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Series Review: If Love Duet by Ana Huang

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

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

If Love Duet

booksynopsis

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

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

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

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

She wants the fairytale.
He wants freedom.

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

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

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

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

breakdown

Series: If Love Duet
Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 30, 2020 — July 30, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ana Huang!

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–The Setting of Shanghai–

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

–The Bittersweet Tone of the Romance–

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

–The Struggle With Intimacy–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

–July 14, 2020– Book #2: If the Sun Never Sets

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

If We Ever Meet Again 4/5 | If the Sun Never Sets 4.5/5

overall

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

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

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Spin-off Saturdays: Rivals by Piper Lawson

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

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

Rivals Series is a spin-off of the Wicked Series

breakdown

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

This is a spinoff of the Wicked Series.

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Love Notes

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Heat Rating: warm *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 29, 2020 – July 9, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

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

My Expectations?

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

How Does It Compare To The Original?

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

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

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

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–I Didn’t Understand All the Angst–

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

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

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

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Love Notes:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Series Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

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

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booksynopsis

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

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

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Sinful Truths by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Sinful Truths 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:

Sinful Truths Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book3 book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Sinful Truths

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Ongoing
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

Without a doubt, Truth or Lies is my favourite Ella Miles series. So I was ECSTATIC that she was planning two spin-off series focusing on characters that I would love to spend more time with. Sinful Truths is the first series to come about and I couldn’t wait to dive in.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Compared to its predecessor, I thought this book started a little slower. There were quite a few unanswered questions at the beginning that had me a little hung-up but as things fall into place, the picture becomes clearer and it captivates your attention. The stakes are just as high here and that adds some depth to the plot that I love in Ella Miles’ novels.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Some of those unanswered questions bothered me because it made things seem a little sloppy in terms of the plot. But I should always know that Ella has something mind-blowing in store…

It also took me a lot longer to warm up to the romance. These two have great physical chemistry and they have this whole forbidden love attraction happening, but I didn’t find it as alluring as the original series. I’m hoping the depth I’m looking for comes out in the future novels as we get to uncover more about these characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea where this series is going or how it will relate further to the original series. But this is a trip I cannot wait to take!

updates

–February 19, 2020– Book #3: Reckless Fall

This installment was a little on the slower side for me. Our leads are at a defining moment and that means we get quite a bit of self reflection. I wanted a little more drama and excitement.

With the original series, Truth or Lies, our leads have the on-going competition lingering in the background. I find this series so far lacks that overarching subplot. Yes, there are inklings that something larger is afoot but I find each novel is a more episodic, ending on a cliffhanger to keep you invested for the next installment. And that’s definitely not a bad thing, I just miss that white-knuckle tension Ella Miles can add to her novels.

–February 27, 2020– Book #4: Tangled Promise

I think this was a pretty crucial book in the series. Our leads have to start making big decisions for themselves and each other and I like how that test their relationship. I haven’t been entirely sold on their bond but this book helped me to see why they are such a great pair together.

My other complaint with the series so far is that there hadn’t seemed to be an overarching plotline but I think that it is starting to take shape here. I’m really excited for the trajectory of the last two books!

–April 9, 2020– Book #5: Fallen Love

Compared to others in the series so far, this was all about the relationships and testing loyalty. And that puts are characters in quite the bind. Overall though, I thought it was dry until the massive twist at the end!

–April 18, 2020– Book #6: Broken Anchor

This was super action packed. Never a dull moment in terms of the plot. It was perhaps a touch over the top but this whole series has been so I expect nothing less. Lots of twists and turns so I liked that I didn’t know how it would end.

Overall: I’m still not the biggest fan of Zeke and Siren’s romance but I can appreciate their loyalty to each other and how far they are willing to go to save the other. Plus, it was great to see returning characters from the original series and have the build up for the next spin-off!

My Rating: 3/5

Sinful Truths 4/5 | Twisted Vow 3/5 | Reckless Fall 3/5 | Tangled Promise 4/5 | Fallen Love 3/5 | Broken Anchor 3.5/5

overall

A promising start to a great spin-off series that will captivate new fans as well as satisfy the returning.

Read if You Like: dark romances,
Avoid if You: dislike mentions of sex crimes and the like

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sinful Truths (from Goodreads):

She saved me.
Pulled me from the depths of the ocean.
Siren—her name fits. She is beauty; her voice heavenly.
But unlike the mythical version, Siren didn’t lure me to my death.
She saved me.
And now, seeing her about to be sold to the highest bidder, I know it’s my turn to save her.

——

I was raised to always tell the truth, no matter what.
And it’s served me well.
Until today.
Today, I wish I could lie.
Because my truth put me here—about to be sold.
A lie could set me free.
But I always tell the truth, even when I lie.

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Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Series Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stalking Jack the Ripper (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

breakdown

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
# of Books: 4 (Full List Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be released September 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: September 2016 – September 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw Stalking Jack the Ripper a few months before its release while visiting Stephanie @ In Wonderland’s Make Me Read It Readathon voting page. I loved the cover and so I checked out the synopsis and immediately added it to my TBR.

I love murder mystery crime shows though it’s a genre I don’t often explore in my books. I also have this somewhat inexplicable, never-ending interest in the Jack the Ripper case; so I was curious to see how it would be woven into a fictional story. But the biggest expectation I had was Audrey herself. As a scientist myself, I couldn’t wait to read about a heroine who seems to shatter every expectation society has for her by pursuing her scientific passions.

The Concept:

All these novels feature famous crime and/or folklore stories in one way or another. And it’s very obvious when you read them that Kerri Maniscalco has done her research. Everything is rich and seamlessly woven together; it makes it a pure joy to explore as a reader.

In particular, the use of scientific and forensic methods really impressed me. It’s very accurate to the time-frame and it makes you appreciate how far we have come in terms of scientific advancements when it comes to solving crimes. It reminded me a lot of the use of forensic sciences in Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Plot:

It’s hard to write a good mystery story but these ones are super well done. You get enough clues (and red herrings) along the way to keep you interested and engaged in the story. But there is also a good percentage of time dedicated to character development–which is always really important in a series that follows the same characters.

I will say though that I thought the mystery for Stalking Jack the Ripper was very obvious so that impacted my reading experience. However, the mystery of Hunting Prince Dracula was much stronger and had a solution I hadn’t guessed at right away. And the same could be said for Escaping From Houdini.

The Characters:

I really loved Audrey and Thomas in all the books. Audrey is a strong lead heroine. Not only is she very intelligent but she also has this passionate drive that keeps her pushing through even when times get tough. But she also has her flaws and I loved how she took those one and constantly challenged herself to be better.

Thomas–oh boy do I love Thomas! He is everything I love in a charming jerk of a genius. He’s got that Sherlock Holmes’ “I’m better than everyone” attitude that is so hard to resist.

But together, these two are unstoppable. They have this great banter–like every good partnership should have–and they really bring each other to the next level. All their scenes together truly amplifies this series.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge aspect of the story but you get just enough to keep you wanting more but not overly disappointed that you aren’t getting more because the plotline is so engaging. But I mean, I wouldn’t have been disappointed to get a few more scenes 😛

My Audiobook Experience:

I really went back and forth on whether of not to read the audiobook or the eBook but I’m really glad I opted for the audiobook in the end. I loved the posh accents–it really reminded me that we were in London or wherever else the adventure takes us. But, like I say with all audiobooks, I get a much better read on the emotions of it all and I love that. It truly brought the characters to life in a way that I might have missed out on if I read a printed version.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait for the next adventure and to see how this series will wrap up!

updates

–October 14, 2019– Book #4: Capturing the Devil

Without a doubt: this was the best way to wrap up this series! I loved how the focus was on Audrey’s relationship for most of the book (though that is also why it’s a 4.5/5 because we almost spent too much time on that–though I hate to complain about that because I love those two together so much). Regardless, I love how this tied all the previous novels together and wrapped up every lose end you could imagine while being engaging.

Series Rating: 4/5

Stalking Jack the Ripper 3.5/5 | Hunting Prince Dracula 4/5 | Escaping from Houdini 4.5/5 | Capturing the Devil 5/5

overall

With a rich setting and utterly charming characters, this murder mystery series will hook you in!

Read if You Like: historical, mysteries, partnerships
Avoid if You: want more romance, dislike murder mysteries

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Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

Series Review: The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

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 The Cruel Prince (from Goodreads):

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Top Pick 2018
Series: The Folk of the Air
Author: Holly Black
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #1.5 The Lost Sisters

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Faeries, Action, Politics, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2018 – November 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I honestly thought I wrote a review for The Cruel Prince when I read it last year…but I guess not! The hype was so big for this book that I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I’ve always heard great things about Holly Black but none of her stories in the past have interested me. But FAERIES?! They are my favourite fantasy creature of all time. I love their backstabbing and tricks and uniqueness. So this was a no brainer for me.

The Concept / The World:

I ADORE anything with faeries and this world certainly set the bar. I haven’t read such a rich faerie world since I finished Wicked Lovely years ago. I loved the Courts; I loved the different type of faeries; but most of all, I loved the deviousness of the faerie world. I love how you never know who to trust or what the deals truly mean. And even knowing that deception is around every corner, I still found myself shocked by the events that unfold.

The Plot:

I was fully enthralled by the plot from the very start of The Cruel Prince. It was a weird addiction though because I really didn’t think much was happening drama-wise for the longest time. But there is just something so compelling about Jude’s drive to make her mark in the Court.

But when it came to The Cruel King: non-stop developments from start to finish. If it wasn’t one thing brewing it was another and I couldn’t get enough! Jude’s story is exactly what I crave from a Faerie story.

The Characters:

I really love Jude as a lead. She is exactly what I want my human protagonist to be in a world of Faerie. She’s cunning and strong–definitely able to hold her own–but she also has this vulnerability to her that makes her endearing…and human, much to her dismay. At times, The Cruel Prince read like a coming of age story because she has some great character growth.

And Cardan! Le SIGH! He is the ideal faerie prince for me. I love how I can never get a read on him. He’s mysterious and swoon-worthy; endlessly frustrating but charming. I positively adored his scenes with Jude.

The Romance:

When I started The Cruel Prince, I really thought it was going to be more of a romance focus (I don’t know why but most faerie stories are) but I’m glad it’s only a small component of the story. It does a great job of enriching the story without distracting for the various dramatic plotlines.

When to Read the Novella, #1.5 The Lost Sisters:

How cool is it that this is in an audiobook! I was going to read the eBook when I saw my library had the audio version. Rarely are novellas in audiobooks.

I read this after I finished Book #2–mostly because I forgot this existed. I’m glad I did though. Not that it gives away anything but I kinda liked having this person’s motives unknown to me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I LOVED the audiobooks. Caitlin Kelly does an amazing job bringing Jude to life and I think it definitely impacted my reading experience in a super positive way.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I cannot wait to see how all of this wraps up!

updates

–February 13, 2019– Book #3: The Queen of Nothing

One thing I loved about this series (and usually all other faerie novels) is the unpredictability. I adore the deceptions, the play on words, the literal meanings that come with fairies as the focus. It was so easy to get sucked back into Jude’s world and watcher her navigate her current situation.

This novel never stops moving and twisting as it weaves its final tale. Just a great ending to a superb series.

Series Rating: 5/5

The Cruel Prince 4.5/5 | [The Lost Sisters 4/5] | The Cruel Prince 5/5 | The Queen of Nothing 5/5

overall

If you love the dark world of faeries (or want to dive in head first), there is a reason people can’t stop talking about this series!

Read if You Like: faeries, lots of twists, drama
Avoid if You: want more romance focused

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Series Review: Steam Raiders by Sara Raasch

Fresh Fridays: These Rebel Waves (Steam Raiders) by Sara Raasch

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

Steam Raiders Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for These Rebel Waves (from Goodreads):

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

breakdown

Series: Steam Raiders
Author: Sarah Raasch
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: August 2018 – August 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been looking forward to Sara Raasch’s next work ever since I finished the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy. And this new series sounded like something I would love. Pirates, magic, deception, a kickass heroine? Those were just many of the reasons why I added this series as a pick for my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Reading Challenge.

What I Liked:

–Lu and Vex’s Chemistry–

I loved the tension between these two from the moment they meet. Both deny any true feelings but there is something palpable whenever they are together. In a lot of ways, they reminded me of June and Day from the Legend Series where the odds against them to ever meet but when they do, something magical happens. Their banter was top-notch!

–Magic, Science and Religion–

I enjoyed the concept of this series a lot when it comes to the magic properties of plants. It’s a cool fantasy spin on real world concepts like the clashing of science and religion.

–The Politics–

I loved the political dilemma of this series and how all our leads are stuck in the middle of it all. It added a great air of tension.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lagged a Little in the Middle–

I was really invested for the first half of the story (though a lot of info is thrown at you) and then just past the middle, the excitement died for me a little. I’m not sure what it was that made it seem that way. Perhaps the physical action just simmered out a bit.

We do get some great twists at the end (though one I thought was super obvious) that have me eager to see how it’ll all wrap up.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audio version was very engaging considering it is told in third person. I often struggle with third person audio stories but not here. It was very well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Very excited to see how things will come together in the finale now that some major truths have been uncovered!

updates

–April 9, 2020– Book #2: These Divided Shores

When I finished Book #1, These Rebel Waves, I had high hopes for the inklings of things I could see in the works. The world is so fascinating (the blend of science, magic and religion) and the characters are complex so I was excited to see how things would wrap-up in the finale.

Perhaps I didn’t start this book at the right time but this fell flat for me. I was worried it had been too long since I read the first book but I had noted the plot highlights of the first book so I was able to dive back into this world fairly easily.

Much like the first book, it starts strong and loses its way in the middle. I think there was far too much talking and not enough action. Things just felt dragged out and my interest waned as we approached the end. And while some characters’ action were understandable, others felt cliche.

This whole book was just a little lackluster to me. (But the audio production is fabulous!)

My Rating: 3/5

These Rebel Waves 3/5 | These Divided Shores 3/5

overall

This one had all the right ideas but the execution left me wanting a little more.

Read if You Like: following multiple leads, fantasy with politics
Avoid if You: want lots of action, want more romance

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Series Review: Modern Love by Piper Lawson

Fresh Fridays: Easy Love (Modern Love #1) by Piper Lawson

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

Modern Love Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Easy Love (from Goodreads):

How 20-Somethings Find Love in New York:
1. Meet for tapas.
2. Pretend you care more about his day than your career circling the drain.
3. Stumble to your place. Kick him out before he trips on dirty laundry. (Literal or figurative.)

It’s easy. That’s how I like it.

Before you crown me the least romantic person in Manhattan, meet my competition.

Dr. Wesley Robinson.

Keen blue eyes and fell-out-of-bed hair. Unhealthy obsession with 80s movies. Drier than a gin martini. Drive that makes Tony Robbins look like a slacker.

Yep. The hot genius I’m helping sell his DNA dating app has a plan:

Scale the highest peak of Mount Nerd. Then ride off with his genetic Cinderella.

I shouldn’t fall for him.

Even if Wes kisses like there’s something dirty under that pressed shirt.

Even if he opens me up like no man has.

Even if guarding my heart’s getting harder each day.

Because New York isn’t Wes’s mountain. I’m not his princess…

And nothing this easy can last.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Modern Love

Set in the same universe as the Wicked Trilogy

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 10, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Piper Lawson!

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Piper Lawson writes some of my favourite New Adult romances out there. She just has this great ability to write strong characters (especially her heroines) that also have vulnerability. I just find her stories are so genuine and realistic even if there is some drama along the way.

What I Liked:

–Realistic Slow Burn Romance–

I loved how this romance built and took its time. Yes, these two have instant chemistry but those deeper feelings grow as the characters spend more time with each other and get to know each other. It was easy to see why they would fall for each other…even if they didn’t think so. Their banter and interacts are a highlight of the novel. It was nice to see characters sorta date and fall in love; lots of books just dive in head first!

–Everyday Obstacles–

I think the thing I loved most about this story was the reliability of our two leads. The problems they encounter at work and in their personal lives with connect with the reader. And it really allows for some stellar character growth from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Rushed at the End–

I would have liked some of the stuff at the end to be teased out a little. It made the character development seem a little lopsided because so much happens in the last few chapters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure what or who the next novel will be about but you bet I’m sticking around to find out!

updates

–October 1, 2019– Book #2: Bad Love

Yet another great, modern romance! I thought the premise was a lot of fun and perhaps a little cheeky but it brings out this interesting aspect to the story about women and becoming comfortable in their own skin when it comes to their sexual desires and independence.

These two had great chemistry from the start but they also had amazing communication which is key. I loved watching their banter and how they had something deeper to their relationship than just attraction. It helped to evolve them as characters as they openly discussed their fears and weaknesses; but it also highlighted their strengths and emphasized why they make such a great couple.

Compared to the first novel, I thought this one was a little slow to get off the ground. The first quarter or so seemed stall but I thought the ending was much stronger here. It didn’t feel so rushed and everything that needed to be fleshed out was.

My Rating: 4/5

Easy Love 4/5 | Bad Love 4/5

overall

With a great flow, genuine characters you can’t help but like and a realistic, modern approach to romance, this is a MUST for contemporary romance fans!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, slow burn
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike contemporary romances

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Series Review: Truth or Lies by Ella Miles

Fresh Fridays: Taken by Lies (Truth or Lies #1) 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:

book2 book3 book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Taken by Lies (from Goodreads):

At 16 I was taken.
Kidnapped by a boy I thought I could love.
Then he sold me as if I were property.
For three years I endured.
Beatings.
Torture.
Pain.
I never broke.
I was strong, determined, resilient.
But then one day it happened…I broke.
Setting me free.
I should have run away, found a new life, and started over.
Instead, I returned.
To find the man who sold me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, 2019 Fave
Series: Truth or Lies

There is a Spin-Off Series: Sinful Truths (#1)

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2019 – September 2019
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles is my go-to author for dark contemporary romances. She just writes thrilling, steamy and more often than not twisted romance; and she never fails to surprise me with her great plots. So when I saw this New Adult series was her next project, I was super excited!

What I Liked:

–Great Chemistry Between the Leads–

I already adored the relationship between Kie and Enzo thanks to the novella (more about that below) but I loved every interaction these two had. There’s so much tension and unspoken feelings between them that I lived for their scenes together!

–The Slow Reveal of the Past–

I don’t want to give much away but if you’ve ever read Ella Miles before you know that she leaves little tidbits throughout her novels as you reach the climax. If I wasn’t already hooked on the romance, I was totally invested in learning more about what happened between the events of Lured by Lies and Taken by Lies.

–Enzo–

Don’t get me wrong, Kie is also great but I want to give a special shout out to Enzo. I’m not one who enjoys overly alpha heroes–even in dark romances–but Enzo is quickly becoming a favourite of mine! Yes, he has alpha tendencies but he also has this great vulnerability that we get from time to time that had me totally gone for his character.

What I Didn’t Like:

I have to wait for the sequels! I just want to binge this series!

When to Read the Novella: Lured by Lies (#0.5):

One thing I love about Ella Miles is that she often writes prequel novellas for her stories so you can get a little taste of what is to come. Lured by Lies provides that little bit of context for the history between the two characters who are our leads. It just brings an edge of anticipation for what’s to come next and I think it immensely increased my enjoyment of Taken by Lies since I had already fallen for the characters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

So excited for what’s to come!

updates

–May 2, 2019– Book #2: Betrayed by Truths

Gah!!!! I’m so in love with this series so far!

I love the tension between Kai and Enzo! Their attraction to each other just leaps off the pages. Enzo makes me swoon whenever he looks at her. I adore his character so much. He is unlike any alpha hero I’ve ever read. And I love how Kai is his match in every way. They are easily one of my favourite romance couples of all time.

And the drama! So addicting. There have been so many great twists along the way that I couldn’t put this book down!

Bingeworthy!

–June 2, 2019– Book #3: Trapped by Lies

Just like the previous novels I was sucked right in. This instalment has a larger focus on character development–and not just on our two leads either–which is great. It makes these already complex leads even more intriguing by adding these additional layers to their characters. And it was great to get more insight into the other characters that are constantly shifting the narrative of this story.

Compared to the rest of the series so far, I felt like this story was slower in the middle. It picks up again near the end as it sets the stage for the rest of the series. We’ve got some interesting developments on the way and I can’t wait to see what tests Kai and Enzo have to pass next.

–July 10, 2019– Book #4: Stolen by Truths

I literally dropped my Kindle in shock. Ella Miles never fails to surprise me, especially when I thought I had things figured out. Very curious to see what happens next!

–August 11, 2019– Book #5: Possessed by Lies

The best way to describe this book is as a roller coaster. So many highs and lows for all the characters involved. It was just a great blending of action, romance, plot and character development. Again, just when I think I have things figured out, we get more curveballs thrown our way. What a story Ella Miles is weaving for us!

–September 17, 2019– Book #6: Consumed by Truths

I always get worried about series that follow the same couple for multiple books but this finale proved that it can be done. I loved that I had no idea what would happen next. It kept me on my toes. It started a little slow but those moments were needed to make the ending more impactful.

My Rating: 4.5/5

[Lured by Lies 4/5] |Taken by Lies 5/5 | Betrayed by Truths 5/5 | Trapped by Lies 4/5 | Stolen by Truths 4.5/5 | Possessed by Lies 5/5

overall

One of Ella Miles’ best dark contemporary stories! It’s deliciously dark and addicting!

Read if You Like: dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike alpha males, dislike mature subject matter
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Series Review: Beta Brothers by Hazel Kelly

Series Review: Beta Brothers by Hazel Kelly

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Friends with Benefits (from Goodreads):

Carter’s been crazy about Nina since the first time he saw her emerald eyes, but his fratastic reputation landed him in the friend zone before he even had a chance to say, “How you doin’?”

So when Nina suggests they become friends with benefits, he can’t believe his luck.

After all, once he’s gotten in her pants, winning her heart should be easy… right?

breakdown

Series: Beta Brothers
Author: Hazel Kelly
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book #4 to be released July 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I have not read the first book in the series, My Best Friend’s Ex (#1). This is only a review of Friends with Benefits (#2). I’ve also updated this review to include my thoughts on Book #3, Professor with Benefits.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a friends with benefits type of situation in books. The main reason is the palpable sexual tension because love is almost always inevitable. So while I hadn’t read the first book in the series, when Hazel asked me to read Friends with Benefits (which you can totally read as a standalone!) I leapt at the chance!

The Plot:

For the most part, the plot focuses on these two fighting their feelings for each other while keeping their relationship secret from their friends. We don’t delve too deep into their character stories or backgrounds, which does give this story a lighter feel to it. With the exception of one particular scene, we shy away from the petty and over the top drama that often accompanies these books so I found that to be rather refreshing.

The Characters:

It took me a few chapters to get used to our leads. They’re a little on the quirkier side of things so the humour wasn’t overly apparent to me (but I struggle with comedy in novels I read vs listen to). But once I got a feel for them, I started to enjoy their comments and styles. They do make for a fun pair to follow.

I also thought they lacked some maturity at the start of the novel but they matured as the story (and their relationship) progressed which made me happy.

As I said above, the character development could have been stronger by elaborating more on their backstories. However, I think the primary goal of this novel is to focus on the lighter side of love and looking to the future so I didn’t mind. I saw growth in their maturity and that worked for me.

The Romance:

These two have great chemistry from the start. I liked the fact that it was Nina who set all the rules for the relationship and not Carter (like it often is in books). It was nice to get that reversal on the usual approach to this trope.

updates

–June 20, 2019– Book #3: Professor with Benefits

**DNF’d at 16% (Start of Chapter 11)**

This one just wasn’t for me. I struggle with quirky characters and the comedy they produce in books and this is one of those prime examples where I am just not feeling it. These two are a little odd–which is great–but it was off-putting instead of charming for me.

In turn, that caused me to not feel the chemistry and tension between them. And that’s what I crave in a forbidden romance! I want the heat and sexiness to be overflowing…and that wasn’t happening. Things felt a little forced and perhaps a little rushed as well.

It was the line: “Your legs look wow in that skirt” that sealed the DNF deal for me. Nothing sexy or charming about that.

Series Rating: DNF

My Best Friend’s Ex N/A | Friends with Benefits 3.5/5 | Professor with Benefits DNF

overall

Once I got a feel for the story and characters, I enjoyed this lighter rom-com and it was the perfect way to de-stress after a long day at work!

Read if You Like: lighter romances, quirky characters
Avoid if You: want deeper backstories

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Series Review: Cruel 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.

book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Cruel

This crosses over with the Wright Love Duet Series.

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?: Yes, Spin-off novel in works titled The Lying Season
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 22, 2019 – July 16, 2019
Source & Format: Inkslinger PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When 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!

How it Crosses Over with the Wright Brothers Series:

My understanding since that is one of the few K A Linde series I haven’t read (yet), that Penn and Katherine are featured as the friends of the leads in that series. You can definitely read one series without the other.

updates

–May 1, 2019– Book #2: Cruel Fortune

You can read my full review of book 2 here!

–June 14, 2019– Book #3: Cruel Legacy

You can read my full review of book 3 here!

My Rating: 3.5/5

[One Cruel Night 4/5] | Cruel Money 3.5/5 | Cruel Fortune 3.5/5 | Cruel Legacy 3/5

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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