Tag «romance»

Spin-off Saturdays: The Fix Up by Kendall Ryan

Spin-off Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I will review a series/standalone that is a spin-off series. It is often 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 Fix Up is a spin-off of the Hitched Series

breakdown

Series: N/A

This is a spinoff of the Hitched Series. Can be read as a Standalone.

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (I also own an eBook)

thoughts

My Expectations?

I really liked Sterling’s character in Hitched. He was charming and funny; a nice compliment to Noah’s character. So I really hoped he would get a book of his own in the future. We get a little inkling of what’s to come with Sterling and Camryn at the end of Hitched so I was curious to know what their story would be.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

I found Hitched had a quirkiness to it that was slightly off-putting at times. It’s also melodramatic at times with its soap-opera-esque plotline (and that’s to be expected seeing as it was published as a 3 part serialized series).

But I found The Fix Up to be slightly more grounded in its approach. The focus is more on the characters fighting their feelings for each other than external obstacles in their way (though there are those as well). It has this slow burn vibe to it that I found Hitched was lacking given the premise and subsequent execution.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

It has your classic “communication-assumption” moment that irked me because it was so obvious what was happening but other than that, I really enjoyed this.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audio version. The male narrator for Sterling had a British accent like Sterling is supposed to have which is always great. His voice was perhaps deeper or more serious in tone than I anticipated but I warmed up to it as I listened.

 

Rating: 4/5

overall

A cute and quick read about fighting the undeniable connection between a matchmaker and their client.

Read if You Like: quick reads, contemporary romance, slow burn
Avoid if You: want erotica
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Fix Up (from Goodreads):

My tempting, and very alpha friend Sterling Quinn is someone I consider off-limits.

It’s not just that we’re friends, he’s also a cocky, confident, and British, which means he’s a walking aphrodisiac.

But lately he’s been giving me the look. You know the one. When he thinks I’m not paying attention, and his gaze lingers for too long.

And then we start working together, and that’s when the sexual tension between us gets so thick, I want to hack through it with a machete. I want to make all these deep feelings I’ve harbored for him disappear, because there’s no way this can end well.

The lines between business and pleasure become irrevocably blurred, and I’m stuck between a rock, and Sterling’s very, very hard place.

Rather than keep a level head about our growing attraction, Sterling wants to go all in, showing me just how explosive we can be together.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that this British bad boy is more than my heart can handle. I’m not about to be cast aside like yesterday’s underwear when he’s done having fun.

Sterling’s never been told no, and he’s not about to put his ego aside and play by my rules. But I never thought he’d fight so dirty.

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Series Review: Unforgivable by Ella Miles

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 Heart of a Thief (from Goodreads):

I’m the villain in most romances.
I’m a thief that steals happily ever afters.
Except unlike most romances love doesn’t conquer me, I conquer it.
I’ve stolen countless women from unsuspecting men.
Gotten my one night with them.
And then watched the heartbreak that occurs in my wake.
Love doesn’t survive once I enter the picture, if it ever existed at all.
Although, stealing Sloane might be my greatest challenge of all.

Asher is a villain trying to a put a horrible life behind him by doing the only two things he knows to do: surf and steal. Sloane is an angel that runs a charity helping children needing a fresh start. Asher will do anything to have her. There is just one problem…she’s about to marry another man.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Unforgivable
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild in Prick)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – March 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Thief); Author–eARC (Liar & Prick)

Only copies of Heart of a Liar & Heart of a Prick were provided.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles is my go-to for dark romances but I really do enjoy her contemporary works as well. So I was curious to see what she would do with a series that seemed to have its darker moments but was more light than complete darkness. I guess you’d call it gray….

The Concept:

I’ll admit I was hesitant about the premise of Heart of a Thief. I’m not one for cheating in my books but I can overlook it when it is used more so as a plot device than just straight up drama. However, I didn’t find it was just used for a shock factor and there is more to this book than unfaithfulness once you see the larger plot unfold.

The nice thing about these novels is that you can read them in any order or simply read the one that strikes your fancy. So if you want to avoid Heart of a Thief because any inkling of cheating is a hard no, then skip it and carry on. And I would suggest skipping Heart of a Prick if you don’t enjoy books with some BDSM elements to them.

The Plot:

Each of these books when in a direction I never expected–but that’s usually the case with Ella Miles’ stuff. I never know what story I’m actually going to get; only that it’ll be something deeper than what the synopsis tells me. If you like drama, you’ll like these novels.

These stories strike that balance between flirty and dirty very well so I was always thoroughly entertained. They definitely have their darker moments but they are pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff out there.

The only plot that didn’t really work for me was Heart of a Prick. I just thought there were too many plot holes to keep me on board with where the story went.

The Characters:

Given the circumstances of Heart of a Thief, I’ll be the first to say it took me a long time to like Asher as a character. But with the first half of the novel told solely from his POV, I found I had enough time and development from him to appreciate his character by the end of the novel.

The rest of the characters in the other books are much more likeable from the start. However, I will say that their development gets a little stifled when the drama becomes centre stage; so I did feel like they were slightly underdeveloped by the end.

The Romance:

All these couples definitely have palpable chemistry and you can see why they are drawn to each other. I would have liked to have seen more conversations and the like between the characters to establish that emotional connection–especially in Heart of a Prick which felt very underdeveloped. But, there is plenty of steamy scenes if you are a fan of those!

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Heart of a Thief 4/5| Heart of a Liar 4/5 | Heart of a Prick 2/5

overall

If you are looking for some unique contemporary romances that have an edge of suspense and darkness to them (but not overwhelmingly so), you should check out some of the novels in this series!

Read if You Like: twists, drama, don’t mind cheating as a plot device
Avoid if You: dislike dramatic twists

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Series Review: Loop by Karen Akins

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 Loop (from Goodreads):

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

breakdown

Series: Loop
Author: Karen Akins
# of Books: 2 (Loop, Twist)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2014 – April 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: After finishing Book #1 Loop, I opted not to pick up its sequel Twist. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always up for a good time travelling novel. And in 2014, that seemed to be the newest trend in the YA genre. After reading Ruby Red (and loving it), I was on the hunt for another time travelling novel and I came across Loop. Like most books I added around this time, I never got around to it which is why I made it one of my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge for both 2017 and 2018.

What I Liked:

–Finn–

Finn truly captured my heart in this story. He was such a charming character from the moment we met him. I just loved his attitude and drive. He’s a bit of a hopeless romantic even when Bree spends most of the book keeping her distance so it provides for some really cute moments throughout.

–The Twists of a Conspiracy–

I love the idea of a good conspiracy theory and this novel has it. This book always surprised me in terms of the plot twists. I mean, the red herrings are obvious but the actual truth was something I didn’t put together right away which I always appreciate.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Very Slow Start–

The first few chapters were few engaging but I found the rest of the novel to be very dry. It picks up again in the last third or so, but by then my interest was waning.

There is just something about the pacing of this novel that is just off. The plot that is described in the synopsis doesn’t happen for quite awhile and as a result, you get some filler for the first half. And the problem with this filler is that doesn’t build up the main plot. You could have easily cut out 80 pages and the novel would have seemed fuller.

–Got a Little Lost in the Time Travel–

I like to think I’m a pretty smart cookie but the weaving of the time lines left me a little stumped. I got the gist of everything and understood everyone’s roles but not everything got connected in my brain. The big picture wasn’t fully revealed if you know what I mean.

Will I Finish It?

No. While I still have some unanswered questions at the end of Loop, I really struggled through the last 100 pages or so despite the plot finally happening. I pushed myself to finish it. And when I say that Twist was about the same length and the synopsis didn’t draw me in, I opted not to pick it up.

Series Rating: DNF

Loop 3/5 | Twist N/A

overall

I think readers who enjoy stories that take their time to reach the main plot will like this. It’s an entertaining read but I think a lot of readers will struggle with its pace.

Read if You Like: time travel, conspiracy theories
Avoid if You: dislike slower starts, time travel, want more romance

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Series Review: His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers

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 Grave Mercy (from Goodreads):

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

breakdown

Series: His Fair Assassin

There is a spin-off duology in the works.

Author: Robin LaFevers
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There is nothing more I love in the world of reading than a heroine who can kick serious butt. So it seemed like I no brainer that I would pick up this series. I don’t remember how exactly I learned about Grave Mercy, but I read it years ago (just shortly after its release) and it left such a mark on me that I refused to remove the sequels from my TBR despite the fact that I could never find the time to read them.

The Concept / The World:

I love worlds that are a mix of actual history with a little dash of fantasy–which is what we get here. These stories are inspired by true events but the timelines and the external forces involved are often altered by artistic licence. The result? You get a world filled with twisting politics (yay!), villainous characters and strong heroines you can’t help but root for.

Each book follows a different daughter of St. Mortain (Death) but they all follow a continuous story arc. It’s a great way to keep things fresh and moving throughout the series. You get to see old characters weave in and out of the story and it just gives this series a 360-degree view I think.

The Plot:

As I said above, each book features a different assassin so you get a fresh start every time in a sense. So in that regard, I found it took me a couple of chapters to get into the new swing of things and orient myself in the world. (It also didn’t help that I read Books #1 and #2 nearly five years apart…). This was especially true for Book #3, Mortal Heart that seemed to take twice as long to establish itself.

But once you are a few chapters in, you’d better hold on! I found these stories were constantly evolving and twisting and it’s hard not to be addicted. You get sucked into the heroine’s pasts; the politics are fascinating and don’t forget that dash of romance along the way!

The Writing:

Usually I don’t comment on the writing style but I do want to mention the fact that sometimes I had a hard time figuring out what was actually happening. It’s weird because this isn’t told in the third person (which can be tricky to navigate). I think it’s just that some things are alluded to; some things are “magical”/”supernatural” and with its historical setting I think the style just takes some getting used to when reading and interpreting what is happening.

The Characters:

I love that this series focuses on a different heroine in each book. You get to spend time uncovering every aspect of their character within the novel. Nothing gets drawn out between sequels or intentionalLY hidden. You just get solid characters throughout.

And each of our leading ladies is unique. Whether it’s their pasts before their time at the convent or their abilities, they each bring something fresh to this world and I loved that.

The Romance:

This is perhaps, for me, the most underdeveloped aspect of the plot because we don’t spend copious amounts of time with it. Of course, we get this great underlying tension between the characters but in the grand scheme of things, I found that the feelings developed fast (again, understandable given the circumstances) and don’t get a ton of screen time.

My Expectations for the Spin-Off Series:

I didn’t end the series on a particular high note (Mortal Heart was my least favourite of the trilogy), but I do like the idea of continuing on with some characters but getting a new cast of characters at the same time.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Grave Mercy 4/5| Dark Triumph 4/5 | Mortal Heart 3/5

overall

I’ve never read a series like this before and that only is noteworthy. But if you enjoy historical fiction that focuses on the grittier side of things, check this series out!

Read if You Like: assassins, historical fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike long books, dislike darker reads

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  • Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan (Maids of Honour Series #1)
  • Scarlet by A C Gaughan (Scarlet Trilogy #1)

 

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Blog Tour: Between the Sea and Stars (Lena #1) by Chantal Gadoury

Synopsis for Between the Sea and Stars (from Goodreads):

A Legend,
A Magical Shell
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More…

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea.

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land.

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Lena
Author: Chantal Gadoury
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (6hrs & 53mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Chantal’s novel The Songs in Our Hearts a few years ago and really enjoyed it (it was super cute!). So when I saw that there was an opportunity to read a non-contemporary (MERMAIDS!!!!) novel by her, I couldn’t wait to see what she could do in a different genre.

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

This surprised me in a really good way. I thought I had a good idea of where the romance would be going early on but I was so dead wrong. I love when that happens!

It isn’t a huge focus but it’s there enough to keep the story going when it needs too.

–Lena’s Character Growth–

Lena’s character story is literally one of “fish out of the water” but it provides an interesting backdrop to her character growth and development. This is very much a coming of age story for her except she has the added complications of being a mermaid now on land. I enjoyed her evolution from naive mermaid to independent young lady.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Drama–

Like most coming of age stories, I find you kinda go through the everyday motions of life so it can become a little monotonous. But let me be clear that I never got bored with this story! It has a great flow to it and you get these little inklings of the bigger story to come along the way so it builds as you read. What I’m trying to say is that I wish the “whoa!” moment came a touch earlier so we could get into it a little more…but I guess that’s what sequels are for 😉

My Audiobook Experience:

This was such a fabulous audio listen! Right when it started to play I was fully immersed into the story and the characters. The narrator here is Dollcie Webb and she does a great job of giving all the characters their own voices so it is super easy to follow along. She has the perfect cadence for an audiobook narrator–seriously, it was such a nice read to listen to that I was finished the novel before I new it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book had a few surprises at that end that has me eager to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Between the Sea and Stars 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

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

Read if You Like: mermaids, coming of age
Avoid if You: want action

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Chantal Gadoury

Amazon Bestselling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published The Songs in Our Hearts, and The Songs We Remember, with 48Fourteen Publishing. Allerleirauh, Between the Sea and Stars, Blinding Night and WinterDream with the Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. For Chantal, writing novels has become a lifelong dream come true! When she’s not typing away at her next project, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of Iced Coffee, and watching Disney Classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, sister and furry-‘brother’ Taran.

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

 

Dollcie Webb (Narrator)

“Daydreams and whimsy with with a touch of pixie charm.”

A long-time daydreamer, Dollcie Webb has always carried a special fondness for Young Adult Fantasy literature. The poetic imagery and enticing otherworldliness call to her sense of curiosity, satisfying a deep desire to explore the world around her. A graduate of Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Electronic Media Performance, she’s taken her experience in audio and theatrical performance and has melded the two into a career as an audiobook producer and narrator.

Narrator Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 

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Series Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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 Falling Kingdoms (from Goodreads):

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Series 2018, Canadian Author
Series: Falling Kingdoms

There is a spin-off series titled Spirits and Thieves

Author: Morgan Rhodes
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: December 2012 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve seen this series floating around over the years but for some reason, I’ve never looked further into it. But when I saw that my library had the audiobooks, I decided to read the synopsis and see if it was something I would like (and possibly enjoy as an audio series)

Clearly it was! I mean it’s a high fantasy–one of my favourite YA genres–, rich with lots of politics and it features multiple character POVs. It’s almost like it was written for me! And that’s not even including the fact that the author is CANADIAN! So I couldn’t wait to dive in and get myself invested in a longer series once again.

The Concept / The World:

In a lot of ways the world here reminded me of Game of Thrones. You’ve got lots of main characters in various kingdoms all vying for dominance. Each kingdom is unique in its lifestyle, rule and religion so it just enriches the world in a way that sucks you in. It’s easy to follow despite the many attributes because it is so well thought out and Rhodes writing style reminds you in case you forget. It’s been a long time since I’ve read and enjoyed a world as much as I did with this!

The Plot:

I will be the first to say that I found the plot in Falling Kingdoms (Book #1) to be pretty weak–especially when you compare it to the sequels which are very strong. Weak in the sense that you don’t have a lot necessarily going on and there aren’t too many big twists. However, where this book succeeded was setting up the incredibly solid foundation for the rest of the series.

The rest of the series is just thrilling to read! Thanks to the multiple character POVs you are always getting a 360-degree view of the world and a plot that just keeps building and building. Twists and new plot developments come out of nowhere and you are stuck to the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. Honestly, these books never have a dull moment.

The Characters:

The development of the characters in this series is also super impressive. I think Cleo is the best example of a character that grows tremendously from book to book. She is by no means the same princess we started the series with by the middle of the series; she went from being a character POV I enjoyed to one I LOVED by book 3.

Magus though is the real star of this series for me. I just loved him and his journey right from the start. I would fangirl so hard anytime the new chapter POV was his. He’s got that bad-boy brooding thing going on and you constantly toy with the idea that he does have a heart and morals. He was just so endearing to me.

But all the characters are fabulous here. Of course, certain storylines appealed to me more than others but I found that always changed from book to book given the various twists. What I really enjoyed is the unpredictability of all the characters. They are constantly evolving and you never know who you can trust given the plot so it adds the suspense of it all.

The Romance:

I would never say this series is a romance at the core of it, but the romances do contribute to the story in a positive way. Like many things in this series, they are constantly evolving and changing so I liked that nothing was cut and dry. There were many “ships” I jumped aboard but I definitely had my favourites 😉 (ie anything involving Magnus <3)

My Audiobook Experience:

I will admit I was worried to take on a series of this length (and genre) as an audiobook but I’m so glad I did! Fred Berman is the narrator and he is absolutely fabulous! Every character has their own unique voice; different regions have their own accents. It’s just very well done. I felt like I was watching a TV show instead of just listening to the words. I highly recommend the audio version!

Series Rating: 5/5

Falling Kingdoms 4.5/5 | Rebel Springs | Gathering Darkness 5/5 | Frozen Tides 5/5 | Crystal Storm 4.5/5 | Immortal Reign 5/5

overall

This series is a must for YA fantasy fans (I also think it is perfect for Cassandra Clare fans as well!) or anyone looking for a rich, multiple POV series.

Read if You Like: multiple POVs, fantasy, Game of Thrones
Avoid if You: dislike long series, dislike fantasy, want more fantasy

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Single Sundays: The Lies We Tell by Brittany Butler

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

Synopsis for The Lies We Tell (from Goodreads):

Natalie Conner is a self-proclaimed liar who is used to doing what she wants. There’s only one problem: the truth always comes to light.

When issues arise in her new life, she finds herself back at square one and the web of lies she clings to are unveiling before her. With her life now revolving around the past, she has a choice to make. However, for Natalie, when her life starts to spiral out of control, a new life and a new web of lies have never sounded so good.

Natalie Conner might be a liar, but her story isn’t one she can make up.

breakdown

Author: Brittany Butler
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

What I liked about the Brittany Butler’s work is that it has different take on the contemporary romance novel. It isn’t always sunshine and rainbows; rather, you get the grittiness of everyday life and the complications of genuine people.

The Plot:

For me, this is one of those novels that I didn’t really get until the end. What I mean by that is that I didn’t understand the bigger picture/the purpose of this story until I read that epilogue.

I don’t think it helped that I had completely different expectations for this novel. I went in thinking it was going to be a story laced with deception and callous motives but that was far from the truth. Instead, this story focuses on the little lies we tell ourselves to get through life and how telling them (or by omitting them) we create bigger problems for ourselves in the end.

The Characters:

I struggled with Natalie’s character at the start of the novel (she is one jaded girl and it can be hard to read such a negative headspace). She’s a little wish-washy and hard to read at times but these are the characters that have the best opportunities for growth and she certainly did. I was pleased with her evolution by the end of the story.

The Romance:

I don’t want to give much away by getting into details. The romance plays a big role in the story in the sense that it is the starting point that everything builds off of. I’ll just finish off by saying that this novel really explores that not so pretty side of love; the more realistic side that is often overlooked in other contemporary romance novels and I enjoyed divining into that aspect a lot.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This novel would be perfect for fans of Emily Giffin because it has that same realistic, everyday grittiness to it as you explore the not always happy side of relationships and life.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, adult contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike jaded heroines
similarreads

  • Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
  • Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood Series #4)

 

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Series Review: Hudson Valley by Alice Clayton

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nuts (from Goodreads):

Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.

breakdown

Series: Hudson Valley
Author: Alice Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Nuts, Cream of the Crop, Buns)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I consider Alice Clayton’s Cocktail Series to be one of the best romantic comedy series in Adult Romance. I loved its humour, the unique characters and the fun but heartwarming plot lines. So I was very excited to start another series by her and was prepared to be entertained.

The Plot:

The first book in the series, Nuts, started out so promising. Roxy gets fired from her job in dramatic fashion, she meets Leo and sparks fly as hilarity ensues. I was totally on board until a few chapters later when the book hit snooze-ville.

It’s the same situation with all these books: the middle just drags. As soon as the leads start their sexual relationship the chapters become about said sexy times and repetitive inner monologues about how these girls are scared to love. And I could have tolerated that “scared to love” aspect if anything was really done about it. That’s the perfect opportunity for character development but that doesn’t happen until the very last chapter or two when the girl realizes the error of her thought process and does the “big change”. But other than that, these books failed to go anywhere.

The Characters:

I wasn’t overly impressed with our heroines. The only exception was Natalie (Cream of the Crop #2). I liked her brash personality and self confidence. But Roxy and Clara just never won me over.

The same goes for our heroes, though I will say they got better as the series progressed in terms of complexity. However, I felt like they were very under developed and I wish we got their POVs to help grow their characters a little more.

The Romance:

Because I felt like the characters were underdeveloped, it also made the romances that was as well. They all start out pretty superficially but they never dive deeper to truly establish that emotional connection. And I didn’t really feel the chemistry between our leads either besides physical lust.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the audiobooks were very well done. Each lead had her own unique voice (they used different narrators) and did a great job of bringing these heroines to life. I also liked that when they were doing the voice of a previous lead that they sounded very similar to the original narrator (if that makes sense).

I don’t know if listening to the audiobook (which took me twice as long as reading the novel would have) made this series seem prolonged but it might have been a factor. I do know that I enjoy humor more in audiobooks so I think that compensates for the somewhat longer read.

Series Rating: 2/5

Nuts 2/5 | Cream of the Crop 3/5 | Buns 2/5

overall

To say I’m disappointed is a huge understatement. I wanted to laugh and get carried away by eccentrically lovable characters but I ended up snoozing through cliches and sexy times.

Read if You Like: rom-coms, long (page wise) romances
Avoid if You: want better character development, want more plot

similarreads

  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • Caught Up in Us by Lauren Blakely (Caught Up in Love Series #1)

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Blog Tour: Cruel Money (Cruel #1) by K A Linde

Synopsis for Cruel Money (from Goodreads):

She was supposed to be a one night stand.

A way to sate my sexual appetite.

I let her glimpse the man I am. The face that I hide behind my carefully cultivated life. But she ripped open that divide—and there’s no going back.

Now, she’s here. In my city.

I don’t care that I’m Manhattan royalty and she’s the help.

Only that she’s living in my summer home. With me.

And I want more.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Cruel
Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a FREE prequel novella: #0.5 One Cruel Night

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Cruel Fortune, is to be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 22, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Inkslinger PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I want a romance with a wicked twist along the way, K A Linde is my go to author. She never fails to surprise me when it comes to the drama of her romances. The romance is steamy and the drama is high–just what I like!

I was excited for this new series because it seemed like something I would love. Forbidden romance. NYC. Paris. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–Natalie–

I’ll be the first to say that I had to slowly warm up to Natalie a bit. I think her anger at the start made her seem abrupt and perhaps a little rude? But as the story progressed I really loved how she grew a backbone and become confident in herself. She doesn’t become this dependent heroine, rather she really does achieve independence so I was definitely on board with that!

–The Side Characters–

As I often am with these types of stories, I immediately got sucked into the lives of the side characters. I really hope we can elaborate more on their romances and shared histories in future novels.

Cruel Intentions meets Gossip Girl

Without a doubt, Cruel Intentions has one of my all time favourite romance tropes at the heart of it (playboy falls hard for his target) but I also adore (weird I know) the manipulation of the characters. Which is where the Gossip Girl comparisons come in. I associate the Upper East Side with high drama and backstabbing frenemies and a whole lot of angst. That’s all definitely here.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wish-Washy Penn–

Don’t get me wrong, I had a major crush on Penn. He’s charming and everything I like in my playboy heroes so I was a fan. But I had the hardest time getting a read on him. Just when I think I had him figured out, he’d do something that just seemed out of character for me. I suppose part of that is the point of the story (you don’t really know his true intentions) but it just made his character lack some stability as a character (if you get what I’m saying).

–It Seemed a Little Tame?–

I came in expecting a lot of drama and I don’t think I got as much as I wanted. Sure, the story is super angsty and there is lots of Upper East Side Drama like you expect. But everything just seemed a little more toned down than I’m used to. But I could definitely sense that things were building by the end of the novel so I’m thinking bigger things are to come!

When to Read #0.5 One Cruel Night:

I would highly recommend that you read the novella before you read #1 Cruel Money. I found that novella really highlighted Natalie and Penn’s relationship and gave me a foundation that was lacking at the start of the novel for me when it comes to the romance. It gives you their history but doesn’t give any of the big secrets away either. Plus, the novella is super great; I wish it was longer!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Things are ramping up and I can’t wait to see how all this will unfold!

My Rating: 3.5/5

[One Cruel Night 4/5] | Cruel Money 3.5/5 | Cruel Fortune TBP | Cruel Legacy TBP

overall
This is perfect for fans of Cruel Intentions and angsty romance reads!

Read if You Like: Cruel Intentions, the Upper East Side
Avoid if You: dislike angsty, billionaire romances

similarreads

  • Little Black Book by Tabatha Vargo (Little Black Book Series #1)
  • I Bet You by Isla Madden-Mills (The Hook-Up Series #2)
  • Fair Game by Monica Murphy (The Rules Series #1)

 


K A Linde

K.A. Linde is the USA Today bestselling author of the Avoiding Series, Wrights, and more than thirty other novels. She has a Masters degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, binge-watching Supernatural, traveling, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super-adorable puppies.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

 

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Single Sundays: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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 Without Merit (from Goodreads):

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore Colleen Hoover’s works. She writes really unique and emotionally captivating novels. Novels that make me think and make me swoon. I’m definitely a die-hard fan when it comes to her works.

But I had no idea what to expect when I read the synopsis for Without Merit. What I did know was that I needed to be in an emotionally ready state to read the novel (for anyone who has read It Ends With Us you know what I am talking about) and so I mentally prepared myself and dove in.

The Concept / The Plot:

Like most Hoover novels, there is an overarching theme or message that she wants to convey. The message for this one wasn’t completely obvious to me until the last few chapters when everything started to come together.

I had a hard time deciding on my feelings after finishing this book. On one hand, I loved the message and what Hoover is trying to convey. But on the other, it all felt a little messy to me. I almost think too many things were at play and it took me a long time to figure out what was happening.

I’m going to do a little bit of a rant with spoilers below because it’s hard to articulate what I mean without referencing certain things.

My Spoiler Explanation

This book is all about perspectives and Merit assuming things to only be a certain way. There’s a lot she doesn’t know because there is so much going on with the character’s in this book. Just look at the letter she writes with her family’s many secrets. I think that there were almost too many problems to handle. Sagan’s story in particular just seemed to add to an already full glass.

Why I’m torn is due to the fact that life isn’t straight-forward and linear. It’s complicated and messy like it is for the Voss family–even if most families don’t have the same problems that they do. So in one respect, I appreciate that they are a complicated family but in the other, I think it almost overwhelms the story and its message.

[collapse]

There isn’t much to the plot besides Merit living her everyday life, burdened by her secrets. It sounds a little boring but that’s where the characters come in. I know I found Merit’s narration intriguing because she has such a unique outlook on life. So I was drawn into Merit’s experience and the need to uncover what was happening in this family.

The Characters:

I enjoyed Merit as the lead. She’s intriguing and unlike any character I’ve ever encountered. She had me chuckling at some of her observations. I’m not sure if everyone would enjoy her but I know I did.

The rest of the cast is equally as interesting. Everyone has their little quirks and secrets so I found myself drawn in to know more.

The Romance:

Definitely not my favourite of Hoover’s that I’ve encountered. It doesn’t play a huge role in this story but it is a key factor of Merit’s story. I almost wonder if the story would have been stronger without it and things remained platonic…

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

While I appreciate and understand what Hoover was trying to showcase in this story, I think some readers will get lost in the eccentrics of the characters and the fact that there is a little too much happening along the way to get that message across.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, contemporary
Avoid if You: realistic fiction of a darker nature, eccentric characters

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