Tag «standalone»

Standalone: a novel with no sequels

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Single Sundays: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

Single Sundays: The Body Electric by Beth Revis

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 Body Electric (from Goodreads):

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

breakdown

Author: Beth Revis
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adored Revis’ Across the Universe Trilogy. It’s pretty much a gold standard for YA Science Fiction Suspense novels for me. So I was eager to see what she would do next and I immediately bought The Body Electric when I saw it on sale one day. Like most novels I buy, I read it years later but my anticipation was still high for this one and that’s why it was on my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge in 2019.

The Concept / The World:

The world is very dystopian in its delivery and I loved that. It’s a very rich world (especially when you read the author’s note at the end and see all the layers she added to it with her research). At times though, the many descriptions of the world throughout the novel get in the way of delivering the plot.

The Plot:

I hate to say it: but you could easily cut out the first third of this novel and still get the point across. It took this novel so long to get anywhere and I felt like we were regurgitating the same things over and over at the start. Yes, some things that we learn at the start are important to the end but a lot seemed like filler.

The last half of this book is great. Twist after twist and the seamless weaving of various elements made for a fast paced, thrilling last few chapters to this novel.

The Characters:

Everyone is pretty well developed and if they aren’t, we learn more about them as the story progresses and what their role is.

I really liked the unreliable narrator aspect of Ella’s character. It added to the suspense of the story and kept the gears going in my head trying to figure out what happened to her memories.

The Romance:

Not a huge factor here but one that plays nicely off the other plot devices. It’s used extremely well here.

concSLOW

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A solid, true SciFi novel that despite its slower start will have you hooked by the end.

Read if You Like: science fiction, unreliable narrators
Avoid if You: dislike slow starts
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Single Sunday: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Single Sunday: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

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 Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating (from Goodreads):

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Christina Lauren fan. Since I started following their work, the novels seem to only be getting better and better. If I want a fun, steamy but still fully developed contemporary romance, they are a great go-to.

This book gets a lot of great reviews from my fellow bloggers and seems to be uber popular at my library. Which is probably why it took me the better part of the year to get my hold for the audiobook.

The Plot:

This novel was just executed flawlessly. From the slow burn romance of friends to something more to the scenes of individual character growth, I loved listening to this story unfold. We never dwelled long on the past but  we had enough moments to really cement the present events. It was just a really easy read to get lost in.

The Characters:

I ADORED these two! Both of them are so quirky and fun, with really big hearts. They had some great banter which is always a treat. I immediately fell in love with each of them.

The Romance:

The slow burn builds at the perfect pace. You get those little sparks along the way so you know something epic is going to happen but it doesn’t take forever to get there. That allowed them to get this really solid foundation together and I love that in my romances.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was so much fun to listen to! I loved having these characters brought to life through the audiobook!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

If you want a fun but sincerely contemporary romance, pick this up!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, second chances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Spin-off Saturdays: Pretend We’re Over by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: Pretend We’re Over by Ella Miles

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:

Pretend We’re Over is a spin-off of Pretend I’m Yours

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: N/A

This is a spinoff of Pretend I’m Yours.

Author: Ella Miles
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, they were pretty freaking high! Pretend I’m Yours is one of my favourite Ella Miles novels. I had always hoped for a story from our hero given how things go down in the inaugural novel but had never really thought we’d get one so soon!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

That great chemistry between our leads is there for sure. Their meet-cute was awkward yet steamy so I knew great things were in store and I couldn’t wait to explore their connections further.

Like the original, this story is always adding layer upon layer to itself and you really don’t know how it is all going to wrap up until the end. It makes it addicting to read.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

In the same breath, I thought some things in the plot didn’t add up completely upon the big reveal(s). I think part of my issue was that the characters seemed to be all over the place for me. I just couldn’t get a solid grasp on who they were as people since their thoughts and actions were a little all over the place. It just lacked some consistency and polish for me.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

My reading of this book was hot and cold. I really loved some aspects of it but didn’t really mesh well with others.

Read if You Like: fake marriage romances, fast paced, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica

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Synopsis for Pretend We’re Over (from Goodreads):

I’m not looking for a date. I’m definitely not looking for a husband—just one night of passion. I’m in Vegas, after all. And what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

So how did I end up with a giant rock on that finger, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.

Now I’m stuck fake married to the biggest self-centered jerk I’ve ever met. We agree to keep the charade going for six months to protect our pride and dignity. We have six months to convince everyone we aren’t meant to be. Should be easy.

I’m sweet, kind, fun Millie.
He’s cynical, self-absorbed, loner Sebastian.

We don’t belong together. Convincing everyone we’re married is the easy part. Convincing everyone we’re over—that’s proving more difficult. Convincing myself that we’re over is proving hardest yet.

I just have to remember that it was all pretend from the start. We were never together. Pretending we’re over is just going back to my life before. But what if I don’t want to keep pretending?

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Single Sundays: The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Single Sundays: The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

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 Sound of Stars (from Goodreads):

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

breakdown

Author: Alecia Dow
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person & Third Person
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So you see that cover right? That’s why I clicked on the title when I was browsing my audiobook collection at my library. But the synopsis reminded me of a hybrid between Defy the Fates and Alienated with a darker edge, so I was curious to find out what this book was all about.

The Concept / The World:

If you are a fan of books and/or music, you will love how that is all woven into this text. It’s reminds me why these mediums are so important to society and how it connects people in times of struggles.

And it you are in the search for books that feature minority characters (whether that be people of colour and/or LGBTQ leads), look no further. The representation here is top-notch.

The Plot:

Like I thought, this book has a darker edge to it. In some ways, the plot reminded me of The Darkest Minds where people are pushed into situations of tentative trust in order to survive.

And then the plot takes a turn I never anticipated and that was a huge highlight for me. It alludes to something bigger than what this story is and I really liked that.

The Characters:

I liked both of our characters well enough. It was hard to get a good read on Morris because his POV is third person. Ellie is understandably a little sombre about everything so she isn’t the most exciting person to listen to. They weren’t overly memorable to me though.

The Romance:

The romance really dampened the whole experience for me because I just didn’t see those non-platonic feelings between them at all. Part of the issue is perhaps that Morris is an alien so emotions are hard to convey. But I also didn’t get Ellie’s draw to him besides physical attraction and close proximity. Yes, they have things in common but it just wasn’t enough for me to be convinced they were this epic, forbidden love story.

My Audiobook Experience:

A great listen. They did a really good job bringing this story to life.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

When you are trying to sell me on this epic forbidden romance, you really need to sell it and I felt like it didn’t. Which is a shame because I feel like it is the crucial piece in making this story epic.

Read if You Like: science fiction, alien invasions
Avoid if You: want an action novel
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Single Sundays: Mr Prescott by Carlos Dash

Single Sundays: Mr Prescott by Carlos Dash

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 Mr Prescott (from Goodreads):

I’m the Mayor of London.

I’ve come to New York purely on business. The usual boring meetings with other politicians.
I don’t expect my time here to be exciting in the slightest.

But who’s that woman I met this morning? No, girl. That would be a more accurate term for her.
She’s only twenty-one years old. A college student. Someone who shouldn’t get mixed up with a guy
like me.

But I can’t get her out of my mind. Every single time I close my eyes, I see her face.
How can someone I just met do this to me? That’s the kind of stuff that happens in movies. Not real life.

I know this will be a dangerous risk for me, but I can’t help it. I want her. I need her.
And whatever it may do to my career, I won’t stop until I have her.
***
Mr. Prescott is a standalone New Adult Romance novel told entirely from the point of view of the male lead.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Read of 2019
Author: Carlos Dash
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, POV
Publication Date: August 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think this book crossed my radar when I saw it in a Blog Tour Company’s sign-up email. I can’t remember why I didn’t sign up (maybe it was for a blitz and not a review?) but I put it on my Amazon Wishlist and waited for it to go on sale. I kinda forgot about it after I bought it but when I needed a quick read, this one popped up and it sounded like what I needed.

The Concept / The World:

From the start, I struggled with the whole idea that as a Mayor, Prescott had so much power and influence over people in a COMPLETELY different city. If he was in London, sure, I could see how tossing his name around to the book store owner would freak him out. But doing it in NYC? Doesn’t seem probable to me. I couldn’t even name you the Mayor of London currently but maybe I’m just out of touch and am ignorant of the way people of authority in the world are.

The Plot:

There isn’t much here. Basically they meet and have sex a couple times. Everything happens over the course of a couple days which is usually how it goes in romances but this seemed too fast for me to even call it whirlwind. And the dialogue was so weak and minimal it didn’t add anything to the story.

The Characters:

While I usually like my romances to be dual POV stories, some of my all-time favourite romances are Male POV Only (Tangled by Emma Chase for example) so when I find one, it’s always a special treat. This wasn’t.
I couldn’t tell if it was a man writing the dialogue or a woman writing what she thinks a man would have for an inner monologue but it was rough. (For the record, “Carlos Dash” is a pen name for a married couple so it could be either). But it was almost overly crude with its word choices.

And because there wasn’t much to the story, there wasn’t much depth to the characters either.

The Romance:

I adore forbidden romances and I’m still searching for a great “age gap” romance. This one is slightly misleading because Nathan Prescott is 38, Nicole is 21. Yes, she is young but when I think age gap I guess I think of someone much older.

Add to it, the complete lack of chemistry between these two and it was a disappointment for sure.

My Rating: 1/5

overall

Because I needed the read for my 2019 Goodreads Challenge, I stuck with this novel because of its short page length. But there are a lot of flaws with it for romance enthusiasts.

Read if You Like: short reads
Avoid if You: want a strong romance

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Blog Tour: Neighbors and Favors by Kate Davis

Blog Tour: Neighbors and Favors by Kate Davis

Synopsis for Neighbors and Favors (from Goodreads):
New apartments should come with a trial period…

I’ve just signed a two-year lease on an apartment I can barely afford.
My job hit a brick wall so I need the place to be perfect to help me get my life back on track. But the first night in, and I already know my neighbor isn’t going to make it easy on me.

Tall, sexy, irresistible (and did I mention the British accent?), Shane Logan likes his loud activities…a lot. I can hear everything through the paper-thin walls. I’m about to tell him that in not-so-friendly terms when I realize he isn’t just sexy, he’s also friendly and eager to be of help.
Maybe having a neighbor like him isn’t such a bad idea.
I’m a writer in desperate need of inspiration. Shane so happens to turn into mine. With a deadline approaching fast, his offer to do me a favor turns into two and three. Before I know it, he’s forced his way into my life with the tenacity of a whirlwind.

I can deal with the fact that he’s far too loud and far too sexy. But when my dog likes him more than me, I start to get a little suspicious. Soon it becomes clear Shane Logan has secrets.
Plunged into the suspicions surrounding my neighbor, suddenly the only thing I can be sure of is that Shane is fiercely determined to hide the truth about himself.

Remember when I said the lease should have come with a warning?
Well, mine should also have come with a big, red, flashing signal.

Author: Kate Davis
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Source & Format: Kate Davis–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Who doesn’t love the idea of a British hottie next door? When Kate pitched her novel to me, I was curious to see how this would play out. A mysterious but inspiring boy next door? I was more than intrigued.

The Plot:

Perhaps my mind went straight to the gutter on this one after I read the synopsis. I think I assumed our heroine was writing a romance novel and needed some help writing those sexy scenes…but that is far from the case here.

Instead, we get more of a platonic story about a very helpful–albeit mysterious–boy next door sprinkled with Sam’s views about faith and love. So clearly I had to curb my expectations in a lot of ways. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once I understood what this novel was supposed to be, I enjoyed it.

I really liked the mystery aspect to Shane. I really couldn’t figure out what his deal was so I liked that it kept me on my toes!

The Characters:

I’ve never really gone out of my way to read a book that was rooted in Christianity because I fear they can be preachy about their faith. But this wasn’t like that at all! Clearly our heroine’s faith is important to her, but she wasn’t pushy about it at all. It’s just something that is ingrained in her character profile and drives her motivations.

I’d also describe Sam (our heroine) as quirky. I often struggle with humour in books because I can’t always grasp the tone, and that happened a little here for me. I missed a few of the jokes but there are some funny moments along the way.

The Romance:

So knowing how important her faith is, I quickly learned this wasn’t the romance I thought it was going to be. I thought the “favour” aspect of the story would be some hands-on sexy-time experience by Shane to give her material for her novel but obviously that isn’t the case. And the romance is more subtle than I thought it would be.

I almost wouldn’t classify this as a romance persay. It’s more like the adventures of an aspiring novelist who uses the mystery of the super cute and nice neighbour next door to write her novel.

My Rating: 3/5

overall
If you want a lighter story with a dash of romance, Christianity and mystery, I think this will be the perfect summer read for you!

Read if You Like: light romance, books involving faith
Avoid if You: want erotica

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Kate Davis
Kate Davis is a real-life coffee lover with her very own Pomeranian who was her biggest inspiration for this book. Yes, Sammy is real and her favorite command is “cheese.” In fact, it might just be the only command she obeys. Kate loves to play matchmaker, transporting readers to a place where her bold heroines have endearing flaws, the men are fierce and protective, the world isn’t always a safe place, and chivalry is alive and thriving! You can visit both Kate and Sammy online at katedavisauthor.blogspot.com or connect with her on Facebook.
Stay in touch. She loves to hear from her readers!

Sign up to Kate’s newsletter for more info on her next release here

Author Links: Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog

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Single Sundays: The Cruelest Stranger by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Cruelest Stranger by Winter Renshaw

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

Synopsis for The Cruelest Stranger (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

I never could have anticipated his…

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

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

This one’s ours.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

The Romance:

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

The Characters:

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

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

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

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

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Single Sundays: The Trophy Wife

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 Trophy Wife (from Goodreads):

“I’ve done something terrible.”

On a foggy Palm Beach morning, Cate Cabot waits at a local cafe to meet her best friend for coffee—and a confession. At least that’s what Cate assumes based on the frantic voicemail Odessa left her earlier that morning.

Only Odessa never shows.

And when Cate drives to her home she finds no trace of her. In fact, Odessa isn’t just missing—it’s suddenly as if she never existed in the first place. Even the staff who run her palatial home in the gated Paradise Cove community are claiming Cate must be mistaken, confused.

As Cate searches high and low for her friend who vanished into thin air on the cusp of a mysterious admission, the only thing she finds … is that the truth might be more terrible than she ever could have imagined.

Liking Odessa was easy. Admiring her perfect life, easier so. But finding her? It’s going to be downright impossible without untangling the cryptic web of lies the missing trophy wife left in her wake.

breakdown

Author: Sunday Tomassetti (aka Winter Renshaw aka Minka Kent)
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 5, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Winter Renshaw fan so when she provided her ARC Team with a copy of her thriller pen name, I signed up right away. I’m always on the lookout for exciting contemporary-thrillers and in her contemporary romances, Winter throws in some great twists that never fail to surprise me. So this seemed like a no-brainer to pick up.

The Concept:

I don’t like when things that are mentioned in the synopsis don’t happen until the halfway point. It just makes the exposition seem overly long and lacklustre. I feel like the first half could have been condensed a bit more and still have gotten the necessary points across.

The Plot:

Because I thought Odessa’s disappearance would happen earlier in the book, I struggled to get into this as quickly as I wanted. Which is a shame because the latter half of the novel is exciting to read. I had figured out most of the solution but there were still some interesting tidbits that took me by surprise.

The Characters:

Cate in someways is a bit of an somber lead to follow. I’m sure part of that is intentional given the circumstances of the story. And in some ways, the idea that this everyday woman could find herself in this extraordinary situation is appealing as a reader.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance here. Cate has a boyfriend but their relationship is used more as a way to emphasis her “settling” personality.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick thriller read with no romance, this would be a great pick!

Read if You Like: no romance in mystery novels
Avoid if You: want something more “thrilling”

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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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Single Sundays: The Best Man by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Best Man by Winter Renshaw

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

Synopsis for The Best Man (from Goodreads):
I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever …

Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines.

There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.

I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it.

From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine.

Anything.

Then I found her.

And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks:  Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 25, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I just know when I pick up a Winter Renshaw book I’m in for a good time. And this particular title was intriguing. I’m not one who goes out of her way to read about love triangles but something told me not everything was as it appeared here so I was eager to see what was in store.

The Plot:

The weaving of the story here is impressive. I really enjoyed the idea that fate can bring people together in ways they never expect. Connecting all the dots along the way was addicting and I easily found myself lost in the narrative. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes you have to listen to your gut and make those difficult decisions.

I did crave a little more from it though, like it could have used one really good twist to take things to that next level.

The Characters:

I liked that both of our leads had their flaws. I was worried going into this that our heroine would be this perfect human being our hero idolized but that isn’t the case. They’ve each got their individual stories and struggles.

The Romance:

In a way, yes it is a love triangle. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to label this as a flat out romance either. Yes, there is love at the core of this story but I think you have to realize the bigger picture that sometimes to find your forever you have to make sacrifices and changes along the way.

And you’ll read that and say: isn’t that the point of 95% of romance stories? Yes, you’d be right. But this didn’t feel like a romance to me. It felt more like the journey of self-discover people take when they are at a crossroads in their life.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I think you have to see the bigger picture that sometimes life isn’t fair and that people have to make hard decisions. It isn’t a passion filled romance and I definitely think some people will be frustrated with the characters.

Read if You Like: non-traditional love stories, love triangle-esque stories
Avoid if You: want passionate romances

similarreads

  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (Darcy & Rachel Series #1)
  • Hot Mess by Emily Goodwin (Love is Messy Series #1)

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