Spoiler-filled review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)

Hello friends and fellow book lovers! For my Friday post, I decided to write a review of one of the books Ellyn picked for me to read. At first, I was thinking about Let’s Get Textual but I decided to pick The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan as it’s the first book in the Percy Jackson series. Plus it’s the first time I’ve ever read it so let’s get into it.

This is my spoiler-filled review of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan!


Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

I’m going to be 100% honest here and say that I was nervous to read this book. It was published in 2006 when I was about to go into 7th grade so it was a bit out of my age range. However, I did hear others talk about it but never picked it up. Thanks to Ellyn’s suggestion, I picked it up and had somewhat mixed thoughts.

What I enjoyed about The Lightning Thief

  • The premise. Personally, I think this is a pretty genius premise. I’m not sure how Rick Riordan came up with it but it’s awesome. Who would think of creating an entire story centering around gods who have children with humans? Considering that it was published in 2006, I’d say that it’s still a unique premise.
  • The modern translation. I know this might sound odd, but I think it was really cool how Riordan related to the gods to modern things. I enjoyed that Medusa created statues and worked basically a gardener or that Hades’ lair was under a recording studio in Hollywood. I thought everything about those connections was brilliant.
  • Fast-paced story. Another thing I enjoyed was how fast-paced the story was. I will admit that it was a slow start. However, once the action happened, I didn’t want to put the book down. I read 25% in one day and finished the rest the following day. It was a surprisingly quick read.
  • The ending. Personally, I was pretty shocked at the end and finding out that Luke was the one who betrays Percy. I never saw that coming. I mean maybe I should have but that really blew me away. If anything, it really made me want to read the rest of the series.

What I didn’t enjoy about The Lightning Thief

  • Percy’s attitude. For some of the story, I really didn’t enjoy Percy’s attitude. I know he was dealing with a lot but he was a little bit irritating at times. Maybe it’s because I’m like double his age but he was kind of a little asshole. Am I a horrible person for saying that? Possibly but the book didn’t paint him in a very positive light for most of it.
  • The twist with Ares. I’m not sure why but I really didn’t like Percy going up against Ares and essentially making an enemy. I’m sure it’ll come to play later in the series, but I really didn’t understand that. It was clear that Annabeth and Grover knew it wasn’t a good idea so why didn’t Percy just listen to them?
  • All of the Greek references. Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t pick up on all the references. Since it’s a book for kids, I can’t imagine that they did either. Maybe I’m thinking too much into it but I genuinely had no idea who some of the characters were. It’s more of my problem than the book but oh well.

Overall, I have to say that I’m glad that I read The Lightning Thief. I don’t think I would have read it if Ellyn wouldn’t have made me lmao. I thought it was a pretty good read but I’m not sure how much I would’ve liked it when I was younger. Either way, I thought it was a good read.

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10 Blind Dates: A Spoiler-Free Review

Hello friends and fellow Christmas lovers! When coming up with a book to review, I had a few options as I’ve read a few Christmas books. Of all the ones I’ve read though, one of my favorites is 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston. Considering how much I enjoyed it, I decided to write up a review of it before Christmas. Maybe you’ll even add it to your list for Santa 😉

This is my spoiler-free review of 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston!


Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

Originally, I was going to participate in Tis-The-Season-A-Thon. For some reason, I had trouble with the challenges so I decided to throw the towel in. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t read a handful of Christmas books, though. The first one I finished in December was 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston so I knew I had to review it.

What I enjoyed about 10 Blind Dates

  • The concept. Before I start talking about other things, I need to talk about how amazing and hilarious this concept is. Who wouldn’t want to go out on 10 blind dates after a breakup? That would be seriously fun especially if you were 17 like Sophie is.
  • The characters. One of the major parts in this book is the impressive amount of characters crammed in here. Of course, there’s Sophie, her ex, her immediate family and then the rest of her HUGE family. Somehow, Ashley Elston never makes any feel less important than the other and you really come to enjoy all of them.
  • All of the family moments. While this book does focus a lot on Sophie and her dates, it’s every bit as much about family, too. Whether it be Sophie’s immediate family like what her sister’s going through or her Nonna and cousins, everything about this book felt so homey. I don’t have a huge family but I definitely could feel the love in Sophie’s family.
  • The romance. Of course, I’d be remiss to not talk about the romance. This book featured one of my favorite tropes but I won’t spoil anything. The romance was so wholesome and sweet. It had me smiling so big especially at the end and I’m glad that things worked out the way they did.
  • It was a quick readArguably what I loved most was how quick of a read this was. Maybe it was just because I got a headstart at work but I read this book in 3 sittings but nothing every felt too fast-paced. The pacing was great and this book was just entertaining that I couldn’t put it down.

What I didn’t enjoy about 10 Blind Dates

  • Not very smooth transitionsOne thing I noticed while I was reading was that the book didn’t transition very well. Maybe it was just me, but I think that it could have been a little bit smoother. We’d hear something about the dates and then go straight to Sophie, talking to her sister. It was a bit jarring.
  • Griffin. No surprise that I didn’t enjoy Sophie’s ex, Griffin. While I understand why Elston wrote him how she did, I just didn’t think he was that necessary. I think he would’ve been better kept in the breakup scene and disappeared. Either way, I didn’t think he really furthered the plot at all.

Overall, there wasn’t much I disliked about 10 Blind Dates. This book truly felt like a nice warm hug. I had a hard day at work when I read this and it immediately put me in a better mood. If you’re looking for a YA romance set during Christmas, then you have to read this before 2019 ends!

I gave 10 Blind Dates 5 out of 5 stars!

Have you read 10 Blind Dates? Did you enjoy it or have any other Christmas romances to recommend? I’d love to know in the comments!

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Spoiler-free mini-reviews: Pride, A Very Large Expanse of Sea and A Heart in a Body in the World

Hello friends and fellow book lovers! For this week’s post, I decided that I wanted to do a review. At first, I was going to review only one of these books but since I finished them in basically the same week, I decided to do mini-reviews. If you saw my November TBR, then you’ll know that this was inspired by a Top 5 Tuesday post and honestly, I’m so glad because I enjoyed each of these books.

Similar to my other reviews, I’m going to talk about 2 things I liked and one thing that I think could be improved upon. Of course, I’m not going to talk at length about the books but I just wanted to get that out there.

Without further ado, let’s get into my spoiler-free mini-reviews of Pride by Ibi Zoboi, A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi and A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti. 

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Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

Surprisingly, I didn’t read this one first but I wanted to talk about it first. I first heard about Pride in 2018 but just didn’t have to will pick it up until I saw my old post. I saw that my library had it available without a wait so I figured what better time than now?

For 2 things I liked, I really enjoyed Zoboi’s take on Jane Austen’s story because it was a lot more modern and featured a lot more diversity than the original story. I also enjoyed how quick of a read it was and I think part of that was due to Zoboi’s writing style. If anything, it makes me more inclined to pick up her books.

As for the 1 thing I didn’t like, I think that the book could have been a bit longer and the story would be better developed. I guess I thought that the book as a whole could use a bit more substance. Regardless, it was still a good read and I would recommend if you’re looking for a different take on Pride and Prejudice4/5 stars. 

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It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

Before I get into my review of this one, I wanted to say that I’ve never read anything by Tahereh Mafi so I didn’t have any preconceived notions about this book. With that being said, I’m glad that this was my first taste of her books and that I started out with this one versus her Shatter Me series.

For 2 things I enjoyed, I really loved Shirin as a character. I thought she was relatable and was someone I actively rooted for. She was likable but yet didn’t have a problem, standing her ground. Additionally, I loved the romance she has with Ocean and although it played out differently than I thought, it was still sweet.

As for what could be improved upon, I think this book also suffered from being entirely too short. Maybe I’m just used to reading longer books or reading more romance-heavy books but this book felt like it needed a few more chapters. I would have loved Shirin’s character explored in more depth, her relationship with her family and with Ocean. It was another good read for me, though. 4/5 stars.

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Then…Annabelle’s life wasn’t perfect, but it was full—full of friends, family, love. And a boy…whose attention Anabelle found flattering and unsettling all at once. Until that attention intensified.

Now…Annabelle is running. Running from the pain and the tragedy from the past year. With only Grandpa Ed and the journal she fills with words she can’t speak out loud, Anabelle runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, and toward a destination, she doesn’t understand but is determined to reach. With every beat of her heart, every stride of her feet, Anabelle steps closer to healing—and the strength she discovers within herself to let love and hope back into her life.

Annabelle’s journey is the ultimate testament to the human heart, and how it goes on after being broken.

The last book I read is probably the most underrated book of them all. I heard a few booktubers talk about it but it mostly flew under the radar. However, I was eager to pick it up and wow, did this book blow me away.

For the 2 things I liked, I really loved the plot of this novel as it followed Annabelle on her journey as she’s running from Seattle to Washington D.C. The plot of this was unlike anything I’ve ever read before and it was a unique experience in that regard. I also enjoyed watching Annabelle’s character development throughout the novel. Watching how she deals with things and watching how this experience shapes her was just unfathomable.

As for the thing that can be improved upon, I didn’t love the writing style of this. I’ve never read anything by Deb Caletti so I didn’t want to expect. For some reason, I just didn’t mesh with her writing style and it sort of hindered my reading experience. I only wish that it would have flowed more smoothly and thus been a quicker read.

Regardless, I thought A Heart in A Body in the World was an incredibly powerful read and one that I honestly don’t know I would’ve picked up on my own. 4.5/5 stars

Those are my mini-reviews of PrideA Very Large Expanse of Sea and A Heart in A Body in the World. I’m happy to say that I enjoyed all of them even though none of them were 5-stars reads. Either way, it was nice to finally get these off my conscience, I guess 😛

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The Briar U series: A spoiler-free review

Hello friends and fellow book lovers! Since there’s no Top 5 Tuesday post this week, I decided to write up a review of the Briar U series by Elle Kennedy. If you don’t know, this series is a spin-off of her Off-Campus series which are also hockey romances. I might be wrong but as far as I know, the series is only going to be 3 books so I’m going to be talking about all of them without any spoilers!

These are my spoiler-free reviews of the Briar U series by Elle Kennedy!

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Publisher: Elle Kennedy // Released: August 2018

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

For this set of reviews, I’m going to write it up similarly to my Wright Brothers review but that time, I did audiobooks. Before I get started, I wanted to give a shout-out to Ellyn as she’s the one who suggested we buddy-read these books. Somehow, we always have similar opinions, too so that makes it even more fun. That being said, I’m going to give each book a few paragraphs, a ranking and then a wrap-up.

As the start of the series, The Chase was honestly a huge disappointment to me. I guess I’d call it a hate-to-love slow-burn romance but nothing about it felt genuine to me. Maybe, I’m just used to reading more diverse romances but this book fell flat to me. That’s not to say that I had a bad time, reading it so let’s get into the 2 things I liked and one I didn’t.

For the 2 things I liked, I really enjoyed that Summer was a fashion major and she was extremely proud of that. It’s rare to see girls portrayed in romances who are just girly girls that don’t feel bad about themselves. I also liked Fitz as a love interest as I couldn’t stop picturing one NFL player lmao.

As for the 1 thing I didn’t like, I felt like this book was a little bit bland and boring. It just felt like everything happened in the character’s favor. It kind of made me enjoy the book a little bit less and having somewhat bland characters really took me out of it. However, it was a fun read so 3/5 stars. 


Publisher: Elle Kennedy // Released: February 2019

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and a cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

Thankfully, I enjoyed The Risk much more than the previous book and it’s easily my favorite of the series. It follows Breanna, a side character from the first book and a romance she has with a rival hockey player. This was another hate-to-love story but this time, I couldn’t get enough of it.

I’d be remiss to not include Breanna as one of my favorite things in the book because she was so relatable. She was a bitch and didn’t give a fuck who liked it. Plus she wanted to pursue a career in sports media which is #goals. Additionally, this book also featured a lot of commentary about the gender divide in sports media which I appreciated. I didn’t even mention Jake who is SUPER cocky but rightfully so. Their relationship was just amazing and I couldn’t get enough.

As for the one thing I didn’t like, this book was supposed to feature the fake dating trope and it did but not for long. I wish she would have stretched that plotline a little bit longer but other than that, this was an amazing read. 4/5 stars. 


Publisher: Elle Kennedy // Released: October 2019

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate, Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except for three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

Lastly is the 3rd book in the series, The Play and boy, was this one a wild ride. This is a friends-to-lovers romance featuring Hunter, a side character from the first two books and his love interest, Demi who is Black and Latina (if I’m remembering correctly!)

Getting into the things I liked, I really liked both Hunter and Demi as characters. I thought both of them were well fleshed-out and I liked that they were friends before a relationship even happened. The other thing I enjoyed was the side-plot with Pablo, the unofficial team mascot as it was a nice comedic break when the story needed it.

As for the thing I didn’t like, I really disliked the last 25ish percent of the story. I thought it was entirely too over-dramatic and I think the story would have been better if that part was tweaked. If you’ve read the series, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. I only wish that the focus wouldn’t have shifted to Demi rather than the two of them together.

Honestly, I had pretty similar feeling as I did with The Chase. I thought this book was fun but nothing anything special. 3/5 stars. 

As I mentioned above, I’m going to rank the series from my favorite to least favorite.

  1. The Risk
  2. The Play
  3. The Chase

Overall, I thought this was a fun series but it felt a little bit dated to me. For the most part, the books feature a relationship between two white characters and I was bored with that. Considering that a few played into stereotypes too, I suppose I went into these with higher expectations. The major issue I found was that these books took FOREVER to read and I thought that they were going to be quick reads so that was pretty annoying that I felt like I had to slog my way through them.

I think that if you’re a fan of the original Off-Campus series, you’ll enjoy these books or if you want some new sports romances, then this could be for you. However, I don’t even know if I’d recommend these. If you only read one, make it The Risk because it was easily the best of the bunch. If you read this far, then you deserve a medal because this review was long as hell but I wanted to get my thoughts out there.

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Spoiler-free buddy-read review: The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

Hello friends and fellow book lovers! Last month, I mentioned that Jenna, Sofia and I were buddy-reading the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. Jenna had a brilliant idea to write up buddy-read reviews in a Q&A format so we all got a chance to say what we wanted to say about the book. Last month, I posted Jenna and my’s thoughts on A Study in Charlotte and this time, we’re talking about The Last Of August which is the second book in the series.

This is our spoiler-free review of The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro. 


Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books // Release Date: February 2017

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.

A distraction arises soon enough because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.

Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.

1. That ending was … wow. Without giving away spoilers, what were your thoughts? Were you expecting that outcome?

Jenna: “Honestly, I liked how I did NOT see it coming. So to answer the second question, no … I did NOT see that coming at all. The last 3 chapters were probably my favouite parts of the novel, since the action started to pick up more.”

Sofia: “Even before starting this book I guessed one of the big things that happened at the end, but I did doubt it a bit throughout the book. So in a sense I was expecting the final outcome, but a lot of the situations and characters surrounding that outcome were surprising to me.”

Rebecca: “I most definitely was not expecting it. Maybe it’s because I don’t read many mystery books or thrillers, but I did not see that coming. While I didn’t see it coming, I do think that the ending made sense with the tone of the story. It just wasn’t exactly what I had pictured.”

2. What elements and topics did “The Last of August” execute better than its predecessor, “The Study in Charlotte”? What elements and topics did it not execute as well?

Jenna: I found the character development and depthness to them was better executed in this novel, in addition to the mystery element. But I found the intensity and action was more well-balanced in the first book.

Sofia: I want to start by saying that I think this book was a good book, BUT I can’t think of anything that it executed better than the first book. I’ll talk about the characters in the next question, so for now I’ll focus on the mystery. I think the mystery could have turn out to be more interesting that the mystery in the first book, but it ended up being confusing and frustrating, because for most of the book, the characters are chasing a lead that it’s not actually that important t and even tho looking back I can see that there were hints about that not being as important, it’s still frustrating to feel like a lot of what happened was pointless.

Rebecca: I’m going to agree with Sofia and say that I didn’t notice much that was executed better than the first book. I felt pretty middle-of-the-road about both so I didn’t see much difference. As for what wasn’t executed as well, I think that mystery was WAY more confusing than it needed to be. It felt like Brittany Cavallaro took the long way around to unravel this mystery rather than making it a bit more straight-forward.

3. Do you feel like Charlotte and Jamie went through character growth between books one and two? Do you feel like their relationship changed between one book and the other?

Jenna: I do. I feel as though we get to know a bit more about them. But I also feel like they change themselves, adapting to their new surroundings and from the events that took place in the first book — especially Watson. Their relationship definitely changed … but I still feel like it wasn’t explored enough.

Sofia: As someone that absolutely loved Charlotte and Jamie in book one and that enjoyed their relationship immensely, I was disappointed with The Last of August. I didn’t feel like there was any character development, I felt like Jamie was childish at some points and I didn’t know how to feel regarding some of his thoughts and actions towards Charlotte and the sexual assault theme in this book. Also, I was very frustrated with Charlotte and how she handled the mystery and all the things she kept to herself. In terms of their relationship, that in book one was full of banter, tension and chemistry, in book two it became an endless, frustrating back and forth and for the most part it was not as entertatining

Rebecca: I think so but maybe not for the better. If anything, I felt like Charlotte and Jamie both did a backslide in terms of their characters especially Charlotte. She seemed like a shell of her former self in this book compared to who she was in A Study in Charlotte and the same can be said for Jamie who played his sidekick role to a tee. As for their relationship, I think it was extremely unhealthy for both of them and that August only pushed a wedge further into it.

4. Finally, what do you anticipate to occur in its sequel “The Case for Jamie”?

Jenna: From what I can tell with the title, Watson’s going to have his OWN troubles that will need solving. I also think there’s going to be a lot of Watson and Holmes growing as characters APART before they are the amazing dynamic duo we all know and love. And I think it’s going to get darker, since that seems to be the trend so far.

Sofia: I think that Charlotte is gonna pull away from Jamie and try to solve all the problems herself. Now, for what I hope will happen, a lot of character development for Charlotte and Jamie and a mystery that doesn’t rely so much on Charlotte hiding things from Jamie as a way to keep the reader in the dark

Rebecca: I’ve already read book 3 and I have to say that it’s my favorite of the series. 🙂

Similar to how Jenna ended her review, I wanted to extend the invitation to anyone if they want to buddy-read with me. I’m always down to buddy-read books especially if it’s romance (my favorite genre) or it’s something that we’ve both expressed interest in reading at one point. You can either use my contact tab to email me or reach out on Goodreads or Twitter. 🙂

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Spoiler-free buddy-read review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Hello friends and fellow book lovers! This month, I’m doing something a little bit different with my book reviews since I’m buddy-reading this book, well actually the whole series. I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the Charlotte Holmes series so when Jenna suggested buddy-reading, I was totally down. For this first book, it’s just me and Jenna but Sofia is going to join us for the rest.

Instead of doing a stereotypical book review, Jenna came up with a series of questions that we’re going to answer.  I think this is a fun way for both of us to get our thoughts out there. She was inspired by Marie’s book review so credit goes to her for the idea. 🙂

This is my spoiler-free review of A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. 


Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books // Release Date: March 2016

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

1. What were your expectations going into the novel? Did the novel meet these by the end?

Rebecca: For me, I guess I went into the novel with extremely high expectations. Even though I’m not a Sherlock Holmes fan, I had really hyped it up in my mind to be something that it wasn’t. Ultimately, I didn’t end up enjoying this book as much as I thought because it felt like there wasn’t enough character development. It was almost as if the author thought we would already know the characters but we didn’t and it bothered me.

Jenna: I was expecting to enjoy it but it to be like any introduction to a series … where the book fleshes out the characters and builds their connection while diving into the mystery element. Parts of the book met my expectations, such as the thrill of the mystery and the connections with Doyle’s original works. However, the connection with Holmes and Watson was left to be desired. I love them both, but the connection felt rushed and there’s not as much “fleshing out” of their individual characters in the book.

2. Our two main characters are Charlotte Holmes and James (Jamie) Watson. What’s your favorite (and least favorite) trait about each of them?

Rebecca: Once again, I don’t have the original source material to go off of. As for Charlotte, my favorite trait of hers was how arrogant and self-confident she was as she and Jamie could solve the crime together. At times, she came off as pretty unlikeable but I really enjoyed that aspect. As for my least favorite of hers, she acted as if she was a ghost sometimes, just living her life to live it rather than having a purpose.

As for Jamie, I loved how far he was willing to go for the case. All the things he did were well-thought-out and were clearly planned by himself or Charlotte. The lengths he was willing to go were admirable. As for my least favorite quality, I think that he lacked a backbone and I wish he would’ve stood up for himself more.

Jenna:  Charlotte Holmes: I LOVE her lack of social cues and that desire to SOLVE the case at all costs like Sherlock, building that similarity element. I also love how she’s very independent and capable of many things on her own, portraying herself as a strong woman. I honestly didn’t like how she treated Watson at some points, for it felt like manipulation.

Jamie Watson: He’s just so adorable. Like Doyle’s novels, Watson is brave and selfless, always giving his best. I also appreciate how they kept him similar to the originals, such as his dashing looks and his capable fighting skills. One thing that DID bother me was his tendency to … whine? He just seemed to have this “weird need” to be liked by Holmes when he doesn’t even know her (yet). This obviously diminishes later on in the novel (thank gosh), but it ruined his character a tad for a bit.

3. This novel has a unique twist to the retelling of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. Did you enjoy Cavallaro’s take on it?

Rebecca: I honestly don’t know much about the original series, but I did enjoy Cavallaro’s take on it. She did something unique especially in terms of character roles but I think she shouldn’t have relied so much on the original story since I hadn’t read it and couldn’t connect the dots in the plot at first.

Jenna: For the MOST part, I did. I found it unique since it’s almost a continuation rather than a retelling. I also appreciate Cavallaro getting more elements to the original correct, such as Watson being a dashing young man rather than the bumbling old fool they make him out as in a lot of earlier movie adaptations. There are parts I’m kind of confused about still, but overall I thought it was a RATHER unique interpretation in comparison to other Doyle retelling’s.

4. Finally, what do you anticipate to occur in its sequel “The Last of August”? 

Rebecca: This is tough because I think that the book left off at an interesting point. I do agree with Jenna that I hope we get more character development for Watson and Holmes. I also hope that we get to finally see August make an appearance or that the mystery involves him as he played such a significant role in the first book.

Overall, I have average hopes for this book. I think it has the potential to be better than the first book but could suffer from second book syndrome. Regardless, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll end up exceeding expectations.

Jenna: I’m honestly not quite sure. I would HOPE that we get more character development between Holmes and Watson, but I’m sure they will be whisked off to another adventure rather quickly. And since August is in reference to a character and not the month, I’m assuming we get more details about this August fellow.

Alright friends! Those are both Jenna and my’s thoughts on A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. I’m curious if you guys like this style of review and what you think about the Charlotte Holmes series. For me, I’m feeling kind of meh but hopefully, it’ll get better. 🙂

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The Wright Brothers series: A spoiler-free audiobook review

Hello friends and fellow audiobook lovers! For my review this month, I decided to go with something a little bit different. Instead of focusing on one book, I’m going to focus on an entire series that I binge-read at the end of June and finished up in July. I haven’t heard much talk about this series either so I figured it’d be a good way to get it some more attention.

I don’t want to ramble too much so let’s get into my spoiler-free reviews of the Wright Brothers series. 

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Publisher: Warm Hues Publishing // Released: January 2016

When 26-year-old Reese accepts a position as a grad assistant, she has no idea an unpleasant encounter with a student will lead to the discovery of what she calls “the trifecta”: fine, intellectual, and a little bit rude – three qualities she finds irresistible in a man. She has no intention of doing anything with that discovery – nothing long term, at least. But everybody knows what happens to best-laid plans.

Jason is a grown man. 28 years old, seasoned and scarred by his real-life experience in the world, he’s at Blakewood State University to finish his degree and move on. The last thing he’s interested in is the female population on campus… but sexy, infuriating Reese might be a notable exception.

This isn’t a story of opposites attract.
More like counterparts clash.
Neither of them is afraid to do battle, and neither is willing to back down. Love and war, win or lose… somebody’s gonna end up getting schooled.

I’m going to do this a bit differently than my normal reviews because I’m going to give each book a few paragraphs, rank my favorites and then a wrap-up. Considering that Getting Schooled was the start of the series, I think it was incredibly strong. I loved our main character Reese and her love interest, Jason.

As this was a hate-to-love romance, this book featured a decent amount of angst but it made for good chemistry. It was clear that these two were attracted to each other immediately and it was only a matter of time. This book did have some smutty scenes but nothing too x-rated if you aren’t into smut.

Before moving onto the next one, I did listen to all of these on audio and they were narrated by the same pairing for each book. In this one, I think Sean Crisden and Adenrele Ojo did a great job of separating each character’s voice and it felt like the heat was radiating off the page when they argued.

Overall, I found book 1 to be really enjoyable. The characters were fleshed out, the relationship was good and the book had a satisfying conclusion. 4/5 stars.

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Publisher: Warm Hues Publishing // Released: April 2016

All Devyn wants – besides a tall, fine husband and eventually, a few babies to fulfill her “about to turn thirty, running out of time, cute black family” dreams – is to finish her yearlong internship at University Hospital. She’s excited about the experience, eager to learn, glad to help wherever she can… it should be easy, right?

Well, it would be… if it weren’t for arrogant, know-it-all, always-got-something-to-say Dr. Joseph Wright. Devyn can’t stand him, and if his attitude is any indication, the feeling is mutual… or is it?

Joseph doesn’t “do” doctors. Or nurses. Or patients. Or anybody else who has anything to do with the hospital, for that matter. University Hospital has infiltrated enough of his life, and the last thing he needs is a blurring of the lines between professional and private.

… until smart, sexy, sassy Nurse Devyn Echols comes along and stomps all over those lines.

When you’re pulling doubles with the person you hate to want so bad… something is bound to ignite.

As much as I enjoyed the first book in the series, Pulling Doubles didn’t work for me. I did enjoy the premise and that it was set in a hospital between a nurse and a doctor. It was a nice change of pace plus I enjoyed Devyn, Reese’s best friend from book 1 and Joseph, Jason’s brother.

This book had all the makings of being another great read. It was another hate-to-love with some angst, a dash of an alpha male and a bit of smut. What really killed this book for me was the ending. There was a major plot twist towards the end of the book and it made me lower my rating an entire star. I won’t spoil anything but it’s one of my least favorite romance tropes and in this book, it made no sense.

Once again, I think Crisden and Ojo did an amazing job. However, they don’t really change their voices much when portraying different main characters. Maybe they didn’t think that anyone would read them back-to-back to notice but it’s something I couldn’t stop thinking about. 3/5 stars.

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Publisher: Warm Hues Publishing // Released: November 2016

Justin and Toni were friends. 
Besties, with a whole list of life rules developed over a friendship that started when they were kids. As long as they stuck to the rules, even when they blended a business relationship into the friendship, things went off without a hitch. 

But then one of them broke the rules – It was Justin. Justin broke the rules- and Toni has been mad about it ever since. 

She’s spent the last several years traveling the globe to cultivate her business, but now she’s back in town. Her only goals? Help her parents with “Mr. Bestseller’s” signing at the store, help them pack up their house to sell, and get out of town without too much interaction with her former best friend. 

Mr. Bestseller has different goals. 

He broke the rules – no getting around that, and he’s not trying to. His main goal now that Toni is finally home is to get her to hear him out… and get his friend back. 

Neither of them anticipated that the rift in their relationship would be the catalyst for seeing each other in a whole different light. But now that they do, they’re wondering if it may be time to make some amendments to those rules. 

I don’t want to spoil anything, but this book was my favorite of all three. While the previous books were following a budding relationship, this one followed a budding relationship as they’re trying to repair their friendship after a betrayal.

Maybe it’s because the characters are a little older, but I think this book fine-tuned any of the issues I had with the previous books. The characters were more well-developed and I think their relationship happened so organically. I loved Justin and Toni as characters but I especially loved how much history they had including their little nicknames, inside jokes and how easily they could talk to each other.

Of all of them, Bending the Rules felt incredibly mature while still having some smut and romance. That’s not even mentioning that Justin’s an author and Toni owns a publishing company so it was bound to be a great one. Once again, great narration from Crisden and Ojo as I really felt they embodied the characters this time.

Overall, Bending the Rules was an amazing romance book regardless of it being the last in the series. What held me back from giving it the full 5-star was that I wish it was longer. Honestly, I wish all of the books had been longer as they were all relatively short.

All of that being said, let’s get into how I would rank the series.

  1. Bending the Rules
  2. Getting Schooled
  3. Pulling Doubles

Honestly, I thought this series was great and it’s super diverse. I know I didn’t mention it before but every single character in the books is black. It was refreshing to see such diversity in a romance series and I wish more authors would take notes from Christina C. Jones. I’ve never read anything by Christina C. Jones but I’m curious to check out her backlist and I’m excited to listen to more of Ojo and Crisden. Their voices really meshed well together but I’m also looking forward to hearing their individual projects.

I highly recommend this series if you’re looking for some diverse romance or if you want a quick audiobook to listen to. I borrowed all of mine from hoopla so I didn’t even have to pay for them as it’s part of my library.

I will say that I didn’t really the novella because hoopla didn’t have it. I might end up picking it up around Christmas because I know it’s a holiday-themed novella. Either way, I really enjoyed this series and hope that I convinced someone to pick it up or at least, give it a look on Goodreads. 🙂

What are some of your favorite romance series? Any series you think I should get into? I’d love to know in the comments!

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