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Standalone: a novel with no sequels

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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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DNF Review: Unfixable by Tessa Bailey

DNF Review: Unfixable by Tessa Bailey

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 Unfixable (from Goodreads):

He’s the last thing she wants…but the only thing she needs.

Willa Peet isn’t interested in love. She’s been there, done that, and has the shattered heart to prove it. Ready to shake the breakup, she heads to Dublin, Ireland. But there’s a problem. A dark-haired, blue-eyed problem with a bad attitude that rivals her own. And he’s not doling out friendly Irish welcomes.

Shane Claymore just wants to race. The death of his father forced him off the Formula One circuit, but he’s only staying in Dublin long enough to sell the Claymore Inn and get things in order for his mother and younger sister. He never expected the sarcastic American girl staying at the inn to make him question everything.

But even as Willa and Shane’s fiery natures draw them together, their pasts threaten to rip them apart. Can Shane give up racing to be with the woman he loves, or will Willa’s quest to resurrect the tough-talking, no-shit-taking girl she used to be destroy any hope of a future together?

breakdown

Author: Tessa Bailey
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Unfixable at 37% (Start of Chapter 9). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I bought this book years ago, probably when the New Adult trend was just peaking…and I was into angsty leads. But I actually read Tessa Bailey’s Broke and Beautiful Series first and really enjoyed it for it’s lightness and fun. And while this book seemed like it would be a touch darker, I went in optimistically.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

When I picked this book up, I had just finished looking at a possible trip to Ireland…and this book totally made me wanderlust after the country. I really want to see Dublin one day so it was nice to live vicariously through Willa for a bit.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of Chemistry–

I was excited by the I-hate-you vibes Willa and Shane were throwing each other’s ways when they first meet. But that was about all the sparks I got from them. Seriously, I didn’t see the connection between them at all. And before I knew it, Shane was busting out some serious dirty talk and it just felt so out of place for me.

I had a similar experience with Bailey’s Broke and Beautiful Series:

So while I could see the basis of their relationships forming, they fall quick and hard solely based on a few interactions and not much else.

I let it slide a bit in that series because they were a lighter read. But I had hoped that things would be a little deeper here.

–Lack of Shane’s POV–

As I read more and more romances, I find I really prefer ones with dual POVs. Unless the hero needs to be kept a mystery for some reason, I much prefer that he have his own chapters so I can understand his motives a little more. Perhaps I would have felt the chemistry between these two more if Shane’s inner monologue was available.

Will I Finish It?

I was only 8 chapters in and Willa’s angst was becoming too much for me. I just wasn’t invested in this relationship at all, gorgeous setting aside.

My Rating: DNF

overall

I think if you like romances that happen quickly and don’t mind minimal development, you’ll enjoy this.

Read if You Like: angsty heroines, one POV romances
Avoid if You: want a deeper story

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Single Sundays: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Single Sundays: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

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 Birthday Girl (from Goodreads):

JORDAN
He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.

He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.

He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.

I have to stop this. It can’t happen.

My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.

Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.

I am.

PIKE
I took her in, because I thought I was helping.

She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.

As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.

The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.

But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.

And her boyfriend’s father.

Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.

*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.

breakdown

Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm (gets Toasty later on)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 15, 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kindle)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Very, very rarely do I pick up a novel the same day I get it, especially a freebie but I was craving a quick, hot read and this seemed to fit the bill. Penelope Douglas writes one of my favourite forbidden romances ever, Rival, so when I read the premise for this one I was really curious. I love reading about unconventional romances and I’ve never read one quite like this before (though I have read some similar ideas).

The Plot:

So I definitely went in with the wrong expectations and that lead to some massive disappointment; but truthfully, I think I would have still been disappointed if I knew what to expect.

I had hoped this book would be a quick and–let’s face it–dirty read given the premise. Something that bordered on erotica but had some more substance to it. This was nothing of the sort.

I’m all for slow burn romances but I held on a little too long and got burned. This was painfully slow; like I’m talking 50% of the way through a very long novel slow.

The tension was pretty dismal; Jordan was a rehash of ever heroine I’ve ever encountered and not enough steam. You could have easily cut 100 (of the 400) pages out of the start of this novel and still got your point across without dragging the reader through mundane things.

The Characters:

Jordan was just meh as a heroine. I can appreciate her struggles in life but it wasn’t anything new to me. But what really got me is how she became this whole other person when the sexy times came about. It was really crazy how she brought out this whole other side that just seemed so out of character.

Pike was alright. He’s a decent guy who tries to do the right thing. Again, nothing new.

The Romance:

This took far to long to become a thing. I wasn’t really sold on the whole forbidden romance thing because it really doesn’t go anywhere until the halfway mark.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Just a miss for me. I think if you really love the slowest burns of romance, this is a great one for you.

Read if You Like: unconventional romances, slow starts
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a faster story
similarreads

  • Everything Between Us by Mila Ferrera (Starving Artists Series #2)
  • Illicit by June Gray

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Single Sundays: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Single Sundays: Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

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 Say You’ll Remember Me (from Goodreads):
When Drix was convicted of a crime–one he didn’t commit–he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves–Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence–and each other to finally get what they deserve.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Katie McGarry fan. I read everything she writes because she has this incredible talent for writing stories I love to read. I didn’t know I could enjoy the YA Contemporary genre until I read her Pushing the Limits Series.

The Plot:

There’s a lot going on but in a great kind of way. I never found a dull moment with this story. I got so wrapped up in both Drix and Elle’s personal stories and their time together.

I thought the end was a little melodramatic and I don’t really get the title (and I hate that it puts a Taylor Swift song in my head) but it didn’t dampen my overall love for this story.

The Characters:

This is where Katie McGarry shines. She can write some great teen angst. I think the main reason she does this so well is that she gives her teen leads real problems. These kids aren’t upset about mundane issues; they’re upset with how the world puts them in boxes and how they want to break free from them. They just come across as so genuine and I get so into their stories.

The Romance:

Super cute! I wish we got to see more of them talking as their relationship blossomed but I loved the tension between these two anytime they shared a scene together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book had the right amount of everything. Just a great read to get lost in!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, politics
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever 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 For Lila, Forever (from Goodreads):

The words “For Lila, forever” adorned the front of the envelope in blue ink, the handwriting all too familiar. But it didn’t matter what it said. I didn’t have the heart to open it.

We couldn’t be together.

Not after everything …

Leaving Rose Crossing, Maine was one of the most painful moments of my life—or at least it was until the day I came face-to-face with Thayer Ainsworth again.

After a decade of searching, he’s found me, and he wants to know why I quit my housemaid job and left his family’s island estate without so much as a goodbye. But I’m bound by a devastating secret much bigger than the two of us, and telling him the truth has consequences.

Looking into the eyes of the only man I’ve ever loved, I tell him the only thing I’m allowed to: never contact me again. And when he’s gone, I sit down and finally open his letter.

Only it isn’t a letter at all.

And it changes everything.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 25, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARCs

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I’ll read anything by Winter Renshaw but this one was especially intriguing. I love second chance romances that are plagued by family secrets and this one sounded like that exactly.

The Plot:

I had a pretty good idea of how this story would go given the synopsis, but like most of Winter Renshaw’s work, she managed to surprise me. This is a solid second chance story yet at the same time, it isn’t in some ways. I loved that we start in the past and get to see their relationship first hand. And then comes the results of the fallout as you slowly link the past with the present. I think it’s this linking of that past and present that makes this book feel different than your everyday second chance romance. These characters really have to work for it.

Which makes for an exciting story. I was thoroughly addicted to it and had a hard time putting it down. There’s just this incredible flow to it that sucks you in as a reader.

The Characters:

I really liked both of our leads. They have enough to them to carry the story and keep me satisfied with their development.

The Romance:

While I really liked these two together (they’re so sweet!), I had a hard time getting over the shortness of their romance and their very deep feelings that arise in that time frame. We do get to see them interact a lot which helped to solidify their connection when they first meet. But some thing was just missing for me; perhaps it felt a little rushed? I get that it is a summer romance but these two fall very fast and I just needed a little more from them.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Regardless, this is the PERFECT read if you want something bingeworthy to read (especially in one sitting!)!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, summer love
Avoid if You: contemporary romances
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Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

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 Dirty Headlines (from Goodreads):

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.

breakdown

Author: L J Shen
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Office Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few books marked on my TBR by L J Shen but when the opportunity to review this one came up, I figured it was the best one to start with. Why? It checked off a lot of my favourite romance tropes in the synopsis alone. Workplace romance after an awkward first encounter. Hate to Love You/Enemies to Lovers. Playboy lead. So I was ready to dive in.

The Plot:

To be fair to this book, I probably started reading it at a bad time in my life. I had a lot of things going on when I started this so I wasn’t able to read it as much as I wanted. But I also think the fact that it took me nearly 2 months to read (when I usually finish a book in 3 days) shows how not into this book I was. (Usually, when I’m in stressful times I read a book in one go but not the case here).

As for the plot, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t the drama that killed it for me. If anything, it’s what propelled me to keep going when I wanted to DNF it numerous times. It’s angsty and almost soap opera-esque because it is a little over the top but that’s exactly what I want from a story set in a News Room.

The Characters:

Despite all of Celian’s playboy, asshole-ish characteristics, he failed to charm me. I think because I didn’t find his falling for Jude to be realistic (more on the romance below). Sure, he can talk dirty (perhaps one of the best dirty-talkers I’ve ever encountered in a book), but I just didn’t get won over by his antics.

And Jude…well she was a huge disappointment as well. Talk about wish-washy in terms of her convictions. The poor girl is all over the place. One minute claiming she’s unlovable but in the next sentence uttering that she wants a relationship with the guy. Why? She’s also extremely quirky and that doesn’t usually work for me. I guess it was a sign when she kept talking about her Chucks (the shoe I loath most in this world) that we just weren’t going to be friends.

The Romance:

This is by far the biggest factor in my lower rating: I just did NOT see the chemistry between these two. Yes, they seem to have fantastic sex together but besides lust and a good romp, what was keeping them together? I really don’t know. Their quirky tendencies? I think this goes hand in hand with their character profiles and how I failed to get a solid read on who they were as people. Because if I don’t understand them as individuals, how can I appreciate them as a pair together?

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Lots of other people seem to love this book but besides the drama, there wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, office romances, enemies to lovers
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera drama

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DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 14: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Heartless (from Goodreads):

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

breakdown

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Origin Story, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Heartless at 39%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After I fell in love with Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, I was eager to see what else she could write. While I’m not the biggest Alice in Wonderland fan, I’ve always been intrigued by the Queen of Hearts so I was more than curious to learn about her origins.

What I Liked:

–It Made Me Hungry–

Cath just wants to be a baker and I could see why: she comes up with some wonderful pastries. I have never felt so hungry reading a book before! Normally I wouldn’t want to eat anything in Wonderland but I’d make an exception for Cath’s baked goods!

–A Flawless Recreation of Wonderland–

Like I said above, Alice in Wonderland doesn’t do much for me as a story–it’s a little too weird for me. However, Meyer easily transports you back there as a reader. All those key elements (and I’m sure a few little details only true Wonderland fans could pick up) are there and it’s like having the story brought to life around you once again.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wonderland World-Building It’s Elaborated On–

However, in the same breath I want a little more explanation for why things are like they are in Wonderland. I know that this is an origin story about the Queen of Hearts so that’s what the focus will be on but why do lemon trees grow out of dreams? Why do certain foods shrink you? I’d have liked some logically background on the very illogical world of Wonderland.

–Aimless Plot–

One of the greatest weaknesses of an origin story (for me as a reader at least), is that they are rather mundane in the narration. You kinda go through the motions of the lead character’s everyday life and slowly you start to see how they transform into their iconic persona. But compared to their legend, the backstory can be a little undramatic and not as exciting as you want it to be.

I think about the story Blackhearts–the origin story of Blackbeard. Now I found that there wasn’t much to the plot there when it came to dramatics but I really loved the characters and their development so I didn’t mind as much. Here, I just found Cath to be a very boring character and the Queen of Hearts should be anything but.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobook is a great production. I never got lost in the narration and I loved how everyone had a unique voice. It is a fabulous listen.

Will I Finish It?:

Nope. The only thing that could have kept me reading was the romance and it wasn’t really working for me either.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This was a miss for me. But I think if you enjoy the world of Wonderland and like origin stories, you’ll probably enjoy this!

Read if You Like: origin stories, longer stories, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike Alice in Wonderland

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DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF Review: Top Choice by Sophie McAloon

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 8: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Top Choice (from Goodreads):

“…THE HANDMAID’S TALE MEETS MAGIC MIKE”

As a future leader of the female-led regime her ancestors fought hard to establish, Alice Kearns is no stranger to pressure. Being the best in a society where women are expected to be high-achieving is the only option her powerful mother has ever accepted for her. But fortunately, as of her eighteenth birthday, Ali has a place to blow off steam: she’s finally allowed into the Choice Clubs.

Filled with an enticing mix of music, drinks and gorgeous guys, the Choice Clubs were founded to ensure that smart girls wouldn’t get distracted in their real lives by anything as trivial as a shallow crush or a pretty face. Choice guys are fun, flirty, and the perfect eye candy, but Ali would never dream of actually falling for one—until she meets Tag.

Tag McPhail is Top Choice. With his mischievous grin and a body to die for, he is exactly the kind of boy that Ali’s mother believes needs to be kept contained. But after he kisses Ali at the Choice Club, she suddenly sees him everywhere—and she’s surprised to learn that there’s more to him than his perfect looks. Tag is sweeter, funnier, and smarter than Ali ever expected… and, she soon discovers, he’s also dangerous. Because Tag leads a double life: when he’s not working at the clubs, he’s part of a rebel group trying to overturn the girl power society that the women in Ali’s family worked so hard to put in place.

Getting closer to Tag upends everything Ali thought she knew. But will she betray everything she was raised to protect for a guy she’s not even sure she can trust?

breakdown

Author: Sophie McAloon
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Heat Rating:  unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 16, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Top Choice at 23% (Start of Chapter 7). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

How can you not read a book with the tagline “Handmaiden’s Tale meets Magic Mike”? I was so intrigued when the review opportunity for this crossed my inbox that I had to break my request rules and attempt to secure myself a copy.

What I Liked:

–The Matriarchal Society–

I love books that challenge our everyday ideals and dystopian novels are a great way to do that as they often exploit an aspect of our society. Here, we get a world ruled by women and only the educated can vote in elections. It’s an interesting concept as we currently live in a world where women are constantly fighting for equality in all aspects of life around the world.

Which is why I wish it was elaborated on more…

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lack of World Building–

With a premise like this, you need solid world building and this one lacked it for me. I didn’t get why everyone had “Cards” or what “Top Choice” was or why society had even evolved in this direction in the first place. So I struggled to understand what the setting was and why the characters were acting a certain way because of it.

It was one of those situations that the more I read, the less I understood and the more questions I had.

–The Romance–

Again, I struggled with this because I didn’t understand where these lovey feelings came from. I understand Alice’s interest in Tag given their first few encounters as he is rather mysterious but they didn’t interact enough for me to understand where her love-driven feelings were coming from.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. While I’m curious about the world and the like, the other reviews I read gave me the impression I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the novel.

My Rating: DNF

overall

This one had a very cool concept but the execution just wasn’t at the level I wanted (or expected) it to be.

Read if You Like: like romance focused dystopian novels
Avoid if You: need strong world-building

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DNF Review: Book Boyfriend by DC Renee

DNF Review: Book Boyfriend by DC Renee

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 7: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

Synopsis for Book Boyfriend (from Goodreads):

What would you do if you ran into a real life book boyfriend?
You might scream or maybe giggle.
You might play coy or maybe stare.
You might ask for a picture or maybe an autograph.
You might call your girlfriends or maybe post about it.
What did I do? I ran. Literally.

Kim was a typical college student with a splash of dorky, a dash of funny, and a pinch of clumsy…well, maybe more than a pinch. After making a fool of herself in front of her classmate Brent, and his friend, Travis, a dead-ringer for one her book boyfriends, she tried to stay away. But after a few hilarious chance encounters, they became fast friends.

And then came the bet. It was Travis versus Brent, but somehow Kim got roped in to help team Travis. He was supposed to find and woo his real life book girlfriend. What could go wrong with a couple of college kids and an innocent bet? Let the shenanigans and laughter ensue! And maybe add in a bit of friendship, fun and most definitely, love.

breakdown

Author: DC Renee
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 19, 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Book Boyfriend at 12% (Start of Chapter 5). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Without a doubt, we’ve all had our share of book boyfriends (or girlfriends) over the years. I even keep a tag of them all so I can remember them when the time comes. So of course, I couldn’t wait to read a book about a girl who seems to have her book boyfriend come to life. That’s why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge 2018 for the year 2015.

What I Liked:

Ummmmmmm…..

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Immaturity–

Have you ever read the first paragraph of a first person POV and immediately know that this isn’t going to work for you? That the idea of spending 3+ hours in this person’s head is going to be slightly torturous? That was my situation here with Kim.

In the attempt to make Kim “relateable” and “funny” with her “dorky” and “clumsy” personality she comes across as a bit of a naive oddball. Her inner monologue was next level quirky and just didn’t work for me. In fact, it annoyed me pretty quickly. She just rambles on and on and I found myself not caring in the slightest or understanding why the guys liked her so much.

And don’t even get me started on the stupid bet. That whole chapter should have been titled “Immaturity”.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I thought about just pressing through since it is a shorter read but I could only see myself getting more frustrated with the whole thing…

My Rating: DNF

overall

After seeing all the positive reviews on Goodreads, I wonder if I even read the same book as everyone else? This one just wasn’t for me and I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone else either.

Read if You Like: shorter stories, overly quirky heroines, love triangles
Avoid if You: want more polish to your books

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  • Unintentional Virgin by A J Bennett

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