song for Liars (Rivals #1) by Piper Lawson

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:

Rivals Series is a spin-off of the Wicked Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Rivals

This is a spinoff of the Wicked Series.

There is a spinoff of this series called The Enemies Trilogy.

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Love Notes

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: warm *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 29, 2020 – February 10, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations?

I’m a sucker for Rockstar romances and Piper Lawson’s Wicked Series was one I have never really encountered before. It was like the perfect mashup of other series yet entirely unique in its own way. And two of the characters that stood out to me the most were Annie and Tyler…and I prayed we would get to see their story one day!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Wicked was more of a New Adult read while this new series straddles the line between YA and NA — which gives it its own unique flare.

But all the angst from the original series is here and perhaps it is present more so. These two have a lot of things going on in their personal and romantic lives and it shows. I loved the drama it brought around.

And I think the romance is stronger here. These two have a past friendship and connection to build up. Plus they have so much in common–even if they don’t always think so. You can’t help but root for them!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–I Didn’t Understand All the Angst–

I’m also not entirely sure why Annie was so angry at Tyler at the start of the book. I think it’s explained a little better in the prequel novella from what I remember but I wanted that fleshed out a little more. Maybe some insight into why Tyler did what he did.

–Tyler As the “Prince of the School” Is a Bit of a Stretch–

I think Annie was the only one who really thought that. Yes, people like him (and Annie has some rivals for interest) but he wasn’t really in the popular crowd.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Love Notes:

I read this first and I think that’s probably the best way to do it. If you read the original series, it serves as a good appetizer for what’s to come. And for those who haven’t read the series, it fills in some of the little gaps about their history.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OH what an ending!!! I’m super duper excited to see where things go from here!

updates

–May 16, 2020– Book #2: A Love Song for Rebels

This book was a step up for me from the last one. Gone are their high school days and it shows. Annie and Tyler have grown and matured so they start to talk more about their feelings and wants instead of just holding a silent, angsty grudge against each other. And I liked the conversations and developments that happened as a result. They’re coming into themselves, figuring out what is important and what they want. And most important of all: they are fighting for those dreams and wants.

Piper has a great knack for writing dramatics that are entertaining but grounded in some realism and I find as a reader, you really get sucked into the characters’ lives and their emotions. I really appreciated the struggles and the successes all the more because I feel like I know these characters so well.

–July 6, 2020– Book #3: A Love Song for Dreamers

The evolution of this story is so refreshing to me. We don’t often get trilogies following one couple anymore in the romance world and Piper has reminded me how good they could be. Watching these two grow into the people they’ve become has been such a treat; especially for fans who met them as kids in the Wicked Series.

I love the bittersweet realism infused into this story. Life doesn’t always go to plans and not everything works out like it does in the movies. So seeing these two struggle to find their footings in life and in their relationship kept me enthralled. As I said before, their growth has been amazing to watch as a reader. I feel like I’m closing a bit of a chapter on my life as they close theirs.

This was missing that little je ne said quoi to take it to that next level though. Perhaps it needed one good twist or dramatic element? Regardless, it was a fantastic ending for a series that has had me hooked from the start!

–July 9, 2021– Book #4: A Love Song For Always

This felt like an extended epilogue to wrap up some of those lingering storylines from the series and I’m all for it. What happens after the HEA? And I like that this book explores that idea a little more.

It also does a great job of getting readers excited for the spin-off series, The Enemies Trilogy, by giving us our first peek at the new leads.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Love Notes 4/5] | A Love Song for Liars 4/5 | A Love Song for Rebels 5/5 | A Love Song for Dreamers 4/5 | A Love Song for Always 4.5/5

overall

If you love angsty romances that straddle the line between YA and NA — this is the series you need to start now!

Read if You Like: angst, music, first loves
Avoid if You: dislike romances spread out over multiple books

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Love Song for Liars (from Goodreads):

I fell for Tyler Adams when he had nothing but a guitar.
He was my rebel prince, my handsome muse, my twisted friend.
We were worlds apart in every way that mattered:
He was poor, I was rich.
He was beautiful, I was plain.
He honed his talent in private, while I ached for the spotlight.
When Tyler moved in with us, Oakwood Prep fell on its knees to worship at his altar.
He traded my friendship for their crown.
I will never forgive his betrayal.
But some nights…
He makes me want to.

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